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.

Why not pick one of the Scarce and Rare sightings for June 2019 for sole or shared sponsorship?

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 – sole and shared

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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 are also offering a scheme of shared sponsorship for £50 per person. If you choose shared sponsorship, you don't need to find a second sponsor to share with you.

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. As of 15th September 2019, the following 66 species have sole sponsorship:

Black Grouse; Black Guillemot; Black Redstart; Chough; Citrine Wagtail; Common Scoter; Common Tern; Cormorant; Corncrake; Curlew; Dipper; Dotterel; Eider; Glaucous-winged Gull; Golden Eagle; Golden Plover; Goshawk; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Greenland White-fronted Goose; Hawfinch; Hen Harrier; Honey Buzzard; Hooded Merganser; Kingfisher; Kittiwake; Lapwing; Lesser Redpoll; Little Egret; Little Tern; Long-eared Owl; Long-tailed Tit; Marsh Harrier; Manx Shearwater; Mediterranean Gull; Merlin; Nightjar; Osprey; Peregrine; Pied Flycatcher; Pintail; Puffin; Raven; Razorbill; Red Kite; Redshank; Redstart; Reed Bunting; Ring Ouzel; Rook; Sandwich Tern; Shag; Shelduck; Short-eared Owl; Siskin; Spotted Flycatcher; Stonechat; Storm Petrel; Summer Tanager; Swallow; Twite; Waxwing; Wheatear; Whooper Swan; Willow Warbler; Wood Warbler; Yellowhammer.

Four species have shared sponsorship: Greenfinch; Swift; Woodlark; Yellow Wagtail. Woodlark is now fully sponsored, but the other three are awaiting a second shared sponsorship.

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

If you'd prefer to enquire by email, rather than use the proforma, please email web@birdsin.wales.

Progress up to September 2019

Species accounts

By 15th September 2019 all but 11 species of the 502 on the Welsh List have now been allocated to authors. First drafts have been produced for all the rare/scarce species (those considered by the WRP or BBRC), and there are also drafts for 94  of the commoner species. The editing of these accounts is in progress. Most authors have been asked to complete a first draft of the accounts for the species allocated to them by the end of October if possible.

Introductory material

Julian Hughes is taking responsibility for the introductory chapters. An outline of these chapters has been produced and agreed, and working has started on writing drafts.

Photographs

We are now on the lookout for good photographs to illustrate the species accounts; an Illustrations Editor is being appointed and if you'd like to submit photographs for consideration, please contact Kelvin Jones.

Publicity and fund raising

A sub-group is driving publicity and fund raising - at present fund raising is focussed on species sponsorship -see above.

Timetable for production and publication

 We hope to complete the text (and associated photographs and tables, diagrams etc.) by late 2020, with publication early in 2021.