BA Atlas

Subject: BA Atlas
From: "Frank O\"Connor" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 09:15:08 +0100

In reference to Tim Dolby's reference to not submitting the Pilbara Elegant Parrot records to the Atlas.

I contributed 1000s of surveys to the Atlas. And I do feel guilty that I haven't contributed as heavily to the Ongoing Atlas. Generally I do it for the more out of the way areas that I might visit.

For me, the strength of the Atlas will be for monitoring changes in the more common birds, and especially for changes at specific sites. I don't see the Atlas as having much value for recording rarities, or for birds outside their normal range. They need to be monitored and protected within their normal range.

One weakness of the Atlas is that it requires a fairly specific definition of the location. This meant that when I did Atlas, that I completed a lot of incidental surveys. e.g. when heading east from Geraldton I put in incidental surveys for my first sighting of birds like Pied Butcherbird, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, etc. I also filled in a lot of incidental surveys for raptors. Despite this, I used to estimate that maybe only 80% of the species that I saw that day would appear on the surveys, because I was moving around a lot. Even when I was based in Broome (or Anna Plains Station) for an extended period for things like the wader banding expeditions, I would find that maybe only 60 to 70% of the species ended up on the survey forms. For this reason, I would fill in a WA Database Card for the area so that all the species were recorded, but on a far less specific location. The WA Database accepts cards for shires, or National Parks, or stations, or islands, or lakes, etc.

The other weakness of the Atlas is the time it takes to complete the surveys. By the time that I have recorded my sightings on my computer, and everything else, I don't have the time to then fill in Atlas forms as well. e.g. when I am on tour with a group of people. You are birding from dawn to dusk and then having dinner and doing a bird call, etc. I can (and do) complete WA Database cards for areas like Dryandra SF, Stirling Range NP, Albany Shire, etc as these take little time. I also don't have time during the day to take GPS readings for survey sites. It is simply not feasible for people like George Swann in the Kimberley to Atlas. There are not enough hours in the day.

Don't get me wrong. The Atlas is a fantastic resource, and I applaud everyone who has or still are contributing data. But it does have limitations. But for me, the Atlas data is far more valuable for repeatedly surveying a specific site, rather than for recording major rarities or a bird out of its normal range. The fact that Elegant Parrots occur in the Pilbara in winter is documented in books like the two volume reference published by the WA Museum, and by papers like that by Rob Davis. Having it in the Atlas does not contribute very much extra.

Frank O'Connor           Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :


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