Atlases occupy a key ‘niche’ in bird surveying in Britain. Many surveys go so far as estimate the numbers of birds of a particular species, but cannot provide information on their distribution across the country. It therefore falls to atlases to provide data on the distribution of birds across the UK.
Many of the SOC branches and individual members carry out surveys of species of interest from Bean Goose to Common Buzzard, Black Guillemot, Corn Bunting, urban Oystercatchers and wintering Twite, all providing local information on population trends and changes. The most organised of these has been the collection of data for a number of local atlases, providing information at a more detailed level, often down to tetrads (2km-squares) rather than 10-km squares of national atlases. These include atlases of the breeding birds of North- East Scotland, Lothian and Borders and Fife.