Sunday, 15 January 2012

The humble Chiffchaff and ebird

I have recently been introduced by Clive Temple to ebird (at It's a wonderful database where you can submit your records for each trip.  It can produce distribution maps and other information based on what you and others have input. It keeps a list of your birds too.

Where ever you are in the world it produces a menu of possible birds you are likely to see at a particular destination. The menu is presumably based on adapted recognised country lists. The list is a good but, as we will see, not a perfect estimate of what should be in the area.

chiffchaff at new quarry pools area of wadi hanifah seen on Friday

There are tens of thousands of records on the database but not many from Saudi Arabia. I feel I am making a real contribution by inputting data.

If you see a bird that isn't on its list, you are asked to add the species. The screen then congratulates you for your rare find. Sometimes I am told you will get a message from the moderators asking you to verify your claim.

Here is the rub.... I have to add chiffchaff as a new species every time I see one! The software doesn't think chiffchaff is in central Arabia. Every time I see one it congratulates me.

 The first time I did it I didn't mind but it is still asking me the same question.

another chiffchaff seen on Friday

Goodness knows what it will do with Friday's observation when I saw 12 chiffchaff and heard several more.

yet another chiffchaff seen on Friday

But despite its glitches I still recommend ebird. I have input 80% of my Saudi data and have just started inputting my Libyan data. You can see the maps filling and its very rewarding as you can see distribution maps emerge. 

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