Recording - Records Committee

Records 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

Chair: Vacant


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.

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.

Steve Young

Although born in Plymouth Steve grew up in the Yorkshire Dales where the wild outdoors triggered a lifelong love of wildlife, especially birds. Moving to the southern edge of Dartmoor aged 12 enabled this passion to grow and extend to twitching with his neighbours the Ross brothers. Detailed birding journals, illustrated with drawings and paintings began at the age of 15 and ran to 32 volumes up to 2012 before going paperless.

Starting at university, international travel added what is now more than half of Steve’s birding focus. Birding in 20 countries so far on all continents (except Antarctica) including 8 US states and return trips to the Philippines and New Guinea has resulted in the latter becoming an irresistible draw. A third trip is being planned.

Nearer home, Steve spends what spare time he has watching breeding birds on Dartmoor in spring/summer and looking for migrants at Start and Soar in the autumn. He has taken on the Devon Birds funded Swift nestbox scheme in his village after the church pulled the plug, put up Dipper nestboxes on the nearby upper Lemon and is beginning to get involved with formal bird surveys, finding previously unrecorded inland Cirl Buntings breeding nearby in 2022.

This is Steve’s second stint on the Devon Records Committee.


Tawny Owl by Steve Hopper at South Brent Gallery photo of Tawny Owl by Steve Hopper
Pheasant by Keith Mcginn at Hopes Nose Gallery photo of Pheasant by Keith Mcginn
Black Guillemot by Steve Hopper at Brixham Gallery photo of Black Guillemot by Steve Hopper
Kittiwake by Kenneth Bradley at Berry Head Gallery photo of Kittiwake by Kenneth Bradley

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