Recording Birds

The recording area

The Bristol region follows cover the following four ‘unitary authorities’:

  • South Gloucestershire (SG)
  • Bristol (BR)
  • Bath and North-east Somerset (BA)
  • North Somerset (NS).

The area covered by these four administrative units corresponds almost exactly to the old county of Avon, which ceased to exist on April 1st 1996.

Submitting your records

Records should supply details of the species, the number of individuals, the date seen, the site; with as accurate a grid reference as possible and any other relevant information.

Records can be submitted in a number of ways:

All records are kept – they are stored by Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC) in Bristol so they are properly archived and can be used for conservation and scientific enquiries, sometimes of considerable importance to the bird-life of the area.

Records of every observation

Records of every observation of the following species should be submitted:

Bewick’s Swan, all geese and ducks, Red-legged and Grey Partridge, Quail, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Bittern, Little Egret, all grebes, all raptors, Water Rail, all waders, Kittiwake, Little, Mediterranean, Yellow-legged, and Great Black-backed Gulls, all terns, Stock Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Cuckoo, all owls, Nightjar, Kingfisher, all woodpeckers, Firecrest, Marsh Tit, Sand Martin, Cetti’s, Wood and Grasshopper Warblers, Dipper, Ring Ouzel, Spotted Flycatcher, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Pied Flycatcher, Tree Sparrow, Yellow and Grey Wagtail, Tree, Rock and Water Pipits, Brambling, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Crossbill, Yellowhammer and Snow, Reed and Corn Buntings.

Common birds

For the common species we would particularly like records of the following;

  • Evidence of, or suggestive of, breeding for the following species: Mute Swan, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Swift, Jay, Goldcrest, House Martin, Willow, Garden, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Linnet and Bullfinch.
  • First and last sightings of summer and winter visitors;
  • Blackcaps and Chiffchaff in winter, and Black-headed and Common Gulls in summer;
  • Timed counts of passage or cold-weather movements.
  • Size and site of all roosts at any time of year.
  • Large flock counts.
  • Unusual activity, including early or late song, display or breeding, birds at unusual sites and individuals with aberrant plumage.
  • Regular counts from well-watched sites including gardens.
  • Birds that have obviously or probably escaped from captivity, or which are considered to be hybrids.

Species for which a description is required

For the locally rare species and subspecies set out below we require a description (reasons for a description) that confirms the plumage, and other details noted in arriving at the identification. The figure in brackets is the number of live individuals recorded between 1983 and 2013. Species without a figure, have not yet been seen in Avon or have only recently been added to the list.
The figure preceding the brackets refers to the conditions when a description is required:
1 Records away from the Estuary/coast, including records upstream of the old Severn Bridge
2 Sight records of non-singing birds away from established breeding areas
3 Claims of wild birds
4 Records away from the Mendips

Description Species

Whooper Swan (59)Rough-legged Buzzard (0)Great Grey Shrike (15)
Bean Goose (29)Spotted Crake (39)Woodchat Shrike (6)
Pink-footed Goose (12)Corncrake (6)Chough (1)
American Wigeon (2)Crane 3 (12)Hooded Crow (7)
Green-winged Teal (18)Stone-curlew (10)Penduline Tit (2)
Black-winged Stilt (2)Willow Tit (51)
Ring-necked Duck (28)American Golden Plover (3)Bearded Tit (94)
Ferruginous Duck (9)Kentish Plover (7)Short-toed Lark
Lesser Scaup (10)Dotterel (18)Woodlark (21)
Eider 1 (2)Temminck's Stint (10)Shore Lark (9)
Long-tailed Duck (59)Purple Sandpiper 1 (4)Red-rumped Swallow (3)
Surf ScoterWhite-rumped Sandpiper (5)Greenish Warbler (1)
Velvet Scoter (39)Buff-breasted Sandpiper (6)Pallas's Warbler (1)
Quail 2 (6)Pectoral Sandpiper (35)Yellow-browed Warbler (42)
Red-throated Diver (71)Red-necked Phalarope (7)Radde's Warbler
Black-throated Diver (15)Grey Phalarope (80)Dusky Warbler (2)
Great Northern Diver (52)Pomarine Skua (250)Wood Warbler in autumn (9)
White-billed DiverArctic Skua 1 (39)Barred Warbler
Fulmar 1 (9)Long-tailed Skua (12)Dartford Warbler (44)
Cory's Shearwater (2)Great Skua 1 (32)Subalpine Warbler (1)
Great ShearwaterPuffin (5)Icterine Warbler (1)
Sooty Shearwater (0)Black Guillemot (2)Melodious Warbler (1)
Manx Shearwater 1 (12)Razorbill (47)Blyth's Reed Warbler
Balearic Shearwater (1)Little Auk (18)Marsh Warbler (3)
Wilson's PetrelGuillemot 1 (1)Waxwing
Storm Petrel 1 (13)White-winged Black Tern (10)Rose-coloured Starling 10)
Leach's Petrel (206)Roseate Tern (3)Nightingale
Shag (80)Sabine's Gull (38)Bluethroat (4)
Night-heron (5)Ring-billed Gull (72)Red-breasted Flycatcher
Tree Sparrow
Cattle Egret (10)Caspian Gull (9) Citrine Wagtail (2)
Great White Egret (36)Iceland/Kumlien's Gull (43/6)Richard's Pipit (23)
Purple Heron (4)Glaucous Gull (16)Olive-backed Pipit
White Stork (14)Turtle Dove (24)Hawfinch (90)
Glossy Ibis (14)Long-eared Owl (130)Common Rosefinch (4)
Spoonbill (45)Nightjar 4 (8)Twite (37)
Red-necked Grebe (17)Alpine Swift (4)Common Redpoll (18)
Slavonian Grebe (52)Hoopoe (28)Arctic Redpoll
Honey-buzzard (21)Bee-eater (16)Parrot Crossbill
Black Kite (3)Wryneck (53)Serin (2)
White-tailed Eagle (0)Lesser Spotted WoodpeckerLapland Bunting (50)
Hen Harrier (90)Red-footed Falcon (2)Cirl Bunting (3)
Montagu's Harrier (12)Golden Oriole (16)Ortolan Bunting
Goshawk (49)Red-backed Shrike (8)Little Bunting (3)

Please download this form if you see a description species and submit it to the Avon Recorder.

Rares Form


We also require descriptions for locally rare subspecies – ie any subspecies which is not regularly recorded in Avon.

As a guide the list below shows the ‘recognisable’ rare subspecies that have been seen in the Bristol area:

  • Greenland White-front   Anser albifrons flavirostris (3)
  • Pale-bellied Brent Goose   Branta bernicla hrota (36)
  • Arctica Dunlin Calidris alpina arctica (30)
  • ‘Continental’ Black-tailed Godwit   Limosa l. limosa (24)
  • ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw Monedula monedula monedula (6)
  • Siberian Chiffchaff   Phylloscopus collybita tristis (56)
  • Blue-headed Wagtail   Motacilla flava flava (11)
  • Grey-headed Wagtail   Motacilla flave thunbergi (1)
  • Scandinavian Rock Pipit   Anthus petrosus littoralis (13)

As well as the species and subspecies listed, we also require descriptions for;

  • all ‘British Birds’ rarities (see the BBRC website for a list of such species and details of how to submit these.
  • out-of-season migrants (for example a Whimbrel in January, or a Goosander in July).
  • in the event of queries regarding any record.