Records are judged on their separate merit. Decisions are a considered opinion as to whether a particular record carries enough evidence to reliably support the identification and do not represent an assessment of the observer. Non-acceptance does not usually mean that the Committee believes the observer was mistaken; rather that Committee considers that the evidence presented is insufficient to establish the identification beyond reasonable doubt. However, in addition to the evidence submitted, observer experience of the species, or potential confusion species, sometimes informs a decision.
For any record to be accepted, all members of the NIRBC need to assess it and vote, and a decision has to be reached. If two or more individual members decide that a record is ‘not proven’, then it cannot be accepted. All votes are maintained on file and are strictly confidential.
The Committee would like to receive records as soon after the original sighting as possible, ideally within one month. The ‘field description’ should be based on field-notes taken during the observation or very soon afterwards, preferably written without reference to identification literature. Please include any photographs or field-sketches made, however rudimentary; these are often invaluable.
The Committee reserves the right to ask for additional information on any record, including scan-ins or photocopies of original field notes.
Resubmitted records are compared to the original, to ensure that they only include information overlooked at the time of writing the original. Information that contradicts the original or detail added retrospectively, such as sketches done several weeks after the original sighting, will not be considered; nor will subsequent experience of the species.
For a bird record that is submitted only on call or song, it is essential that the species family is seen, for the record to be assessed.