The York Ornithological Club - birds and birdwatching in York and North Yorkshire

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How to submit records of bird sightings

Please read the guidelines below. However, you can also submit casual sightings using our Online Sightings Submission Form

One of the most important functions of the York Ornithological Club is the publication of the Annual Report. The value of this publication depends on members submitting records of their sightings within the Club recording area. All members are encouraged to submit records whatever the level of their birding experience. We also welcome records from non-members.

How to submit records

You can submit records in one of two ways. For casual sightings please use our Online Sightings Form. This is an ideal way to let us know quickly of interesting bird sightings from within the YOC area. Information on interesting birds, once received, can be easily distributed to our members and others using the internet.

If you record birds within the YOC area on a more regular basis then it makes sense to keep records throughout the year. Records should then be submitted at the end of the year and certainly by the end of March in the year following to guarantee their acceptance for the Annual Report.

Submitting annual records electronically

The Club is moving rapidly towards the electronic submission and processing of records so that we can produce our Annual Reports more efficiently.

To assist you we have produced our own YOC spreadsheet (in Excel format) for anyone to use and there is free software you can download if you do not have Excel itself.

We now prefer all records for the year, wherever possible, to be submitted using the Club spreadsheet.

You can download the spreadsheet and read more about how you can use it from here. If you don’t have software to handle spreadsheets the download page tells you how you can get the free software to let you use the YOC spreadsheet.

Advantages of using the YOC spreadsheet

YOC Recording SpreadsheetUsing this spreadsheet will not only help our Editor, Recorder and Assistant Recorders but it also offers the following advantages:

  • Records can be entered in any order, for example in date order, because the spreadsheet allows our editorial team to re-order the records in the way that we need them.
  • Species names are standardised in the form used in our reports and built-in ‘look-up tables’ make finding the correct name very easy.
  • A gazetteer of site names, as used in YOC reports, is included for reference. Where the site name for a record is in this list a grid reference is automatically added while new sites can be entered as well.
  • The YOC spreadsheet provides you with a convenient way of recording all your bird observations through the year on an ongoing basis.

Other forms of electronic submission may be acceptable but please contact the Report Editor (see below) in the first instance.

Records may be submitted at any time through the year but no later than the end of March in the following year. Submit your records to:

Non-electronic submission of records

We will continue to accept records submitted manually but this does cause our editorial team additional work in converting your records to a digital format so we would encourage all observers to submit records electronically, preferably using the Club spreadsheet where possible.

What records do we need?

A full account of what records are required is contained each year in our annual report. For a revised list of species recorded in the YOC area since the Club’s founding in 1966 click here (PDF file – needs the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. To save the file to your computer, right-click on the link and select "Save file as.." - or similar, depending on your web browser).

For each species you should give the date and location, and the number where possible. Counts are better than subjective terms like ‘several’ or ‘many’ and enable comparisons of bird populations to be made from one year to the next. Counts do not have to be exact – approximate numbers will do – and this is particularly true for flocks of birds like wildfowl and waders. Other comments may also be included as seem appropriate.

Records of scarce and rare birds

These may need a description for consideration by the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union (YNU) or the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC). Descriptions should be submitted to our Recorder ( as soon as possible after the sighting. Please contact our Recorder for guidance or rarity forms if necessary. The importance of descriptions for the validation of rare bird records cannot be emphasized too much.

Please remember to include your name and contact details with your records.

For a list of birds considered as "rarities" (and for which field descriptions will be required), please check out the list here (opens in a new browser window):


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