The BB/BTO Best Bird Book of the Year 2009 - 6th Place.
Awarded Best Bird Book of 2009 by Birdwatch Magazine
Britain and Ireland have been blessed by several analyses of rare birds in recent decades, though it is now nearly 20 years since 'Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland' by Dymond et al published in 1989. This was followed by Rare Birds in Britain 1800-1990 by Lee Evans in 1994 and Keith Naylor’s A Reference Manual of Rare Birds in Great Britain and Ireland in 1996. In 1997 the excellent Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland: A Photographic Record by David Cottridge and Keith Vinicombe hit the shelves, combining pictures and interpretation in one place for the first time.
Since then there has been no attempt to pull together the records for all species presently treated as ‘rarities’ by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) and the Irish Rare Birds Committee (IRBC)……..until now.
Rare Birds, Where and When: An analysis of status and distribution in Britain and Ireland by Russell Slack does just that and is probably the most detailed analysis and interpretation of rare bird records in Britain & Ireland ever undertaken.
Not only does Rare Birds, Where and When deal with all rare species, it also analyses occurrence patterns of rare taxa considered by the committees (for example Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll)
A detailed analysis and interpretation of rare bird records. With historical perspectives by Ian Wallace, and contributions by Alex Lees, James Gilroy, and Adam Rowlands.
SAMPLE PAGE SPREAD - YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO
For each species there is:
- An overview of distribution
- An overview of nomenclature
- An overview of status
- An overview of Western Palearctic or European records
- Discussion of trends, patterns and why species arrive (or not)
For those that have occurred on fewer than 20 occasions there is:
- A complete list of all records, tabulated by county, location date, age, sex, and if applicable racial attribution.
For those that have occurred on more than 20 occasions there is an in-depth analysis:
- A detailed historical review of records, including the first
- Occurrence patterns of records (when was the earliest/latest/peak periods)
- Distribution of records (which areas/sites/regions have received the most)
- Detailed histograms and graphs
- Links to trends
Other features include:
- Finders accounts, usually the one that ‘broke the mould’ or an interesting observation, from British Birds, Birding World and elsewhere
For each species/subspecies every avenue as to why they occur here is explored and discussed.
For each entry this book attempts to provide the answers to the questions that birders often ask:
- How many recent European records of Pallas’s Sandgrouse have there been?
- What is the racial breakdown of the Oriental Turtle Doves in Britain and the rest of Europe?
- Why is Black-billed Cuckoo rarer than Yellow-billed Cuckoo?
- How successful were the Snowy Owls breeding on Fetlar and how many records of Snowy Owls away from Scotland have there been?
- Why do Pallid Swifts occur with such late autumn frequency nowadays?
- How frequent are Dusky and Naumann’s Thrushes in Europe?
- Does the autumn and winter occurrence pattern of Black-throated Thrushes differ?
- Are Citrine Wagtails becoming commoner, if so why?
- What were the details around the find of the Red-flanked Bluetail that I saw in Dorset in 1993?
- How many accepted Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers have there been elsewhere in Europe?
- How many pairs of Savi’s Warblers used to breed in England?
- What’s the earliest ever Paddyfield Warbler?
- Are Booted Warblers getting earlier?
- How many Isabelline Shrikes have been subspecifically assigned in Britain and Europe?
- How rare are Northern Long-tailed Tits?
- How many Balearic Woodchat Shrike and Eastern Woodchat Shrikes have there been in northern Europe?
- What was the full extent of the Nutcracker invasion in 1968/69?
- What was the arrival pattern of previous Two-barred Crossbill influxes?
- What’s the Western Palearctic status off all the American wood warblers?
- Why is Summer Tanager so rare in the Western Palearctic compared to Scarlet Tanager?
- What was the best year ever for Rose-breasted Grosbeak?
- Is Yellow-breasted Bunting becoming rarer and what are the chances of seeing one on Fair Isle nowadays.
And much, much, more!!
With a foreword by Ian Wallace and a chapter on vagrancy patterns by Alex Lees & James Gilroy this book will stand as the definitive reference work on rare birds for years to come.
Volume 2: Swans to Auks.
Due to the size of this book it was not possible to analyse all species in one volume. Volume 2, which deals with ducks, seabirds, herons, raptors, crakes, waders, gulls & terns, is due for publication in late 2010. The expected price of Volume 2 is to be confirmed.
"Russell Slack is to be congratulated. This work is thoroughly researched, well written and packed with fascinating and relevant information. It goes much further than any of its predecessors. The inclusion of Irish records makes biogeographical sense, while the incorporation of European and, where relevant, Western Palearctic records enables a much wider perspective... the book is worth it alone for bringing these records of vagrants from across Europe together in a single source."
"This book will undoubtedly become the standard work for those interested in rare birds in Britain & Ireland. Whether you are simply a patch worker who enjoys coming across migrants, a passionate lister, someone fascinated by the phenomenon of vagrancy itself or one of an increasing band of observers for whom their 'self-found' list has become a key driving force, this book is a must for you. Forget the lack of photographs, the content more than makes up for that and at £29.99 this book represents excellent value for money. I look forward to Volume 2."
--Paul Harvey, BB, December 2009 (www.britishbirds.co.uk)
"Here, I discovered the shear breadth of the work undertaken. While comparisons may be made with previous works on rare bird records in Britain and Ireland, none of these has tackled the analysis of statistics, the trends and patterns anything like as comprehensively. This book thereby becomes an important tool for focussing the mind of the rarity hunter and twitcher alike."
"One would have to read much source material to glean the information so helpfully distilled in this book. It represents the most detailed analysis of rare bird records yet undertaken. This book and its companion Volume 2 (on the non-passerines, due in 2010) are set to take pole position as the reference on rare bird vagrancy patterns in Britain and Ireland (with direct application to elsewhere in Western Europe) for quite some time."
--Martin Garner Birding World, October 2009 (www.birdingworld.co.uk):
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Russell Slack co-authored and published Rare and Scarce Birds in Yorkshire. At BirdGuides, he established and ran the company's online news service Bird News Extra, and wrote the weekly rare bird reviews for the BirdGuides website as well as numerous ID articles and general birding articles for the BirdGuides webzine.