A new ‘Birds of Wales’

Background to the project

There has only ever been one book giving a complete account of all the bird species ever recorded in Wales. This was Birds in Wales, by Roger Lovegrove, Graham Williams and Iolo Williams, published by Poyser in 1994. This volume has been of huge value for bird conservation in Wales since then, a first port of call for birdwatchers and conservationists alike. However, the information contained in it is now nearly thirty years old, and there have been great changes in the fortunes of many species since it was published. In 2002 the Welsh Ornithological Society published Birds in Wales 1992-2000 by Jon Green to update the original Birds in Wales, but the time has now come for a new book to give an up-to-date picture of the birds of Wales.

There have been very significant changes since Birds in Wales was published in 1994. The list of birds recorded in Wales is longer now, with a good number of new species recorded as vagrants. Wales has gained several new breeding species, notably Little Egret, Eider, Avocet and Dartford Warbler. Other species, such as Great White Egret, are being seen in Wales in much greater numbers than formerly and may well breed in the next few years. On the other hand, some breeding species have been lost since 1994; the Corn Bunting was already in trouble in Wales in 1994 but has now vanished as a breeder. Perhaps more significant still is that some species which appeared to be reasonably secure in 1994, such as the Curlew, are now in real trouble.

To mark WOS’ 30th anniversary, work has begun on a new volume, describing the history and current status of every bird ever recorded in Wales, common and rare, with an assessment of the conservation issues facing our breeding birds. The publication of this new book will give an up-to-date picture of how well or how badly our birds are faring and will be an invaluable resource for anybody interested in birds in Wales.

What we’ll publish and what it will cost

The book will include chapters on habitats, climate, islands and nature reserves etc. as well as individual species accounts and clear maps showing current distribution and historical distribution changes. It will be produced and published by Liverpool University Press.

We aim to produce this publication on a financial break-even basis.  The project will be run at minimal administrative costs from the Society’s reserves, but in order to meet the production and publication costs of around £23,000 and ensure that the retail cost is kept to a reasonable level we are inviting businesses, organisations and individuals to sponsor each species on the current Welsh list. Details of the species sponsorship scheme are given below.

Species sponsorship

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We invite individuals, businesses and organisations to sponsor one (or more!) individual species. £200 will secure sole sponsorship of a species and the sponsor will be acknowledged alongside the relevant species account in the book. We realise that this may be more than many individuals can afford, so we will be launching a scheme of shared sponsorship (probably for £25 per person) later in the summer of 2019.

If you, or your organisation, wish to sponsor a species, please email web@birdsin.wales, completing the proforma (see link below) and you will receive details of how to pay. Individuals sponsoring species can Gift Aid their payments if they are UK tax payers – please indicate on the proforma if you are willing to do this.

The list of species available for sponsorship will be updated on a fortnightly basis and can be accessed here. As of 24th May 2019, the following 25 species have been sponsored, or are in the process of sponsorship:

Whooper Swan; Greenland White-fronted Goose; Black Grouse; Storm Petrel; White-tailed Eagle; Hen Harrier; Osprey; Dotterel; Curlew; Little Tern; Sandwich Tern; Nightjar; Swift; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Kestrel; Peregrine; Raven; Long-tailed Tit; Dipper; Ring Ouzel; Stonechat; Wheatear; Twite; Siskin; Yellowhammer.

The proforma for applying for species sponsorship can be accessed here.

Timetable for production and publication

WOS Council has established a Steering Group which is now meeting to organise the compilation of the book. We hope to complete the text (and associated photographs and tables, diagrams etc.) by late 2020, with publication early in 2021.