British Ornithologists’ Union Annual Report and Accounts 2008

Reference and Administrative Details


PO Box 417, Peterborough PE7 3FX, UK

Tel: +44 (0) 1 733 844 820. Email:

BOU Staff at 31 December 2008

Senior Administrator Mr S. P. Dudley

Journal & Office Manager Mrs A. F. Langford


The following individuals served as Trustees of the charity at the time of Council approving this annual report and accounts: P. J. Oliver, S. Bearhop, T. Birkhead, R. Bradbury, A. Dawson, P. Donald, R. J. Fuller, K. Hamer, I. R. Hartley, G. Martin, R. Y. McGowan, W. Peach, G. R. Potts, H. Sitters and S. Wanless.

The following individuals also served as Trustees of the charity during the course of the year covered by this annual report and accounts: S. Davies, J. Gill and S. Hinsley.

Council Officers at 31 December 2008

President Dr A. Dawson

Vice Presidents Dr G. R. Potts, Prof. R. J. Fuller

Honorary Secretary Dr H. Sitters

Honorary Treasurer Mr P. J. Oliver FCA

Ordinary Members of Council at 31 December 2008

Dr S. Bearhop, Prof. T. Birkhead, Dr R. Bradbury (Chairman Meetings Committee), Dr P. Donald (Chairman Grants Committee), Dr I. R. Hartley (Chairman Ibis Committee), Rev. T. W. Gladwin (Chairman BOU/BOC Joint Publications Committee –ex officio), Dr K. Hamer, Prof. G. Martin, Mr R. Y. McGowan (Chairman Records Committee), Dr W. Peach and Prof. S. Wanless.

BOU editorial positions at 31 December 2008

Ibis – Editor in ChiefDr M. Brooke

Ibis – Editors Dr R. Bowie, Dr D. Chamberlain, Dr P. Donald, Dr J. Wilson

Checklist SeriesEditor Prof. R. A. Cheke

BOU Investment Trustees at 31 December 2008

The following individuals served as Investment Trustees for the Union during the period of this report and accounts: N. J. Crocker, R. Price and S. J. Rumsey.


The Union holds accounts with the following banks:

NatWest Bank plc, PO Box 6037, Brompton Road, London SW13 1XJ, UK

CAF Bank Ltd, 25 Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4JQ, UK

Douglas County Bank, 9th & Kentucky, PO Box 429, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA


During the year, the following acted as solicitors for the Union:

Laytons, Tempus Court, Onslow Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4SS, UK


The Union’s accountants are:

Morris & Associates, 38 Steynton Avenue, Bexley, Kent DA5 3HG, UK


The Union’s auditors are:

Alliotts, Friary Court, 13–21 High Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3DL, UK

Structure, Governance and Management

The British Ornithologists’ Union is an unincorporated charity, no. 249877. Its object is the promotion of the science of ornithology. Its governing document is the Rules adopted at the Annual General Meeting in 1999. Under the rules, the governing body, the Council of the Union, is responsible for the running of the Union’s business, supported by its staff. Council may delegate functions to standing or ad hoc committees which report to Council. The Union’s Council retains overall responsibility for matters so delegated.

The BOU has five standing committees: the Ibis Committee, the Meetings Committee, the BOU/BOC Joint Publications Committee, the Grants Committee and the Records Committee.

Elected members of Council are Trustees of the charity. Members are recruited from within the ornithological and birdwatching communities. Where possible, members will have served on one or more of the BOU’s standing committees prior to nomination for election to Council. Those standing for election to BOU Council as an incoming chairman of a standing committee will have served for at least 2 years on the respective committee. On election, new Council members are provided with relevant Union documents to help familiarize them with current Union activities and to provide information on the duties and responsibilities of being a Trustee of the Union.

In 2007, Council identified a risk arising from the fact that its single full-time and two part-time employees operated from separate geographical locations and none had the training or skills to cover for any of the others during any unexpected absences. As a result the Union’s staff was re-organized. The part-time positions were combined into a full-time post and the position was relocated to the same geographical area as that of the existing full-time employee. This re-organization was implemented at the end of January 2008 and the two staff members have commenced the necessary training to enable them to cover for each other as required.

Objectives and Activities

BOU Mission Statement

The British Ornithologists’ Union will promote understanding and conservation of the world’s birds, advance ornithology within the scientific community and promote scientific ornithology to the wider birdwatching public. The BOU mission will be achieved by the following means:

  • 1Publishing Ibis as a leading international journal of ornithological science.
  • 2Publishing the BOU Checklist series, together with other publications.
  • 3Organizing a programme of meetings and conferences.
  • 4Awarding grants for ornithological research.
  • 5Encouraging liaison between those actively engaged in ornithological research.
  • 6Providing a representative body of the scientific community, ornithological information and advice to government and other policy makers.
  • 7Maintaining and publishing the official list of birds recorded in Britain – The British List.

