Sharing bird records - from New Jobs and Lists

To: "Peter Shute" <>
Subject: Sharing bird records - from New Jobs and Lists
From: "Dave Torr" <>
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2007 12:09:04 +1000
Thanks Peter - I won't say it's incredible (still too much to do and a few
bugs - indeed I did not plan to announce this for a few weeks but felt it
appropriate in the context of this discussion!)

Yes - many co-ordinates are approximate - many of the Eremaea ones are only
recorded to a 10 minute cell. I hope at some stage to introduce the concept
of a location "owner" (such as Birdpedia has) and then maybe location owners
can make the co-ordinates a little more accurate - I certainly do not have
the time or knowledge to do so.

As to multiple recordings and relationships with the Atlas - for what it's
worth here are my thoughts (and I am sure anyone knowledgeable will correct

Firstly I can't see anyone bothering to data into two systems - it's not
that hard to enter data but why do it twice?

There is however an issue I feel with WHAT people record - I know many
people who refuse to record feral species for example! There seems to be an
issue in some places that people also only record rarities - anyone who
knows the Western Treatment Plant (WTP)  at Werribee for example will know
it is just about impossible to visit the place without seeing a Black Swan -
I have done it but only a couple of times in more than 100 visits. Yet
Eremaea records it on only 57% of visits! This is NOT a problem with Eremaea
but more the way that people choose to record things. My philosophy is
record everything or nothing - or if you must do a partial list then at
least let it be known that this was the case!

As for the Atlas - yes the data is vetted (as it is to some extent I believe
in Birdpedia and Eremaea) and I accept that BA need to cover some of their
costs. I do have a problem with most vetting systems - after all we all make
mistakes. If I visit the WTP and record a Greenfinch when it was in fact a
Goldfinch no one will pick up this mistake. If I record a Cassowary no-one
will believe me, but if I record a Grass Owl (as I have done) who is to say
if it was accurate or not? I suspect that an "unvetted" system will have 95%
accuracy of data (assuming no-one is being deliberately destructive) and a
"vetted" one maybe 98% - you can argue about the figures but no system can
ever be 100%.

Of course the Atlas as you point out mainly serves the "scientific"
community and Eremaea/Birdpedia are of more interest to people who want to
keep their own list (impossible in the Atlas last time I checked) and want
to record overseas data. Eremaea/Birdpedia also offer quite good data
analysis (especially the monthly summaries that Birdpedia offers) but of
course have less data to analyse!

It is certainly duplicated effort and in a country with relatively few
birders - not sure if other nations have so many on-line systems. I would
certainly hope that one day better interchange will be possible.....


On 12/07/07, Peter Shute <> wrote:

Dave, I think that's pretty incredible!  It's a pity people's records
are fragmented across several databases, but with something like this,
at least you know which one to look in to get a list.  An initial look
shows it to be a good way to see what sites are around an area you
intend to visit, although I suspect a lot of the coordinates in the
databases are approximate.

One problem with trying to aggregate data from several databases might
be that some people may have entered the same data in several of them,
making some species appear more common than they are.

One thing I don't understand is how these databases relate to the Birds
Australia Atlas database.  As a member I can get a list out of it for
any 10' cell.  But that won't tell me what has been seen at one of the
black dots I can see in the cell, and it isn't easy to be sure just
where those black dots are on the ground anyway.  For that I need to pay
$88.  I can understand that this data is probably vetted more carefully
and is therefore worth more, but is it really worth that much?

It seems like we're running two parallel systems - one that supplies
free but possibly dodgy data, and another that supplies presumably
precise but expensive data.  I may have this all wrong - I know
virtually nothing about the Atlas, and only recently thought to look at
it for information.  But it seems like a lot of duplicated effort.

Peter Shute

 wrote on Wednesday, 11 July 2007 9:24

> Would indeed be great. I have been working for some time on a
> site which attempts to solve some of
> these issues - with the cooperation of both Martyn (from
> Bridpedia) and Richard (from Eremaea) there is a graphical
> representation of all of the locations that they have records
> for. There are many issues to overcome - both organisations
> have records for some sites and it is not easy to reconcile
> the two - and to date I have not tried very hard to interest
> BA in collaborating, but it may be the start. If you look at
> "Where to Bird" and select "Western Treatment Plant,
> Werribee" you can access lists from Eremaea, Bridpedia and my
> own records - although not alas in a single screen yet. You
> can also see all of the Eremeae and Birdpedia sites (all 10,000 or so
> of them)


To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message: unsubscribe (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU