Storm-petrels are the smallest of the petrels, are closely related to albatrosses, and represent more than one-third of the world’s truly oceanic seabird species. Most are nocturnal at their nesting sites, shy by nature, and breed on remote and often inaccessible islands. These features of petrels render them difficult to study and many populations are hardly documented. The description or recognition of a new species is a very rare event. Our new study, published in […]Read more
Category Archives: Blog
A Newsworthy Naturalist; The Life of William Yarrell
Published by the British Ornithologists’ Club and John Beaufoy £25 hardback. October 2021. Why write about Willliam Yarrell? A more pertinent question would be “Why has Yarrell been forgotten?” While making very many contributions to natural history in the 1830-50s, his was a household name among naturalists. William Yarrell (1784-1856) was very organised and lived his life in three separate compartments: his business, his publishing and his commitments to several major natural history societies. William […]Read more
How to name a white bird
Colour aberrations in birds have been my main research focus for more than 30 years, during which I have learnt that identifying and naming these aberrations still presents problems for ornithologists. Many terms for the different colour aberrations have been proposed during the last 175 years. These terms, however, have apparently been used at random to identify aberrations in published records, creating much confusion. Leucism seems to be the most commonly used term and is […]Read more
Serendipity and sound analysis – the discovery of Forbes-Watson’s Swift Apus berliozi in southern Africa
Africa still has vast regions which are ornithologically undocumented and may offer surprises and potentially new discoveries. This is certainly true of Mozambique: a country with low population density and poorly explored wetlands, lakes, woodlands and forests. Even as a frequent visitor to this exciting country, one is never quite sure what to expect! The story of Forbes-Watson’s Swift in Mozambique begins in March 2017, when I led a birding tour to southern Mozambique – […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more