Council Activities

Council met three times during the year with other business conducted by email.

At the AGM in April, Dr Paul Donald (to chair the BOU Grants Committee), Dr Ian Hartley (to chair the BOU Ibis Committee), Prof. Graham Martin and Prof. Sarah Wanless were elected as Ordinary Members of Council to replace Dr Will Cresswell, Ms Susan Davies, Dr Jenny Gill and Dr Shelley Hinsley.

Achievements and Performance

The work of the BOU

The modus operandi of the BOU has changed considerably over the last decade. We have moved from a largely voluntary organization requiring only part-time secretarial support, to a body with two full-time staff members who now undertake much of the Union’s business.

BOU staff

During the year, the BOU employed two home-based staff members within the BOU Office: Steve Dudley (Senior Administrator), working full-time, and Mrs Angela Langford (Journal & Office Manager), working three-quarter time (from January 2008) and full-time (from November).

The BOU Office

The work of the BOU Office is overseen by Council, the Union’s standing committees and the Senior Administrator.

The BOU Office is responsible for the effective running of the BOU. Its key responsibilities are:

  • to support BOU Council and its Committees and implement much of the work arising from them, and specifically
  • working with the Honorary Treasurer, maintaining monthly accounts and budgets and assisting in the preparation of annual accounts
  • working with the Ibis Committee, managing the non-editorial aspects of the Union’s journal, Ibis
  • working with the Meetings Committee, organizing BOU conferences, meetings and workshops
  • working with the Joint Publications Committee, managing the publication and sales of BOU and BOC publications
  • working with the Grants Committee, managing the Union’s grant award scheme
  • working with the Records Committee to manage the British List and associated work areas
  • working with the Ibis Editorial Team to oversee and manage the manuscript process and flow for the Union’s journal, Ibis
  • to service the BOU membership
  • undertake routine administration (bookkeeping, reports, etc.)
  • to manage BOU sales
  • to manage the BOU storage facility
  • to handle general enquiries
  • to manage press and publicity
  • to manage BOU web content on, and
  • to manage BOC activities contracted to the BOU including administration, membership, journal management, publication sales and contributing to the BOC website.

In addition to the above activities, the BOU Office implemented the changes identified in 2007 following Council’s review of our office and staff structure. We vacated our office within the University of Oxford at the end of 2007, and from January 2008 the BOU Office was spread across two home-based staff in the Peterborough area.

The new office structure included the appointment of a new staff member to the new post of Journal & Office Manager following the merging of the two part-time posts of Administrative Assistant (staff post) and Journal Manager (freelance contractor). Graeme Green (Administrative Assistant) left the BOU’s employ at the end of 2007 and Claire Devereux (Journal Manager) left her post at the end of May 2008. Angela Langford was appointed Journal & Office Manager in January 2008.

During the year the new administration was monitored to ensure it met the objectives of the restructuring exercise. The new structure has delivered two staff members working in the same geographic area providing increased face-to-face contact and with overlapping responsibilities able to provide better cover across increasing areas of the Union’s activities. The cover aspect of the two roles will continue to be developed to ensure increased support between the staff members and increased security for key core activities.

Ibis Committee

Members Dr I. R. Hartley (Chairman), Dr M. Brooke (Editor-in-Chief), Mr S. P. Dudley (Senior Administrator), Dr K. Hamer, Dr J. Reynolds, Dr A. MacColl. Mrs A. F. Langford (Journal Manager) attends all meetings.

The Ibis Committee acts as an advisory group to help determine the direction of the journal, and to provide support and advice in the management of the journal. During the year, Ian Hartley took over as Chairman, from Jenny Gill, and Andrew MacColl joined the committee. One meeting was held during the year, with other business conducted by email.

Ibis– the BOU’s international journal of avian science

Michael Brooke (Editor-in-Chief, EiC), Jeremy Wilson, Dan Chamberlain, Paul Donald and Rauri Bowie (Editors) continued in their roles on the editorial team in 2008. Following staff restructuring, Angela Langford joined the team as Journal Manager in January 2008. Angela is a full-time BOU staff member and will spend around 40% of her time managing the manuscript process of Ibis. A further aspect of the staff restructuring is for the Union’s two staff members to have increased ability to cover for one another across key Union activities. Steve Dudley continues to manage the business side of Ibis with our publishers, Wiley-Blackwell. Ibis continues to flourish under their excellent management.

