BTO's rare species policy

Online data entry offers many benefits, including the rapid and automated production of feedback. To reflect the sensitivity of some rare wintering and breeding birds we had formulated the following policy to guide the production of online feedback so that observers were satisfied that their records would be treated with the appropriate degree of sensitivity and confidentiality. Feedback included the production of online maps and the listing of species in 'Square Summaries'. The latter were viewable to registered online users and gave lists of species seen in the 10-km squares and tetrads for which the observer had entered records. Lists relate to winter (Nov-Feb) and breeding (Apr-Jul) season records only.

However, given the sensitivity of some rare breeding birds we had formulated the following policy that would guide the automated production of maps online, and reproduced on paper, and the listing of species in 'Square Summaries' online and would encourage observers to submit their sightings in the knowledge that they would be dealt with appropriately.

We define rare or sensitive species as those treated by the Rare Breeding Bird Panel (RBBP) and the Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel (IRBBP), plus a small number of locally scarce species. For these species we only published maps online according to the policy outlined below governing the resolution (scale) at which records would be represented. Prior to publication in the final Atlas all maps were reviewed with RBBP and IRBBP and final decisions taken concerning scale of mapping. All other species were presented at 10-km and tetrad resolution.

Below are two examples of how maps for rare or sensitive species were represented. The first shows how Red Kites were treated in the 1988-91 Atlas publication, illustrating the number of records but not giving away exact locations. The second shows recent BirdTrack records for Red Kite, illustrating the number of 10-km squares from which records were received in each 100-km square. In both cases the maps illustrate the general status of the species without revealing exact locations and thus securing the confidentiality of records.

The policy currently refers to Britain only.

Policy on presentation of atlas records

For the purposes of this policy we treat any records from March to July as breeding records; all records outside this period are considered non-breeding records. Unless otherwise stated (see list below) we will publish all non-breeding season records of all species at 10-km resolution and list in the 'Square Summaries' online at the tetrad level (2 x 2km square).

For the purposes of mapping, during the breeding season (March to July inclusive) we placed the RBBP and IRBBP species into three levels of resolution: 10-km, 100-km and none. 'None' means the species would not be mapped at any resolution or appear on any 'Square Summaries'. These categories would be used to govern the production of automated maps online and preliminary maps (e.g. for publicity material) and whether a species is listed in the 'Square Summaries' online at tetrad, 10-km square or not at all. We took the RBBP list as the basis for the list shown below and added in a few additional species requested by IRBBP. For species where there is no specific mapping/listing requirement for Ireland we had used the RBBP rating for consistency, although we were fully aware that many of these species did not occur in Ireland.

Final production maps for Atlases were scrutinised by RBBP and IRBBP and these rules may have been relaxed, or tightened, for some records if conditions permitted. We encouraged all records to be submitted to BTO in accordance with this policy but if observers had particular concerns we were happy to discuss these. Note also that all records received for these species were passed on in confidence to the RBBP and IRBBP.

We recommended that if an observer was concerned about a record of a rare breeding bird, then details were submitted confidentially on paper to one of the Atlas Organisers (Dawn Balmer at BTO, Bob Swann c/o SOC and Brian Caffrey at BirdWatch Ireland Midlands Office).


Scales for automated mapping online, on paper and in online 'Square Summaries':

Free: Listed at Tetrad level (2 x 2 km square) in 'Square Summaries'. No national maps will be produced at the tetad level for the Bird Atlas.
10-km
100-km
None

Species name
March - July (breeding)
August - February (winter)
 
