The EBS Identification Panel (EBSIP)

The Essex Birdwatching Society Identification Panel (EBSIP) was formed in 1990 to assess the descriptions of rare birds submitted to the County Recorder for publication in the annual Essex Bird Report. To this end the main aims of the EBSIP are to:

  • Assist in maintaining an accurate database of the occurrence of scarce and rare birds in Essex
  • Assist with the preparation and publication of an accurate and comprehensive annual Essex Bird Report (EBR)
  • Assess all records of scarce and rare birds in Essex in an independent, open and consistent manner
  • Review periodically the list of species and subspecies adjudicated by the EBSIP
  • Assist with the wider aims of the EBS by working closely with the County Recorder and the Executive Committee


How it Operates

The EBSIP currently consists of seven voting members, one of whom acts as the chairman. Records are forwarded to the chairman by the County Recorder for assessment and circulated to each member. Members are tasked with independently assessing each individual record and stating whether they believe it to be “Proven” or “Not Proven”.

A majority of the panel must agree that the submitted description demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that the record is “Proven”. Otherwise where there is reasonable doubt within the EBSIP that record is considered “Not Proven”.

In some instances, e.g. where the submitted description is felt to be borderline the EBSIP may mark an individual record to be discussed when the EBSIP next meet and a decision taken at the meeting by way of a vote. EBSIP meetings are generally held two or three times a year.

The main reason for records assessed by the EBSIP being “Not Proven” is when the submitted description leaves reasonable doubt as to whether the observer has conclusively established a sound identification. In many cases the submitted description may be too brief with no mention of how similar species were eliminated.

This is a potentially contentious and emotive area for observers but bear in mind that the EBSIP is no saying that the observer is necessarily wrong or has made a mistake. All that it means is that submitted description (which is usually the only evidence that the EBSIP has on which to base its conclusions) is not sufficient in the view o EBSIP to establish identification beyond reasonable doubt.

The vast majority of records assessed by the EBSIP are straightforward “Proven” cases with no need for further discussion. It is estimated that 80-85% of all records adjudicated by the EBSIP fall into this category, which is broadly similar to the BBRC acceptance rate.


What needs to be submitted to EBSIP?

Notes - Generally required for species that are scarce, but annual in Essex (e.g. Razorbill, which is common in certain parts of the UK, but scarce in Essex) and relatively easy to identify given good views and experience of the species and also an awareness of possible confusion species. Notes means a brief description on how you identified the species concerned and that you were aware of and eliminated any possible confusion species at the time of writing.

Description - As for notes, but generally applies to birds that are less than annual in Essex and require a but more detail on plumage, calls and behaviour, consideration of similar species and why they could be eliminated at the time of the sighting and relevant background details to demonstrate that identification is proven.

Full Description - mainly applies to former BBRC species, especially those that require accurate assessment of subtle characteristics to eliminate similar species (e.g. American Golden Plover, Caspian Gull etc) or where there is a need to consider hybrids (e.g. Black Brant). A full description implies a complete plumage description and, for example, notes on behaviour, flight action, calls etc. A full description would be expected to be of a similar detail to a submission to BBRC.

Download an example form