Rare Breeding Birds Panel
RBBP - the secure information archive on the UK's rare breeding birds - Twitter: @ukrbbp
Rare Breeding Birds Panel - June 2018
The 2018 breeding season is now well underway and we hope that all birders are out there logging instances of breeding and potential breeding birds of all types! Remember to include a breeding evidence code with your records so that county bird recorders know that they have a breeding record - important for county bird reports and, if it is a rare breeding bird species, then that information can be collated at the end of the season for the annual submission to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel.
One species for which there seems to be quite a few records this year is Marsh Warbler (pictured left; photo kindly provided by Pete Wilson). This is a classic late spring arrival on the east coast and widely sought after; however in recent years all the breeding records of this very rare breeder have been in low rank vegetation on or close to the coast. Because of this, their chosen breeding habitat it is very vulnerable to disturbance and we are asking birders and bird information services NOT to advertise their presence unless the Marsh Warblers are at island observatories. With larger numbers arriving, singing males are more likely to pair up and settle down to breed. We suggest therefore that finders inform their county recorder (and/or the RBBP Secretary), in confidence, and then make regular discreet repeat visits, watching from a distance to look for signs of there being more than one bird and eventually possibly proof of breeding by seeing adults carrying food for young in the nest.
The graph on the right shows maximum numbers of this rare breeder since 1990 (red), and the number of confirmed breeding pairs. To be included in the totals, RBBP only includes records of birds which have clearly maintained a territory over a period of at least five days, thus excluding passage only birds. In the 1990s there were still regular populations in the West Midlands and Kent. In the last ten years, most occurrences have been on the east coast, from Shetland to Kent, and numbers have been much lower. Note that figures for 2016 are provisional.
We have provided guidelines on the recording and reporting rare breeding birds - check this document here. Please remember these three important principles:
(1) if you find a rare bird in breeding habitat, consider whether it might actually be breeding there and whether the birds might therefore be at risk of disturbance;
(2) do not publicise the birds or the site (either locally or via the national bird information services) unless you are sure that there are suitable viewing opportunities which will not disturb the birds in any way;
(3) always inform the county/regional bird recorder and submit details of your sightings to the recorder so that they can be stored locally and with the Rare Breeding Birds Panel.
To fulfil our aims to curate and safely archive all records of rare breeding birds in the UK, for the conservation of those species and for the benefit of UK ornithology, we rely on birdwatchers reporting their sightings to county recorders and those recorders collating them and sending them on an annual basis to the RBBP Secretary. We would like to encourage any one with records of species on the RBBP list recorded in breeding habitat in 2017 to submit them to county bird recorders immediately so that they can be made available to RBBP by the deadline at the end of November this year.
Our most recent report, published in British Birds in December covered the 2015 breeding season. The report for 2016 is currently being prepared using data from county recorders and other available sources; the report will be published in British Birds in November. You can buy a digital copy of the issue of British Birds containing the report for £4.99 via the Apple Appstore or Google Play: search for British Birds magazine. Alternatively, you can buy a paper copy (£7.50): from British Birds directly.
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