Submitting records

The combined records of observers in Moray and Nairn help to build up a picture of the status of the birds that use our area. They also help to highlight the sites that have particular importance for birds – essential knowledge for effective conservation.

The records that are submitted to the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club bird recorder for this area, Martin Cook, are used to compile the annual report, ‘Birds in Moray & Nairn’, which can be accessed on this website.


Although the highlight of a day’s birding may be a rare or scarce species, and it is important that these are recorded, the majority of the species accounts in the annual report relate to our more common birds. It is important that we build up a complete picture of the distribution and status of these species in Moray and Nairn. We also need to understand their movements through our area, and the arrival and departure dates of migrant species.

It is not always easy to know what to report but more information, which can be edited or summarised, is preferable to too little. Reading through recent editions of ‘Birds in Moray & Nairn’ should indicate the type of information that we need to collect. By way of illustration, two Blackbirds feeding at a garden bird table would not be worth reporting but a flock of 20 or more Blackbirds feeding together, or of autumn migrants arriving at the coast, or of unusual behaviour, would all be valuable information. The following list gives a little more guidance:

  • Arrival dates of summer visitors in spring
  • First dates inland for species which desert the uplands in winter
  • Last dates of departing summer visitors in autumn
  • Arrival dates of winter visitors in autumn
  • Last dates of departing winter visitors in spring
  • Records of rarities and scarce birds
  • All records relating to influxes (e.g. Waxwing, Quail etc.)
  • Counts of flocks of commoner species
  • Regular counts throughout the year from a local ‘patch’
  • Comments on increases or decreases of any species
  • Counts of seabird passage (preferably for timed periods)
  • First dates for song or other breeding behaviour in spring
  • Breeding colony counts for colonial nesting species
  • Data obtained from nest box schemes
  • Notes of interesting or unusual behaviour


It should be emphasised, however, that all records are welcome – better to receive more information than can be accommodated in the annual report than to lose any potentially significant records. All records that are received are stored electronically on Excel databases – nothing is discarded.


There are two main ways in which you can submit your records:

1. To Birdtrack

The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club is now a BirdTrack partner with the BTO, RSPB and BirdWatch Ireland.

BirdTrack is an exciting new web-based bird recording project that looks at migration movements and distributions of birds throughout Britain and Ireland. It provides facilities for observers to store and manage their own personal records as well as using these for the production of local bird reports, and to support species conservation at local, regional, national and even international scales.

The principle behind BirdTrack is that if you have been out birdwatching anywhere in Britain and Ireland, or merely watching birds in your garden, records of the birds you have seen (or indeed have not seen) can be useful data. Thus the scheme is year-round, and ongoing, and anyone with an interest in birds can contribute. Important results produced by BirdTrack include mapping migration timings and monitoring scarce birds. We know very little about the timing of arrival and departure of winter visitors and this is just one area in which BirdTrack will provide useful information. There are also many scarce birds where we would like to know much more about their populations. The SOC hopes that most birdwatchers in Scotland will soon adopt BirdTrack as their main bird recording and information sharing tool.

To find out more, or to register and get started, visit the BirdTrack website.

2. To the Moray & Nairn Recorder

Records may be submitted periodically during the year or in one batch as soon as possible after the end of the year, and by the end of January at the latest. Although any format is acceptable, the Recorder would be very grateful to receive as many submissions as possible on Excel – click to obtain the  Moray and Nairn record spreadsheet  here. Minimum information required for each record should include species name, number, date and location (if possible with a 6-figure map reference, although a 4-figure map reference is often adequate).


In order that an entirely accurate archive of records of rare and scarce species is maintained it is clearly important to apply consistent standards to the acceptance of such records. This is ensured through a system of assessment of written descriptions of the circumstances of the occurrence and of the bird itself. Those who make use of our Bird Reports in the future must have confidence that all published records have been scrutinised and considered acceptable by the birding community of today.

Please visit the Rarities Committees section for lists of species for which written descriptions are required, and for information about the national and local committees.