Is there an undescribed martin in Ethiopia?

Swallows and martins are admired for their graceful flight, their long migratory journeys and their often close association with humans, but they are probably not at the top of birders’ lists in Africa. In particular, the small and dull-coloured martins cannot compete with more “attractive” African bird species and may sometimes even pose identification challenges. Consequently, they are mostly only noticed when “nothing else” is to be seen. It is this lack of attention that […]

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But what about Bird Observatories?

Like many people, I surround myself with like-minded individuals. For me, therefore, that means people interested in the environment, animals and wildlife conservation. Of course, many of those know about the UK’s leading conservation charities such as the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts. But what about Bird Observatories? I work at a bird observatory and will admit that until I saw the job advertised, I had no idea what a bird observatory was, or that […]

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A reassessment of issues surrounding the Hastings Rarities, with particular reference to supposed fraud by George Bristow

The Hastings Rarities has been a scandal within the birding world since the 1960s, when George Bristow was alleged to have carried out one of the biggest frauds in birding history. However, has the extent of his involvement perhaps been exaggerated and misinformation accepted for all these years? In 1962, two papers (1,2) and an editorial (3) were published in an issue of British Birds, which proposed the deletion of 542 specimen and 53 sight […]

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New Guinea’s Islands in the Sky

Those halcyon days of ornithological expeditions to remote, undocumented locations are alive and well … as we can attest. We first began wading through mud, mosquitoes and spiny vine-thickets in our efforts to explore New Guinea as long ago as 1964 (JMD) and 1977 (KDB). New Guinea harbors one of the world’s most spectacular avifaunas – think Birds of Paradise. All in a landscape still covered in vast areas of primordial forest surmounted by hugely […]

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The first national records of Piping Plover Charadrius melodus draw attention to the vital importance of coastal northwestern Venezuela for conservation of western hemisphere shorebirds

With its position in the middle of the Americas, Venezuela provides an ideal stop-over for migratory shorebirds on their annual journeys between high northern latitudes and the tropics, or onward to the southern hemisphere. Thirty-five species use Venezuela’s wetlands, alongside a further 13 residents, and aerial and terrestrial shorebird surveys conducted since the 1980s confirm the regional importance of the country’s coasts and marshes. Video credit: Carolina Dávila We have been involved in shorebird work […]

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Audubon’s ‘The Birds of America’: according to 8-year-olds

John James Audubon’s Birds of America is heralded as one of the first great examples of wildlife illustration. However, a recent paper written by Matthew R. Halley and published in the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club unravels the truth behind one of Audubon’s legacies, ‘the Bird of Washington’. The Bird of Washington was an invented species of North American eagle, intended to impress his audience and mislead his peers. The Year 4 children at […]

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