Rare Breeding Birds Panel
RBBP - the secure information archive on the UK's rare breeding birds - Twitter: @ukrbbp
Rare Breeding Birds Panel - 2019: July update
If you have found rare breeding birds in breeding habitat this summer ensure full details are submitted promptly to county bird recorders.
This month's update: 2019 so far; reminders on how to record rare breeding birds; update on Panel activities.
As we near the end of the 2019 breeding season it is time to reflect on the season so far. The high numbers of Cattle Egrets in the southern part of the UK over the winter have led, as many anticipated, to breeding records in several counties (we know of at least three sites so far). We hope to hear details of all of them in due course so that we can present a preliminary summary on these pages. Meanwhile, this blog about the discovery of a pair nesting in Hampshire nicely illustrates the difficulty in finding and proving the nesting of even conspicuous species (scroll down to 5th July). Good detective work and sensible precaution about releasing news of a rare breeding bird. Three colonies were found in 2017 but we heard of none in 2018. Spoonbills (picture left, courtesy of Allan Drewitt) have also bred at new sites this year. There has also been a spread of rare warblers holding territory at various sites, including Iberian Chiffchaff, Savi's Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler and Great Reed Warbler. Unusually, one of these may have been proved to breed as well, we await confirmation from the birders on the ground.
Although the focus of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel is on building and maintaining the definitive archive of rare breeding bird numbers and locations - which means we are focussed on the immediate past rather than the current season - we welcome news of unusual events through the breeding season. We would like to thank those county recorders and individuals who have contacted us, in confidence, in this way. Please email details to the Secretary. Our twitter account should not be used to communicate sensitive details although general reporting which might encourage others to report their sightings is welcome.Please continue to report your sightings to county recorders, either directly or via BirdTrack. ALL records of birds in breeding habitat should be diligently recorded, with breeding evidence codes (BirdTrack makes this easy, with drop-down menus). Records of pairs are especially useful - best of all of course is evidence of confirmed breeding with records of (for example) occupied nests, adults feeding young or recently fledged young. Be aware though of passage birds or late season gatherings. And for those of you fortunate to see Turtle Doves in breeding habitat this year, remember that the Turtle Dove has been added to the list of species to be reported on by the RBBP each year. Turtle Dove is the most rapidly declining breeding species in the UK, with a population now believed to be close to or less than 2,000 breeding pairs, meaning it qualifies for inclusion on our list. We have compiled a document Turtle Dove explaining this decision and offering tips and guidelines on how to record Turtle Doves. Detailed guidelines on how to report Turtle Doves (picture right, courtesy of Dawn Balmer) can be accessed via this link: Recording Guidelines for Turtle Dove (pdf file).
Data on the 2017 season have been received from all bird recording areas (an excellent response - thank you!) and over 30 other sources, and all the numbers are now being assembled for our next annual report due towards the end of 2019. And records for 2018 have already started to arrive with RBBP. Five recording areas have sent in their records already: Dumfries & Galloway, Leicestershire & Rutland, Northern Ireland, Staffordshire and the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. We offer our grateful thanks to the recorders in these areas and look forward to hearing from the other 70+ areas before the data submission deadline of 30th November.
Finally, readers of British Birds will have seen an article about the value of RBBP data in the July issue. We have also recently published overviews of the workings of the Panel in both Scottish Birds (March 2019) and Welsh Birds (June 2019).