This year saw several changes on the Associate Editor board. Stuart Bearhop, Steve Redpath and Iain Jamieson resigned from the board due to other commitments, and we thank them for their support over the past few years. Joining the board in 2008 were Mark Bolton, Stephen Browne, Simon Butler, Farah Ishtiaq, Mike Lawes, Suhel Quader and Fabrizio Sergio.

Manuscript submission rates dropped a little in 2008, but remain at a comfortably high level. The impact of journals is usually compared using data compiled by the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI). In 2008, the impact factor ranking of Ibis amongst other ornithological journals dropped from 4th to 5th (out of 19), although it ranked 1st for the immediacy index, which is a measure of how topical and timely the published papers are.

BOU staff worked with Wiley-Blackwell in developing a new cover design for the journal incorporating specially commissioned artwork by Robert Gillmor depicting different ibis species. The first of these covers will be used for the 2009 volume to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Ibis.

Conference proceedings

During the year one set of proceedings were published as a free to view, online only supplement of Ibis– Birds as Predators and as Prey. This is likely to be the last conference proceedings to be published via this route. Responding to changes in publishing, the needs of managing a high level journal and feedback from our author community, future conference proceedings will continue to be published online but via a new internet site set up during the year – is designed to ensure rapid dissemination of papers from conferences, and already includes access to all previously published online proceedings and details of offline publications. Future conference authors will have the option of submitting their papers for publication in Ibis or on Each conference proceedings will have dedicated pages on linking users to all online content from their respective conferences. The first proceedings to follow this new publishing route will be published during 2009.

Publishers of Ibis

Ibis is published on behalf of the Union by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, from whom we receive excellent service and facilities. In 2008, through Wiley-Blackwell, Ibis is now represented on the Committee on Publication Ethics; a group that advises on matters of publication misconduct such as plagiarism, fraudulent data, unethical research, etc. The efforts of Wiley-Blackwell staff in continuing to develop the quality, production and marketing of Ibis are greatly appreciated.

Digitizing back issues of Ibis

Digitization of all issues of Ibis, from the first issue (1859) to the most recent, is now complete and these issues are now available online (via to subscribers. The actual cost of digitizing the back issues was less than forecast and the financial outlay has already been recouped by institutional subscriber sales, which has contributed in the increased income from Ibis to BOU funds this year.

Meetings Committee

Members Dr R. B. Bradbury (Chairman), Dr N. Burton, Dr R. Cromie, Dr H. Baker, Dr M. J. Whittingham, Dr R. Stillman, Mr S. A. H. Statham (BOC representative). Mr S. P. Dudley (Senior Administrator) attends all meetings.

The Meetings Committee is responsible for maintaining the ongoing programme of BOU conferences and meetings and for providing advice and support to the BOU Office and others responsible for organizing and running BOU events.

The Committee met twice during the year and also conducted business by post and email.

During the year, Dr Helen Baker and Dr Mark Whittingham replaced Dr Jim Reynolds and Dr John Quinn as ordinary members of the Committee.

Annual Spring Conference 2008

In April, the BOU held its annual conference at Leicester University, being a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the BOU. The theme was Bird conservation in response to global change: from ornithology to policy. Dr Will Cresswell (University of St Andrews) organized the conference programme and took on the role of Associate Ibis Editor for the proceedings papers. In conjunction with the Committee Chairman and BOU Senior Administrator, Dr Cresswell also helped to secure external funding for the conference. Paper submission and handling via Manuscript Central has gone well, with the majority of papers destined to appear either in standard issues of Ibis or in the new portal (see Ibis Committee above). Some papers have not been submitted, and will be represented by abstracts on

Breaking with tradition, talks were offered rather than invited (with the exception of plenaries). Fortunately, the conference attracted high quality talks with feedback confirming that the conference programme had been well received, although somewhat parochial with only one talk being from outside the UK. The BOU 150th anniversary presentations had worked very well. The University of Leicester continued to prove an excellent venue which we plan to use for the foreseeable future. There were 114 delegates, with the usual pattern of approximately 25% booking in the last few weeks. The Union is grateful for financial assistance from Defra, RSPB and Natural England.

It was felt that we still needed to attract more students to the conference. Steps have been taken to encourage and facilitate greater student attendance at the 2009 annual conference.

