About the SOS

Sussex Ornithological Society Strategy


During 2009, the Society’s governing Council drew up a Strategy to set out what the Society should be doing to achieve its objectives, to guide members of Council and to provide Society members with a better understanding of the Society’s activities. The Strategy will be reviewed regularly. Council also reviewed its role and responsibilities and set these out in writing, together with those of its two main committees.

December 2009 (Latest Review September 2014 & Updated June 2015)



The Objects of the SOS are:

  • To record and study wild birds in Sussex
  • To assist in the conservation of the wild birds of Great Britain
  • To encourage by the use of meetings, books, outings and other ways:
    – the study of birds in the field and ornithological science in general
    – the education of its members and the general public in ornithological science and the need for the protection of wild birds and their habitats


A. To record and study wild birds in Sussex

  1. Be the official recorder of birds in Sussex. Review and adjudicate on records of rare and difficult-to-identify species, and refer records for nominated species to BBRC for adjudication. Maintain a computerised database of Sussex bird records.
  2. Continually encourage members and non-members to submit records, and educate them to make their records more informative. Keep under review the methodology for collecting and storing records.
  3. Support nationally organised bird surveys, and carry out targeted recording or Sussex-only surveys if there is felt to be a specific gap in our records.
  4. Publish annually the Sussex Bird Report and periodically (about every 20 years) an atlas/avifauna of Sussex birds showing changes in species distribution and abundance.


B. To assist in the preservation of the wild birds of Great Britain

  1. Share our records (with exceptions for very sensitive species) with the Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre, who are often the first “port of call” for developers requesting records, and other bodies as appropriate, so that our records are used to help conserve birds. Fulfil requests for data from such bodies as RBBP (Rare Breeding Birds Panel), BTO and RSPB, and other appropriate bodies/persons.
  2. Support appeals for funds from other bodies for projects promoting the interests of birds in Sussex, following the principles set out in the Financial Strategy.
  3. Initiate projects of benefit to wild birds.
  4. Continue the successful management of Charleston Reedbed and New Lake for conservation purposes.
  5. Continue to be represented on other bodies in Sussex(14 in 2013), where decisions will affect birds.


C. To encourage by the use of meetings, books, outings and other ways:

  • the study of birds in the field and ornithological science in general
  • the education of its members and the general public in ornithological science and the need for the protection of wild birds and their habitats
  1. Organise annual conference for members covering themes related to wildlife, particularly birds, which help to achieve the Society’s objects.
  2. Organise an annual programme of outings for members, covering the main birdwatching sites in Sussex.
  3. Encourage scientific study of birds through the publication of technical papers in the Bird Report and by providing financial support for ornithological research.
  4. Publish a quarterly newsletter to keep members informed of the Society’s work and to encourage them to help in survey work. Encourage members to submit interesting articles for publication on county bird related subjects.
  5. Maintain website and social media for communicating with members and others.
  6. Support specific campaigns to educate the public on bird protection issues.


D. Resources

Continue to make best use of Resources (money and people) which are the means to achieve our ends.

  1. Continue efficient financial administration of the Society and implement our Financial Strategy, and Reserves Policy (See Annex below).
  2. Regularly review format of AGM.
  3. Regularly review Committee structure of the Society, to make sure that it fulfils the requirements set out above. Maintain Roles and Responsibilities for each Committee, and update Officers’ job descriptions.
  4. Each specialist function within the SOS to be set out in written form, including annual objectives.
  5. Maintain and grow our membership so that the Society can effectively carry out its objects.
  6. Develop links with other natural history clubs and societies in Sussex to our mutual benefit.


Financial Strategy
The Society will use its funds in support of its objectives. It will seek to retain adequate reserves to enable it to give support to projects and appeals as they arise and will raise additional funds to replenish reserves or to support specific projects if necessary.

Financial Reserves Policy
Council has established a Reserves Policy whereby the unrestricted funds not committed or invested for the long term should be at least six months of resources expended. At this level Council feels it would be able to continue the current activities of the Society in the event of a significant drop in funding. Council will review the actual reserves level annually and limit commitments so that this level is maintained.



SOS Council – Role and Responsibilities


To ensure that the Society’s Objects are achieved, with a regularly updated strategy which sets out how this will be done. To monitor the management of the Society’s finances. To review the work of the Society’s Scientific and Membership & Publicity Committees, to assign specific tasks to them and to minimise overlaps with each committee. To seek to ensure that those appointed as Officers, or members of Society committees, deliver their allotted tasks and are able to contribute in their roles positively.


  1. To ensure that the Society’s Objects and Rules are adhered to and that the Society’s governance is of the highest standard.
  2. To prepare and update annually a strategy for the Society, that delivers the Society’s Objects and ensures that the Society’s charitable status is maintained.
  3. To review the Society’s Finances, approve all expenditures and ensure that income is appropriate to expenditure.
  4. To ensure that an Annual Report is produced for the membership and the Charities Commission and that the Annual General Meeting is organised.
  5. To approve nominations of Honorary Officers in sensitive positions before their names go forward to the AGM (per Rule 25)
  6. To appoint, annually, a Chairman of Council.
  7. To approve, at each May Council Meeting, the membership of the Scientific Committee, M&P Committee and SOSRC.
  8. To review the work of the Scientific and M&P Committees, assign specific tasks to them and to minimise overlaps between committees and Council. To act as the final arbiter of disputes within Committees.
  9. To seek to ensure that those appointed to Council, or as members of Committees, are able to contribute in their roles positively. To help achieve this, to identify skills/experience gaps that it is desirable to have filled.
  10. To implement and review annually appropriate Health and Safety measures covering the Society’s activities, particularly outings.
  11. To seek to ensure that the Society is always held in high esteem.
  12. To meet annually with representatives of national and local bodies having ornithological interests in order to discuss on a confidential basis their intentions regarding investment in existing or new Reserves in Sussex.


