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Trip reports...?

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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 13:52   #1
andyadcock
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Trip reports...?

Am I alone in being totally hacked off by the ridiculous number of 'trip reports' by tour companies that now dominate certain pages.

A true trip report has it's origins with independent travel and was provided by those early intrepid birders who were good enough to provide in depth logistical and bird finding details for those that followed.

By and large, trip reports now are a commercial tool and serve very little real purpose other than to sell tours. They provide a list of birds and very general information, nothing more. Just as bad or in fact worse are those that simply post a list of the birds they saw....what's all that about, that's not a trip report!!!

There are still a few good souls who do provide great reports but they are now in the minority.

It's ok that companies want to advertise how good their tours are but lets not call them trip reports, perhaps 'Tour highlights' as that is pretty much what they are.

Even on dedicated report sites (you know who you are) the list of tour company reports massively outnumbers true, independent reports that contain useable information. I wish that websites would separate the commercial from the independent report so those that seek genuine, useful reports for independent trips can more easily find them.

I'd urge anyone who's considering writing a report for publication, to include as much detailed 'gen' surrounding logistics and bird finding as possible. If you just want to write a list of birds seen, great, just write it for yourself and keep it on your computer, it's no use as a 'trip report'.

Bracing for comeback........



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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 14:57   #2
Mike C
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I think it's called "marketing".
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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 15:23   #3
andyadcock
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
I think it's called "marketing".
and your point is Mike.....?

The fact that it is effectively free advertising makes it ok?


Andy

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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 15:42   #4
Mike C
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Don't see anywhere that I put that I find it acceptable but t'internet is effectively the Wild West with practically no regulation.
I'm sure plenty of people read those reports for vicarious pleasure and some probably book on the back of a well written, positive report. I suspect that the tour companies don't care what the average birder thinks, so long as people continue to patronise their tours.
If you look you'll find half a dozen trip reports I have written as an independent traveller.
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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 16:01   #5
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On Cloudbirders, which seems to be the best site for TRs, you can very easily filter out the commercial tour reports with a single click.
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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 16:29   #6
andyadcock
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On Cloudbirders, which seems to be the best site for TRs, you can very easily filter out the commercial tour reports with a single click.
Didn't realise that.....others should follow this lead.

Andy
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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 21:34   #7
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Wait till you open a restaurant then you will get upset with the internet!

I think its better to have more reports than fewer on the net. You can read the 'commercial' ones but it gives you an idea to then delve a little deaper. Also a little research into an area and finding your own birds is more rewarding? That said if you miss a bird its expensive to go back to some places....
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 21:18   #8
Larry Sweetland
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As someone who just does independant trips, I do find commercial trip reports useful, both with planning, and looking at after your trip, to work out what on earth those tricky ones were likely to have been! Sure, they're rarely that helpful with logistics, but they do tend to give you perhaps the best idea of what's possible at any given site at a given time of year. Lets face it, these guys and their guides do these sites so many times that if you look at a few commercial reports you'll get a really good idea of what occurs there.

But yeah, give me a 'get that bus from there to there cos it's cheaper' trip report, over a '...and then our guide took us to a place where he showed us a...' trip report, any day!

Last edited by Larry Sweetland : Sunday 30th August 2015 at 21:21.
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 23:05   #9
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The vacation trip report section here in BF does not have much in the way of commercial reports (at least did not last I checked).

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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 23:14   #10
birdboybowley
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No Niels, which is great, but it does still have an annoying number of 'click this link' ones......
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 09:42   #11
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I'm struggling to see the problem - its the same with people complaining that there is an id question without the place or country in the title - does it really cost you so much of your day to pass on by and close the window or go 'back' on the keyboard??

People need to advertise and 'sell' their services - its not over powering on here.

When I go away I read as many reports as possible detailed or otherwise - I know that a commercial business is not going to give up its crown jewels and give a precise location but over a mixture of reports you get the jist. The 'Spanish' contingent Steve/Stephen/Simon/Pau (examples on Birdforum - me to a certain extent) put in a lot of time and effort putting together trips, finding birds and locations and make some sort of income out of it - but they also open peoples minds to 'new' areas. The majority of the reports eminate from their customers who out of courtesy do not give precise locations or post them on the net.

