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West Midland Bird Club

Studying Birds in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands since 1929

There is plenty of information at hand within these pages, however, please do not hesitate in using the contact us page via the menu or the info@westmidlandbirdclub link at the foot of all pages if you would like to take a personal approach to gathering information; the Club Secretary will be pleased to deal with any enquiry. There is great scope to become involved in a wide range of Club activities, likewise you can go about your birding activities on a personal level and simply enjoy what the West Midland Bird Club has to offer in assisting your interests.

Recent Sightings

 

Welcome to the

West Midland Bird Club Website

Changes in taxonomic order  

and the effect this will have on our Annual Report.

 

The sequence of species in the Club’s Annual Report No. 82, covering the year 2015, follows that of the Eighth Edition of the British List (BOU. 2016) produced by the British Ornithologists’ Union. Our report includes changes to the list that have been made up to 2016.

There have been recent changes to this list and there are more to

come. When it is considered to be appropriate with the

chronological order of our report in relation to the timing of new

taxonomic findings, the West Midland Bird Club Annual Report,

‘The Birds of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the

West Midlands’, will introduce any new changes. Our report is a

historic review of the birds in our region in a specific year, the entire

content of which is dedicated to that year. We feel that it would be

inaccurate to include changes in our 2016 report, No. 82, that had

not been implemented by BOU until a later date, albeit that the

publication date of the report may reflect the year in which changes

were made.

Our systematic list of bird species follows a taxonomic order that appears in a sequence according to how long they are thought to have evolved. Early lists comprise an order based on observable similarities and differences between birds regarding their assumed genealogy. The approach to the list changed with the introduction of DNA testing, more specifically, by examining and presenting the properties of DNA molecular structures. In layman’s terms, the sequence is now based on new scientific evidence rather than perceived observable traits. There are species that still retain their position in the systematic list based on this latter perception, is it now just a matter of time before their order is re-identified?

When our current Report Editor, Dave Emley, took up his position in 1999 and produced Report No. 66, the taxonomic sequence ‘systematic list’ began with divers. In 2002, report No. 69, new scientific evidence prompted the change to Mute Swan becoming the first species in the list, in other words, as a result of DNA testing and a greater understanding, we now know that Mute Swan evolved before Red-throated Diver. Other changes have occurred in connection with scientific evidence forming a new taxonomic order, Corn Bunting was replaced by Reed Bunting as being the last species in the list, reflected in report No. 81 for the year 2014. Who would have envisaged that falcons would have been separated from other birds of prey, these now appearing much later in the list as an independent group, this has also been introduced into our report No. 81. The latest BOU list, the ninth edition December 2017, sees Mute Swan replaced by Brent Goose as the first in the list. The final sequence of buntings in the current 2018 list has recently changed again and now reads, Reed Bunting, Lapland Bunting and the list ends with Snow Bunting, yet to be included in our report. Other changes in sequence, too numerous to mention and too frequent in occurrence, have also been made since the commencement of the 21st century.

As a result of these changes I am no longer able to open our report or my field guide to within a few pages of where I expected to find the bird of my choice. This, however, is little price to pay in knowing that the evidence that prompts these changes is far more accurate than in times gone by, a comforting thought based on the fact that accuracy is what we are all about. We must not lose sight of the fact that we pursue a hobby that is based on a science, ornithology, the scientific study of birds.

The aim of the BOU is to unify the world list in accordance with the findings of the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) World Bird List. As of 1st January 2018, the British List will conform to this sequence. The West Midland Bird Club are fully supportive of this action in unification.

Corn Bunting - Elford - Steve Seal

Corn Bunting by Steve Seal, one of the species involved in taxonomic change

Cetti Warbler - Mick Erwin

Cetti's Warbler - Mick Erwin