Autumn Conference 2008

A successful 1-day meeting, attracting 78 delegates, was held in November on the subject of Impacts of non-native species. The Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough again proved to be a convenient venue. Dr Niall Burton (BTO), Dr Helen Baker (JNCC), Dr Ian Carter (NE), Dr Niall Moore (CSL) and Mr Steve Dudley (BOU) organized the conference and secured funding. The BOU is grateful for the financial support of BTO, Defra, Natural England and JNCC for this meeting. The organizing team have taken on the role of Associate Editors and are processing papers to be published either as standard papers in Ibis or on Some papers have not been submitted, and will be represented by abstracts on


After successful first workshops on Radio-tracking Birds (March 2006) and Generalized Models for Ecologists (November 2007), it was disappointing that these events could not be repeated. Further radio-tracking events have been put on hold until Sean Walls is ready to run a second workshop. Opportunities are being explored for further statistics workshops.

Future events

In April 2009, the BOU’s annual conference will again be held at the University of Leicester. The programme has been led/organized by Dr Will Peach (RSPB) and will be the third in the BOU series on Lowland Farmland Birds. The committee consists of Dr Will Peach (RSPB), Dr Nicholas Aebischer (GCT), Mr Richard Brand-Hardy (Defra), Mr Phil Grice (Natural England), Dr Gavin Siriwardena (BTO) and Dr Juliet Vickery (RSPB).

There will be no autumn meeting in 2009.

An organizing committee, headed by Dr Rowena Langston (RSPB), has been established for the spring 2010 annual conference. The theme will be on Climate Change and Birds.

We are also exploring opportunities to run more students workshops during 2009 including one on scientific publishing.

BOU/BOC Joint Publications Committee

Members Rev. T. W. Gladwin (Chairman), Prof. R. A. Cheke (Commissioning Editor BOU and BOC non-journal titles), Dr J. Cooper, Mr S. P. Dudley (Publications Manager), Prof. C. M. Perrins, Mr D. J. Montier, Mr N. J. Redman, Mr S. A. H. Statham.

The Committee

This joint committee (JPC), which is responsible for the BOU’s and British Ornithological Club’s (BOC) non-journal publications, met twice in 2008; much of its business being otherwise conducted by email. The Chairman of the Committee is alternately appointed by the BOC and the BOU. Nominated in 2007 by the BOU, Tom Gladwin continues to chair the committee until April 2009. Dr J. Cooper kindly accepted an invitation to be co-opted onto the committee.


For various good reasons all publications in hand experienced further delays.

The Birds of Borneo (Clive Mann) was published at the year end, and The Birds of Barbados (P. A. Buckley, Edward B. Massiah, Maurice B. Hutt, Francine G. Buckley and Hazel F. Hutt) is now expected to be published in the summer of 2009. The Committee was pleased to receive the main part of the manuscript of The Birds of Britain and Ireland (David Parkin and Alan Knox) and, subject to contract, publication is planned for 2009.

The Asian Bird Records of Richard Meinertzhagen (Pamela Rasmussen and Robert Prŷs Jones), now expected in 2009, will form the next volume in the BOC’s Occasional Publication Series.

The manuscript for the sixth in the series of volumes on Systematic Notes on Asian Birds, being the first of two issues agreed to be financed by the BOC, is also expected in 2009.

The Committee continues to seek to maintain contact with authors of other potential titles, and evaluate new proposals.

Grants Committee (formerly Ornithological Affairs Committee)

Members Dr P. Donald (Chairman), Mr J. Bird, Dr P. Dolman, Dr P. Atkinson, Dr J. Barlow (joined 2008). Mr S. P. Dudley (Senior Administrator) attends all meetings.

This Committee advises Council on selection of research grant applications that the BOU should support.

The Committee formerly advised Council on other matters such as nominations for medals, awards and Honorary members, and responded to external consultations on matters of ornithological importance. However, as the Committee is now rarely called upon to address these issues, it was proposed and accepted by Council that the Committee be re-named as the BOU Grants Committee to better reflect its activities.

The Committee met once during the year to consider the research grant applications and conducted the rest of its business by correspondence.

Dr J. Barlow joined the Committee during the year.

Research grants

The Committee received 15 research grant applications, a lower number than received in the previous year. The Committee continues to look at further ways of increasing the number, quality and geographical coverage of applications for future years, for example through direct contacts and wider publicity.

Council accepted the Committee’s recommendation that the following projects be funded:

  • Radio-tracking research to aid conservation of the Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin. Clive Bealey (UK), £1000.

  • Evaluating the impact of land-use on resident and migratory raptors in West African savannas. Ralph Buij (Cameroon), £1000.

  • Galliformes monitoring and conservation project in Pakistan’s Palas valley with special focus on Western Tragopan. Francis Buner (UK), £1000.

  • Does Bean Goose have a distinct strategy for autumn vs. spring migration in northeastern Ukraine? Mikhail Banik (Ukraine), £600.