Council membership

The Council will consist of up to 6 members and those Honorary Officers described in Rules 9a and 10 of the Society’s Rules.



SOS Scientific Committee – Role and Responsibilities



To oversee and advise Council on the scientific and technical work of the Society such as surveys, record keeping, management of the database, rare bird verification, ornithological publications and conservation work. Ensure that the subsequent results are to the highest scientific standards and accepted by all relevant external bodies and other ornithologists.



  1. To identify ways in which conservation of birds in Sussex can be practically improved and to promote appropriate initiatives.
  2. To review and support the work of the Society’s Conservation Officers.
  3. To review the work of the SOS Records Committee (SOSRC) and to ensure it is carried out in a timely fashion and to the highest standards.
  4. To review the work of the Society’s Database Manager, ensuring that the Society’s records are held securely, processed promptly, are well backed up, and that our system can meet present and future needs.
  5. To oversee the content of the Sussex Bird Report, including scientific papers, and ensure that the report is produced on time and to the highest standards possible.
  6. To ensure that the content of “one-off” SOS ornithological publications, such as Avifaunas and Checklists, are of the highest standard possible.
  7. To make sure that requests for records from such bodies as RBBP (Rare Breeding Birds Panel), BCTP (Bird Conservation Targeting Project), BTO and RSPB are met punctually and comprehensively.
  8. To support nationally organised bird surveys (such as BTO and RSPB surveys).
  9. To identify gaps in the comprehensiveness of species records in Sussex and organise for such gaps to be addressed where this is felt to be necessary, through targeted recording or Sussex-only surveys.
  10. Regularly to review and update the guidelines for sharing data on sensitive species.
  11. To review the work of the Archivist each June ahead of the Archivist presenting a yearly report to Council in July.
  12. To oversee the management of the New Lake/Ivy Lake Reedbed and Charleston Reedbed Nature Reserves (which are not open to public access), and any other reserves that the Society takes responsibility for managing.
  13. To receive reports (at least annually) from those SOS members who represent the SOS on external committees and to take appropriate action.
  14. To report to Council on the above responsibilities at each Council


Scientific Committee membership

Projects & Surveys Officer*, Bird Report Editor*, Conservation Officer*, Recorder*, Database Manager, the BTO Sussex Area representative, the Assistant Recorder and such other members which the Committee feels will aid its work (*these members are also Council members).

Each year, at the meeting following the Society’s AGM, the Scientific Committee shall elect one of its members to serve as its chairman. This person can be re-elected as Chairman in subsequent years.

A nominated member of the Scientific Committee will be a member of, and report to, Council.

Council shall ratify the full membership of the Scientific Committee and SOSRC each year at its May meeting.



SOS Membership and Publicity Committee – Role and Responsibilities



To ensure that the Society’s members are satisfied with, and value, the Society. To communicate with members and advertise and advance the work of the Society through the medium of the Website, Newsletter, Publicity Boards, Membership Leaflets and Press & Publicity activities. To recruit new members actively. Council shall ratify the full membership of the M&P committee each year at their May meeting.


To ensure that the website is properly managed, that its content is appropriate and to provide support to the Webmaster as needed. Once a year a review is needed to ensure no “stale” items are on show.

To ensure that the Newsletter is a good read and is kept fresh. To give guidance on content, review the proposed content of the next and forward editions and, if necessary, help the Newsletter Editor acquire new articles and photographs.

Press & Publicity
To ensure that the profile of the Society and the general public’s awareness of it and of bird-related issues in Sussex are promoted to the best advantage and that, to these ends, the Society obtains a satisfactory amount of press coverage in the media (i.e. newspapers, radio and television) by supporting the work of the Press & Publicity Officer.

Outings and Society meetings
To ensure that a comprehensive programme of at least 25 quality outings are organised each year by the Outings Sub-Committee, and to organise the Annual Conference and President’s Evening. The Committee should ensure that the arrangements for the annual Conference are in place and satisfactory, and should ensure that the Conference Organiser has all the support he/she needs. A proposed list of speakers should be circulated to M&P and Council members for comments. To help organise other events for members when requested, except the AGM which is the duty of Council.

January Bird Race
The paperwork and publicity for this event to be organized under this committee.

President and Stonechat Awards
The paperwork and publicity for this event to be organized under this committee, including setting up an Awards committee (made up of President, Chairman of Council, and one member each from Council, Scientific and M&P) to decide who should receive awards.

Society Membership
To ensure that membership numbers are reported at each meeting, that membership renewals are promptly chased, and that reasons for members leaving are determined, analysed and, if necessary, acted upon.
To ensure membership leaflets are placed in appropriate locations, to attend suitable events to recruit new members and to initiate periodic campaigns for new members.

M&P Committee Membership

Newsletter Editor, Press & Publicity Officer (both Council positions), Webmaster, Outings Organiser, Membership Officer and Conference Organiser, plus Chairman and one other. Total of 8 members at present.

It was agreed that the Chairman would be appointed annually; a designated Secretary would not be required, and the Press & Publicity Officer or the Newsletter Editor would represent this committee on Council.