Rare Bird Alert Website

To: "'Chris Sanderson'" <>, "'Colin R'" <>
Subject: Rare Bird Alert Website
From: "Paul Dodd" <>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2009 18:01:29 +1100
We already have Birdline web sites in Australia, covering all except South
Australia and Western Australia. Richard and Margaret Alcorn host this
service through their Eremaea web application, as Chris Sanderson pointed
out. I believe that that Birdpedia also has a hotline service, and I think
the South Australians favour this. In my opinion, the first step to
providing a consistent rare bird sightings service across the country, would
be to make the existing services completely national - which simply means
consistent adoption by all.

As Jeff Davies mentioned, what Laurie was alluding to was the Google Map.
Both Eremaea and Birdpedia make use of Google Maps in their applications,
and it presumably wouldn't be too hard for them to do so in the Birdline
(and equivalent) pages. The difficulty will be to ask reporters to identify
locations with sufficient detail to be able to be mapped. The other element
that Laurie mentioned was the categorisation of sightings into
"Mega-rarity", "Rarity", "Scarcity" and "Uncommon". I would be pretty sure
that these (or similar) categories could be included in the Australian
Birdline and similar records. The only issue with categorisation is that it
is somewhat subjective.

Also in reference to Jeff's email, raw Birdline feeds are available from
Eremaea, so Simon Mustoe, or indeed anyone else with the desire, could
incorporate those feeds on their websites and presumably map them also. I
notice that Simon already includes a feed from birding-aus on the front page
of his site.

I note that the UK system (and I believe the US system) require paid
subscriptions, whereas in Australia, all the services we make use of and
rely upon are free. Despite the wonderful job the web application providers
do in Australia, there is probably a limit to what can be asked of them -
and for the administrators of these applications to include mapping - where
*they* are required to maintain the maps may be stretching the friendship a
little too much.

Finally, there is a human element to this too - currently all Birdline
reports are vetted by moderators. This inevitably means a lag between when a
sighting is reported to Birdline and when the sighting appears on the web
site. Adding the requirement to include sufficient detail to allow mapping
of the sightings is not going to accelerate this process!

All in all, I would love to see rare and unusual sightings available on a
map. We already have much of the infrastructure in place to achieve this.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Chris Sanderson
Sent: Friday, 30 October 2009 2:00 PM
To: Colin R
Cc: Birding Aus
Subject: Rare Bird Alert Website

Hi Colin,

A couple of points relating to your email.  I think Eremea does a pretty
good job of acting as an unusual/rare bird alert.  Certainly in Melbourne it
is a great way of keeping up with the latest sightings, and if more people
used it in the Brisbane area I have no doubt it would be just as useful.  I
think on the rare occasion people don't report a rarity it is for one of two
reasons.  The first is they just don't know its rare.  When I was in Broome
I found a Banded Lapwing at Lake Eda.  It went in the BBO day list, and I
thought no more about it, because here in southern QLD they are common
enough in the kind of habitat I saw it in.  Turned out it was a first for
the region and I just hadn't realised.  Fortunately some other local birders
found it and reported it more widely.  I'm sure that kind of thing happens a
lot, with birders from interstate seeing things and not reporting them
because they assume they are common or easy to see.  The second reason I can
think of is potential sensitivity in terms of conservation or privacy.
Think back to the Buff-breasted Sandpiper a few months back.  It was on
private land, and until birders had permission to go there, reporting the
location would only have invited illegal behaviour.  Similarly, reporting
the nesting site of a rare parrot, or a rarity in an extremely sensitive
habitat could be a bad idea.  I think the idea of a rare bird alert, however
it might look, is worth investigating, however I think a code of conduct
would be needed.


ps. Colin there is a small breeding population of Regent Honeyeaters in the
Durakai area, so they are not as unusual in QLD as you assume, but still a
very weird bird for suburban Brisbane.

