Areas covered:

West Lothian, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian, including the islands of Bass Rock, Craigleith, Fidra, The Lamb, Inchmickery and Cramond Island. Click here for a detailed map.

Local recorder for the area:

Stephen Welch

25 Douglas Road, Longniddry, East Lothian, EH32 0LQ

01875 852802 or 07931 524963

Record submission:

We now prefer to receive Lothian bird records via BirdTrack, the online recording system operated by the BTO, the RSPB, BirdWatch Ireland and the SOC. All you need to do to get started is sign up as a BirdTrack user and register the sites where you birdwatch. It will create a personal ‘diary’ you can view online and your records will automatically be made available for the production of the Lothian Bird Report (provided you permit the local recorder to access them).

We do however continue to accept records sent directly to the local recorder at the address above. Various formats can be used:

  • A Microsoft Works or Excel spreadsheet, ideally this should be the standard Lothian SOC Excel spreadsheet which will ensure species names are consistent with those used in our master database; a day of the week check is also embedded
  • A Word document or equivalent. Records must be in a table format, with a column for each field.
  • As a last resort, on paper – but only if less than one hundred records, due to the time required to transfer to computer.

In all cases the important thing is to include the following information clearly separated into columns: species name, count (just digits), age/sex etc, locality, date (dd/mm/yyyy), comments.

Lothian Bird Report 

First published:



Ian Andrews, Keith Gillon, and David Kelly.

Published by:

SOC Lothian branch

Latest issue:

The latest report, covering 2020, was published in late 2022. It's our largest issue ever, with 158 pages packed with information and colour photos. Details are given for every species recorded in 2020, together with summaries for every species ever seen in Lothian.


£10 per copy.

Available from:

The report can be purchased from the SOC HQ at Waterston House, and from the Viking Optical Centre, 101 Rose Street, Edinburgh. Please check availability before travelling.

We can also post the report, with payment by bank transfer or by cheque payable to SOC Lothian Branch. Remember to include p&p - see below. Please email Stephen Hunter for payment details.

Back issues:

Back issues can be obtained by post from Stephen Hunter. The 2019, 2017, 2015, and 2014 reports have sold out, but we have copies of all other reports back to 2005. These cost £2 each plus p&p.

Postage and packaging:

First class p&p to the UK costs £4.30 for one report, and £5.20 for up to three.

For postage outside the UK, please email us for details.

Supplementary information:

2020 Report: Blackness Bay and its birds

Forth Islands Bird Report

Available from:

Forth Seabird Group
c/o Vane Farm
KY12 7LX

Recording of unusual species in Lothian

For species considered rare at a local level to appear in the Lothian Bird Report, they have to be assessed by the Lothian Bird Records Committee (LBRC). Following a review in December 2007, the Committee adopted a more statistical approach to determining those species assessed. Analysis of the data produced some interesting results, and the Committee decided that the list should comprise all species with an average of three records or less in the most recent five-year period (for which data was available). This is broadly in line with a number of other local records committees in the UK.

2012 review

During January 2012, the Committee completed their second review of the list of species that require descriptions in Lothian. As with the first review, data from the most recent five years available (2006-2010) was analysed. It was agreed that all species averaging three records or less a year would remain description species. The position of a number of other species was also addressed. As a result of this second review, a number of changes were made:

  • Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Glaucous Gull, Black Guillemot and Yellow-browed Warbler all exceeded the threshold and consequently came off the list of description species.
  • Smew and Ruddy Duck, however, fell below the threshold and were therefore added to the list.
  • The committee decided that given the ‘artificial’ status of both Red Kite and White-tailed Eagle in the region (ie the majority, if not all records involve released birds) the requirement of a description was unnecessary and therefore both these species came off the list.
  • The committee also agreed that all records of Mandarin in Lothian are likely to involve escaped birds from non-sustaining populations, and consequently descriptions for this species are unnecessary.
  • The committee felt that Quail are regularly present in large tracts of East Lothian and are not especially rare, and that the requirement of a description for sight-only records is no longer necessary.

