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The Meaning Behind the Last Unexplained Name of a British Bird is Finally Revealed in New Book from Independent Publisher Pelagic Publishing

Ray Reedman has unravelled the meaning behind the last unexplained name of a British bird - the scoter.

Exeter, United Kingdom, August 19, 2016 --( After years of mystery, Ray Reedman finally unravels the meaning behind the last unexplained name of a British bird in his new book.

“I am not sure why Scoter remained unexplained,” said Ray Reedman, author of Lapwings, Loons and Lousy Jacks: The How & Why of Bird Names.

Searching through the dictionaries, Ray was faced with “of unknown origin” time and again when he looked for the meaning and history behind the name of the sea duck

The only explanation on offer suggested the name was derived from an old misspelling to do with the duck’s black plumage. But Ray wasn’t convinced by the lack of evidence. Instead, he found clues in a decades-old American book about bird names by Ernest Choate. Different species of scoter breed in Northern Europe, Asia and North America, and the group’s name is carried over throughout each continent.

Ray called the information he found a “golden opportunity,” allowing him to follow up a key word with French origin, eventually leading to the long lost explanation.

“My great advantage is not one of scholarship, but rather the sheer luck of living in the Internet Age,” said Ray. It took a little time to confirm the usage and just a bit more to consult the Dictionnaire etymologique, but Ray confirmed a link between the scoter and another water bird – the coot.

“It was important to me to crack that puzzle as a bit of linguistic archaeology, but it has to be seen in the context of work which had the objective of clarifying for the average bird enthusiast a much broader set of issues.”

How does a link between these two birds lead to the scoter’s name? You’ll have to read Ray’s new book Lapwings, Loons & Lousy Jacks: The How and Why of Bird Names to find out the origin of this and many other bird names.

In his book, Ray explores why bird names, both common and scientific, change over time and why they vary so much between different parts of the English-speaking world. He takes us through the scientific and cultural history of ornithology on a journey to understanding the enduring relationship between birds and people.

Lapwings, Loons and Lousy Jacks uncovers the stories behind the incredible diversity of bird names, explains what many scientific names actually mean and takes a look at the history of the system by which we name birds. By exploring the natural history and folklore behind the names, Ray unlocks the mystery of the name Scoter, and enlightens us about many other birds besides.

About The Author
Ray Reedman combines his love of birds and travel with a deep understanding of language and history. As a retired Senior Master of a successful independent school Ray rekindled a life-long love of the natural world by teaching courses on ornithology and travelling the world to watch birds.

About The Book
Lapwings, Loons & Lousy Jacks will be widely available on 15th August. Books can be preordered from the Pelagic Publishing website.

To set up an interview with the author or to request a hardcopy for review, please email

August 2016 | Hardback: 978-1-78427-092-6, £19.99 | Black & White Illustrations | Also available as an eBook

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Contact Information
Pelagic Publishing
Roz Evans
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