On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 11:49 AM, Colin R <> wrote:

> Hi Laurie et al
> This type of immediate communication between birders has often
> been a discussion point among a group of us, one in particular
> who carried a pager in the UK for this express purpose for many
> years...
> Because of Austalia's position and the general bird population
> and lack of movement, i.e. no passage or major migration, I don't
> think there is enough to justify the expense in setting up a
> pager service. When you look at regular reports from the UK and
> Ireland - every week there is a rarity of some description
> somewhere and, particularly at this time of year, the possibility
> of passage migrants dropping in from far distant places increases
> dramatically.
> I do, however, believe there is a case for establishing an
> agreement to notify other birders when something unusual does
> occur - for example the Oriental Plover last week. I took it upon
> myself, on Stuart's request, to place emails on all the birding
> sites I believed relevant and to txt a couple of birders with
> whom I have a personal agreement. There may be others out there
> who would be interested in a similar arrangement.
> Unfortunately, not all lists appear to recognise the importance
> of some species and so the 'news' can be overlooked or delayed.
> This type of action also requires all participants to recognise
> and agree to certain standards.
> If I can be so bold as to use a couple of examples:
> The Oriental plover was the first one of its kind in SE Qld
> since, it appears, 1991 and so worthy, I believe, of nomination
> to at least a Scarcity level. Most Qld birders may already have
> seen the bird - in NT or Northern Qld,- but undoubtedly there
> would be a number of SE Qld birders who would like to tick it off
> their SE Qld lists.
> Earlier this year a Regent's Honeyeater turned up at Anstead in
> Brisbane's western suburbs. Again perhaps most Qld birders have
> seen this species - in the Capertree valley in NSW probably - but
> once again, they are very few and far between in SE Qld (maybe 2
> records in the last 10 or 15 years?) so I would think this was of
> major interest.
> Another brilliant example was the Australian Bittern at Lake
> Clarendon a few months ago - ditto the above.
> Having said that - birds such as Little Bronze Cuckoo, Great
> Crested Grebe or the like - while they may be interesting and
> nice to see are not what I would consider noteworthy in a system
> such as this. An email to a birding list maybe, but as a txt to
> be included on a rarity listing? I don't think so - remembering
> this is just one person's opinion! Similarily Lewin's Rail,
> Spotless Crake or Freckled Duck - they are all 'good' birds and
> can be difficult to see in SE Qld, but are worthy of note as an
> email to a birding list - but again, including them on a list of
> rarities? I don't think so. On the other hand, in my opinion,
> Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Native Hen and Swift Parrot are
> all worthy of notice, and worthy of immediate communication to
> other birders. They are all difficult to see in SE Qld and are
> unlikely to hang around long.
> So - setting the standard is the most difficult thing and is
> exemplified in the current thinking on existing 'rarity'
> listings.
> I would be interested to hear others thoughts on this somewhat
> controversial subject... and we haven't even touched on the
> 'twitcher' angle, which can get up some folk's noses! On that
> subject just let me say - I like to see new birds, if you don't
> that's cool.... but I do and I spend a lot of time observing and
> recording local and common birds while looking for new ones or
> birds out of their normal range. Would I drive hundreds of
> kilometers to see a new bird? Probably, yes, having done the
> Grey-headed Lapwing thing and the Lesser Yellowlegs trip (twice),
> not sure I'd pay $1000 to fly to and from Broome but that's based
> more on my financial situation rather than any moral principle.
> If that doesn't sit well with you - then the whole concept of
> alerting other birders to rarities local or otherwise is not for
> you. That's cool too - but for those of you who are interested -
> let's hear from you!
> Cheers
> Colin
> Brisbane
> On Thu, 29 Oct 2009 22:16 +1000, "L&L Knight"
> <> wrote:
> > is an example of what
> can
> > be developed when there is a critical density of twitchers in a
> region.
> >
> > Interestingly the categories are uncommon, scarcity, rarity and
> mega-
> > rarity. The current map shows 4 mega-rarities, which may
> indicate
> > that the scale might need to be re-calibrated.
> >
> > Regards, Laurie.
> > ===============================
> >
> >
> >
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> --
>  Colin Reid
> So many birds, so little time......
> --
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