Rare Breeding Birds Panel
RBBP - the secure information archive on the UK's rare breeding birds - Twitter: @ukrbbp
Rare Breeding Birds Panel - August 2017
LATEST NEWS Hot off the press at the beginning of August is the news from the Avalon Marshes in Somerset that a pair of Night Herons had bred there. Two recently fledged juveniles were first seen in the last few days of July and are now roosting at the Somerset Wildlife Trust's Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve. This is the FIRST CONFIRMED BREEDING FOR THE UK. The RBBP report for 2014 included records of four Night Herons in Somerset, although breeding was not suspected at that time. Two adults were again present in 2015 (RBBP 2015 report in prep.). Prior to these recent records, the only records were of a summering pair in Kent (1995), up to five at Holkham, Norfolk in summer 1997 and, most significantly, a pair at Shapwick Heath in Somerset seen stick-passing in June 1997. Further indications of breeding have been a long time coming and all the more welcome for it! (Pictured right is a juvenile Night Heron in the Camargue, France, July 2015).
The main role of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel is to collate, archive and report on the definitive status of the 90 or so rarer species of breeding birds which nest in the UK in any one year. With the addition of Night Heron, 2017 is proving to be an even more exceptional year for rare breeders, with at least six pairs of Black-winged Stilts nesting in southeast England (and a record total of 13 young now fledged), Spoonbills nesting for the first time in Yorkshire, and Cattle Egrets nesting in Cheshire & Wirral, Dorset and Somerset. There are singing (and in some cases, breeding) Savi's and Marsh Warblers. The three pairs of Bee-eaters (photo left by Neil Calbrade) in Nottinghamshire have now stopped feeding their young in their nesting burrows, so this year's breeding attempt has failed. Since RBBP began reporting rare breeders in 1973, there have been just five previous instances of confirmed breeding with young fledging on three occassions (Co. Durham 2002, Isle of Wight 2014 and Cumbria 2015).
Meanwhile, many of you have been finding your own rare breeders. Please remember:
(1) to post all your sightings on BirdTrack or directly to county recorders - and include codes for breeding evidence, so that RBBP and county recorders know if the record is of confirmed, probable or possible breeding, important for calculating the annual populations, and essential for your records to be included in the European Atlas. For more information on that project see href="http://www.ebba2.info" target="_blank">EBBA2. The BTO have set up a very useful website to help focus fieldwork efforts (all species, not just rare breeders) in Britain and Ireland: Gapfinder.Using the BirdTrack website, you can add a six-figure grid reference or pinpoint the sighting on the map. Similarly, if you use the BirdTrack smartphone app, the record will be allocated an accurate location. For some tips on how to use BirdTrack in this way, download our PDF Recording of breeding evidence and rare breeding birds using BirdTrack. You can download a short guide on using BirdTrack to submit records of rare breeding birds here.(2) do not post photos of birds you find on social media - respect the breeding birds and minimise disturbance by reporting only as in (1). (3) remember the Birdwatchers' Code of Conduct, keeping disturbance to a minimum and remembering that most RBBP species are specially protected undert Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act, meaning that it is illegal to disturb them at or near a nest without a licence.