Data Submission

Black-tailed Godwit by Paul French

Current status: the annual report on rare breeding birds in the UK was published in the September 2016 issue of British Birds. Currently the Panel Secretary is processing records for 2015 with a view to reporting in British Birds in the second half of 2017. The deadline for receipt of records for the 2015 breeding season is 30th November 2016 but the sooner records are received the better, to ensure the report can be compiled in good time for the earliest possible publication. Any county recorder who believes they will not be able to meet this timescale should contact the Panel Secretary as soon as possible.

Please read the following PDFs for additional guidance and background as to why submission of data is so important:

--> Guidance for county bird recorders on submitting data to RBBP

--> Guidance for county bird recorders on deciding which records to submit

--> An overview of the importance of RBBP data for bird conservation in the UK

Check this spreadsheet to see for a list of UK recording areas for which submissions to RBBP have been received so far for 2015.

Future deadlines for receipt of annual data on rare breeding birds: data for a particular year should be submitted to the Panel Secretary by no later than 30th November of the following year.

Anyone providing data to the RBBP should use the Panel's formatted excel spreadsheet (which includes instructions) available via Recording Forms.


The Panel collects data on almost 200 species of rare and scarce breeding birds in the UK; these are listed under Species List. Birdwatchers should submit any breeding records of these species to the County or Regional bird recorder for the area where the breeding record occurred as soon as possible after the breeding season concerned. A list of bird recorders is available at http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/birding-resources/county-recorders-2/. Reporting rare breeding birds in this way keeps local bird recorders informed and allows them to place the record in context with their local situation. Using all the data received for each species for a particular year, bird recorders then submit an annual report to the Panel.

Records for each species should wherever possible include totals of breeding pairs in the three categories of confirmed, probable or possible breeding (based on European Bird Census Council definitions). Definitions of the terms confirmed, probable and possible breeding are given here --> RBBP Definitions of Breeding Evidence

Observers may, if they wish, submit records directly to the Panel Secretary, but the normal procedure is to send them in the first instance to the relevant county recorder who will forward them to the Panel.

The Panel has prepared detailed standards to help with the selection and submission of records. These are available as a downloadable pdf document: Recording Standards

RBBP collects and archives all breeding season records for the rare and scarcer breeding birds of the UK. This includes all species with a UK population of fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs, and a few species which exceed this figure now but which historically have had lower populations. Most species on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 are included. In addition, the Panel would like to receive any breeding records for the rarer non-native (introduced or escaped) species such as Eagle Owl, some parakeets, rare pheasants and other gamebirds, and the rarer non-native wildfowl such as Black Swan and Eygptian Goose. A list of the principal species for which data are requested is in the Excel spreadsheet (link below), but full details on any other rare breeding species, including those attempting to nest in the UK perhaps for the first time, should also be submitted. Further details on submissions are to be found under the section on Recording Forms.

For more details on the recording of rare non-native species see Recording of Rare Non-natives.

Species are divided into six categories:

  • Regular breeding native species. These are species which breed or attempt to breed in the UK in most years, and where the breeding population is typically less than 2,000 breeding pairs. Regular breeding species are further sub-divided into four groups based on the number of breeding pairs (bp) in a typical years: Very Rare (<30bp), Rare (30-300 bp), Scarce (301-1,000 bp) and Less Scarce (>1,000 bp).
  • Occasional breeding native species. These are species which have bred in the UK on at least one occasion but at present breeding does not occur regularly.
  • Colonising native species. These are species which are presented in the RBBP reports as potential breeders but which subsequently have been proved to breed.
  • Potential breeding native species. These are species which have never bred in the UK, or have not bred in the UK since 1900, but which have shown signs of breeding (e.g. pairs in suitable breeding habitat or a territory being maintained) and for which it is recommended that such presence is recorded.
  • Regular breeding non-native species. These are species which are not native breeders in the UK but which breed or attempt to breed in the UK in most years, and where the breeding population is typically less than 1,500 breeding pairs.
  • Occasional breeding non-native species. These are species which are not native breeders in the UK which have bred in the UK on at least one occasion but at present breeding does not occur regularly.
  • Potential breeding non-native species. These are species which have never bred in the UK, or have not bred in the UK since 1900, but which have shown signs of breeding (e.g. pairs in suitable breeding habitat or a territory being maintained) and for which it is recommended that such presence is recorded.

For all species, details of all sites occupied in a county or recording area are requested, including totals of confirmed, probable and possible breeding pairs at each site. The Panel's downloadable Data Entry Excel template (see links at the top of this page) has been designed to collect the requested information. For 14 scarce or less scarce species, where the species may be numerous in some larger sites (such as an island, a large marsh or a forest), a total of confirmed, probable and possible breeding pairs at these larger sites or areas can be submitted instead. These 14 species are identified in blue within the Species List spreadsheet, Download here.