Work on the new national avifauna is completed and the new book has now been published.
Many WOS supporters have had a hand in this venture: those who sponsored species accounts in order to help WOS fund its publication, those who authored one or more of the 451 accounts, the photographers who donated some wonderful images, Philip Snow who has painted the cover artwork, and the editors who have spent the last two years managing the project. Any WOS member who has ever undertaken a survey or contributed a sighting to their county recorder has played their part too. But the real stars, of course, are the birds.
The Birds of Wales traces the earliest evidence, such as Barnacle Geese that bred in Pembrokeshire before the last Ice Age and the footprints of Common Crane preserved in Severn Estuary mud around 7,000 years ago. The authors have also explored the historic record in English, Welsh and Latin. Gerald of Wales documented what is probably the earliest bird identification dispute in 1188, an argument about whether a bird heard near Caernarfon was an oriole or a woodpecker.
Knowledge of many species has improved in recent decades thanks to monitoring by volunteers, and information from all the major recording schemes has been used by authors, many of whom are acknowledged experts on the species. The book tells the stories of all the birds recorded here, whether common or rare, and looks forward, anticipating what may occur in the coming decades. It describes, for the first time, the history of bird recording and conservation in Wales and the environmental context that has resulted in big changes for our birds. It also charts the patterns of visiting migrants to the bird observatories on Skokholm and Bardsey, and the efforts of generations of ringers that have revealed much about bird movements and life-cycles.
It will have an essential place on the bookshelf of everyone with an interest in birds in Wales, and should be on the desk or in the rucksack (if you have a very large rucksack!) of everyone who influences what happens to the nation’s land and seas. It is a once-in-a-generation statement of birds in Wales.
The new book will be published by Liverpool University Press in mid-July – and copies have now arrived on the editors’ desks. If you submitted a pre-publication order, yours will be with you shortly, If you overlooked this, then order it now from Liverpool University Press.