  • A comparison of the breeding ecology of East African and north temperate tit species (Paridae). Phil Shaw (UK), £795.

  • The impact of predation on populations and individuals of wintering waders. Piet van den Hout (The Netherlands), £600.

Research project reports

During the year we received and published the following reports from projects previously supported by the Union:

  • Cockle, K. (University of British Columbia). Nesting of the vulnerable Helmeted Woodpecker and other woodpeckers in Argentina’s Atlantic forest. Awarded £570 in 2006 (Ibis150: 216).

  • Stoyanov, G. (Bulgarian Society for Protection of Birds of Prey). Research on the contemporary distribution of species from order Falconiformes, nesting in the rock biotopes in North-western Bulgaria. Awarded £450 in 2007 (Ibis150: 438–439).

  • Wamiti, W. (National Museums of Kenya). Survey of globally-threatened birds in the northern sector of Kinangop Grasslands IBA, Lake Ol Borossat Grasslands and Marmanet Forest Reserve, central Kenya. Awarded £850 in 2007 (Ibis150: 439).

  • Daroczi, S. (Transylvania University, Romania). Research on distribution and status of the Saker Falco cherrug in south-eastern Romania. Awarded £450 in 2007 (Ibis150: 660–661).

Records Committee

Members Mr R. Y. McGowan (Chairman), Mr A. H. J. Harrop (Secretary), Dr A. Brown, Dr M. Collinson, Mr C. Kehoe, Mr P. A. Lassey, Dr T. M. Melling, Mr R. Millington, Dr S. Votier, Mr A. Rowlands (Chairman BBRC, ex officio). Mr S. P. Dudley (Senior Administrator) attends all meetings.

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

The Committee met twice during the year with most of its business conducted by post and email. The Committee’s 37th Report, covering the period November 2007 to September 2008, was published in January 2009 (Ibis151: 224–230).

During the year, Dr Martin Collinson was re-appointed ex officio to retain him as TSC Convenor, and Mr Adam Rowlands was appointed as a replacement for Prof. C. Bradshaw, who had retired as Chairman BBRC.

Changes to the British List

The following species were added to Category A: Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus, Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias, Wilson’s Snipe Gallinago delicata, Naumann’s Thrush Turdus naumanni, Red-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis and Green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus; the latter four are all now treated as full species. The following subspecies was added to Category A: Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea diomedea.

The following species was deleted from Category B and the British List: Madeiran Storm-petrel (Band-rumped Storm Petrel) Oceanodroma castro.

The following subspecies have been deleted from the List: Common Eider Somateria mollissima borealis, Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus pallescens, Common Guillemot Uria aalge hyperboreus and Little Auk Alle alle polaris.

The changes to the British List published in this report mean that the List comprises 583 species (564 Category A, 9 Category B and 10 Category C).

Full details of these, and other items, can be found in the report referred to above.

Review of Category D species

A review of species in this category continues. For details of changes see the report referred to above.

Taxonomic and nomenclatural changes

The Fifth Report of the Taxonomic Sub-committee (Ibis150: 833–835) recommended several changes to taxonomic status and sequences and a number of nomenclatural changes. Those changes adopted by the Committee for the British List were confirmed in the Committee’s 37th Report (Ibis151: 224–230).

Category F Sub-committee

No meetings have been held but progress is being made.

Consideration of species for elevation to Category C

The alert system for Category E species that may warrant elevation to Category C (see Ibis148: 198–201) has been removed.

Committee website

The Committee has continued its development of an internal website which is used for the storage of images and documents to assist its work.

Forward planning

Following a grant from Council, the Committee will undertake a pilot programme to assess the resources required to digitize its files. It will also continue to use press releases as a vehicle to ensure its work is kept in the public eye and to publicize decisions promptly.

Formal links

The BOURC maintains its close links with the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC). That Committee’s Chairman, Mr Adam Rowlands, remains an ex-officio member of the BOURC, while the BOURC Secretary continues to work closely with BBRC’s Secretariat.


The Union’s membership showed a welcome increase, albeit very small, with 1064 members at 31 December 2008 (1055 end of 2007). This is the first year since 2000 that the membership has not declined, since when our membership has reduced by 45%. It is clear that online access to Ibis is driving recruitment, with over 50% of new members opting for online. We continue to lose members (the small increase is due to a modest increase in the number of members recruited, 59 cf. 39 in 2007), with the recurring reasons (when provided) for members leaving the Union continuing to be access to the journal elsewhere (usually at place of work), retirement and change of research interests.

