Russell - All good points that i think are the main reason why i
personally wouldn't pay for the service. Chances are there may only be
one decent rarity per month and even more likelihood of it being too
far away for me to be able to get to due to the time/work/family/
I do appreciate the time and effort it sounds like Simon is going to,
to make sure its "real" etc. I also agree that its great to
communicate with other birders - I also phoned Steve Elsom as we were
literally driving past the area by fluke when the BBsandpiper was
reported and found him to be a great and helpful birder. I agree with
Frank though that none of that would probably have changed the outcome.
I think Martyn's system sounds like a great one where you pay per
sighting almost rather than per month.
Simon - please don't take this as just trying to be negative towards
your system - just wanting to give feedback from one persons
perspective. Whilst not a new discussion it is certainly one i find
On 26/07/2010, at 11:15 PM, Russell Woodford wrote:
This is an interesting issue, and probably a frustrating one for a lot
of people. In the "information age" we are used to getting the
information we want immediately, so it is understandable that people
expect this sort of service from rare bird alerts. And sometimes they
will get it - whether it's from email, SMS, recorded message service,
pager, Google Wave, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The potential for getting
information out to a wide audience is better than it has ever been,
and is likely to improve with every new technological development.
The skill level of the average birder is probably better now than it
has ever been - not the "elite" birder, of course, but common garden
variety birder now has access to better field guides, online image
banks like ABID, online calls like those at Birds Australia and the
ABC, and all the communication tools mentioned above. More people have
better optics and high-end digital cameras, and this "average birder"
probably takes multiple shots in the field to fine tune ID later.
So we should have a flawless, reliable rare bird alert system? No!
That's where technology won't make that much difference. OK, there are
possibly more birders than ever before, looking for birds in better-
documented places. But apart from the increased number of birders in
the field, that doesn't make it much more likely that an unusual bird
will (a) be seen (b) correctly identified and (c) notified to birders
all over the country - particularly in a country the size of
Australia. Consider the numbers - 1,000 birders scouring the coastline
of Australia doesn't really improve the hit rate over 200 or 300 doing
the same thing. It might mean we hear about a handful of rarities
where once only one or two were reported. That's where the rare bird
alert breaks down - we still don't have enough birders with the
requisite skills covering enough the suitable habitat enough of the
time. The trickle of rarities coming through is nice, and will always
be nice, but until technology gives us a way of DISCOVERING these
rarities then it won't matter how good the alert system is: the chain
breaks down at the thinnest end, people seeing and identifying a rarity.
We can expect things to improve little by little as more of these
common garden variety birders adopt the communications tools
available. 10 years ago, there were plenty of birders who didn't carry
a mobile phone. Now there are very few. 10 years ago almost none had
email access away from home - now many do. In ten years time I'd guess
that almost every birder will be online no matter where they are. This
will help the get the rare bird messages out quicker - whichever
method they use - but I can't see it will make much difference in
finding the rare and unusual bird in the first place. We might have to
wait a further 10 years for THAT sort of technology!!
Birding-Aus List Owner
Geelong Victoria Australia
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