British Birds of Prey (Collins New Naturalist Library, Book 60)
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Leslie Brown's account of our 15 resident, 7 vagrant and 2 migrant species of eagles, falcons, hawks and vultures in Britain presents a great mass of scientific information about our birds of prey in a manner as attractive to the general reader as to the dedicated ornithologist.
The diurnal raptors are among the most arresting and dramatic of British bird species, from the magnificent and immense golden eagle of the Highlands to the more widespread but equally spectacular peregrine falcon and the frequent and adaptable kestrel of motorways and urban ledges.
Leslie Brown's account of our 15 resident, 7 vagrant and 2 migrant species of eagles, falcons, hawks and vultures in Britain presents a great mass of scientific information about these birds in a manner as attractive to the general reader as to the dedicated ornithologist. Each of the resident species is discussed in detail - its status, past and present; its feeding and hunting behaviour; its life history; its breeding behaviour; migration and the threats to its survival. Then the biology of the birds of prey, changes in their habitat and status, their food habits, breeding behaviour, their territories and populations are examined in depth in separate chapters.
An acknowledged world authority on birds of prey - co-author with Dean Amadon of Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World, and author of many other books besides - Leslie Brown is immensely enthusiastic; and the many tables, maps, figures and bibliography are all indicative of the thoroughness of his research.
Also illustrated with 40 superb black and white photographs.
after twenty minutes of magnificent flying, they separated, the home pair soaring back towards me, the other male leaving in the direction of his nest, and the immature flying south until it faded from view in the field of my binoculars, seven or eight miles away over the Ross of Mull. Watching these twirling feats of agility performed in play, without a feather lost or a single violent contact (potentially dangerous in such powerfully armed birds), I could never imagine the eagle as clumsy or
slowly up and down, uttering a chittering call5. This ceremony is thought to overcome the female’s natural aggression towards the male – being much larger, she otherwise might kill him when the two are at close quarters. This has not, so far as I know, been observed among British peregrines, but has been carefully observed in Alaska. Unmated males frequent the nesting cliff and fly out in invitation towards any passing female they may see, calling, and returning to re-alight on a ledge until a
natural, not due to persecution or egg collecting. It is a summer visitor, arriving late, breeding late in wooded country, and leaving in autumn. It is therefore naturally confined to the drier and warmer parts of S.E. England, especially Hampshire, where about a quarter of the total population breed. There may be more hobbies than we suppose, for they are not easy to locate and quite easy to overlook. Whatever the causes of their low numbers they are nowhere sufficiently dense to be regarded as
conservanda (names which cannot be changed); and the day when a systematist could give a bird a new name just because he thought fit is surely past. Personally, I should treat any such arbitrary change with the contempt I think it deserves, and fortunately it seldom happens nowadays among European or British birds of prey. The most familiar arrangement of the Falconiformes, and the one used for instance by the British Museum, is that of the 1931 Peters List10. This is based on the Wetmore
and Sweden but also further east. It may seem odd that if the honey buzzard is ecologically limited, in the British Isles, to the warmer wooded parts, that it can breed much further north in Europe. However, continental countries often enjoy weeks of fine hot weather in summer at times when depression after depression comes in to the British Isles from the Atlantic, bringing in rain and cool weather. There are also very much larger continuous tracts of natural woodland than in Britain, so that