Recording sightings of upland birds

Ptarmigan by Carl Baggott

Thank you for considering submitting sightings of upland birds. While all sightings are valuable, for the 'What's Up?' project we are particularly interested in birds seen in upland habitats. Where you go and what you record is up to you (although see below for information about priority species).

Even if you only submit records of a single species (e.g. Ptarmigan) this is still of use. Please enter as many records as possible! Your sightings can help us to better understand where different upland bird species occur and how these distributions change over time. This is valuable information which can help conservation science.

In addition, we also need to know more about the relative abundance of different species, and how their numbers change over time. Are some species declining, for example? Monitoring these changes in upland areas is particularly important because both climate and land use are changing, which may affect our upland birds. This is where Mountain Transects and the Breeding Bird Survey come in. These structured surveys also tell us where particular species do not occur - something that we cannot conclude with confidence from casual records. Take a look at the the links to see whether you could also help with one of these surveys.

Priority species for casual recording

While all bird sightings are useful there are certain species for which additional information would be particularly valuable. These include species which are less common or more specialist, cryptic or nocturnal, or are species of current conservation concern. The top priorities at any given time will vary from season to season and you can read
detailed guidance here (PDF, 424.41 KB)
Target species for casual recording. Photos by Jill Pakenham, Edmund Fellowes, Ron Marshall, Carl Baggott and Amy Lewis.

In brief, however, during the breeding season we would be particularly grateful for records of the following species:

Goosander Whinchat
Common Sandpiper Ptarmigan
Grey Wagtail Wheatear
Curlew Golden Plover
Lapwing Dipper

How to submit your sightings

We aim to make this as easy as possible, so your initial records can be submitted by email (include the species, number seen, date, name of location and grid ref). When providing a grid reference, please be sure to include the relevant two-letter code (e.g. NN, NM) in addition to the six digit number.

Ideally we would like you to use of the BirdTrack system, online or via phone app. This ensures that your sightings are processed quickly, accurately and efficiently. View this guidance to learn how to make BirdTrack work for you.

Safety and responsibility

While undertaking survey or recording work volunteers are encouraged to follow the BTO's Health & Safety guidelines.

Please be considerate and courteous towards landowners and take all reasonable steps to avoid disturbance or harm to wildlife.