Historical Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland : 1875-1900
In this book, Simon Holloway presents maps showing the distribution of Britain's birds during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. His researches have covered all of the numerous county avifaunas, which by the turn of the century covered the whole country, as well as a great many other contemporary publications and reports. Close study of these volumes has produced a picture not only of each species distribution at that time, but also of their general patterns of relative abundance. The results of this study have enabled the drafting of surprisingly detailed maps on a county by county basis thus turning the word picture of the Victorian naturalists into a vivid portrait comparable with the modern databased maps of today.
The book clearly illustrates the effects of sportsmen, collectors and others on raptors such as the Buzzard and Red Kite, corvids such as the Raven and Magpie, and rare species like the Kentish Plover and Savi's Warbler. Recent land-use changes, such as land drainage, enclosure and intensifying agriculture have also had enormous effects on groups like the waterfowl, waders and many passerines. Even pollution had local effects which can be seen in the maps of some species.
These maps and their accompanying text make fascinating reading. They paint a picture of Britain's and Ireland's birds before the growth of modern agriculture, but during a period when changes in the balance of rural and urban population began to alter the face of the countryside forever. Of course Britain's birds neither can, nor should always necessarily return to the status of this bygone era. But a knowledge of their situation in those past times will enhance both our enjoyment and understanding of their fate and fortunes today and into the future.