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Bird Watching

Bird Watching August 2019

Bird Watching is Britain’s best-selling birdwatching magazine. Each issue is packed with expert advice on when, where and how to see more birds, from common garden visitors to the most elusive rarities. There are features from some of British birdwatching’s best-known names, superbly illustrated by the work of the world’s best bird photographers, plus comprehensive coverage of all the latest sightings, guides to the best birdwatching sites, ID masterclasses, news and reviews of all the latest gear.

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13 Números

en este número

1 min.
our contributors

Bird guide Ian Parsons highlights the fascinating past of the Little Egret, a beautiful bird which deserves more than a cursory glance. Page 20 James Lowen reveals how the RSPB is breaking new ground by developing wetland reserves for our birds. More on page 28 Rebecca Nesbit details the surprising findings when Red-necked Phalaropes were tracked to their winter breeding grounds. Page 36 Renowned bird author Dominic Couzens discovers the complicated love life of the elusive Wood Warbler on page 65 The Urban Birder David Lindo enjoys some Spanish sun and great birding when he heads to the city of Valencia on page 86 COVER: LITTLEL EGRET: BUITEN-BEELD/ALAMY; RED-NECKED PHALAROPE; ROBIN CHITTENDEN/ALAMY; WOOD WARBLER: AGAMI PHOTO AGENCY/ALAMY…

1 min.

Earlier this year, I was at the RSPB’s Ouse Fen reserve near Huntingdon, a site which already attracts a great variety and number of birds, but which will, as you’ll find out in James Lowen’s feature on page 28, just keep getting better. James looks at it and two other fine wetland sites, and discovers how careful but innovative management is restoring this most vital of habitats. One of the species I saw there was the Little Egret, a bird it’s easy to become a bit blasé about, these days. On page 20, Ian Parsons explains why we shouldn’t – it’s a glimpse of the exotic we can all enjoy. And talking of exotic, who would have guessed that Red-necked Phalaropes from Shetland would winter in the equatorial Pacific? Read the story…

1 min.

The pretty, little Goldfinch is so brightly and exotically patterned that it seems almost wrong that it is a British bird. In fact, it is our third most common finch (in terms of nesting pairs), behind the Chaffinch and the Greenfinch; with some 1.2 million pairs across the UK. So exquisite is the plumage, so delightful the song, that they used to be trapped as cage birds, causing major declines in their population in the 19th Century. These days, though, despite declines caused by exceptionally cold winters and widespread herbicide use, they are doing remarkably well; and are familiar birds across most of the country. In late summer into autumn, the population is boosted by juveniles, which roam around in mixed feeding groups with their parents at this time of year.…

4 min.
five to find in august

1 GREAT SHEARWATER Large (for a shearwater; though smaller than Cory’s!), the Great Shearwater is a stiff-winged, elegant and majestic seabird. It is unusual among our birds to breed in the Southern Hemisphere (South Atlantic islands such as Tristan da Cunha) and to migrate to the Northern Hemisphere when not breeding. It is then (in our summer) that they are found in the North Atlantic, including off the UK coast, particularly in the waters off the south-west of England and Scilly. 2 WRYNECK Once upon a time (say 150 years ago), the Wryneck was so common that it had a familiar name, the Cuckoo’s Mate (as it arrives in spring at about the same time). It was even, apparently, the commonest woodpecker in some areas. For a woodpecker is what this cryptically marked…

1 min.
rarity predictor

AMERICAN BLACK TERN There have been fewer than 10 accepted records of this New World subspecies of Black Tern. Part of the reason for this is the distinctions can be subtle: juveniles show smudgier flanks and duskier underwings, darker rump, whiter forehead, larger breast marks etc than the European birds. RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD Another bird with fewer than 10 (in fact only five) accepted British records, the Red-billed Tropicbird is a ridiculously rare bird in UK waters. In fact, three of the five records have been from boats at sea. The most recent two records, though, were of birds seen from land (both during Cornwall seawatches) and both during August. SPANISH SPARROW Of the 10 accepted records of Spanish Sparrow, the last was in 2012, a male (as all of them are), which was at Landguard,…

1 min.
phylloscopus warblers

Willow Warbler Although undergoing severe declines in recent years, the Willow Warbler is still our commonest and most widely distributed leaf warbler, with some 2.4 million pairs nesting across nearly the whole country. Longer-winged and with a more prominent pale supercilium (‘eyebrow’), Willow Warblers are also pale-legged and are less inclined to frequently dip their tails. In late summer and autumn, juveniles particularly are neat-looking birds with quite bright yellow underparts. Chiffchaff The breeding population of the Chiffchaff is about half the size of that of the Willow Warbler and slightly more southerly in distribution (particularly the burgeoning wintering population). They migrate shorter distances, as reflected in their shorter wings. The supercilium is usually less prominent, but they have a more notable pale broken eye-ring. The tail is almost continuously pumped downwards. The…