Atlases old and new

I remember the fascination I had when I first looked at my Dad’s copy of “The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland”, first published in 1976.

With distribution maps for all the main UK breeding bird species, based on a 10km square grid over the whole country, I loved leafing through it, looking at the maps for birds I had seen that day, or birds I hoped to see soon. I now have his copy, an insight into bird populations in the 1970s.

Inside the 1976 UK breeding atlas, which the inside cover tells me my Dad bought in September 1977!

Today neither of us had a chance to do any wildlife watching, but I did take delivery of what is, I guess, the latest follow on from that early bird atlas: the “European Breeding Bird Atlas 2”, and it turns out to be the largest and heaviest book I have ever owned! But more importantly it’s the result of a huge project, run over several years and with something like 120,000 participants.

Just thinking about the amount of work needed to properly map all the breeding bird species in Europe makes my head spin: An enormous undertaking! The first European Atlas came out in 1997, showing data that was mostly collected in the 1980s. Obviously a lot has changed since then, so this book – using data collected between 2013 and 2017 on 596 bird species – is fascinating, particularly as it has maps showing the change in breeding range of the birds between the two Atlas projects (plus I can further compare UK species with the old British Atlas from the 1970s!).

Inside the EBBA2 – a wealth of information!

Scientifically it is obviously a huge resource detailing changes in biodiversity over several decades, but for someone like me, not directly involved in scientific research, it still provides a wonderful insight into our changing bird populations.

No new species for August 3rd:

Birds = 214
Moths = 201
Wildflowers = 266