The following members were elected (or re-elected) during 2008: Mr M. Anthony, Ms S. Austin-Bythell, Dr H. Baker, Mr J. D. Baker, Mr L. Batty, Mr G. F. Bell, Mr S. Bentall, Mr S. Betts, Mr M. Bolton, Mr J. E. Bottom, Mr D. Callahan, Mr N. Chandler, Dr P. Chapman, Mr A. Copland, Mr R. Cure, Mr P. Custodi, Dr J. Del Hoyo Calduch, Mr A. Delnevo, Mr A. Dowse, Ms J. Dunn, Mr R. Dwyer, Mr S. Eaves, Mr C. Ezcurra, Mr K. D. Godbeer, Mr M. F. Godfrey, Mr R. Gordijin, Dr I. Hartley, Mr A. J. Hetherington, Mr A. L. Hughes, Mr T. I. Ishizuka, Mr W. D. Jackson, Mr C. Jardine, Mr J. Jones, Mr G. Kaiser, Mr T. C. Kelly, Mr K. Lane, Mr T. Marco, Mr S. Meecham, Mr K. A. Naylor, Mr Te Sok Oh, Dr N. Orsi, Mr J. Overfield, Ms A. Pardy, Mr J. Q. Phillipps, Mr A. Pittie, Ms S. N. Priest, Mr J. Sanders, Mr F. Saporetti, Mr I. Sazima, Mr Shin-Ichi. Seki, Mr J. M. Sevink, Mr H. Smit, Ms C. Soldatini, Mr F. Sweeney, Mr A. Tsiompanoudis, Ms J. Wallace, Miss S. L. Webber and Dr S. Wood.

Twenty-seven resignations were accepted during the year and Council noted with regret the following deaths: Mr L. R. Evans, Dr G. Hall, Dr R. McCleery, Dr R. Schramm and Mrs G. M. B. Sparks.

British Ornithologists’ Club administration

The BOU Office continues to run various aspects of the BOC’s administration including the management, production and sales of BOC publications, the management of institutional subscribers to the BOC’s Bulletin, the BOC’s membership and website activities.

Other activities

BOU websites

The BOU’s use of the internet continues to evolve. The Union now has three main web portals.

  •– this is the Ibis journal website which is largely managed by our publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, with input from BOU staff. The site hosts online versions of the printed issues. During the year the back issues of Ibis, back to 1859, were digitized and these are now hosted on the site and are available to subscribers.

  •– this is the Union’s primary website and managed by BOU staff and Eng-Li Green (Alcedo Publishing). The website promotes the Union to a wide audience and is important for recruiting new members, disseminating information about the work of the Union, taking online bookings for conferences and selling BOU publications. We can continue to use a secure, free online ordering system for sales and membership applications/renewals and conference bookings at no cost to the Union.

  • Linked to our main website we have developed a series of complimentary sites to offer greater flexibility and increased speed in delivering items to the web. These new sites currently cover news and conferences with other new sites planned for other areas the future.

  •– in the autumn, this new web service was launched. This new site has been introduced as a one-stop web portal for the Union’s published output from our conferences. The site has been developed to cater for the changing requirements of publishing conference proceedings so that we can better meet the needs of conference organizers, authors, funders and ourselves as publishers.

Online services

The BOU Register of Avian Thesis Abstracts (BRANTA) provides access to theses abstracts. The BOU e-group, BOU BirdTalk, has over 300 members who use the group to exchange news, views, make announcements, etc. The BOU is becoming increasingly dependent on e-groups such as BOU BirdTalk to publicize events and publications.

Press and media

We continue to receive coverage of BOU Records Committee announcements in the national birdwatching press and online bird services, as well as regional birdwatching reports and e-groups. In addition, the Senior Administrator gave interviews for several national and regional newspapers and appeared on a number of regional radio programmes covering various ornithological issues.

General administration

Due to the restructuring of the BOU Office, the bookkeeping and accounting arrangements set up in 2006 were further improved with the change in BOU staff responsible for this work area. The new arrangements work very well and both BOU staff are now familiar enough with this work to provide cover if required.

The BOU continues to operate a storage facility in Peterborough, which it shares with the BOC, for the storage of publications, journal stocks, sales goods and archive items. This is another area which has benefited from the new staff structure, as both staff live near Peterborough and both have access and responsibility for its management.

General correspondence, particularly emails, remains at a high level and continues to take up a significant amount of time.

