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 2017. 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 (62)Crane 3 (14)Penduline Tit (2)
Bean Goose (29)Stone-curlew (10)Willow Tit (51)
Pink-footed Goose (12)Black-winged Stilt (2)Bearded Tit (109)
American Wigeon (2)American Golden Plover (3)Short-toed Lark
Green-winged Teal (18)Kentish Plover (7)Woodlark (22)
Dotterel (18)Shore Lark (9)
Ring-necked Duck (29)Temminck's Stint (11)Red-rumped Swallow (3)
Ferruginous Duck (9)Purple Sandpiper 1 (4)Greenish Warbler (1)
Lesser Scaup (10)White-rumped Sandpiper (5)Pallas's Warbler (2)
Eider 1 (2)Buff-breasted Sandpiper (6)Yellow-browed Warbler (51)
Long-tailed Duck (61)Pectoral Sandpiper (37)Radde's Warbler
Surf ScoterRed-necked Phalarope (7)Dusky Warbler (2)
Velvet Scoter (42)Grey Phalarope (80)Wood Warbler in autumn (9)
Quail 2 (6)Pomarine Skua (250)Barred Warbler
Red-throated Diver (71)Arctic Skua 1 (40)Dartford Warbler (47)
Black-throated Diver (15)Long-tailed Skua (12)Subalpine Warbler (1)
Great Northern Diver (53)Great Skua 1 (35)Icterine Warbler (1)
White-billed DiverPuffin (5)Melodious Warbler (1)
Fulmar 1 (9)Black Guillemot (2)Blyth's Reed Warbler
Cory's Shearwater (2)Razorbill (47)Marsh Warbler (3)
Great ShearwaterLittle Auk (19)Waxwing
Sooty Shearwater (0)Guillemot 1 (1)Rose-coloured Starling 10)
Manx Shearwater 1 (12)White-winged Black Tern (10)Nightingale
Balearic Shearwater (1)Roseate Tern (5)Bluethroat (4)
Wilson's PetrelSabine's Gull (39)Red-flanked Bluetail (1)
Storm Petrel 1 (13)Ring-billed Gull (74)Red-breasted Flycatcher
Leach's Petrel (206)Caspian Gull (10) Tree Sparrow
Shag (117)Iceland/Kumlien's Gull (43/6)Citrine Wagtail (2)
Night-heron (5)Glaucous Gull (16)Richard's Pipit (23)
Purple Heron (4)Turtle Dove (25)Olive-backed Pipit
White Stork (14)Long-eared Owl (131)Hawfinch (91)
Glossy Ibis (15)Nightjar 4 (8)Common Rosefinch (4)
Spoonbill (51)Alpine Swift (4)Twite (37)
Red-necked Grebe (17)Hoopoe (34)Common Redpoll (18)
Slavonian Grebe (55)Bee-eater (17)Arctic Redpoll
Honey-buzzard (21)Wryneck (57)Parrot Crossbill
Black Kite (3)Lesser Spotted WoodpeckerSerin (2)
White-tailed Eagle (1)Red-footed Falcon (2)Lapland Bunting (51)
Hen Harrier (90
Golden Oriole (17)Cirl Bunting (3)
Montagu's Harrier (12)Red-backed Shrike (8)Ortolan Bunting
Goshawk (50)Great Grey Shrike (16)Little Bunting (3)
Rough-legged Buzzard (0)Woodchat Shrike (6)
Spotted Crake (41)Chough (2)
Corncrake (8)Hooded Crow (7)

* only records away from the Estuary/coast; ** only sight records away from the established breeding areas; *** only for records NOT considered to be from a re-introduction programme

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.