The Records Committee

The SOS Records Committee (SOSRC)


The Records Committee’s main function is to apply uniform adjudication standards to claimed records of scarce and rare birds in East and West Sussex. On occasion the Committee is also involved in the adjudication of early and late migrants, species in unusual locations and exotics and escapes.

The Committee consists of a minimum of six and a maximum of ten members with each record being assessed by six of those members. Members serve for a period of up to five years. Membership of the Committee and its members is ratified annually in April/May during SOS Council and Scientific Committee meetings. Membership of the Committee seeks to provide a reasonable geographical spread and with members having a detailed knowledge of both East and West Sussex.

Current Members of the SOSRC
Recorder: David Thorns
Assistant Recorder: Martin Orchard-Webb
Members: Andrew House, Jamie Partridge, Brian Cox, Gareth James, Paul James, Matt Phelps and Laurence Pitcher.

Nominations & Elections
The SOSRC usually nominates its own candidates to fill vacancies but nominations can also be put forward to the Recorder who will then circulate and discuss nominations with the Committee and a decision made by all current members, the Recorder and the Assistant Recorder.

The prime qualifications of candidates are:

  • acknowledged identification competence
  • proven reliability in the field
  • a track record of quality submissions of descriptions of scarce and rare birds to County records committees and BBRC
  • the capacity to handle quickly and efficiently the considerable volume of work involved in assessing upwards of 200 records per year, and preferably considerable experience of record assessment.

Although there is no obligation to live within the County, all members of the Committee should have a sound working knowledge of birds, habitats and observers within the County and it is usually useful to be an active member of the County birdwatching scene. All members are required to have access to a computer and the Internet as records are circulated via e-mail to members for assessment. All members must be fully paid up members of the Society.

Recorder and Assistant Recorder
The SOS Recorder and Assistant Recorder positions are usually nominated from within the Society and both positions must be proposed, seconded and approved at the Society’s Annual General Meeting. In addition, because of the confidential nature of the records they are handling both nominations must be approved by the SOS Council.

Committee meetings
The Committee normally meets once a year. Scientific decisions are either proposed by SOSRC and forwarded to the SOS Scientific Committee for decision or may be dealt with solely by the SOS Scientific Committee when taxonomy and related subjects are involved. In general, it is the SOSRC that takes the lead when dealing with species status and occurrence, as well as provenance of records, although the Scientific Committee may be asked to ratify a decision.

Public involvement
The SOSRC needs to uphold confidence of the Sussex (and wider) birding community and, like the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC), it depends on the support of birders, especially through the submission of descriptions and photographs of unusual birds. The Committee can only perform the task of record assessment and keeping of the County (and in turn National) record with the co-operation of the majority of birders in the county. Confidence in the Committee’s fairness and efficiency is essential. Any suggested improvements in its operation are always welcome and should be sent direct to the SOS Recorder.