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Vacant Lot

An opportunity to join the BOU Records Committee

No - I don`t mean that the BOU are a vaconat lot - I mean that there maybe a space just waiting for you to fill it!The BOU Records Committee (BOURC) is responsible for maintaining the British List. The Committee scrutinises potential first records for Britain, concentrating on issues of identification (liaising closely with the British Birds Rarities Committee [BBRC]) and provenance. Historical as well as contemporary records are given consideration. The BOURC is an appointed Committee of BOU Council and comprises ten members, including a Chairman and Secretary and the Chairman of BBRC. The committee is a well-balanced team of birders with international ornithological and birding experience and knowledge, and includes both professionals and amateurs. Skills of individual members include detailed knowledge of bird distribution, taxonomy, statistics, the wild bird trade, genetics and historical research. Expertise in bird identification is also extremely important. The ability to handle regular batches of paperwork, often detailed and complex, and to do so promptly and reliably, are key qualities. The work is entirely voluntary and unpaid. The present members are Eric Meek (Chairman), Tim Melling (Secretary), Martin Collinson, Ian Lewington, Andrew Harrop, Bob McGowan, Tony Prater, Graham Walbridge, Roger Wilkinson and Colin Bradshaw (BBRC Chairman). Members retire on a rotational basis and recent and imminent retirements mean that the Committee wishes to appoint a new member who in addition to matching the above criteria has either (a) a particular knowledge in the field of species held in captivity and their escape potential or (b) the knowledge and skills necessary for the detailed examination of birds in the hand. Applications from, or nominations on behalf of, interested persons possessing the necessary motivation, experience, knowledge and skills measured against the above criteria, are now invited for one post to be filled during 2004. Applications and nominations should be sent, with a CV outlining relevant details and qualifications, by post or email to Eric Meek (BOURC Chairman), Smyril, Stenness, Orkney Islands KW16 3JX or E-mail: bourc.chair@ bou.org.uk. Closing date 30 November 2003.Further details can be obtained from one of the following: Eric Meek, Chairman, BOURC Tel 01 856 850 176 Email bourc.chair@bou.org.uk Tim Melling, Secretary, BOURC Tel 01 484 861 148 Email bourc.sec@bou.org.uk Steve Dudley, BOU Administrator Tel 01 733 844 820 Email steve.dudley@bou.org.ukFor those of you who do not know of the BOU or the BOURC - the article below sets out who and what they are and what constitutes different categories of bird on the British list:The British Ornithologists? Union, founded in 1858, is one of the world?s oldest ornithological societies. The BOU?s main function is to ?promote ornithology within the scientific and birdwatching communities?. This is achieved primarily by the BOU?s quarterly publication, Ibis, one of the world?s leading ornithological journals, which includes original research reports on the systematics, ecology, physiology, behaviour, anatomy and conservation of birds. The BOU also organises conferences, seminars, meetings and expeditions and gives a series of annual grants and awards to assist with travel and equipment associated with ornithological research projects and student sponsorship.

The British Birds Rarities Committee, founded in 1958, is the official adjudicator of rare bird records in Britain. The british List

The British Ornithologists` Union Records Committee (BOURC) is responsible for maintaining the official list of birds recorded in Britain ? the British List. For over 100 years the BOU has maintained a list of birds that have been recorded in Britain. The BOURC periodically publishes up-to-date checklists incorporating changes the BOURC has announced in its reports published annually (in January) in the BOU?s journal, Ibis.The British Ornithologists` Union Records Committee (BOURC) is responsible for maintaining the official list of birds recorded in Britain ? the British List. For over 100 years the BOU has maintained a list of birds that have been recorded in Britain. The BOURC periodically publishes up-to-date checklists incorporating changes the BOURC has announced in its reports published annually (in January) in the BOU`s journal, Ibis.In 1997, the BOURC liaised with the government`s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to revise the categories used in the British List. The JNCC has adopted the list for decisions concerning to the status of birds in Britain in relation to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Responsibility for the British list lies with the BOURC. Northern Ireland has different legislation, and the list for Northern Ireland is maintained by the Northern Ireland Birdwatching Association (NIBA). The Isle of Man (which is not a legislative part of the UK) also maintains its own list which may be used by its own legislators.

