RecordingRecords Committee

The Devon Birds Records Committee (DBRC) is responsible for assessing descriptions of rare or unusual birds recorded in Devon to maintain a true and accurate archive record of the county’s avifauna. A record of a Devon A Rarity has to be approved by the committee for it to be included in the Annual report and database. The committee is also tasked with reviewing the Devon A and B lists regularly and considering the status and taxonomy issues relating to any Devon rarities.

Records will be accepted if a majority of the Committee agree that the evidence presented is adequate. The criteria used by the Committee are necessarily strict to maintain the credibility of the Annual Report and Devon Birds database. Records may be reviewed at a subsequent date if new information becomes available.

The DBRC comprises five elected members and the County Recorder as non-voting Chairman. Each elected member serves five years on the committee, and must have stood down for a year before being eligible for re-election. In exceptional circumstances a committee member may be invited to serve for an extra year on a majority vote of the committee.

When a vacancy arises, the committee or another member of Devon Birds shall nominate a member for the role. If there are more nominees than there are vacancies then an election shall take place through a postal ballot of members of the Devon Birds through any of its publication/information sources together with a curriculum vitae for each nominee. 

Committee members are always experienced and active ornithologists from Devon, who have a vast knowledge and experience of birds and birding in the UK and often abroad.

Current DBRC Members

Kevin Rylands (County Recorder and Chair)

Kevin has been bird watching for over thirty years, being based in Devon (and Dawlish Warren) since 1991. He spends much of his time on the Warren and runs www.dawlishwarren.co.uk for the local recording group. Birding highlights have included Long-billed Murrelet and Semi-palmated Plover, plus several other species new to many people’s Devon lists. He has worked for the RSPB since 1998 primarily focusing on farmland species such as Stone-curlew, Chough, Red-backed Shrike and Cirl Bunting and he is currently the RSPB’s SW Regional Conservation Adviser. Although not a global traveller, he has visited most of the UK searching for and twitching rare vagrants. Contact Kevin at recorder@devonbirds.org.

Pete Aley

Pete has spent 34 years birding in Devon, with most of his time being spent on the Plym Estuary and Soar, and since 1980 has supplied Devon Birds with annual bird records. Pete really is part of the backbone of Devon birding, and is the reason many Devon birders have Desert Warbler on their county lists – this has to be his best find to date.  Pete’s also a well-respected figure in Cornwall birding and is a member of the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society, as he spends much time birding on the west side of the Tamar as well. It’s not just the south west that Pete’s experience is from. Over the years he’s been on birding trips in a vast array of countries including Nepal, Brazil, USA, Canada, Spain, France, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, Ireland, Kenya, Gambia, Greece, Austria and Egypt!

Andrew Smith

Andy has been birding for over 40 years and moved to Devon in 2015. Andy has since explored the County regularly visiting Soar and South Huish during migration whilst more locally he spends his time surveying Hembury and Holne Woods. Over the last 20 years Andy has led over 130 bird and natural history tours, mainly for Naturetrek. His experience and knowledge from birdwatching in over 50 countries including much of the Western Palearctic will be especially useful.

Russ Eynon

Russ started birding in the early 1980s, and over the past 37 years has done most of his birding around Devon, Cornwall and sometimes further afield. He has travelled worldwide on birding trips to Canada, several regions of USA, South Africa, Costa Rica, Australasia and Southern Europe. He is a keen urban birder, and his local patches usually would be within the City of Plymouth, including the Hoe seafront, Radford Park and Plym estuary, and often also at Wembury during spring and autumn migrations. Russ over the years has had a number of rare finds within the County, including Devon’s second record of Isabelline Shrike at Wembury, and within the City, notable finds including Spotted Sandpiper, Laughing Gull and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Tom Gale

Tom grew up birding around Haldon Forest and the Exe Estuary with his dad, as well as making regular trips elsewhere in the South West, such as Portland and Land’s End. Tom is also a keen bird artist and has kept a record of all his bird and wildlife sightings since the age of 8 in a series of A5 sketchbooks. In between studying over the past few years, he has spent a total of 14 months as a wardening volunteer at Fair Isle and North Ronaldsay Bird Observatories, producing some rarer finds – perhaps most notably the 2017 Siberian Blue Robin. Additionally, Tom has experience birding further afield in countries including Spain, Bulgaria and Thailand. After recently finishing his undergraduate degree in Biology, Tom is hoping to start a masters project on bird migration stopover behaviour in the near future.

Peter Hopkin

Peter has deep roots in Devon. Recently discovered family movies show him feeding Herring Gulls in Salcombe in 1964, and his first documented bird list, from Budleigh Salterton and now archived in Bird Track, was in 1974. Raised in Bristol, he learnt birding at Chew Valley Lake, with the incomparable Keith Vinicombe as a mentor. Attendance at Exeter University in the late ’70s, in the days when Cirl Buntings nested on campus, enabled him to widen his experience in Devon.

His profession as Land Surveyor enabled international travel, always combined with birding, to such diverse locations such as the Caribbean, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Mozambique and Egypt. He lived in Hong Kong for four years, at a time when knowledge of the Eastern Palearctic and Oriental avifauna was increasing exponentially, and new Phylloscopus species were being discovered annually. He then spent ten years in Bermuda, where the majority of the Western Palearctic’s North American vagrant species are common migrants and winter visitors. Here he found several ‘firsts’ such as Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Black-tailed Gull.

He sees quality documentation of a region’s bio-diversity as a fundamental component of the knowledge we need to understand and monitor changes in our environment. He hopes that his global experience will be of value in providing context, and to motivate others to go birding and record valuable data.