CBC Chat Forum Thread

AuthorTopic: Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven records
Vince Hanlon Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven recordsposted at 15/11/2012 16:15:27

I have noted a lack of non proven records in above report for the first time in many years. I believe this to be a serious omission. The official line appears to be that they do not constitute part of the County record. I believe they do. Many of these records are genuine, only being rejected for lack of description or single observer sighting. I believe their entry can stimulate additional specie reports to be submitted. I understand BB not only include non proven records but also sightings that need descriptions. Surely it would be a sad loss to the local record if this situation was to continue. Any thoughts?

Noel Elms Re: Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven recordsposted at 16/11/2012 11:49:00

I too believe that non-proven record submissions should be in the public domain via county bird reports. It may be argued that by recently making the Norfolk Records Committee work in progress files available online which show non-proven records, obviates the need to repeat this information in the Bird Report. Of more concern is if the official line in Norfolk is that such submissions do not constitute part of the County record, then taking that line is extremely short-sighted in my view. In addition to the reasons Vince Hanlon has given for records to be rejected, some will have been rejected because they did not meet the acceptance criteria available at the time. It must be obvious that if all non-accepted record submissions are discarded, there will be no opportunity to re-visit them in the light of new acceptance criteria becoming available as has been postulated for Siberian Stonechat in recent weeks.

David & Pat Wileman Re: Re: Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven recordsposted at 18/11/2012 15:21:02

The latest version of the WIP file on the Norfolk Records site does NOT include 'awaiting description' records.  When I queried it I was told they had been removed as they were taking up too much space.  I suggested they had a separate downloadable file with the 'awaiting description' records so we could all check and help to chase people - we'll await the result of this. 
As we keep all records submitted on the Cley Bird Club database I like to be able to indicate the latest status for all records.  I even keep them if they are rejected, although they will not appear in any lists. 

Noel Elms Re: Re: Re: Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven recordsposted at 18/11/2012 20:46:07

With past experience of helping to produce a major county bird report, I am reluctant to be overly critical of the Norfolk Bird Report content/editorial policy and I am sympathetic to the claims of lack of space due to the volume of record submissions. It is therefore vital, in my view, that alternative county record initiatives such as the CBC database are supported in order to supplement what the county bird report appears to be lacking at the moment.

Andy Stoddart Re: Re: Re: Re: Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven recordsposted at 20/11/2012 11:16:37

Thanks to all for the useful input. As there seems to be a general view on here that people would like the ‘Not Proven’ listings reinstated I will happily do so next year, though before that happens I would also want to listen to the views of the Records Committee on what should happen with the results of their deliberations. However, for anyone wishing to be truly up to date with decisions on submitted records, the ‘Work in Progress’ file on the Records Committee website can be consulted. This will always be the most up to date source of information, much more so than an annual listing in the Bird Report.

While I’m on, it’s hopefully also useful to clarify a couple of other points which have been raised here.

‘Not Proven’ submissions are not ‘discarded’. They are retained on file by the Recorders for future review if necessary, for example if further evidence becomes available or identification criteria are refined. The issue under discussion here is not whether they should be kept (of course they should and no-one has suggested otherwise) but how, where and when they should be published. As mentioned above, not only will they now continue to be published in the Bird Report but they will be constantly available online as well.

I think we need to be very careful and precise in the language we use to describe the status of ‘Not Proven’ submissions. At risk of being pedantic, I would suggest that ‘Not Proven’ claims do not form part of the county record. I use the term ‘record’ here very specifically to mean those sightings which have been accepted for publication in the main body of the Bird Report. By definition, ‘Not Proven’ claims have not been. What the ‘Not Proven’ submissions do form part of, however, is the county archive. If any are subsequently reviewed and accepted, then at that point they become part of the county record. This might seem like splitting hairs but it is, I think, an important distinction.

Hope this helps to clarify matters!


John Furse Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Norfolk Bird Report 2011 omission of non-proven recordsposted at 17/12/2012 06:04:26

I recall having had the same discussion, following the non-appearance of ‘my’ Gramborough Hill Blyth’s Reed Warbler (in any context) in the 2007 Report.

My point then was that an absence of any mention of the bird’s sighting was misleading to those looking at that year’s report in the future, who had no knowledge of such a ‘record’. They would not necessarily refer to subsequent years’ reports.

I hold to this view. As we all know, records can be, and are, accepted decades after the event. Should we totally exclude them from their potentially rightful and historical place in the records?

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