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The Wiltshire List

The Wiltshire List is the official list of wild birds recorded in Wiltshire and is maintained by the Records Panel on behalf of WOS.

The total of species recorded in Wiltshire currently stands at 331 species as of December 2020.

The full list can be downloaded here: The Wiltshire List

Rarity Records

Certain records of rare birds will need to be submitted with evidence to be verified by the WOS Records Panel. This is standard practice to ensure a fair system for everyone and is in line with other counties.

The list of species that require verification by the panel can be found here. Local rarities are usually species that are recorded on just a few occasions annually or are species that can easily be confused with a more common relative.

National Rarities

The list of species considered nationally are available on the BBRC website. Accepted records are published annually in the journal British Birds in the ‘Report on rare birds in Great Britain’ and also in Hobby, the Wiltshire Bird Report.

Submitting evidence

All evidence should be submitted to the County Bird Recorder when submitting your record. Please give as much evidence as possible to help the panel make their decision. See below for how to submit different types of evidence. If you need any help, please contact the Recorder.

Written Descriptions

You can submit a description via our online form here: WOS Rarity Form

Alternatively, you can download a copy of the form, fill it in and email it across to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Writing a description can be hard if you’ve never done it before. Here are some tips to help get you started…

  • Keep it short and to the point – it’s good to have context but we don’t need to know what you were wearing and what you had for lunch!
  • Give a clear description of the bird’s main features as you saw them and in your own words – don’t copy from a bird book
  • Rule out other similar species that it could have been confused with – e.g. if you saw a female garganey, tell us why it wasn’t a mallard or other brown duck
  • Tell us about any other birds in the area that you compared it against
  • Tell us about your past experience with the species and/or other similar species

Photos/Videos

To submit a photo or video, simply email a copy to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. along with the date and location of the sighting so that we can easily link it to the record.

Sound Recordings

For sound-only records, we require:

  • A copy of the sound recording, ideally with several examples of the call
  • The whole sequence of calls (not isolated calls) and ideally some time before and after to provide some context
  • An accompanying sonogram with a description of how the call was identified

If you are regularly submitting sound-only records we recommend using eBird as you can easily generate sonograms there by uploading recordings.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Why do I have to write a description? Are you saying I don’t know my birds?

No! Not at all. Sometimes we get rare bird records that turn out to be something more common, and so to make the process fair, everyone is asked for a description for certain species, even the panel members.

Records of rare and scarce birds in Wiltshire will only be entered onto the official Wiltshire List and the archived totals after acceptance by either BBRC or the WOS Records Panel.

What species require a description or further evidence?

You can find a list of Wiltshire rarities here: Description Species.

You may find some birds here that you don’t consider rare, but if they are on the list it means they are rare in Wiltshire and that we only receive a handful of records each year, e.g. Sanderling. Conversely, we don’t require descriptions for certain species that you may consider rare elsewhere, e.g. Corn Bunting, as they are locally common in Wiltshire. Always check the list if you are unsure.

Please note that we may ask for additional information for any species if they are seen in an unusual location, at an unusual time of year, or in unusual numbers.

What evidence do you need?

Best practice is a full written description with any accompanying photos, videos or audio evidence that you have. However, if the photo/video is very clear, then a full description won’t be necessary. See above on how to submit evidence.

Description Species

In addition to national rarities that are considered by BBRC, the following locally rare species and subspecies require a written description or photographs to be considered and accepted by the Wiltshire Records Panel before being published in the Wiltshire Bird Report.

Please note, the list below reflects the county list and any new species not yet on the county list will also require evidence. We may ask for further information about any record, even those not on this list, for example if it is outside the usual season or is reported from an unusual location.

We will not be accepting any records of species on the description list that do not have a description, photo or other clear evidence. Everyone is asked to supply this, even the Records Panel members. If you submit a rarity record without evidence, it will not be accepted. This is in line with other counties and ensures a fair system for everyone.

 Download a spreadsheet of the full list here: Description Species

 All species grey geese (if apparently wild) except Greylag

Bewick’s and Whooper Swans

Female Wood Duck        

Female and eclipse Garganey

Green-winged

Ring-necked Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup

Eider, Long-tailed Duck and all scoters

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck

All grouse

Alpine Swift

Turtle Dove

Spotted Crake and Corncrake

Crane (away from CWP)

Grebes (except Little and Great Crested)

Black-winged Stilt

Avocet

Grey Plover, Dotterel, Kentish Plover

Knot, Sanderling, Temminck's Stint

White-rumped, Pectoral, Curlew and Purple Sandpipers

Little Stint

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Bar-tailed Godwit

Spotted Redshank

Lesser Yellowlegs

Wood Sandpiper

All phalaropes

Sabine's, Ring-billed, Iceland (nominate and 'Kumlien's' kumlieni) and Glaucous

Yellow-legged Gull (away from Stoford and Langford Lakes)

Caspian Gull

Kittiwake

White-winged Black Tern

Sandwich, Roseate, Arctic and Little Terns

All skuas

All auks

All divers

All petrels and shearwaters

White Stork

Gannet

Shag

Glossy Ibis

Spoonbill

Night-heron, Purple Heron

Honey-buzzard

Black Kite;

Montagu's Harrier and Hen Harrier (May to August)

