Review: The Bird Atlas tracks changes of Britain and Ireland’s birds

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A new atlas of 1,300 maps shows the patterns of distribution, abundance and change among 296 bird species in Britain and . The Bird Atlas 2007-11 is a partnership between British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and Birdwatch Ireland and involved the work of more than 40,000 volunteers over four years. BTO used the local data to assemble a national picture of bird populations that will be used to inform conservation policy. From tree sparrows to – every species tells a story of change

The numbers of have increased by 1971%, fuelled by reintroduction projects in last 20 years. Results show that over the last 40 years, the British breeding areas for 74 bird species (37%) have expanded beyond their previously known range, while the range has shrunk for 72 species (37%) and remained the same for 47 species (24%) – Photograph: Drew Buckley/Rex Features

The numbers of red kite have increased by 1971%, fuelled by reintroduction projects in last 20 years. Results show that over the last 40 years, the British breeding areas for 74 bird species (37%) have expanded beyond their previously known range, while the range has shrunk for 72 species (37%) and remained the same for 47 species (24%) – Photograph: Drew Buckley/Rex Features

The , generally a winter visitor, has now started breeding in the Shetland Islands, Outer Hebrides and where it is now staying all year round. It is believed it first bred in Norfolk where one injured bird remained behind and bred with its mate. More than three-quarters of species that spend the winter months in Britain and Ireland were found in more areas than three decades ago – Photograph: Kirk Norbury/Alamy
The range of the has expanded by 1172% and is now found in every 10km sq in Britain and Ireland. A non-native species originally from Africa, its stronghold in north Norfolk has expanded to East Anglia and it is a common sight in ornamental parks and gardens in the south-east of England. This is a species that will continue to spread, according to the BTO – Photograph: Gary K Smith/Alamy
The is a widespread winter visitor to Britain whose breeding population has declined by 48% over last 40 years – mainly in Wales. It lives on moorland, rough grass bogs and young forestry plantations but it is the upland breeding population that is declining more severely – Photograph: Alam
The atlas shows that the has become more common in eastern England and has spread northwards into parts of eastern Scotland. Meanwhile, it has begun to disappear from western Wales, where lapwings, kestrels and starlings are also being lost – Photograph: Wim Klomp/Corbis
The yellowhammer’s ‘little bit of bread and no cheese’ call is a sound that is disappearing from our countryside, according to the atlas. Forty years ago the species could be heard singing in almost every village of Britain and Ireland but the species is now missing from large swaths of Ireland, western Scotland, southern Wales and northern England, representing a 32% contraction for this formerly widespread breeding bird – Photograph: Andrew Parkinson/Corbis

This review was written by Jessica Aldred for the Guardian.

Bird Atlas 2007-11 would be a great Christmas gift for all birders – now available for purchase on-line via Amazon.

Supertrooper

Founder and Executive Editor

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Wai Ling  Liu

great ( love ) thanks