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A Guide To Recording Birds In Suffolk


The foundation stone of any report is the data upon which it is based. Unless we all submit our records diligently, and in a usable form, then the Suffolk Bird Report will not be a comprehensive account of the birds recorded in Suffolk.


The system

The recording of the county’s avifauna is the responsibility of the Suffolk Naturalists’ Society (SNS), working in close co-operation with the Suffolk Bird Group (SBG). The linchpins of the system are the Recorders, who are the initial point of contact for all records. Because of the volume of records in Suffolk the county has been divided into three areas – north-east, south-east and west. Observers are reminded that Suffolk works to Watsonian vice-county boundaries (VC25 and VC26), taking in areas that are now administered as Norfolk, Cambridgeshire or Essex. The most significant area affected is that of Lothingland, the northern limits of which follow the River Yare and include the south side of Breydon Water. We have retained these original boundaries as we feel that sensible comparison of data can only be made from year to year if the recording area is kept constant.


Submission of records

All observers are requested to submit their records monthly. The deadline for submission is January 31st of the following year. Details of species, location, date, sex/age, abundance and other relevant comments. A spreadsheet is available for inputting records and can be downloaded from the SBG website in the Downloads section - this can be sent electronically to the Recorders. Information on how to report records can be found here - Suffolk Bird Recording.


Assessment of scarce and rare records

All records come under the scrutiny of the Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee (SORC) and for rare or scarce species, verification is sought – i.e. photographs, field sketches, witnesses, sound recordings (for calling or singing birds) and (most importantly) written descriptions. The SORC policy for vagrants, classified as national rarities, is clear; records should be channelled through the County Recorder to be considered by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC), whose decisions are accepted by SORC. The most recent assessment can be found here - National RaritiesThose that are a county rarity will be assessed by SORC and the most recent assessment can be found here - County Rarities. Species are categorised as below – with the species list and corresponding number found on the SBG web site. The committee may also request further details regarding any other species that, in the opinion of the committee, is out of context in terms of season, habitat or numbers.



1 National Rarity – detailed description required.

2 County Rarity – notes detailing observation will always be required.

3 All records requested – supporting notes may be requested.

4 Specific records – records of breeding, large counts, earliest/latest dates, unusual inland records or migration/weather-related movements requested.

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