White-tailed Eagle

Rough-legged Buzzard

Long-eared Owl

Bee-eater

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Red-footed Falcon

Merlin (May to August)

All shrikes

Golden Oriole

Chough

Hooded Crow

Penduline and Willow Tits

Wood Lark

Shore Lark

Red-rumped Swallow

Wood, Yellow-browed, Dusky, Marsh, Melodious, Icterine, Barred, and Dartford Warblers

Rose-coloured Starling

Bluethroat

Red-flanked Bluetail

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Richard's, Rock and Water Pipits

Common Rosefinch

Twite

Common Redpoll (nominate 'Mealy' and 'Northwest' rostrata/islandica Redpolls)

Lapland, Snow, Cirl, Ortolan and Little Buntings

Submitting Records

We encourage everyone to use the BTO’s BirdTrack as the recording system of choice. You can submit records via an app in the field or online, which the County Recorders can then access. It is also a free and convenient way of storing your bird records online, as well as a method to contribute data to conservation science and to have access to the latest trends across the UK for migration movements and distribution.

However, we understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and so you can also submit records in the following ways:

eBird: eBird is a good alternative to BirdTrack and has a great app and website, which are very user-friendly. This is a good choice if you are submitting sound recordings as it automatically generates a sonogram that we can use for verification.

Other apps and websites: We also source data from iRecord and Living Record if you find these platforms work better for you.

Excel spreadsheet: If you would like your records to be included in WOS News, then you will need you submit records via email on our spreadsheet. You may use BirdTrack or eBird but then submit a summary of highlights via spreadsheet.

Download the spreadsheet here: WOS Record Spreadsheet 

Once completed, please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Deadlines for inclusion in WOS News are:

  • 12th April (for Jan to March records)
  • 12th July (for Apr to June)
  • 12th October (for July to Sept)
  • 12th January (for Oct to Dec)

WSBRC: If you like spreadsheets and have records of different taxa as well as birds, you might want to submit them via Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre as they can then filter the bird records out and send them onto us.

Casual Record Form: Casual records can be emailed across on an ad hoc basis at any time, but we ask that if you are submitting records regularly that you please use another method as this is very time-consuming to process.

Paper records: Although we would encourage everyone to send records in electronically, we appreciate that some observers do not have access to this facility and may wish to send in paper records. Please contact us for the address.

In all cases, at the latest, please enter/send records in by the end of March of the following year. Late records will be accepted, but it may not be possible to include them in the report for that year.

Rarity Records

Please note that certain records of rare birds will need to be verified by the Records Panel. You can find out more about submitting rarity records here.

Records

Why are bird records important?

Records are vital for understanding birds, their lives and how they are impacted by our actions. Data collected by birdwatchers and wildlife lovers is often used to inform Government policy, to protect important habitats and to steer decisions on development. We couldn’t conserve birds effectively without this information on where they feed, breed, roost and how they behave.

Data can also be a great tool for raising awareness and drumming up support for conservation. Recording and publicising declines in wildlife drives people to act to protect wildlife near them – e.g. local swift groups and hedgehog highways.

Recording the common species as well as the rarities is really important, as otherwise they could decline without anyone noticing. The information helps people to decide where to put their time and money, or where to direct more research. It is an invisible but essential part of conservation work.

How are records used?

Each year we receive around 100,000 records from around the county from various sources. These are collated, cleaned and checked by the Recorder and used in the following ways…

  • Records submitted to WOS form the basis of the species accounts Hobby – the annual bird report. Each month we also report a selection of records in WOS News to inform members about what birds have been seen in the county.
  • We share the records with the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre (WSBRC), who supply data to ecologists and developers around the county.
  • Records of rare breeding birds are reported to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP), who monitor the status of these birds in the UK.
  • Many of the records are also shared with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), contributing to their robust data sets and assisting them in their science and research.

Please note that your personal data is never shared with anyone without your permission.

 Who can send in records?

Recording is easy and can be done by anyone. We welcome records from everyone and from all corners of the county.

 What records should be submitted?

All records are valuable and so what you submit depends on how much time you have to give. You can submit full lists of records of everything you see, occasional ad-hoc records or somewhere in between.

Records away from well-watched sites such as the Cotswold Water Park and Langford Lakes are often thin on the ground, so “local patch” records and casual recording from less well-watched areas are very important – this includes sites such as your own garden! These records enable us to gain as full a picture as possible of what is happening to Wiltshire’s birds.

Records will need to include:

  • What? Either the scientific (Latin) and/or English name (if there is one)
  • How many? The number of individuals seen
  • Where? A precise location of the sighting and grid reference
  • Who? The name of the person who saw/identified it
  • When? The date of the sighting (day, month, year)

You can also add a lot of value to your records by including:

  • Breeding evidence – adding a breeding code to your record gives us really important information about breeding pairs and helps to calculate population estimates
  • Comments – adding comments about the bird’s sex/ages or its behaviour can help us understand a species and how they are using and interacting with the habitat around them

How should records be submitted?

You can find out more about that here: Submitting Records

Unpublished

WOS maintains a database of all bird reports throughout the county and would welcome your records. By clicking on the link below you can download a spreadsheet which you can use to send in reports to the Recorder in standard form.

Recording Form V1m

Alternatively you can use the BTO's bird recording website, BirdTrack, to enter your records. Those relating to Wiltshire will be forwarded to the WOS Recorder at regular intervals.