The first counts of British and Irish seabirds were made in the 19th century, and the first international census, for the Gannet Morus bassanus, was published by the greatest British ornithological historian, J.H. Gurney jr, in 1913. This census was repeated and British Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis added between the wars, and these censuses for Britain were converted on to a regular basis by James Fisher, and the Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla added, afterwards. My contribution was to suggest that this was a waste of observer time, and that all our seabirds should be counted together ( Bird Study 12: 46-47, 1965). This was accepted enthusiastically by James, so when we formed the Seabird Group the next year we made him Chairman of a Census Committee to organise the first complete British and Irish seabird census in 1969-1970, which he named “Operation Seafarer” after the first Anglo-Saxon list of our seabirds. This first census was carried out under difficulties not emphasised at the time. It was conducted in haste to provide a baseline against which to measure the impact of imminent petroleum developments, with limited resources. It was directed by James, and organised, and many of the observations made, by its only member of staff, David Saunders. It was largely complete and the resulting book. The Seabirds of Britain and Ireland, planned when James was killed in a road accident in 1970, leaving David isolated in west Wales and me in northern Scotland. At this point Stanley Cramp, who had not previously been much involved apart from raising support but had an office in London, stepped in. He was in a hurry since he had other commitments, and behaved rather arbitrarily (for example, my dedication to James explaining his role got left out of the first edition, and was abbreviated in the second), but we were too relieved to get it done by 1974 to complain.