BRITAIN
IRELAND
BRITAIN
IRELAND
Bewick's Swan
None
None
Free
Free
Whooper Swan
None
100-km
Free
Free
Pink-footed Goose
None
None
Free
Free
Ruddy-headed Goose
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Ruddy Shelduck
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Wigeon
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Gadwall
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Black Duck
None
None
Free
Free
Pintail
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Garganey
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Shoveler
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Blue-winged Teal
None
None
Free
Free
Red-crested Pochard
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Pochard
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Ring-necked Duck
None
None
Free
Free
Scaup
100-km
10-km
Free
Free
King Eider
None
None
Free
Free
Long-tailed Duck
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Common Scoter
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Velvet Scoter
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Goldeneye
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Smew
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Goosander
Free
100-km
Free
Free
Ptarmigan
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Black Grouse
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Capercaillie
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Quail
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Golden Pheasant
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Lady Amherst's Pheasant
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Silver Pheasant
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Reeve's Pheasant
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Red-throated Diver
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Black-throated Diver
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Great Northern Diver
None
None
Free
Free
Pied-billed Grebe
None
None
Free
Free
Red-necked Grebe
100-km
None
Free
100-km
Slavonian Grebe
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Black-necked Grebe
100-km
None
Free
Free
Black-browed Albatross
None
None
Free
100-km
Cory's Shearwater
None
100-km
Free
Free
Macaronesian Shearwater
None
None
Free
Free
Leach's Petrel
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Bittern
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Little Bittern
None
None
Free
Free
Night-heron
None
None
Free
Free
Cattle Egret
None
100-km
10-km
Free
Little Egret
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Purple Heron
None
None
Free
Free
Spoonbill
None
None
Free
Free
Honey-buzzard
100-km
Non
10-km
Free
Red Kite
100-km
100-km
100-km
100-km
White-tailed Eagle
100-km
100-km
100-km
100-km
Marsh Harrier
100-km
100-km
Free
10-km
Hen Harrier
100-km
100-km
10-km
10-km
Montagu's Harrier
100-km
100-km
10-km
10-km
Goshawk
100-km
100-km
100-km
100-km
Golden Eagle
100-km
100-km
100-km
100-km
Osprey
100-km
100-km
10-km
10-km
Merlin
10-km
10-km
Free
10-km
Hobby
10-km
100-km
10-km
10-km
Gyr Falcon
None
None
Free
10-km
Peregrine
10-km
10-km
10-km
10-km
Water Rail
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Spotted Crake
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Corncrake
10-km
10-km
Free
10-km
Crane
None
None
None
Free
Great Bustard
None
None
None
Free
Black-winged Stilt
None
None
Free
Free
Avocet
10-km
100-km
Free
10-km
Stone-curlew
100-km
100-km
10-km
Free
Little Ringed Plover
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Kentish Plover
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Dotterel
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Sanderling
None
None
Free
Free
Temminck's Stint
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Pectoral Sandpiper
None
None
Free
Free
Purple Sandpiper
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Broad-billed Sandpiper
None
None
Free
Free
Ruff
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Jack Snipe
None
None
Free
Free
Black-tailed Godwit
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Bar-tailed Godwit
None
None
Free
Free
Whimbrel
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Greenshank
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Green Sandpiper
None
None
Free
Free
Wood Sandpiper
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Spotted Sandpiper
None
None
Free
Free
Turnstone
None
None
Free
Free
Red-necked Phalarope
None
100-km
Free
Free
Great Skua
Free
100-km
Free
Free
Mediterranean Gull
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Little Gull
None
None
Free
Free
Ring-billed Gull
None
100-km
Free
Free
Yellow-legged Gull
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Glaucous Gull
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Lesser Crested Tern
None
None
Free
Free
Roseate Tern
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Little Tern
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Black Tern
None
100-km
Free
Free
Alexandrine Parakeet
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Turtle Dove
Free
10-km
Free
Free
Barn Owl
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Eurasian Eagle-Owl
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Snowy Owl
None
100-km
10-km
100-km
Long-eared Owl
10-km
10-km
10-km
Free
Short-eared Owl
10-km
100-km
Free
10-km
Nightjar
Free
100-km
Free
Free
Kingfisher
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Bee-eater
None
None
Free
Free
Hoopoe
None
None
Free
Free
Wryneck
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Free
10-km
Free
10-km
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Woodlark
10-km
10-km
10-km
Free
Shore Lark
None
None
Free
Free
Red-rumped Swallow
None
None
Free
Free
Yellow/Blue-headed Wagtail
Free
10-km
Free
Free
Citrine Wagtail
None
None
Free
Free
Waxwing
None
None
Free
Free
Ring Ouzel
Free
10-km
Free
Free
Thrush Nightingale
None
None
Free
Free
Nightingale
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Bluethroat
None
None
Free
Free
Black Redstart
10-km
100-km
Free
10-km
Redstart
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Monk Parakeet
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Fieldfare
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Redwing
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Cetti's Warbler
10-km
100-km
Free
Free
Fan-tailed Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
River Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Savi's Warbler
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Marsh Warbler
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Reed Warbler
Free
10-km
Free
Free
Great Reed Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Booted Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Icterine Warbler
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Melodious Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Marmora's Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Dartford Warbler
10-km
10-km
10-km
Free
Lesser Whitethroat
Free
10-km
Free
10-km
Spectacled Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Asian Desert Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Greenish Warbler
None
None
Free
Free
Wood Warbler
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Firecrest
10-km
100-km
Free
10-km
Pied Flycatcher
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Bearded Tit
10-km
100-km
Free
100-km
Crested Tit
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Short-toed Treecreeper
None
None
Free
Free
Penduline Tit
None
None
Free
Free
Golden Oriole
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Red-backed Shrike
None
None
Free
Free
Great Grey Shrike
None
None
Free
10-km
Woodchat Shrike
None
None
Free
Free
Chough
100-km
10-km
100-km
10-km
Carrion Crow
Free
10-km
Free
Free
Raven
10-km
10-km
Free
10-km
Brambling
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Serin
None
None
Free
Free
Twite
Free
10-km
Free
10-km
Common Crossbill
10-km
10-km
Free
10-km
Scottish Crossbill
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Parrot Crossbill
100-km
100-km
Free
Free
Common Rosefinch
None
10-km
Free
Free
Hawfinch
10-km
100-km
Free
100-km
Lapland Bunting
None
None
Free
Free
Snow Bunting
10-km
100-km
Free
10-km
Cirl Bunting
10-km
10-km
Free
Free
Corn Bunting
Free
100-km
Free
100-km
Red-winged Laughing-thrush
10-km
10-km
Free
Free