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.