Members are encouraged to submit records of the birds they have seen on a monthly basis to the BOS Bird Recorder. The BOS has been recording sightings since 1952, with all records from 1982 being recorded on a database. The BOS uses the database for its own research and for assisting with local planning. We also forward the data to the county recorders and to the BTO.

We ask members to submit records electronically using a specially formatted Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which lists all of the fields to be recorded.

Records must only be submitted for the area around Banbury that is covered by the BOS. This is a set of twelve 10km squares, as shown in this map - BOS area map.

To understand which species records the BOS asks for and the specific details, please read The BOS Guide to Observers (updated July 2017). This document contains a list of all of the species from the Systematic List and when to submit records for each species.

If you feel you would like more information on record submission or would like to learn a bit more about the species and habitats in the square in which you live, or regularly visit, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Committee who will provide you with the appropriate contact information.

A detailed guide is supplied which explains how to use the Microsoft Excel workbook to record your sightings - Guide for Entering Records.

Records are entered into the Excel workbook and then emailed to the BOS Bird Recorder at the end of every month.

The Excel workbook is supplied below in two versions:

1.  “BOS Records Input 2017 v2” – for Microsoft Excel 2007 or later

2.  “BOS Records Input 2017 v2 for Excel 2003” – for Microsoft Excel 2003 or earlier

If you submit a record for a bird listed as A* or A**, then you must also submit a completed Species Acceptance Form, otherwise the Committee reserve the right to reject your record. Use this Microsoft Word form:    “Species Acceptance Form”.

There are two maps which will help you locate the places where you found your birds and also where the BOS recommended sites are located:

A) “BOS Area with Parishes” – a PDF document with a detailed map of the BOS area along with the names and boundaries of all of the parishes.

B) “BOS Sites” – a PDF document with a detailed map of the BOS area showing the location of the sites mentioned in the Guide to Observers and within the Excel programs. Note that the sites are only shown with a location accuracy of 1km – please speak to one of the BOS committee if you need to find out further details about the exact location. 

This may sound rather complicated, but you do not need to be an experienced bird watcher to start helping with this valuable work - it is fun learning new skills.  You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you will be directly contributing to our records which are used to support conservation initiatives as well as furthering information about the distribution and abundance of birds in the BOS area.  This, in turn, contributes to the national picture too.  

The Winter Random Sqaure Survery (WRSS) as established in 1975 as a means to record the status of common species which are otherwise overlooked by our monthly recording system.

The WRSS is conducted in the last weekend of November and February, with results combined to produce the survey counts for that winter. Observers are allocated a 1km square at random from each of the 12 100km squares of the BOS survey area. Each observer is asked to record each species seen and estimate the total number of each species over a period of 2-3 hours. In most years we are able to field multiple observers per 100km square, thus increasing coverage.

Squares are not re-surveyed until all surveyable squares have been surveyed. Squares are omitted where there is limited or restricted access. To date we have conducted 2 complete surveys, from 1975-2000 (1120 squares, 93%) and 2000-2016 (658 squares, 55%).

The results from the first 3 years (1976-1978) are averaged to produce an index for each species, one for abundance and one for distribution. From that time onwards, a 3-year rolling index is calculated, which shows the relative abundance and distribution change for each species.

This enables the BOS to analyse species trends over a 40 year period. In general the trends match national findings, but there are significant differences which allows the BOS to better understand species which are fairing better or worse within our survey area. We use this information to adjust the conservation targets on our reserves and when providing guidance to local planning.

The results of the survey can be read in our book Birds of the Heart of England.

The Summer Random Square Survey (SRSS) was established in 1991 to provide details on the birds that breed within the BOS survey area. Like the WRSS, this survey was established because this information was not beeing captured by our monthly recording system.

Each year 1km squares are chosen at random from each for the 12 100km squares, skipping squares that have already been surveyed. Observers are asked to make at least 3 site visits, 1 month apart, starting from late April. Participants record the activity of each bird seen, with the focus on evidence of potential breeding, along with the number of pairs observed. At the end of the survey observers are asked to estimate the total number of breeding pairs for each species. The estimate is reviewed and adjusted by the bird recorder to take account of the type of breeding evidence recorded, with emphasis given to direct breeding evidence.

The analysis method follows that of the WRSS. The first 3 years of results were averaged to produce a normalised index with a value of 100. For each subsequent year, a 3-year index value relative to this base figure is calculated. This provides a long term trend which shows the breeding trend status of common species across the BOS.

To date 375 squares have been surveyed, over 30% of the BOS.

The results of the survey can be read in our book Birds of the Heart of England.

Every year two full-day counts are held across the entire BOS area. The first is held in early January from 08:00-16:00 and the second in early May for 12 hours. The surveys complement the WRSS and SRSS in providing a count of the total number of species across the entire region, not just specific sites.

The surveys are conducted as a team, with the aim to field at least one team per 100-km square. For observers, the incentive is to beat the par species count of previous years, with awards given to the team most over par. A second award is provided for finding the "star" species of the day.

The comparitive results over the years supplements the findings from the other surveys, giving us confidence in the survey results.

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