Financial Review

Honorary Treasurer Mr P.J. Oliver FCA

While the Union’s underlying financial performance continues to be satisfactory, the major financial feature of the year was the substantial reduction in the value of investments. This was obviously extremely disappointing, the decline of £85 000 representing a reduction of just over 25% in the book value compared with the previous year. The Union has, however, maintained a substantial proportion of its assets in cash and taking these into account, the percentage reduction over the year was about 12%. It should be noted that the reduction in the investment valuation was somewhat less than that suffered by the market as a whole. This reduction is not, of course, a cash item and while investment valuations have been extremely volatile since the year end, it remains Council’s view that, in the absence of any clear evidence to the contrary, the best chance of retaining the real value of the Union’s assets over the long-term is to hold part of its reserves in predominantly equity-based funds. In the short-term, given current market conditions, the income generated by both cash and investments will inevitably decline, but other sources of income are expected to be sufficient to cover expenditure and to leave a modest surplus available to spend directly on the Union’s charitable activities.

Excluding the unrealized losses on investments, the accounts reveal a surplus for the year of £33 000 compared with £77 000 in the previous year. The prior year surplus included £39 000 in respect of legacies and donations, which were not repeated this year. Excluding these, the surplus generated by the Union from its normal activities and before the costs of grants awarded, decreased from £48 000 in 2007 to £41 000 in the current year. The main reasons for the reduction in the surplus were reduced conference income reflecting lower attendance than in the previous year at the spring conference and lower Gift Aid receipts. The high level in the previous year was attributable to a substantial catching-up in submission of claims. The net improvement in the performance of Ibis was attributable principally to the decision taken jointly with our publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, to make available electronically all the back issues. The accounts are required to show the results of the Union’s charitable activities after allocating virtually all overheads. This year the allocations were changed somewhat as a result of the staff re-organization, but after allowing for a period of ‘double-running’ on both office and journal management during the period of re-organization total overheads declined slightly.

In recent years, the Union has consistently generated cash which has been added to reserves. During the year Council decided that if such cash surpluses continued to arise, it would be appropriate to allocate these directly to furthering the Union’s charitable activities. In future any such surpluses will, in principle, be so allocated according to a formula that takes account of cash performance in the immediately preceding years and the budget for the forthcoming year. Naturally, Council will review the appropriateness of such expenditure according to the circumstances prevailing at the time of commitment.

Notwithstanding the financial turmoil in the past year, the Union’s finances continue to be satisfactory and unless there are further major shocks to the economy or the financial system not yet foreseen, it should remain in a position to meet its charitable objectives.

President’s Statement

Dr A. Dawson

There were three particularly significant events and achievements during 2008. First, and most obviously, this was the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Union in the rooms of Alfred Newton at Magdalene College, Cambridge, on 17 November 1858. We celebrated this in two ways. At the Union’s Annual Conference in April (Ibis150: 859–864), where several distinguished members of the Union provided us with interesting and sometimes thought-provoking reminiscences about ornithology and the Union. And we digitized all of the back numbers of the Ibis, from the first edition in January 1859. This legacy will provide a valuable resource for ornithology; it seems almost incidental that the cost of digitizing was handsomely rewarded within the same year.

Secondly, 2008 saw the ‘bedding down’ of the changes to the way the Union office operates, which we initiated in 2007. Following the closure of our Oxford office, Angela Langford was appointed Journal & Office Manager and rapidly got to grips with her two new roles, and has proved to be a real asset to the Union.

The third achievement is, which provides online access to all of our conference proceedings – past and future. The final format of an individual conference paper may be a full peer-reviewed paper in Ibis, a conference paper on or simply an abstract, but whatever the format, will provide links to them all, so that every conference still has a complete ‘proceedings’.

As usual, there are many people I would like to thank (these are listed in full below). However, I am particularly grateful to Steve Dudley who, as the BOU’s Senior Administrator, is responsible for the organization, running and financial management of all BOU activities, and who continues to provide an excellent service for the Union. Secondly, I would like to thank Dr Mike Brooke, Editor in Chief of Ibis, and his team of Editors, who ensure that the journal remains one of the world’s foremost ornithological journals. Thirdly, thanks to Angela Langford who, as I mentioned above, has quickly become integral to managing Ibis and the Union, and to Claire Devereux for helping Angela take over the reins of Ibis Journal Manager. My thanks also to all members of Council and our Standing Committees for their work throughout the year.

Responsibilities of the Trustees

Law applicable to charities in England and Wales requires the Trustees to prepare financial statements for each financial year. Under that law the trustees have elected to prepare the financial statements in accordance with United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (United Kingdom Accounting Standards and applicable law). The financial statements are required by law to give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the charity and of the surplus or deficit of the charity for that period.

In preparing these financial statements, the Trustees are required to:

  • select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;
  • make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent; and
  • prepare the financial statements on the going concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the charity will continue in operation.

