Meet . . . our Records Committee

The BOU Records Committee (BOURC) is responsible for maintaining the British List, the official list of birds recorded in Britain.

Members are appointed by the Council of the BOU and come from a diverse background of ornithology and birding and includes a Chairman and Secretary, and the Chairman of British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC).

The Committee is a well-balanced team of birders with international ornithological and birding experience and knowledge, and includes both professional and amateur ornithologists. Skills of individual members include detailed knowledge of bird distribution, taxonomy, statistics, the wild bird trade, genetics and historical research. Expertise in bird identification and vagrancy is also extremely important. The ability to handle regular batches of paperwork, often of a detailed and complex nature, and to do so promptly and reliably, are key qualities. The work is entirely voluntary and unpaid.

Committee members

Dr James Gilroy

Chair

James is a Lecture in Ecology at University of East Anglia. A lifelong birder and natural historian, his childhood fascination with wildlife developed into a career studying how animals are responding to human impacts in our rapidly-changing world. Since completing a PhD studying the declines of farmland birds in the UK, his work has taken him to many countries around the world, including spending several years at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Oslo, as well as long spells in the tropics. His current research combines ecological modelling, large-scale big-data analysis and field-based studies to predict species responses to climate and land-use change, with a focus on migratory species.

James remains an obsessively keen birder (when time allows), and still pores religiously over daily weather charts in an effort to predict the arrivals of interesting species.

Follow James on Twitter @j_gilroy1

Dr Chris McInerney

Secretary

Chris was educated at the University College London, Birkbeck, University of London, and the University of Edinburgh. He then spent three years in Seattle, USA at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, before returning to the UK to a position at the University of Glasgow, where he has been ever since. He has wide interests in all forms of natural history, including birds, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, moths, orchids and mushrooms. As well as his role with BOURC, Chris is currently Secretary to the Scottish Birds Records Committee, President of the Glasgow Natural History Society, and Chairman of Biological Recording in Scotland; and is a past President of the Scottish Ornithologist’s Club. He has published many papers on natural history, with particular interest on Honey-buzzards, Adders, skuas and gulls, and has edited and authored two books The Birds of Scotland (2007) and The Amphibians and Reptiles of Scotland (2016).

Dawn Balmer


Dawn has worked for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) since 1992, and is Head of Surveys. She has worked across the survey and demography teams, and was Atlas Coordinator for Bird Atlas 2007-11. She is a keen birder, ringer and general naturalist. Dawn is Secretary of the European Bird Census Council, Chair of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, Editorial Panel member of British Birds, Trustee of the Eric Hosking Charitable Trust, and writes regularly for British Wildlife.

Follow Dawn on Twitter @DEBALMER

Chris Batty


Chris developed a diverse interest in birds from an early age and as well as a natural enthusiasm for rarities he is a trained ringer and has enjoyed roles as both local bird recorder and report editor on the Fylde, Lancashire, where his lifetime’s local birding was rewarded with the discovery of Britain’s third Great Knot on his childhood patch. After graduating in Ecology at the University of East Anglia Chris completed a further degree and worked for the RSPB before returning to Rare Bird Alert where more than twenty years of service have given him a sound knowledge of the British birding scene that, alongside a wide range of identification interests, was recognised by his election to the British Birds Rarities Committee on which he has now served for twelve years. Although having travelled extensively throughout much of the Western Palearctic Chris is now more likely to be found at home where he monitors bird migration through automated sound recordings.

Pierre-André Crochet


Pierre-André (aka PAC) is a scientist, keen birder and herpetologist, and avid twitcher. He holds a position at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Montpellier, France and works on a wide variety of subjects, including the biogeography and genomics of speciation, the evolutionary bases of phenotypes and behaviours, systematics and conservation. His favourite models are birds, amphibians and reptiles of the Western Palearctic (WP). As a birder, he is mainly interested in identification and searching for rare birds. He is keen enough on his WP bird list to have turned into a WP twitcher since his late thirties and his quest for WP species has taken him to most corners of the region. He has been or is a member of several taxonomic committees providing recommendations on birds and herptiles systematics and he serves on the Portuguese, Egyptian and French rarities committees as well as the French Avifaunistic Committee. He now lives in Montpellier and spends a large part of his free time birding the coast of southern France between the Camargue and the Spanish border.

Steve Dudley

Chief Operations Officer

Steve has worked in and around ornithology, and in particular science communication, since 1985. He started life as an RSPB reserves engagement officer before moving to the BTO (membership development officer) and then, in 1997, appointed as the BOU’s senior staff member to run the day to day operations of Union.

Steve’s role is very varied and means he has his fingers in most BOU pies, including delivering all BOU conferences and events (including in recent years our series of Twitter conferences), running the business side of the BOU’s journal, IBIS, website development and content management and servicing BOU Council and its five Standing Committees. Steve also undertakes all the BOU’s comms and social media (including the development of the BOU Twitter conferences), and in recent years has been actively involved in researching the ornithological community’s use of social media. With a background in design, in 2019 Steve designed the new Janet Kear Union Medal replacing the BOU’s existing Union Medal.

