Golden plover Pluvialis apricaria
Sporting Gun|June 2020
Charles Smith-Jones looks at one of the most distinguished and fast birds to visit our shores
Charles Smith-Jones

Were it not for the golden plover, it is very likely that a major event in publishing history would never have taken place. In 1951 Sir Hugh Beaver, who was at the time managing director of the Guinness Brewery, found himself involved in a spirited argument as to whether the golden plover or the red grouse was the fastest in-flight after he had missed a shot at one of the former. Despite looking through all the reference books available he could find nothing in print to settle the matter. It occurred to him that a book containing such information might be popular and so eventually commissioned twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, who ran a fact-checking agency in London, to produce a book. The result was the Guinness Book of Records, which was first published in 1955 and went on to become a worldwide bestseller.

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