Observers should also note that, since 2010, LBRC has been responsible for assessing American Golden Plover and Ring-billed Gull records – these have been ‘handed down’ from SBRC.

A revised list of those species now requiring a description by LBRC is shown below.

Unfortunately, it is a sad reflection on the status of some previously regular species in Lothian that they now appear on this list. It is vital therefore that we document properly all records of these species so that their true status can be accurately recorded. We thank all those observers who have submitted their descriptions in the past, and would encourage any observer fortunate enough to find any of the species below to submit a description via the recorder. This need not necessarily be a lengthy and detailed, feather-by-feather account – a few lines outlining the main features seen will normally be sufficient for acceptance. Photographs often make the assessment of records significantly easier and are welcomed, with or without accompanying notes, depending on their quality. It is the intention of the Committee that further reviews will take place at regular intervals to keep abreast of both changes in species’ status as well as future taxonomic changes.

The preferred method of description submission is via email to the Lothian Bird Records Committee (see below), copying the Lothian Bird Recorder. You can download a Rare Bird Record Form in Microsoft Word format (or browse a list of the details required) from the Bird Recording in Scotland page. The Committee will also endeavour to assess those records where photographs appear on websites such as the SOC and Birdguides, but have not been submitted directly. Such records will therefore not be ‘lost’ and will then appear in the Lothian Bird Report (subject to acceptance). In such circumstances however, the record will be credited as, eg “per”, ie the finder will not be acknowledged.

2013 update

Further additions to the species considered by LBRC, commencing from 1 January 2013, result from removal of same from the SBRC list from that date, these being: Great White Egret, Rough-legged Buzzard and Water Pipit. In addition LBRC will assume responsibility for assessment of the sinensis subspecies of Cormorant (Continental).

Records considered by LBRC from 1st January 2013

Written details should be submitted for the following species/subspecies:
Bewick’s Swan
Bean Goose
Snow Goose
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Garganey (not adult males or pairs)
Red-crested Pochard
Ring-necked Duck
Surf Scoter (not adult males)
Ruddy Duck
Black Grouse
Black-necked Grebe
Balearic Shearwater
Storm Petrel
Leach’s Petrel
Great White Egret
White Stork
Rough-legged Buzzard
Golden Eagle
Spotted Crake
American Golden Plover
Temminck’s Stint
Pectoral Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Grey Phalarope
Long-tailed Skua (juveniles only)
Sabine’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Iceland Gull
Turtle Dove
Little Owl
Shore Lark
Richard’s Pipit
Water Pipit
Yellow Wagtail (except British race flavissima)
Eurasian Reed Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Barred Warbler
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler
Wood Warbler (non-singing birds only)
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Bearded Tit
Willow Tit
Marsh Tit
Eurasian Golden Oriole
Red-backed Shrike
Great Grey Shrike
Hooded Crow
Rose-coloured Starling
Common Redpoll
Common Rosefinch
Corn Bunting


Cormorant (Continental) Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis


The Lothian Bird Records Committee, comprising Alan Brown, Colin Davison, Keith Gillon, Mervyn Griffin and Mark Wilkinson, will consider local rarities. The Scottish Birds Records Committee will consider Scottish rarities and the British Birds Rarities Committee will consider national rarities. Occasionally, the Recorder may request notes for species or sub-species not appearing on this list, when they occur outside their normal range or on unusual dates.
All rarity descriptions should be sent direct to Ian Andrews (copying Stephen Welch). Email is preferred, but descriptions can be sent by post to:

Ian Andrews
39 Clayknowes Drive
East Lothian
EH21 6UW

Scottish rarities should also be sent to Ian (again copying Stephen Welch), who will forward them to SBRC.

South-East Scotland Bird Atlas

Find out more here

Useful links: