From Elizabeth to Victoria
In the post-mediaeval period, the history of birds in the British Isles switches from depending largely on the archaeological record to an increasingly well documented literary one. The naming of the bird fauna starts in Anglo-Saxon times, with saints and The Seafarer. Chaucer and Shakespeare added to the formal listing of British birds by Turner and John Ray. Gilbert White arguably started the modern pastime of birdwatching. By 1900, the resident and regular birds had all been listed, and many county bird faunas were published. Great bustards, great auks, and cranes became extinct as breeding birds. Drainage of wetlands and legal persecution of ‘pests’ or ‘vermin’ posed serious threats to many species. Gamekeepers and the development of shooting estates played a part in this, as did ‘collectors’.
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