09/05/2008
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Work-in-Progress

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The BBRC (British Birds Rarities Committee) has recently posted a full list of records that they are assessing, or have assessed, since the publication of their 2006 Annual Report. This "Work-in-Progress" file shows those which have been Accepted, those still In Circulation and those which were found Not Proven. This last category has caused a lot of problems where (excitable) birders leap to a wrong conclusion. The words are NOT PROVEN (NP) which is very different from Rejected. In the majority of NP cases the actual vote has still been Accept. Read that again: has still been Accept. Our Constitution says that for acceptance on the first circulation the vote has to be unanimous. If it is close then it goes to a re-circulation where the vote has to be 9:1 or 10:0. Everything else is Not Proven: so it can be 8 in favour and 2 against acceptance, which is hardly a rejection with 80% in favour, and yet that has to be published as Not Proven.

Another contentious column is that of Observers. The names given do not imply they are necessarily Finders or Identifiers. It is simply a list of those who have taken the trouble to make a submission. If the finder's name is not there then it is either my mistake (please let me know) or the finder has not sent in a form to tell me.

That same Observers column has a number of records which are given as "via BirdGuides". This is where photos have been published on the BirdGuides website but no written submission has been sent in. Rather than have an incomplete list in our Annual Report we have instead waited until 3 months after the year has ended (ample time for submissions to be made), and then used these photos to start an assessment. If the photos are seen as inadequate for identification then that sighting is ignored (unless a formal submission is received later). If the published photos are OK to be sure of identification then they are in this WIP file and given as 'via BirdGuides'. Hopefully the actual finders or identifiers will then let us know their names and the circumstances of the find so it can all be archived. To make that easier there is now an online form for you to use on www.bbrc.org.uk: use the Submission button on the left. For now, that online form is ONLY for birds where there is a good photo. An online form for non-photographed birds will come along later.

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The WIP file is available as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet. It includes features that allow you to filter the data for a particular county or species. Go to www.bbrc.org.uk and use the second button down, "Work in Progress". I hope you all find the WIP file useful. Constructive comments on how to improve the file are welcome. I will be updating the WIP file on a regular (1- to 2-month) basis.

Also we are looking at a revamp of the whole BBRC website and there is an online questionnaire on the Home page where you can tell us about what features you will want in the new design.

Written by: Nigel Hudson, BBRC Secretary