Rare Breeding Birds Panel
RBBP - the secure information archive on the UK's rare breeding birds - Twitter: @ukrbbp
Rare Breeding Birds Panel: mid April 2020 update
Message to all birders: please ensure full details of any rare breeding birds in breeding habitat are submitted promptly to county bird recorders. At this time of year county recorders are compiling their 2019 datasets and hence reviewing what records require to be submitted to RBBP in god time for our annual deadline of 30th November 2020. In terms of data collection in the field in the 2020 breeding season, please see our notice below.
RBBP data and the Coronavirus pandemic.
The spread of Covid-19 is having an unprecedented impact on society throughout the UK. The Rare Breeding Birds Panel urges all members of the birding community to observe the government restrictions in place currently, and as they change. This will inevitably have a huge impact on our ability to monitor rare breeding birds now and possibly throughout the 2020 breeding season, but this is an unavoidable and necessary consequence of preventing the transmission of the virus. The RBBP's mission to monitor the country's rare breeding birds will continue beyond what, in the long view, will be a temporary break in the dataset.
We hope you can all enjoy nature while staying at home and staying safe.
Recording and reporting rare breeding birds in 2020.
Even though our movements are strictly limited at this time, the birds' breeding season is in full swing and migrant breeders are arriving and settling into territories. Despite the restrictions, some rare breeders will be detected and the same guidelines still apply, as they do every year. It is important to be cautious when reporting potential breeding pairs of species on the RBBP list. 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 (by social media, direct to local networks or to 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.
Our new Secretary.
Mark Eaton began work as the new Secretary of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel on 1st April. During April, he will be working alongside Mark Holling, who is retiring from the role, but will remain a Panel member and will help maintain the 45+ year archive in a voluntary capacity. With a long career in ornithology and conservation, most notably at the RSPB, Mark Eaton is well placed to continue the good work put into place by Mark Holling, and we wish him well in his new position. Communication with the Secretary will continue to be via the existing email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our new Chair.
The new RBBP Chair is Dawn Balmer, Head of Surveys at the BTO. Dawn has been the BTO's representative on the Panel since 2014 and has an immense wealth of experience of working with the bird recording community on surveys and atlases, most notably through her leadership of the Bird Atlas 2007-11 project.
Another change to the Panel.
With Mark Eaton becoming Secretary, a vacancy for the RSPB's representative was created and this has been filled by Andy Stanbury, Conservation Scientist at the RSPB.
We would like to congratulate everyone on their new appointments and wish them well. Short biographies for each member of the Panel are available via the Panel members tab on the left.
Update on progress with the collection and collation of 2018 data.
We are very pleased to report that we have received data from all recording areas in the UK, plus Channel Islands and Isle of Man - with one exception only (Borders). We are still working through all the records submitted for 2018, once this is completed the species totals by recording area will be computed ready for the preparation of the 2018 report due to be published later in the year.
Our latest annual report.
The new report from the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, presenting the definitive summary for the 2017 breeding season, was published on 1st December in British Birds - see the cover image to the left. For the first time ever, data were received directly from all recording areas, making this review even more definitive.
A pair of Night Herons in Somerset was the first ever confirmed breeding in the UK; Cattle Egrets nested at four sites; there were six pairs of Black-winged Stilts (a new record total); and the highest-ever totals for Eurasian Spoonbill (29 pairs), Eurasian Bittern (191 booming males and/or nests found) and Little Egret (1,523 pairs) were reported. Three pairs of European Bee-eaters nested in Nottinghamshire, although poor weather when the young were in the nest eventually led to all the chicks being deserted. The phenomenon of species with a more southerly European distribution colonising the UK is explored further in the report in a special piece penned by Malcolm Ausden. A total of 11 rare occasional and potential breeding species were recorded exhibiting breeding behaviour, pointing to the possibility of further colonisation in the future. Less good news though were the reports of the lowest ever totals of Slavonian Grebes (18 pairs) and the lowest totals since the 1980s of both Montagu's Harrier (5 pairs) and Spotted Crakes (8 calling males). See here for a list of all the rare breeding birds recorded in 2017 together with the numbers of pairs and trends for each species.
For a summary of the 2019 season, see Latest News (link on the left) One of the most important records is the first confirmed breeding of Savi's Warbler in Wales (photo right by Steve Culley).
Rare Breeding Birds Panel reporting - the archive.
All 43 reports published by the RBBP covering 1973 to 2016 are available to download from this website (select Annual Reports from the menu on the left). These reports were all published in the monthly journal British Birds and we are grateful to them for permission to make these reports available. You can also explore the species accounts within these reports using the Explore Reports option. At present this only covers 1973-2010 but work is underway to bring this up to date, as part of a major refresh of this website (due later this year).