I had a quick look at Birdstack - might have a slightly longer look this
evening (depending on availability of Little Curlews and Lewin's Rails
Anyway, here's my two-bob's worth:
There are four main applications that we techno-birders tend to use:
1. An online record-keeping system (with or without sharing)
2. A database of birds
3. A database of bird images
4. A forum or discussion group of some sort.
Birdstack appears to address items 1, 2 and 4 - which, I suppose, makes it
somewhat different to the other systems that we use here in Oz.
Application 1 (record-keeping system), to my mind, is well addressed locally
by Eremaea and Birdpedia - also in my opinion, the user interfaces of both
Eremaea and Birdpedia are superior, but that is simply an opinion.
Application 2 (database of birds) is pretty well addressed by a number of
local systems - partially by Eremaea, slightly better by Birdpedia and
Birdata. If you are after data with a more international "flavour" then you
can't beat www.birdlife.org. The source data used by Birdstack is also
available directly from a web site: http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
Application 3 (database of bird images) is handled locally exceptionally
well by http://www.aviceda.org/abid/. From a first glance, this area is one
that Birdstack would need to develop. If I was to find one fault with my
favourite local application, Eremaea, it is that they don't allow images of
individual sightings to be recorded. I'm not sure how sophisticated this
functionality is in Birdpedia, but from my review of that application, it
probably suffers from the same issue.
Application 4 (forum or discussion group) - Hmmm.. birding-aus springs to
mind here as a perfectly useful local system. There are others, most notably
Yahoo groups like ozbirdpix that are also useful.
I guess there's always room for competition - but I think that any new
entrant in Australia would have to offer some significant functionality that
we don't already have. Additionally, I'm not sure about applications or
environments that try to do everything - they tend to suffer from a "Jack of
all trades, master of none" syndrome. It will be interesting to hear from
people that actually use Birdstack locally, to see what their opinions are -
especially after having used it for a period of time.
The important thing that needs to be addressed at some stage, is the
consolidation of data from all these online systems - so that reports from
anyone, regardless of which system they use is available to all. I know Dave
Torr has been working on this.
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