Submitting records to OOS

Guidelines for Electronic Submission of Records to OOS (Issue 5)

If any of the information below is unclear, or further information is required, please contact the System Manager. He would also appreciate any comments, suggestions or advice you may have.

Click here to read an [old] email sent to Oxonbirds that outlines the commonest mistakes encountered.

What to report

If you are unsure whether or not a sighting warrants reporting to the OOS, consult the "Record type" column of the Oxfordshire List.


Any records entered on the OOS website bird news page are automatically collected by the System Manager and imported into the Society's database. This is now the preferred mechanism for submitting records.

NB:Records of rare breeding birds must not be submitted online, since these records are publicly visible.


Records can be submitted to the System Manager at the following email address: Records can be attached as a separate Excel or CSV file (preferred) or as CSV embedded within the text of an email message.

Submission dates

Copies of records sent electronically do not need to be sent separately to the County Recorder. However, they can only be included in the OOS Bulletin if they are received early enough to be passed on (by about the 4th of the month). Deadlines are announced each month on the Oxonbirds list . If you do not mind your records being omitted from the monthly Bulletin, they can be sent any time before January 31st of the following year.

File formats

The simplest format in which to submit records is as an Excel spreadsheet (click here to download a suitable format). If you don't have Excel, you should be able to create standard ASCII text files in Comma-Separated Value (CSV) format (see below for examples). You can also submit records as a table in a Word for Windows document.

The fields for which data can be submitted are as follows:

Date, Species, Number, Place, Grid_Reference, Observer, Notes

Only Grid_Reference and Notes can be omitted (see below).

Examples of valid files

(All records are fictitious.)

Most records will contain only the compulsory fields plus Notes. The following file contains such data:

  01/01/1995,Pintail,3M2F,Dix Pit,SP408046,DD
  02/04/1995,Snipe,1,Otmoor,,DD/JU/JSB,"Seen at dawn, drumming over field"
  13/04/1995,Tree Sparrow,2,Rushey Lock,SP323002,DD
  15/04/1995,Tree Sparrow,1,Rushey Lock,SP323002,DD/JU,2nd sighting here

Note that in the second record the Grid Reference is not supplied, as indicated by the double comma after "Otmoor": a standard grid reference for Otmoor will be entered in the database.

Only the second and fourth records have an entry in the Notes field. Since commas are used to delimit fields, if a field itself contains a comma (as in the second record) it must be enclosed in quotes (" "). These are unnecessary if there are no commas in the field (as in the fourth record).

Notes on fields


This should be in the form "13/01/2000". For records that refer to more than one day, include a separate record for each day on which the bird(s) were seen, or submit a record from the first and last days on which the bird was present (with a note in both records recording the first and last dates). For example:

  13/01/2000,Great Northern Diver,2,Farmoor Reservoir,,DD,
     Present 13/01 to 03/03 at least
  03/03/2000,Great Northern Diver,2,Farmoor Reservoir,,DD,
     Present 13/01 to 03/03 at least

Use common names; where common alternatives exist (e.g. "Dabchick" or "Little Grebe") or even common misspellings ("Shoveller", "Widgeon"), the system will generally cope with variants.


This field can accept several formats:

  • Simple numbers: "1", "2500"
  • Ranges of numbers: "10-12"
  • "Qualified" numbers: "c.20", "20+", "at least 20", "less than 20" etc.
  • Numbers of each sex: "2M1F", "2 females, 1 male" etc.

If the number needs to be qualified in some other way, please clarify this in the Notes field (see below).


As with Species, common alternative names (and spellings!) for sites will be recognised, and unrecognised sites will be flagged to the System Manager on entry, so that he can clarify new or unrecognised places, and add them to the list of sites if appropriate. Please put ONLY the name of the nearest place or landmark in the Placename field - qualify it using the Grid Reference and/or Notes fields. Extra information such as "near Kidlington" or whatever is usually unnecessary, except in the few cases where there are multiple places in the county with the same name (notably "Littleworth", "Thrupp", "Milton" and "Drayton"). Click here to see a fairly recent list of the places held on the database.

For records that summarise numbers over a range of sites, use the pseudo-placename "Various" and clarify in the Notes field. "Unknown" and "Confidential" are also valid entries for this field.

If most of your records come from the same site, or you wish to specify "sublocations" of a site, it may be worth contacting me so we can work out some naming conventions, appropriate standard grid references, and so on between us.


This can be in the following formats: "SP51" (10km square), "SP51D" ("DINTY" format for tetrads), "SP5015" (1km square), "SP506154" (6-figure grid reference, accurate to 100m) or "SP50621543" (8-figure grid reference, accurate to 10m). Please do not omit the initial letters (SP or SU) or leave spaces in the reference.

If the Grid Reference is omitted, the system uses a standard reference for the site. This generally refers to the centre of the site.


This is most easily written as initials - if you have middle initials please use them, as this reduces the chance of two observers sharing the same initials. Some observers who do share initials may need to use an extended form of their initials (e.g. "BHu") or risk having their records allocated to the wrong person! The System Manager will advise, though unrecognised initials or names can generally be resolved by the System Manager anyway. To specify several observers, separate the names with forward slashes, e.g. "DD/JU".


Plain text, enclosed in quotes " " if it contains commas. There is no practical length limit.

System Manager

Jon Uren