This review is by Roderick Leslie
Weighing in at over 5 kilos EBBA2 is stupendous at every level, a spectacular achievement ranging from a continental overview of a crucial element of our environment to the best guide to where to find breeding birds. The big change since EBBA1, published in 1997, is the near complete coverage of Eastern Europe and European Russia, and the inclusion of Turkey. EBBA2’s continent extends to the Urals and the western shores of the Caspian, Europe’s Mediterranean shores in the south and to the arctic archipelagos and Iceland, but not Greenland. It includes 596 breeding bird species and 556 full species accounts. Most have density and/or level of breeding proof maps and a change between EBBAs 1 and 2. Many also include a sophisticated new model map aimed at showing the probability of occurrence.
I found the density maps, in shades of brown, hard to read. In contrast, in primary red and blue, the change maps although at smaller scale work well.
At the continental level, two big findings jumped out at me. Firstly, the big increase in species counts for the Arctic (+29), Alpine (+23) and Boreal (+9) zones with a small decrease for the Mediterranean (-3), surely strong evidence of the changing climate. Secondly, the stark contrast between birds listed in European Directives, which are doing well, and the broader list of Species of European Conservation Concern, which are doing almost equally badly. It seems to be a continent-wide confirmation of the UK situation where species that have received special attention are generally doing well, whilst widespread species, other than generalists, continue to decline.
Zooming in on species accounts, it’s fascinating to see what’s happening in the bits one knows – and to check one’s own experience against what the 50km square scale maps show. It is equally engrossing to see what is happening across the range of familiar and not so familiar species – and in my case to start to get my head round the huge changes in taxonomic order of the last few years, and even some new splitting and lumping; just one redpoll but several chiffchaffs and a confusion of grey shrikes. For UK listers the top right hand corner brings in the breeding range of a surprising number of sought after Siberian vagrants. And at the very most practical level, I’m already scanning the maps for missing species – I really must see Middle Spotted Woodpecker as soon as we are freed!
At the price of a single on Eurotunnel (£84.99 + p&p) this is a must-have for any continental birder, even if you may need to buy Range Rover to cart it about!
European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: distribution, abundance and change by Verena Keller, Sergi Herrando, Petr Voříšek, Martí Franch, Marina Kipson, Pietro Milanesi, David Martí, Marc Anton, Alena Klvaňová, Mikhail V. Kalyakin, Hans-Günther Bauer and Ruud P.B. Foppen is published as a partnership between the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) and Lynx Edicions