Seabirds are the living links between land, air and sea. They enjoy a freedom that even humans, with all our technological assistance, can barely imagine. Many species travel mind-boggling distances across the length and breadth of our planet before returning to land to breed in large, deafening and confusingly crowded colonies. Yet within this commotion each mated pair forms a bond of extreme closeness and tenderness that survives separation each winter and may persist for decades.
The long and geologically varied coastline of the British Isles provides homes for internationally important numbers of breeding seabirds. Visiting their colonies is always unforgettable, whether they are cliff-faces packed with Guillemots, islands white-capped by clustered Gannets on their nests, flat beaches crowded with screaming Arctic Terns or seaside rooftops overlaid with a second townscape of nesting gulls. The changing fortunes of these seabird cities reveal to us the health of the vast, unseen but incredibly rich marine world that surrounds us.
RSPB Seabirds showcases some of our most exciting and enigmatic bird species as vital and living components of one of our greatest natural assets: our coastline. The author presents detailed biographies of all the seabird species that breed in and around the British Isles, and also looks at the many species that breed elsewhere but which, regularly or occasionally, visit British waters. Every page of this sumptuous book features beautiful photographs of wild seabirds engaged in their daily work of hunting, travelling, protecting themselves and their territories, courting and raising a family.
Marianne Taylor is a freelance writer, illustrator, photographer and editor. Marianne grew up in the seaside town of Hastings in Sussex, and from an early age she could be found watching and scribbling notes about the behaviour of the Herring Gulls nesting outside her sister's bedroom window. A passion for all wildlife, but especially birds and most especially seabirds, has been a driving force in her life ever since. Marianne worked in publishing for seven years before taking the plunge as a freelancer in 2007. Since then she has written 19 books for adults and children on a range of natural history subjects. Renowned cameraman David Tipling has worked as a freelance wildlife photographer since 1992. David travels extensively photographing some of the world's most iconic wildlife and one of his specialities is the birds of our seas and oceans. His many awards include the prestigious Nature Photographer of the Year. David's work has featured in countless magazines and newspapers and he has been author or commissioned photographer for more than forty books on birds and wildlife photography.
Introduction 7 Seaducks 13 Eider 14 Common Scoter 20 Red-breasted Merganser 25 Other seaducks 28 Divers and grebes 35 Red-throated Diver 36 Black-throated Diver 40 Great Crested Grebe 42 Slavonian Grebe 46 Other divers and grebes 48 Tubenoses 53 Fulmar 54 Manx Shearwater 60 European Storm-petrel 66 Leach's Storm-petrel 71 Other tubenoses 75 Gannets, cormorants and relatives 83 Gannet 84 Cormorant 90 Shag 96 Other related species 102 Phalaropes 105 Grey Phalarope 106 Skuas 109 Arctic Skua 110 Great Skua 116 Other skuas 123 Gulls 127 Kittiwake 128 Mediterranean Gull 134 Black-headed Gull 136 Common Gull 140 Lesser Black-backed Gull 144 Herring Gull 150 Yellow-legged Gull 156 Great Black-backed Gull 158 Other gulls 164 Terns 173 Little Tern 174 Sandwich Tern 180 Roseate Tern 186 Common Tern 190 Arctic Tern 196 Other terns 202 Auks 207 Guillemot 208 Razorbill 214 Black Guillemot 220 Puffin 226 Other auks 232 Recommended reading 235 Bibliography 235 Acknowledgements 238 Photographic credits 238 Index 239