Species recorded from the Republic of Ireland do not form any part of the British List.Categories used in the British List

A Species which have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once since 1 January 1950.
B Species which were recorded in an apparently natural state at least once up to 31 December 1949, but have not been recorded subsequently.
C Species that, although introduced now derive from the resulting self-sustaining populations.
C1 Naturalised introductions Species that have occurred only as a result of introduction. E.g. Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus.
C2 Naturalised establishments Species with established populations as a result of introduction by Man, but which also occur in an apparently natural state. E.g. Canada Goose Branta canadensis.
C3 Naturalised re-establishments Species with populations successfully re-established by Man in areas of former occurrence. E.g. Red Kite Milvus milvus.
C4 Naturalised feral species Domesticated species with populations established in the wild. E.g. Rock Dove Columba livia.
C5 Vagrant naturalised species Species from established naturalised populations abroad. E.g. some/all Ruddy Shelducks Tadorna ferruginea occuring in Britain.D Species that would otherwise appear in Categories A except that there is reasonable doubt that they have ever occurred in a natural state. Category D species are included within the lists that follow. They do not form any part of the species totals, and are not regarded as members of the British List.
E Species that have been recorded as introductions, transportees or escapees from captivity, and whose breeding populations (if any) are thought not to be self sustaining. Category E species form no part of the British List.The role of the BOURC

Records of birds new to Britain are passed to the BOURC by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) after that committee has examined them. The BOURC Secretary prepares a file summarising the record. The file also contains original descriptions and supporting documentation, including BBRC comments, correspondence from independent specialists, an analysis of the captive status of the species and its escape likelihood and extracts from books and journals referring to migration and vagrancy patterns. Records are circulated by post and require unanimous agreement on identification and at least a two-thirds majority on categorisation. All files are archived for future reference.The Committee also studies taxonomic advances and initiates research into this field. Information on feral populations is monitored, and reviews are undertaken of older records. Anyone can ask for old or rejected records to be reviewed by the BOURC if they provide fresh evidence to justify re-examination.

This is time-consuming work, particularly when it involves detailed research or discussions with experts, who are often based abroad.BOURC and BBRC ? why two committees?

For records relating to new species for Britain (a first), the BOURC looks at identification, taxonomy and the origin of the bird. Detailed investigations into racial and species identification, escape likelihood and vagrancy potential are undertaken to determine the validity of the record before admission to the British List.The BOURC alone decides which species are to be admitted to the British List and how they are to be categorised. The BOURC also considers records of all major rarities, particularly those prior to 1958 (when BBRC was founded), monitors introduced populations for possible admittance to or deletion from the list, and reviews taxonomy and nomenclature in general. For `first` records, the BBRC is concerned solely with identification. However, the BBRC also assesses large numbers of subsequent records of major rarities after 1958. The workload of both Committees is substantial, and complementary.

The BOURC maintains the British List on behalf of the BOU, legislators and the international birdwatching and ornithological communities.Publication of BOURC decisions

The BOURC publishes regular reports in Ibis, the BOU`s scientific journal. As few birders regularly see Ibis, information is press-released to the main birding magazines, who also receive pre-publication copies of the Ibis reports. The magazines use some of this information as the basis for news items or articles, but much of the BOURC`s work goes unreported. BOURC members occasionally write longer papers on species reviews and decisions for publication in the birding magazines. Decisions are notified to appropriate recorders and/or the original observers.The BOURC Commitment

The BOURC undertakes:
To maintain the scientific accuracy and integrity of the BOU list of British birds by admitting only those species and subspecies that have been identified beyond reasonable doubt, and whose origin is considered to be in accordance with the relevant BOURC categories.
To ensure that all the evidence for identification and the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of potential new species or subspecies are examined thoroughly, fairly and objectively, calling upon external expert opinion where appropriate. To ensure that any new evidence which is submitted, or which comes to light, that might affect the identification or categorisation of any existing record is reviewed thoroughly, fairly and objectively.
To ensure that all records are dealt with as speedily as practicable, but not so that this in any way prejudices the need for thorough and comprehensive examination of the evidence.
To attempt to answer any questions about its decisions fully and fairly, stating the reasons for these decisions.
So far as is practicable, to consult with the observers where new evidence suggests that a record might no longer be acceptable. The views of the observers will be taken into consideration in any final decision.

4th July 2014