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Nature in Shetland

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Shetland Bird Club


Recording Birds in Shetland

How to submit

Records will be accepted in any format, but electronic submission is preferred, especially if records are in a standardised spreadsheet or format. Click on the link below and then choose 'Save':

MS Excel XP (works on most recent version of Windows) (17kB)

MS Word XP (works on most recent version of Windows) (24kB)

If you do not use Excel or Word a table with the same column headings in a word processor can be easily imported. To see a screen capture of the spreadsheet showing the column headings click here. Even when submitting by e-mail, giving essential data (i.e. species, no., place, date), separated by tabs, makes it easy to import this to the main spreadsheet.

Descriptions may be sent by e-mail where possible, in MS Word or plain-text format with low-res jpeg images if appropriate. Again, descriptions will also be accepted in other formats.

Records can be submitted by e-mail to:


Descriptions, postal records etc. should be submitted to the County Recorder:

          Rob Fray, Sunnydell, Virkie, Shetland ZE3 9JS. Tel: 01950 461929 or 07775 647463.

When to submit

Whenever is convenient, but as soon as possible after the end of the year. Visitors are especially encouraged to submit records as soon as possible after their visit. Some observers already submit records virtually daily, via the website, but even for recorders using the spreadsheet, submission of records every month or every few months is to be encouraged.

What to submit

Schedule 1 Breeding Birds

Regularly breeding Schedule 1 species (e.g. Red-throated Diver, Merlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Phalarope) are subject to organised monitoring by licensed personnel. Anyone finding any other Schedule 1 species breeding, or suspected of breeding, should inform the County Recorder or the local offices of either SNH or the RSPB as soon as possible. The necessary licences can then be obtained and any provision for protection and monitoring can take place.

Sporadic Breeding Birds

All breeding records of such species are welcome. Refer to the current report for breeding status.

Scarce Breeding Birds

Certain species nest in Shetland annually but have populations of less than 30 pairs e.g. Wigeon, Swallow, Pied Wagtail. All breeding records of these species are welcome.

Common Breeding Birds

Systematically collected data is welcomed. Regular counts of commoner species at a certain site are potentially useful however, as they help highlight seasonal fluctuations, even if the counts themselves may not be exceptional.

Common Migrants and Wintering Birds

Detailed records of common migrants are welcomed, especially if they result from regular coverage of a specific area. Anyone interested in such counts should consider contributing to the WeBS scheme.

Scarce Migrants

All records of scarce migrants are welcome. Every Shetland Bird Report has used a symbol (+) to indicate species for which every known record is published. Age and sex of scarce migrants, if known, is especially useful to compilers when trying to establish how many individuals have been recorded in a year. If birds can be identified to subspecies this information is also useful.


Records of rarities will only be published in the Shetland Bird Report if:

a) they have already accepted by a records committee

b) they have been submitted and are under consideration by a records committee

c) the finder(s) have not made a submission but the bird was seen by a large number of observers and/or photographs or video exists which make it likely that a committee will eventually accept the record.

Descriptions should be sent to the County Recorder, who can also supply recording forms. A list of species where descriptions or other documentary evidence is required is below:

Any species not on the Shetland List

National Rarities (‘BBs’)

These records are assessed by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC). Full descriptions are required for these species, and they should be submitted to BBRC via the County Recorder, so a copy can be kept for the record. Description forms are available from the County Recorder. Some observers object to writing descriptions, and few people enjoy writing them. However, they are invaluable in providing an archive for the future, proving to future generations that unusual occurrences were properly appreciated at the time and were not just recorded on hearsay.

Species considered by Scottish Birds Records Committee (effective from 1st January 2017)

Lesser Scaup
Cory's Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Wilson's Petrel
Night Heron
Cattle Egret
Purple Heron
Black Kite
Montagu's Harrier
Red-footed Flacon
Stone Curlew
Kentish Plover
White-rumped Sandpiper
Yellow-legged Gull
Caspian Gull
White-winged Black Tern
Alpine Swift
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Woodchat Shrike
Wood Lark
Red-rumped Swallow
Radde's Warbler
Dartford Warbler
Melodious Warbler
Citrine Wagtail
Parrot Crossbill

Species considered by Shetland Bird Club Records Committee (effective from 1st January 2017)

Bewick's Swan
Taiga Bean Goose
Snow Goose
Egyptian Goose
Ruddy Shelduck
Mandarin Duck
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Surf Scoter
Smew *
Ruddy Duck
White-billed Diver
Black-throated Diver *
Eurasian Bittern
Little Egret
Great White Egret
White Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill
Glossy Ibis
Great Crested Grebe *
Red-necked Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Honey Buzzard
Red Kite
Northern Goshawk
Common Buzzard *
Rough-legged Buzzard

Golden Eagle
Hobby *
Spotted Crake *
Little Ringed Plover
American Golden Plover *
Temminck’s Stint
Pectoral Sandpiper *
Buff-breasted Sandpiper *
Grey Phalarope *
Mediterranean Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Sabine’s Gull
Little Tern
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Barn Owl ('pale-breasted' only - 'dark-breasted' Barn Owl is considered by BBRC)
European Nightjar
Common Kingfisher
European Bee-eater
Hoopoe *

Eurasian Jay
Coal Tit
Bearded Tit
Short-toed Lark *
Shore Lark *
Long-tailed Tit (although certain races considered by BBRC)
Greenish Warbler *
Pallas's Warbler *
Dusky Warbler *
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Marsh Warbler (autumn only)
Rose-coloured Starling
Dipper (British race only - 'Black-bellied' Dipper is considered by BBRC)
Common Nightingale
Olive-backed Pipit
Water Pipit
Arctic Redpoll ('Coues's only - 'Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll is considered by BBRC)
Ortolan Bunting *
Corn Bunting

Species marked with an asterisk * will be circulated by the Shetland Bird Club Records Committee without the need for additional documentation based on information and photographs in the public domain, although written descriptions of these species are always welcome. Written documentation will be required for species marked with an asterisk if no photographs exist, and for all other species.

Local rarity descriptions can be fairly concise, but it is important to make sure that any ambiguity is removed from the description. Try and make sure someone else sees the bird if possible - a multiple observer record is always regarded as more reliable.

The Shetland Bird Club Records Committee reserves the right to request descriptions and/or more details for species not on the above description list in certain circumstances.

We do not want to lose genuine records merely because they are unsupported by descriptions.

Records of ringed or colour-marked birds should be sent direct to the Shetland Ringing Group.

Schedule 1 breeding birds
- tell the County Recorder or another authority as soon as possible
Sporadic breeding birds
- all records required and preferably tell someone else as soon as possible
Scarce breeding birds
- all records required
Common breeding birds
- systematic information welcomed
Common migrants
- systematic information welcomed, but all records valued
Scarce migrants
- all records required
National and local rarities
- all records required

This site is not directly connected to any of the organisations mentioned, so comments  may not necessarily reflect the views of the organisations, clubs or societies  involved. The pages on this website remain the intellectual property of the authors. They may be freely downloaded, quoted or used for any purpose, providing acknowledgement is given to the website and/or the author/s. No liability is accepted for the accuracy of this information.