Sarah Harris

SMP Organiser

Sarah is responsible for managing the BTO/JNCC Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP), co-ordinating SMP volunteers and professional surveyors and working alongside Co-operating Organisations including the SMP Key Sites and the SMP Advisory Group.

Interests & Responsibilities

Sarah is responsible for the national coordination of the Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP). This survey involves working closely with the SMP volunteers and professional surveyors to ensure effective delivery of the scheme and ensuring outputs from the scheme are fed back to participants. Responsibilities include maintenance of databases, production of reporting outputs, promotion and liaison with the surveyor network, SMP Key Sites, the 23 members of the SMP Advisory Group, and the Partner and Associate Partner organisations (JNCC and RSPB respectively).

Sarah has always been interested in bird (and other taxa) monitoring and making those data available as widely as possible for use in research and conservation. Occasionally, Sarah works with research teams at BTO carrying out tracking fieldwork for species such as Arctic Skua and Lesser Black-backed Gull on Skokholm.

Previously, Sarah worked on various islands assisting in data collection for the Seabird Monitoring Programme as part of her roles, including on the Calf of Man Bird Observatory, Skomer and Skokholm Islands.  In addition, Sarah assisted Fair Isle Bird Observatory with some of their SMP Key Site data collection as a volunteer.

Other Information

Prior to undertaking her current role, Sarah was the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) National Organiser for BTO from April 2014 to November 2022.  This roles also involved the coordination and delivery of outputs from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS), and the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) on BBS squares - the latter being a partnership with Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology and JNCC.

Sarah has also worked as Estate and then Ornithological Warden on the Calf of Man Bird Observatory, which involved bird monitoring, ringing activities, collating data, report writing, and estate and habitat management work.  This was followed by the role of Assistant Warden on Skomer Islands and then onto a position of White-tailed Eagle Officer on the Isle of Skye - plotting all White-tailed Eagle nests, territories and roost sites across Skye and neighbouring islands.

Sarah is a very keen birder, bird recorder and has been a ringer since the age of 13.  She is the Honorary Secretary of the Rye Meads Ringing Group committee, a Director of Spurn Bird Observatory, as well as being a committee member of the observatories Science and Research sub-committee, and is on the British Birds editorial panel.

Sarah is particularly interested in Bird Observatory work, witnessing and recording bird migration, gull identification, seawatching and moth recording.


BSc (Hons) Countryside Conservation, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, 2005-2008
A’ Permit bird ringer, 2008
Coastal Powerboat Level 2 certificate, 2011

Recent BTO Publications

O’Hanlon, N.J., Harris, S.J., Thaxter, C.B., Boersch-Supan, P.H., Robinson, R.A., Balmer, D.E. & Burton, N.H.K. 2024. Seabird population and demographic monitoring in the UK: a review and recommendations for future sampling. Research Report no. 754. ISBN: 978-1-912642-49-6
van Bemmelen, R., Moe, B., Schekkerman, H., Hanssen, S.A., Snell, K., Humphreys, L., Mäntylä, E., Hallgrimsson, G.T., Gilg, O., Ehrich, D., Calladine, J., Hammer, S., Harris, S., Lang, J., Vignisson, S., Kolbeinsson, Y., Kimmo, N., Sillanpää, M., Sittler, B., Sokolov, A., Klaassen, R., Phillips, R. & Tulp, I. 2024. Synchronous timing of return to breeding sites in a long-distance migratory seabird with ocean-scale variation in migration schedules. Movement Ecology View at journal website (DOI: 10.1186/s40462-024-00459-9)
O'Hanlon, N.J., van Bemmelen, R.S.A., Snell, K.R.S., Conway, G.J, Thaxter, C.B., Aiton, H., Aiton, D., Balmer, D.E., Are Hanssen, S., Calladine, J.R., Hammer, S., Harris, S.J., Moe, B., Schekkerman, H., Tulp, I. & Humphreys, E.M. 2024. Cross population comparison of complex migration strategies in a declining oceanic seabird. Marine Ecology Progress Series 730 : 113-129 View at journal website (DOI: 10.3354/meps14533)
Heywood, J.J.N., Massimino, D., Balmer, D.E., Kelly, L., Noble, D.G., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Woodcock, P., Wotton, S., Gillings, S. & Harris, S.J. 2023. The Breeding Bird Survey 2022. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford, Norfolk ISBN: 978-1-912642-53-3 36pp
Rigala, S., Dakos, V., Alonso, H., Auniņš, A., Benkőe, Z., Brotons, L., Chodkiewicz, T., Chylareck, P., de Carlil, E., del Moral, J.C., Domșa, C., Escandell, V., Fontaine, B., Foppen, R., Gregory, R., Harris, S., Herrando, S., Husby, M., Leronymidou C., Jiguet, J., Kennedy, J., Klvaňová, A., Kmecl, P., Kuczyński, L. , Kurlavičius, P., Kålås J.A., Lehikoinen, A., Lindström, Å, Lorrillière, R., Moshø, C., Nellis, R., Noble, D., Eskildsen, D.P., Paquet, J-Y., Pelissié, M., Pladevall, C., Portolou, D., Reif, J., Schmid, H., Seaman, B., Szabo, Z.D., Szép, T., Florenzano, G.T., Teufelbauer, N., Trautmann, S., van Turnhout, C., Vermouzek, Z., Vikstrøm, T., Voříšek, P., Weiserbs, A. & Devictor, V. 2023. Farmland practices are driving bird population decline across Europe. PNAS Link to publication View at journal website (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2216573120)
Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Humphreys, E.M., Burton, N.H.K., Atkinson, P.W., Pollock, C., Clewley, G.D., Johnston, D.T., O’Hanlon, N.J., Balmer, D.E., Frost, T.M., Harris S.J. & Baker, H. 2023. Highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds in the United Kingdom in 2022: impacts, planning for future outbreaks, and conservation and research priorities.. Research Report no. 752. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford ISBN: 978-1-912642-47-2 92pp

Other Publications

Bird and ringing reports for the Calf of Man Bird Observatory, the Rye Meads Ringing Group and Skomer Island. 

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