resource for overseas and beginning birders

To: "Paul Dodd" <>
Subject: resource for overseas and beginning birders
From: "Dave Torr" <>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2007 10:45:01 +1000
I certainly agree with most if not all of what you say Paul and have been
working for some time on a website ( ) which will try and
tackle some of the issues you raise. (It's still very much under
development!)  Books tend to be very well researched by someone  who is
dedicated to getting that book to market and so are usually great sources of
information - but in an era of rapid development and climate change one has
to ask how long they are relevant for - I have certainly been to places
recommended in "Where to Bird" books and found a housing development. The
web provides an opportunity for constant updates BUT is only useful of
course if people actually update the information!
The site (which requires the use of a reasonably modern browser and probably
a broadband connection) contains an interactive map of Australia. On it may
be displayed all of the bird clubs that I know about, all of the Eremaea and
Birdpedia sites (thanks to Richard & Margaret and Martyn), "Local Birders"
(who are people who willing to give advice and guidance about their area)
and user-created locations - I have populated it with a few sites of my own,
but any registered user may add and edit sites. Each site also has a
guestbook for comments,
Much remains to be done:

   - Eremaea and Birdpedia often both have references for the same place
   and - with the exception of the Western Treatment Plant, Werribee (probably
   the best place to look at on the system) and a couple of others - I have not
   fixed this problem.
   - Eremaea references tend to be for 10 minute grid cells, and thus
   most sites are not accurately placed on the map.
   - I do not currently get updates from Eremaea and Birdpedia as I have
   yet to work out how to do this
   - If you add a site it does not get added to Eremaea or Birdpedia
   - You cannot enter sightings via the site
   - You cannot search for the sites where a species has been seen
   - There is no access to the BA Atlas data (I haven't asked yet!)

There is a lot of data to display (around 10,000 sites) so it can be a bit
confusing but I hope it is a start. I aim to keep developing it (when I am
not out birding!) but its ultimate success depends on the willingness of
birders to use it and add data and keep information up to date!

Anyway - comments welcome (I am going birding for 19 days starting next Wed
so don't expect responses in that time). As I said - it is under development
and there almost certainly are bugs, but it's a start.....


On 30/07/07, Paul Dodd <> wrote:
> This is a great topic. My wife and I have been birding for some years now
> -
> and as with many hobbies and pastimes, it started out as a very casual
> thing. After 13 or so years as a legal secretary and law clerk, Ruth
> decided
> that she needed a career change and started studying Conservation Ecology
> at
> RMIT. For one of her assignments she had to choose an animal for which a
> management plan had been created by NRE (now DSE), so she chose the
> Blue-billed Duck. Throughout the remainder of her course we headed out on
> the odd weekend to try and see one of these birds - I became convinced
> that
> these mythical creatures didn't exist. Ultimately we saw our first one at
> the Edithvale Wetlands. Meanwhile after many years without a camera, I
> purchased a Digital SLR, as did Ruth - for me this was ideal as it meant
> that I could combine two pastimes - photography with a love of getting
> outside into the bush (well, National Parks at any rate). By now we were
> both hopelessly hooked.
> Anyway, to get to the real point - what was missing for us as beginning
> birders was a simple list of GOOD places to go to see birds! This probably
> sounds over simplistic, but an atlas of birding locations would have been
> really helpful. I suspect that it would still have some value. For
> instance,
> we recently went to the Chiltern area for some birding because we'd heard
> that it was a great spot for birding in winter. I asked on birding-aus for
> information on where to go and was told a number of locations - most
> notably
> Cyanide Dam (I know, I know, it's actually called the Honeyeater Picnic
> Ground!) Similarly for our recent trip to Mildura, we were told that the
> Nowingi Track and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks were the go.
> What I think is needed is an atlas or guide book divided into regions with
> particular spots listed, the birds that may be seen there at different
> times
> of year and, if relevant, the best time of day to be there. A simplistic
> example:
> Victoria
>     Mallee Region
>         Nowingi Track (Southern End) - Mallee Emu-wren - Spring/Summer -
> Dawn/Dusk
> The guide could be indexed by region, birding spot, species, season, and
> time.
> We're now heavy users of Eremaea - thanks Margaret and Richard Alcorn,
> it's
> a great piece of software! The problem is that if you decide on a species
> you can then look up sites that have had that species reported (and you
> restrict by season) but it doesn't really tell you "the best" sites to go
> for a range of species. That starts to become more subjective - which is
> the
> ideal sort of material for a book (whether printed or electronic). I have
> looked at Birdpedia too, but not in as much detail - I suspect that it has
> the same limitation as Eremaea - in that you need to specify a species to
> get a list of sites or a specific site to get a list of species.
> I don't think that such a guide could ever have so much information that
> it
> takes the element of chance away from birding - there's always the trip
> where you go to see the most basic of birds and miss out entirely, but
> then
> again there are always those trips where you come across something
> entirely
> unexpected.
> Does anyone have any views about this?
> All the best,
> Paul Dodd
> -

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