The Hastings Rarities Affair

In August 1962, the ornithological journal ‘British Birds’ published two articles devoted to the examination of one topic. The authors, Max Nicholson and James Ferguson-Lees, made clear their intention in the accompanying editorial. This was to prove, by statistical analysis and comparison of records, that many, if not all, of the rare birds recorded from the Hastings area, in the period 1890 – 1930, were the result of a deliberate deception.

Within a short time of the publication of the articles, dramatic newspaper headlines were speaking of the ‘Hastings Rarities Fraud’, and, for some time afterwards, the issue assumed almost national importance.

  • The members of the Natural History Society
    The Hastings Rarities Affair
    In August 1962, the ornithological journal 'British ...
  • The British Birds Report
    British Birds, August 1962

    Summary of Recommendations of the ...

  • Slender-Billed Curlew
    Slender-billed Curlew
  • News report about the fraud from the Daily Herald August 10 1962
    Daily Herald, 10 August 1962
  • George Bristow holding a dead bird
    George Bristow outside 15 Silchester Road
    In spite of the fact that the authors of the report ...
  • A map of the area covered by Hastings Rarities
    Map of area covered by Hastings Rarities Affair
    In J.A. Nelder’s statistical analysis, the 60-year ...
  • Glossy-Ibis bird
    Glossy Ibis: plegadis falcinellus. Winchelsea 7/5/1917
  • Snippet from Italian newspaper 'Il Tempo' about the scandal
    Il Tempo, 26 August 1962
  • Wallcreeper bird
    Wallcreeper: Tichodromia muraria, Winchelsea. No date
  • White-Spotted Bluethroat bird
    White-spotted Bluethroat: Cyanosylvia svecica, St leonards, 22/9/1912
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