News from Devon Birds Records Committee


The Society’s Records Committee met via Zoom during October, and – as usual – the main task was to assess notes and photos of rarer species in the county. The Committee discussed the remaining few outstanding records for last year, prior to finalisation of the 2019 bird report.

In practice, the vast majority of submissions are accepted unanimously without discussion and this was no different this year. However a handful of the 77 records considered, attracted differing views and required discussion. Most of the small number of “not proven” descriptions lack sufficient detail and it is rare that the Committee considers a clear mistake has been made.

The Committee is very grateful to everyone who took the time and trouble to submit descriptions.

The Committee is made up of five voting members - Pete Aley, Russ Eynon, Tim Jones, Andy Smith and Tim Worfolk - plus the County Recorder, Kevin Rylands. In line with a policy of rotation, Tim Jones is now standing down and was thanked for all his work especially in applying his knowledge of Lundy and North Devon. (As Bird Recorder for the Lundy Field Society, he will continue to provide a vital link with the Committee). Formal nominations for his replacement will be sought shortly; ideally membership reflects a good geographical spread across Devon, but this isn’t always possible.

The Committee also discussed the desire to widen participation of younger members, women and ethnic minorities and will be giving further consideration to this. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, please contact

The Society maintains an 'A’ list of Devon rarities requiring full supporting descriptions & a ‘B' list of scarce birds needing only brief notes. The A list generally consists of birds with either 100 or fewer accepted individuals in the last 10-years, or 10, or fewer, individuals annually in at least seven of the last 10 years. Other factors such as population and distribution changes and identification issues may also have a bearing.

A Devon scarcity (‘B’ list) is either 300 or fewer accepted individuals in the last 10-years, or 30, or fewer, individuals annually in at least seven of the last 10 years. These species require short notes to be submitted to the County Recorder, using the comments section of the recording form.

Based on these criteria, the Committee agreed (from 2021) to move these species and subspecies to the ‘A’ list: Bewick's Swan, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Partridge, Little Auk, Nightingale, Northern acredula Willow Warbler, Pink-footed Goose, Scandinavian argentatus Herring Gull and Tree Sparrow.

Great White Egret moves from ‘A’ to ‘B'. Conversely, Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Spotted Redshank and Turtle Dove (all formerly in neither category) become ‘B’ species.

These former ‘B’ birds move out of either category (although notes may still be requested): Arctic Tern, Balearic Shearwater, Cattle Egret, Greenland leucorhoa Wheatear, Little Ringed Plover, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Pomarine Skua, Red Kite, Scandinavian abientus & ‘grey’ Chiffchaff, Sooty Shearwater, Spoonbill, White alba Wagtail, Yellow-browed Warbler and Yellow-legged Gull.

How times change!

Details on submitting records can be found at


The 2019 assessments and ‘A’ & ‘B’ lists will be in the 2019 Devon Bird Report.


Pete Aley & Kevin Rylands

on behalf of Devon Birds Records Committee


Posted October 27th, 2020 at 9:12 am by Mike Daniels in Bird News