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Bird Watching Bird Watching

Bird Watching

June 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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our contributors

Oscar Dewhurst reveals the problems Kittiwakes face in our cities and highlights one area’s efforts to help them. Page 24 Matt Williams recalls his experiences of taking part in a Seabird Survey to understand how our birdlife is faring. Find out more: Page 30 Lee Connor will never forget his first encounter with a Cirl Bunting – the bird that ignited his passion for birdwatching! Page 38 Renowned bird author Dominic Couzens explores the Sand Martins’ complex love life and the effort they put in as parents. Page 66 The Urban Birder David Lindo enjoys some city birding north of the border in Edinburgh. Join him ‘looking up’ on page 86 COVER: PUFFIN - TONY MILLS/ALAMY; SAND MARTIN - ROBIN CHITTENDEN/ALAMY*; EDWYN COLLINS - GL…

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Kittiwakes nesting on Newcastle’s iconic Tyne Bridge (OSCAR DEWHURST XXXX) The Kittiwakes of Newcastle’s Quayside hold a special place in my affections. When I was a student in Newcastle in the late 1980s, I stumbled across them one day in May, and they rekindled my smouldering childhood love of birds. It’s great, then, to see the success of efforts by local conservationists to stop, or at least mitigate, anti-nesting measures that, last year, threatened the very future of the unique colony. You can read the whole story on page 24.Sadly, more and more species face similar threats, and on page 16, we report on controversies surrounding netting of hedges and nest sites, and ask you to get involved. One of the species affected, the Sand Martin, needs all…

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snow bunting

The Snow Bunting is a curious bird in many ways, and you may think, an odd choice for a mid-summer Bird of the Month. Many of us only encounter these cute, white-winged seedeaters at the coast in mid-winter. But they are bona fide British breeding birds, albeit with a tiny population of some 60-odd pairs, in pretty specific habitat. One of the odd things about Snow Buntings is that they are passerines that nest on top of high mountains (in the same sort of altitudes that Ptarmigans and Dotterels dare to dwell). Another is that they have a very distinctive summer plumage (unusual for a passerine), where, in the male the body is largely white, with a black mantle and the wings are white and black. It is…

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five to find in june

1 DOTTEREL(PETER WALKDEN/ALAMY) Dotterels are summer visitors to the UK, arriving in April and May, before heading to high mountaintops, mainly in Scotland’s Highlands, to breed (fewer than 750 UK breeding pairs). In June, the young will be running about those same mountaintops, precocial and semi-independent, but guarded over by their father. Along with the Red-necked Phalarope, there is behavioural ‘role reversal’ between the sexes in Dotterels. The duller males brood the eggs and tend the youngsters, while the more handsomely plumed female’s primary reproductive role is to mate and lay eggs. Dotterels are famously fearless, but, with young they are less so. They should be viewable without disturbing sensitive habitat, but you will have to find your way to a suitable mountaintop! 2 BLACK-THROATED DIVER(BIOSPHOTO/ALAMY) Of…

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rarity predictor

AMERICAN BITTERN Although there have been nearly 60 British records of American Bittern, a huge chunk were in the 19th Century. Only very few have been seen this millennium, but any birders who really wanted to connect with the extremely obliging displaying and booming male last year at Carlton Marshes, Suffolk, could have done. Let’s have another one this year, please. (AGAMI PHOTO AGENCY/ALAMY) WHITE-THROATED ROBIN Remember the Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland) White-throated Robin? Well it was in June 2011. How time flies! That well watched bird (a first-summer female) was just the third UK record of this large chat from south-eastern Europe and Asia. (BUITEN-BEELD/ALAMY) HARLEQUIN DUCK In 2015, we were a bit spoiled for Harlequins in the UK, with lingerers…

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The familiar and ubiquitous Moorhen does not live on moors! Instead it hangs out in wetland settings, ditches, ponds, lake sides, rivers and so on. Yet the name has been in use for some 800 years. It is thought that this particular ‘moor’ is the old usage meaning ‘marsh’, or something more akin to ‘merehen’ (as in a hen-like bird which lives at a lake or pond). Old colloquial names include Moggy or Bog Moggy, Moggyhen, Water Hen and even Woggy Hen. The North and South American equivalent used to be regarded as the same species, though under a different name: Common Gallinule (gallinule meaning small chicken). However, in 2011, the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) ‘split’ it as a distinct species. (LISA GEOGHEGAN/ALAMY)…