Pay for Rare Bird Alert...surely not?

To: "'David Stowe'" <>, "'Simon Mustoe'" <>
Subject: Pay for Rare Bird Alert...surely not?
From: "Tony Russell" <>
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2009 10:37:34 +1030
I wouldn't know how to SMS (?) someone even if I had a mobile phone.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of David Stowe
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:59 AM
To: Simon Mustoe
Subject: Pay for Rare Bird Alert...surely not?

Apologies if this has been brought up before (I don't remember seeing  
it but there has been ALOT of information in this topic and my head is  
swimming!) - but what is wrong with a simple SMS system? Everyone pretty
much has a mobile phone and you will get better  
coverage with a phone than having to be able to access internet etc.  
Wouldn't this be the same as a pager (or better)?
I recently switched to Telstra so that i had reception in more areas -  
my upcoming trip to Round Hill being a big consideration being away  
from my family/young baby etc (yes i have a wonderdul wife!). Sorry
again if this has been mentioned and found to be a stupid idea :)

David Stowe

On 05/11/2009, at 9:06 AM, Simon Mustoe wrote:


Time for me to chip in five cents!

I agree wholeheartedly with all the comments regarding social  
networking tools. Fantastic opportunities for birding.

not forget though, that long before Twitter and various websites
existed, we all had mobile phones and in times past could even access
the 'world network' using a comprehensive system of pay phones around
the country.

So why then, do we still pine for a Rare Bird Alert System?

reason is that it's not just about what tool you use but how you go
about it. There is one important part of the equation that has not yet
been discussed in this forum. I used to know Dick Filby who runs Rare
Bird Alert in the UK. Several of my close friends operated the system. I
was one of the FIRST birders in the UK to have one - Dick gave us
stoodents a freebie, so we could run around shamelessly boasting about
it ... as it went off with an audible alarm, it soon had birders
interested. But its success had nothing to do with the fact it was a

Rare Bird Alert works because it is manned every day and
in recent years, almost 24/7. It takes the hassle out of communication
because a simple phone call to a recorded message bank and within
minutes, your record is being received by the masses. The middle man
does the networking, so you don't have to. You don't even have to think
about logging on, it simply arrives on your phone wherever you happen to
be, at any time. It's success is due to hard work and, most importantly,
it is funded - so the system is quality controlled. This is really

Yes, social networking tools are great
but they don't satisfy this need now and they won't in the future either
- well not until we have a Wide Area Network over the entire country
(maybe satellite iPhones in future). No medium will actually do the job
unless someone 'drives' the process. I or anyone else could easily use
Twitter to communicate rare birds but I have to also feed my family, so
I am not about to spend hours EVERY day managing and moderating the
process. Maybe we leave it to the masses but as Chris Sanderson says,
you then lose quality control. This was one of the most important
considerations in UK Rare Bird Alert. I can't tell you how frustrated
people got about cock ups. Quality is everything. Then, there is no
guarantee people would even receive the news. IPhone or not, you don't
log on all day every day and you certainly don't can't use an iPhone in
much of the outback - though you can get mobile reception, though GPRS
is going to be costing you the equivalent of satellite bandwidth (~$10 /

So the way I see it, if
Australians want Rare Bird Alert, then there is really no alternative to
a subscription system with some form of 'alert'. Now that doesn't
preclude the use of social-networking or the web. In fact, it may be
very complimentary.

Chris and I have begun a process to look
into this. If anyone who has not already responded, would like to
provide their thoughts then drop me a line and I will send you a


Simon Mustoe.

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