Steve is an active birder and naturalist and can usually be found wandering the Huntingdonshire fens. He has written/co-written three books: Rare Birds Day by Day (Poyser, 1996), Watching British Dragonflies (2007) and A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos (2009).

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevedudley_

Paul French

Chair, British Birds Rarities Committee

Paul has been a birder since about 8 years old when he identified his first Greenfinch, and the obsession has lasted ever since. After graduating from university with a degree in Wildlife Conservation, he embarked upon a career within the bird conservation and monitoring sector, becoming assistant warden on Fair Isle in 2001-02, assistant warden for the RSPB on Fetlar and Sumburgh in 2003-05, had a spell being a survey officer for the Barn Owl Trust, then warden at Frampton Marsh and Freiston Shore between 2005-10 and finally as restoration advisor for the RSPB’s “Nature After Minerals” project in 2010-11. Ultimately, he decided that more time for actual birding was required from life, and he became a freelance ornithologist in 2011, and now splits his time between tour leading for Sunbird in the Middle East, Asia and Africa and working as a Senior Ornithologist for HiDef Aerial Surveying. A mild obsession with the British rarity scene and identification in general saw him elected to the British Birds Rarities Committee in 2008 and then Chairman of the BBRC in 2015. Paul lives in Easington, East Yorkshire, within an easy stroll of Spurn.

Follow Paul on Twitter @nomadbirder

Dr Alexander Lees


Alex is a senior lecturer in biodiversity at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and a research associate of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, USA. Alex works principally on the ecology and conservation of tropical bird species, especially in Amazonia but has long-maintained a research interest in understanding the pattern and process of avian vagrancy. He sits on the steering committee of the Sustainable Amazon Network and is also a member of the Brazilian Ornithological Records Committee .

Follow Alex on Twitter @Alexander_Lees

Andy Stoddart


Andy is a lifelong birdwatcher resident in north Norfolk. He is very much a ‘local patch’ watcher and over more than thirty years has made in excess of 1300 visits to Blakeney Point. He has found many rare birds including England’s first Masked Shrike. He is also well travelled, his main interest being in Holarctic birds.

Andy is Vice Chair of the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC), Editor of the Norfolk Bird Report and an identification consultant to ‘Birdwatch’ magazine. He co-authored The Birds of Blakeney Point as well as other titles on environmental and ornithological history. He has also authored many papers in British Birds on behalf of BBRC and BOURC and is a regular contributor of identification pieces to Birdwatch.

Category F Sub-committee

Prof Umberto Albarella


Umberto is Professor of Zooarchaeology at the University of Sheffield. He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Naples (Italy) and obtained his PhD from the University of Durham. He has also worked at the Universities of Lecce (Italy), Birmingham and Durham, as well as for English Heritage. His main areas of research include domestication, pastoralism, ethnography and the social and ritual symbolism associated with animals. In the field of ornithology, he has worked on the history of British birds, the development of identification methods for the study of bird bones, and the relationship between the study of past bird populations and current conservation concerns. His work is predominantly based in Britain and Italy, but he has also worked in Armenia, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Portugal. Within archaeology, he has been an advocate for global and social justice.

Joanne Cooper


Joanne is a senior curator in the Birds Curation Group of the Natural History Museum. She is responsible for the avian anatomical collections, including both the skeleton and spirit collections, some 35000 specimens in total. Joanne’s enthusiasm for birds started at the tender age of 6, but she followed a rather circuitous route to her current post through a degree in geography and geology before researching the Late Pleistocene bird communities of Gibraltar for her PhD. A developing interest in the subfossil birds of the Chatham Islands took her to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for almost a year before returning to the UK and the Natural History Museum as curator of the skeleton collection. With over 20 years working with these specimens, she has become an internationally recognised authority in avian osteology, with particular experience and expertise in the taxonomic identification of bird bones. This leads into her research interests in environmental and archaeological interpretation of ancient bird assemblages, for example Late Pleistocene birds from eastern Morocco and Ancient Egyptian raptor mummies. In all cases, a crucial aspect of her research is understanding how ancient records of bird species can inform our understanding of modern birds and their distribution.

Dr Dale Serjeantson


Dale is a zooarchaeologist who specializes in the analysis of bird remains from archaeological sites. Her expertise is in the distribution of birds in Britain as reflected in the archaeological remains and the social and economic significance of birds in the past. Topics that she has researched include the exploitation of seabirds in the British Isles, the significance of corvids to prehistoric societies, the extinction of the Great Auk, the former occurrence of Fea’s Petrel in Scotland, and the historic extinction in Britain of the White-tailed Eagle, Common Crane, Dalmatian Pelican and White Stork. She is the author of the Cambridge Manual in Archaeology: Birds. This book, which has world-wide scope, is a guide to the identification and analysis of archaeological bird bones; it also discusses the varied relationships between birds and humans in the prehistoric and early historic past. Dale was a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton until her retirement and is now a Visiting Fellow there.

BOURC consultants

Andrew Owen (Chester Zoo – captive bird consultant)
Bob McGowan (Nation Museum Scotland – museum consultant)
Keith Naylor (Historical records consultant)

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