Rare Bird Alerts Data Capture

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Rare Bird Alerts Data Capture
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 17:19:51 -0800 (PST)

Hello Birders,
                   Personally I don't have a great problem with the current 
methods of disseminating data in relation to rarity sightings.  In most cases, 
the information gets through relatively quickly, whether its phone call, text, 
birding-aus or eremaea etc. 
I admit receiving sighting details in real-time would be great but my biggest 
issue is not the receiving of information but the CAPTURE of information.
We have to have the sighting information before we can send it out to the 
masses.  The single most frustrating element of twitching is obviously dipping 
and I've lost count of the number of rarities that have been reported, days and 
often over a week after they were first seen. 
The question is: How do we make it easy for people to report their sightings?
The reality is that only a very small percentage of people birding in Australia 
are on Birding-Aus and even fewer have ever heard of Eremaea.  Most don't know 
who or what to ring and therefore many sightings go unreported. 
There are many examples.
1. Grey-headed Lapwing.  Not reported on B-Aus until days after the initial 
sighting, Why?
2. Last year I dropped into a remote property near Broome and was talking to 
the owner, an old bloke, who had built a rain forest in his backyard.  He told 
me he had seen Blue and White Flycatcher and Red-legged Crake in recent years 
at the pond near his back door!
I said," Did you let anyone know, they're pretty interesting birds to see?"  He 
said," I wouldn't know who to tell, mate."
3. A couple of years ago I twitched a bird that had been reported on B-Aus and 
dipped.  Whilst at the location I ran into the bloke that found the bird and 
ascertained it had arrived 10 days ago and hadn't been seen for the last two 
days.  I asked him why he didn't tell someone sooner and he said," I didn't 
know who to tell, I've only ever met one serious birdwatcher and that was some 
bloke from Melbourne, 20yrs ago."
There are thousands of people out there birding everyday, the same thousands 
that are buying the thousands of field guides each year from bookshops. 
Q.  A grey nomad sitting in front of his caravan looking over the lake in 
Kununurra sees a Grey Heron land on the bank 30m away. He checks his field 
guide and reads that Grey Heron is very rare in Australia.  He's not an avid 
birder, hasn't got the internet in his van and knows no keen birders to ring.  
How does he tell anyone about the sighting??
How do we capture these sightings to put on rare bird alerts?
Richard Baxter

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