Rare Breeding Birds

4th July 2017 | Richard Burness

Each autumn County and Regional Recorders are asked to provide breeding records from the previous year to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP). The panel has been established to collate and archive records, and to report on the definitive status of the species that meet the criteria of rare breeders within the UK. What is a "rare breeding bird"? All regularly breeding species with sustained populations estimated at fewer than 2,000 in a typical year qualify for inclusion. Within this numerical limit there are other factors (a species in decline, a population in need of monitoring, a species of further international importance etc.) that support inclusion. It is, of course, the rare and exotic that attract most attention and interest - during this current year there are at least six pairs of Black-winged Stilts nesting in southeast England and Cattle Egrets are now established in two counties. However, a close look at the criteria will reveal that several "common" species also qualify; Pochard, Dartford Warbler and Hobby to name but three. The term "breeding" is also subject to a number of qualifiers - confirmed breeding, probable breeding, possible breeding, single singers etc. So that lone Shoveler you saw during June or that Water Rail "sharming" during July may well both qualify.

I am required to submit the return for 2016 by November of this year and my main sources of information are the records that you provide annually to the BOC database. If you have not yet submitted your annual spreadsheet I would be grateful if you could do so, providing as much evidence of breeding activity as you can. If you submit your records via Birdtrack you will find a guide to submitting breeding records by that route on the RBBP web site. The importance of maintaining the RBBP archive can be measured by the number of once common species that have now slipped onto the rare breeding bird list.