The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is having a significant impact on our lives and will continue to do so over the coming months. SOC takes this threat seriously, and our primary concern of course is for the health, wellbeing and safety of our staff, volunteers and members, and the communities of which we are a part.
We urge all SOC members to follow the latest Government advice in order to prevent the spread and transmission of infection. The bird recording and survey work that many of us undertake, whether for our local SOC branches or other organisations, is of course important and a valuable contribution to society, but these are exceptional times, and UK and Scottish Government advice, as published on 23.03.2020 is clear that we should remain at home other than for essential purposes.
In line with this advice and that offered by the BTO (https://www.bto.org/community/news/202003-bto-and-covid-19), we urge that you confine your bird recording to that which can be carried out from your home or during daily exercise. We ask that you do not travel to survey squares, fieldwork sites or other locations to participate in birdwatching or bird recording activity if by doing so you would be in breach of Government advice.
The UK Government has said that the restrictions announced on 23 March will initially last for three weeks, at which point they will examine them again and alter then as evidence suggest may be necessary. We will continue to monitor Government advice, including the review planned for 13 April, and will update SOC advice accordingly.
One of the SOC's greatest contributions to Scottish ornithology is the documentation of bird numbers and the maintenance of the Local Recorders' Network. The library at Waterston House is home to the most complete collection of Scottish local and regional annual bird reports held in Scotland, and the library and secure archive contain an unrivalled collection of records accumulated by private individuals and organisations. This documentation of recording and monitoring forms the cornerstone of our knowledge of Scotland's birdlife. The SOC produced the most recent and authoritative account of Scotland’s birdlife with the publication of Birds of Scotland in 2007, and updates to our knowledge are published regularly in the club journal, Scottish Birds.
The Scottish Birds Records Committee, set up by the Club, also maintains the official Scottish List on behalf of the SOC. SBRC also publishes an annual update on rare and scarce birds seen in Scotland and produces papers on species/subspecies identification and changes in status in a Scottish context.
As a BirdTrack partner, we work with the British Trust for Ornithology, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other national organisations in England, Wales and Ireland to promote the practice of keeping bird records and submitting them to support and further scientific research. The BirdTrack database contains around 70 million individual bird records and is a powerful tool for promoting bird protection and conservation.
The Club provides support to ornithological fieldwork in Scotland with grants for research and surveys. The Birds of Scotland Fund is used to support ornithological publications and special projects in Scotland.