Welsh Birds Rarities Committee
This subcommittee of WOS assesses records of scarce and rare birds in Wales, producing an annual report. It also maintains the list of all the birds seen in Wales, which can be downloaded here: simple list (pdf), detailed version (MS Excel). The title of the subcommittee has now been changed from Welsh Records Panel (WRP) to Welsh Birds Rarities Committee (WBRC) to run parallel to the BBRC (British Birds Rarities Committee).
The WBRC has adopted the Moussier’s Redstart as its logo. This northwest African bird has occurred just once in Britain, on Dinas Head, Pembrokeshire, in April 1988.
With its long coastline and westerly outlook, Wales sees its fair share of scarce and rare birds each year. Some of the rarest birds seen in Britain have occurred in Wales, including Gray Catbird, Little Whimbrel and Royal Tern.
There is a three tier system of record assessment for uncommon birds recorded in Wales:
- The British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) assesses British rarities.
- The Welsh Birds Rarities Committee (WBRC) assesses records of birds rare in a Welsh context, but not rare enough in Britain to be assessed by BBRC.
- Local Records Committees assess records of species rare at a local level, but which are commoner elsewhere in Wales.
Descriptions of species
Birds considered by the WBRC are those occurring on average five times or fewer annually in Wales. Descriptions are received by the Welsh Birds Rarities Committee from the Recorders of all Welsh counties and occasionally directly from the observers.
The Committee is keen to receive any descriptions, photographs, videos and any other relevant evidence, by e-mail or by post. Download a description form (MS Word or pdf) and send the information, preferably via the County Recorder, or direct to the WBRC Secretary (address below). Even if you’re not the person who found a rarity, please send in a description nonetheless, as the finder may not – you can check whether descriptions have been received on the Rarity Tracker which is updated annually.
Reporting on rarities
The WBRC produces an annual Scarce and Rare Birds in Wales Report which is available in digital form to members on the WOS website. Information from which is incorporated into the annual Welsh Bird Report, sent to all WOS members each January. Back issues of the Scarce and Rare Birds report can be downloaded below.
Who are the members of the Welsh Birds Rarities Committee?
The WBRC is a sub-committee of the Welsh Ornithological Society and consists of six voting members.
The Committee consists of six voting members. In 2017 they were: Steve Stansfield, Bardsey (Chairman), Richard Brown – Skokholm & Pembroke, Mark Hipkin – Gower, Chris Jones – Denbigh, Mike Powell – E. Glamorgan, Robin Sandham – Caernarfon and a non-voting Secretary, Jon Green – Ceredigion.
Mark Hipkin has stood down due to pressures of work and has been replaced by Paul Roberts from E. Glamorgan.
The longest serving member of the Committee retires and a new member is elected annually by the Welsh County Recorders and the Council of the Welsh Ornithological Society. The WBRC is always on the look out for new members, anyone who is interested should contact their County Recorder or the WBRC Secretary.
Scarce and Rare Bird Photobase
As more of us carry digital cameras as part of our standard birding kit, a greater number of photos exist of Welsh rarities. We are trying to put together a photo-base of rare Welsh birds. This will help with record assessment and analysis but will also stand the test of time as a historical record of the occurrence of rarities in Wales. WBRC Secretary Jon Green is considering whether it would be possible to publish a book (perhaps a digital online version) on Rare birds in Wales, illustrating as many species as possible with photographs. It’s not only digital photos that we are interested in, as slides and prints can be scanned and converted into digital versions. Do you have any photos of rare and scarce birds in Wales? Jon has a good selection already but is particularly interested in getting hold of photos from the 1970-1990s – for example, the Holyhead White-billed Diver or the Aberdysynni female King Eider or even the Britton Ferry Sociable Plover!
Any slides or prints would be scanned and returned (along with a digital copy) and any costs would be reimbursed. Please send images to the email or postal address below.
Jon Green, Crud yr Awel, Bowls Road, Blaenporth, Cardigan, Ceredigion SA43 2AR. Tel: 01239 811561. Email.