Friday, 5 December 2008

UK birders - Make your bird data count- submit records to Birdtrack.

I`m sure a lot of us birders out there make bird lists. Some of us use online tools such as ebird and Birdstack. The data from ebird is officially recorded and that from Birdstack can be imported into ebird. However ebird is only for USA and near regions. For those of us in UK, how do you make your data count? 

I use Birdstack to record my data as you can see from the side panel in this blog but to actually make it count, I also submit it to Birdtrack. So what is Birdtrack ? It is best explained in their own words:

BirdTrack is an online bird recording scheme developed through an exciting partnership between BTO, RSPB and BirdWatch Ireland. It is a year–round recording scheme that will use data from birdwatchers records to support species and site conservation at local, national and international scales. Results produced by BirdTrack will include mapping the migration and movements of birds and monitoring of scarce birds in Britain and Ireland.

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You can log in to Birdtrack using a BTO username and password if you have one, if not you can register for one here. While registering they provide an option to submit your data to the local bird recorders, make sure you check this box.

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Once registered an logged in you will have access to your Data Home, from where you can navigate within the site and record your data.

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From here you can add/register a site –a place you have recently visited or your local patch - with the create new site link:

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As seen above, you have a number of options by which the site can be created and it is easy enough to locate the popular bird watching sites in your area using the drop down menu but even remote locations can be recorded using option C. Using this you can zoom in on your location within a Google Map:

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Once you  zoom in, shift into the satellite/hybrid view if need be to verify your area of interest and press shift+click to select your location. This will generate your Grid Reference which you can then submit

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This will then show you a map with shaded area which defines a predefined “Tetrad”

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If the shaded area does not completely include your area you can make it bigger by choosing the appropriate size.

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Once you`ve defined your site, you can proceed to submit your observations via the “Submit species list” link on your Data home page.

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Select your site, add date , add time (optional) and continue. You are then presented with a list of all the commonly encountered species, which you can tick off and enter the counts against. You can also add comments against each entry if needed.

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You can also add other species by entering text at the bottom of the page if it is not present in the list.

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The next time you make an observation for the site, all species that you have recorded will be shown in the list by default and you can add new species via the text box.

Alternatively you can submit a casual observation via the “submit casual obs” link in the data home.

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Once you submit your data it is filed away and will be available to access via your data home. The data will contribute to the Bird Atlas project:

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You can also generate data from all your recordings for a particular species, a particular location or a particular time or combinations of the above using the “search and download facility” on the data home.

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Alternatively you can generate a list of all the birds seen in a particular location of your choice via the “species by grid” link

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I find this a particularly useful tool to know how rich an area is in birds and what to expect from a certain area:

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Even though I found Birdtrack confusing at first, I have found that it is an extremely useful tool to have for anyone interested in birds. Keep in mind though that the data you can mine off it has been generated by submissions from common people, so if you are out there bird watching/twitching and have valid data, please submit it to Birdtrack. Right now Birdtrack is wanting in many features such as importing data from other lists, user credits, customisable gadgets/widgets for displaying data on websites etc, biut it seems that this is a project in development and I hope to see improvements as it develops. Until then lets make our data count and submit them to Birdtrack. Read more on Birdtrack here.

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