Bird Report 2012 Reviews by Nick Addey and Martin Garner

The Yorkshire Bird Report 2012 –  reviews by Nick Addey and Martin Garner

Hats off to Craig Thomas, Jill Warwick and the writing team, fifteen of them, for an amazing production of high quality.

The 2012 report follows a similar format and has the same look and feel to the previous six reports. The majority of the 244 pages describe in detail the 300 species recorded in the county in the year.  As the Scarborough local recorder in that year I can confirm that the amount of detail included is first class, I have yet to find any inaccuracies from a Scarborough perspective; the amount of detail for local areas and regions of the county is excellent. The report includes some stunning photos, in particular the Aldbrough Roller on the front cover, and twenty-two mouth-watering quality shots in the photo gallery at the rear of the publication.

There is a worrying trend nowadays for birders not to purchase local bird reports, there’s so much detail on the web for free, but there’s so much detail at your fingertips in these YNU publications that I consider each one to be a must buy. It’s so easy to dip in and out of a bird report on your shelf! Whether you are an avid birder, a student, researcher, or just someone with a casual interest I’m sure the report will appeal to all.

The headings of the systematic list seem a little complex at first glance but a quick read of the “Systematic List Explained” (Pages 16/17) soon makes you realise the invaluable detail the editorial team have included. Of particular interest are Breeding Bird Survey Figures which provide reliable population trends. Wetland Bird Survey information is given, including tables of counts from key sites. For rarer/scarce species the number of records recorded over the previous five years is useful.

So much detail means the report can provide a useful resource as an up to date site guide. So let’s put this to the test ! …where to see a “Lesserpecker” (Lesser Spotted Woodpecker)…having located the species in the new systematic list order you soon realise you need to explore the west of the county. Bretton Park is a chance,  Hirst Wood and Shipley Glen are described as “well established” locations as well as other sites. So plenty to go at, it’s an elusive small woodpecker. No surprise that it is often located in March, certainly early spring when it can be quite vocal and leaves are absent! So that’s it, the sites sorted and March a key month, there is your answer, I hope you know the call!

The report is kept alive by the eye-catching illustrations, Ian Lewington’s Arctic Warbler is my favourite.

Overall this is a well produced professional publication that will appeal for several different reasons. I strongly recommend you get a copy.

Nick Addey, Scarborough Birders

 

Yorkshire Bird Report 2012

 

Review by Martin Garner

At 244 beautifully laid out pages, the Yorkshire Bird Report has a pretty good chance of being the largest county bird report in Britain.  This is unsurprising, as it is also the largest county made up of five vice-counties with three bird observatories, numerous good bird watching sites, many observers (contributor’s list running to 9 pages) and 38 local reports from within the county.  Despite the enormity of the task, the degree of professionalism with in the report is top draw.  Each species in the systematic list is given its BOURC classification, BTO nomenclature, Webs counts and the degree of vulnerability using the list of UK biodiversity action species.  This is, however, no dry work of academia.  The systematic list beginning with Mute Swan (latest taxonomic ordering) is filled with encyclopaedic information for each species recorded during the year.

 

I sat as a passenger on a four hour road journey and decided to make the 2012 report my main reading.  I was quickly drawn in by the absorbing content.  Indeed, I found it inspiring and on a personal note found my spirit rising to get involved in more field ornithology and as a contributor to the biological record.  The report is beautifully illustrated, beginning with the front cover and Rebecca Nason’s photograph of a beetle-hunting Roller (must have been a great find for someone!).  Illustrations by both locally and nationally recognised artists such as Ray Scally, Colin Wilkinson, Darren Woodhead and Ian Lewington thoroughly enliven.  Throughout the body of text, the reader’s attention is maintained by small comment boxes with interesting nuggets of information, such as “the dark peak wader survey located 185 pairs of Lapwing”, and “an estimated 21 breeding pairs of Grey Wagtail were present in the Sheffield area”.  A photograph gallery towards the end has some stunning images (I especially liked Andy Deighton’s juvenile Long-tailed Skua) followed by some local reviews: an account by Mark Thomas of his patch birding journey at Buckton and a fulsome read on Firecrests breeding in the Sheffield area by Richard Hill.  A table of early and late migrant dates gives a challenge to observers to improve on them and a full list of ringing recoveries throughout the county ends in a beautiful two-page map showing some of the more interesting wide flung journeys which the birds have made.  An extra flap at the back contains a map of Yorkshire, with the four county recorders and a place to tuck in your own personal notes.  Craig Thomas and his team of 14 writers are to be thoroughly congratulated on this tour de force. 

 

For the future, this work needs to be more widely read.  In today’s world of instant news and short pithy headlines, my only concern was that such a good avifauna is not sufficiently de rigour to reach its deserved wide audience. As I read it, it got me to thinking that perhaps two or three levels of this kind of report could be produced including in a digital format; perhaps a short pithy headline form which would certainly be read by a wider audience and a more fulsome addition as here.  Whichever, this is an exemplar of report writing that sets a very high bar and a useful benchmark for other counties.