The trustees are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the charity and which enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Charities Act 1993. The trustees are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the charity and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.


The Union would like to extend their thanks and gratitude to the following individuals who have assisted on various BOU activities throughout the year: Mike Brooke, Raurie Bowie, Dan Chamberlain, Paul Donald, Jeremy Wilson, Claire Devereux and all Associate Editors for their continued hard work on Ibis; Dr Will Cresswell (University of St Andrews) for organizing the scientific programme for the Union’s 150th anniversary conference; Dr Niall Burton (BTO), Dr Helen Baker (JNCC), Dr Ian Carter (NE) and Dr Niall Moore (CSL) for organizing the scientific programme for the autumn ‘non-natives’ meeting; Debbie Wright, Graeme Henderson, Paul Eddowes and Davina Quarterman and everyone else at Wiley-Blackwell Publishing for their help in delivering our high quality journal; Bob Cheke (Commissioning editor for all BOU and BOC non-journal titles), Caroline Dudley and Patrick Smith for their work on the BOU Checklist Series; Eng-Li Green (BOU website and checklist production); Rob Robinson (BRANTA and BOU BirdTalk); Tony Morris, John Sharpe and Hazel Ross at Morris & Associates (accountants); Emma Kettle and Jo Riley and the conference office staff at the University of Leicester (BOU annual conferences); and Mark Adams (Bird Group, Natural History Museum), Peter Castell, Walter Chapman, Katrina Cook (Bird Group, Natural History Museum), Andrea Corso, Peter de Knijff, Alan Knox (University of Aberdeen), Eric Morton (Hancock Museum), Ray Murray, Keith Naylor, Peter Pyle, Don Stenhouse (Bolton Museum and Archive Service), Lars Svensson and Roger Wilkinson (Chester Zoo) (for assisting with the work of the Records Committee).

Approved by the Council on 11 March 2009

And signed on its behalf by

A. Dawson, President

Independent Auditor’s Report to the Trustees of British Ornithologists’ Union Year Ended 31 December 2008

We have audited the financial statements of British Ornithologists’ Union for the year ended 31 December 2008 which comprise the Statement of Financial Activities, the Balance Sheet and the related notes. These financial statements have been prepared under the accounting policies set out therein.

This report is made solely to the charity’s trustees, as a body, in accordance with section 43 of the Charities Act 1993. Our audit work has been undertaken so that we might state to the charity’s trustees those matters we are required to state to them in an auditor’s report and for no other purpose. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we do not accept or assume responsibility to anyone other than the charity and the charity’s trustees as a body, for our audit work, for this report, or for the opinions we have formed.

Respective Responsibilities of the Trustees and Auditor

The trustees’ responsibilities for preparing the Annual Report and the financial statements in accordance with applicable law and United Kingdom Accounting Standards (United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) and for being satisfied that the charity’s financial statements give a true and fair view are set out in the Statement of Trustees’ Responsibilities.

We have been appointed as auditors under section 43 of the Charities Act 1993 and report in accordance with regulations made under section 44 of that Act. Our responsibility is to audit the financial statements in accordance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements and International Standards on Auditing (UK and Ireland).

We report to you our opinion as to whether the financial statements give a true and fair view and are properly prepared in accordance with the relevant financial reporting framework and are prepared in accordance with the Charities Act 1993.

In addition we report to you if, in our opinion, the charity has not kept sufficient accounting records, or if the statement of account does not accord with those records or if we have not received all the information and explanations we require for our audit.

We read the Trustees Annual Report, and consider whether it is consistent with the audited financial statements. We consider the implications for our report if we become aware of any apparent misstatements or material inconsistencies with the financial statements.

Basis of Audit Opinion

We conducted our audit in accordance with International Standards on Auditing (UK and Ireland) issued by the Auditing Practices Board. An audit includes examination, on a test basis, of evidence relevant to the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. It also includes an assessment of the significant estimates and judgements made by the trustees in the preparation of the financial statements, and of whether the accounting policies are appropriate to the charity’s circumstances, consistently applied and adequately disclosed.

We planned and performed our audit so as to obtain all the information and explanations which we considered necessary in order to provide us with sufficient evidence to give reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement, whether caused by fraud or other irregularity or error. In forming our opinion we also evaluated the overall adequacy of the presentation of information in the financial statements.


In our opinion:

  • the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of the charity’s affairs as at 31 December 2008 and of its incoming resources and application of resources, including its income and expenditure, for the year then ended;
  • the financial statements have been properly prepared in accordance with United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice; and
  • the financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the Charities Act 1993.


Chartered Accountants & Registered Auditors

Friary Court

13-21 High Street




23 March 2009


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