Please Keep Rare Breeding Bird Sites Confidential
Many birders report their sightings to websites, pager services and other communication services, so that they can be passed on to other people. This is generally welcome and gives many the opportunity to appreciate some of the rarer species visiting the County. However, some of these records include locations and behaviour (evidence of breeding) which effectively give away the nest sites of rare birds. There is open public access to many of these media services, which exchange information locally and nationally, so such disclosure may lead to disturbance of the birds by a succession of birders, or persecution by non-birders, such as egg collectors.
Observers are requested to think carefully about the consequences of the information they pass on, and to comply with the SOS policy, expressed through the Birdwatchers Code of Conduct, to put the welfare of the birds first, and not communicate the location of potential nest sites of rare birds. Many of these birds are protected through Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it a criminal offence to knowingly disturb the listed species without a licence. County rare breeding species which are not listed also need similar protection from disturbance.
For its own part, SOS will not include such information on its own website. Anyone coming across rare bird breeding sites is instead asked to inform the County Bird Recorder (in confidence), or the appropriate licensed monitoring group for Peregrine, Barn Owl, Red Kite or Merlin, so any necessary protection or conservation action can be arranged.
As a rule of thumb, if you think that it is worth reporting the sighting of a breeding rare bird, take the precautionary approach in the first instance and only inform the County Bird Recorder or one of the above-named groups.
The above is a slightly amended version of the notice sent out to all SOS members. It explains the reasoning behind the policy of not giving the locations for rare breeding birds on this website.