At the same time WE, as birders, have to be aware that certain places are sensitive in terms of breeding birds and shrinking populations - LG Shrike in Spain which has reduced to a couple of pairs in the north east as an example. Would you really expect someone who is priviledged to be taken to the site to then divulge it? I say priviledged because, even if they have paid, the welfare of the bird and the integrity of the site has to be considered.

Anyway now I'm rambling...
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 10:09   #12
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My own trip reports are more a diary for my own purposes (mainly nostalgia, I guess - my memory's always been a bit scattergun), but if anyone gleans anything useful from them it's a bonus, and they do give a feel for an area and what to expect for others who are thinking of going there. If someone wants more detailed logistics they can always pm me, and I would imagine the same goes for most other posters. Having said that, my trips are rarely ground-breaking!
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 10:43   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosbifs View Post
I'm struggling to see the problem - its the same with people complaining that there is an id question without the place or country in the title - does it really cost you so much of your day to pass on by and close the window or go 'back' on the keyboard??

People need to advertise and 'sell' their services - its not over powering on here.

When I go away I read as many reports as possible detailed or otherwise - I know that a commercial business is not going to give up its crown jewels and give a precise location but over a mixture of reports you get the jist. The 'Spanish' contingent Steve/Stephen/Simon/Pau (examples on Birdforum - me to a certain extent) put in a lot of time and effort putting together trips, finding birds and locations and make some sort of income out of it - but they also open peoples minds to 'new' areas. The majority of the reports eminate from their customers who out of courtesy do not give precise locations or post them on the net.

At the same time WE, as birders, have to be aware that certain places are sensitive in terms of breeding birds and shrinking populations - LG Shrike in Spain which has reduced to a couple of pairs in the north east as an example. Would you really expect someone who is priviledged to be taken to the site to then divulge it? I say priviledged because, even if they have paid, the welfare of the bird and the integrity of the site has to be considered.

Anyway now I'm rambling...

Missing the point.....all I'm saying is that here are far too many 'trip reports' that are no logistical use and that independent and commercial reports should be separated, they're not on some and it's a pain.

Just have a look at South Africa on Surfbirds for an illustration and none of this is 'pioneering' either.

I and probably not many others expect companies to divulge their 'crown jewels' so that leaves the common stuff which is well covered in site guides.

Tour companies (not the small independent) are making a lot of money and they don't need to overpower us with this deluge of, in the main, useless info, it's overkill.

I too write my own reports after months of research and the eventual trip and I like to think that anyone reading them will be helped in some way, not just to see birds but logistically as well, car hire, accommodation, internal flights, visa requirements etc which you NEVER get from commercial reports.

I don't feel the need to say anymore on this at all but will watch comments with interest.



Andy
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 11:43   #14
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As someone who does both independent and commercial tours I find value in trip reports for both types.

The commercial tour reports give you an idea of what to find, and if there are multiple trips to the same places, an idea of the probability of finding a particular species. The individual tour, as described, gives both the birds and the logistics. Both have value.
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 12:20   #15
andyadcock
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Jeff, I'm simply commenting on the sheer volume of 'tour reports'...

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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 14:38   #16
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I know what you mean Andy, there does seem to be a decline in the number of independent birders taking the time and trouble to post their reports, hence why reports like Jos Stratford's are so eagerly received (check the numbers who view). Bold, intrepid, and full of information.

I am not against Commercial Bird Tours, indeed I wouldn't have seen Finland's owls without their guidance, but I agree that there seem to be a huge number of Commercial Bird Tour Reports (check the Europe reports on Cloudbirders recently). I'm not saying they shouldn't be able to lodge their reports, but they rarely give you precise information anyway because by their very nature they need to retain that level of information.

So, yes, I know what you mean Andy. The sadder fact is that fewer birders seem to be uploading reports on Birdforum, though part of this may be that most of Europe's birding locations have been adequately covered.

But the reduction is something I have noticed.
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 14:53   #17
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To be honest I find uploading images on here to accompany my trip reports to be rather time consuming compared to other forums I use. That might be putting off people from posting..
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 15:11   #18
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Hi,

On cloudbirders you can easily filter best trip reports by number of stars.

Local websites increasingly take over the role of trip reports, especially in Asia. Thailand for example I did by local websites.

I still find commercial reports useful to pick season and sites to visit.

Another question is how to find best local guides in places that need them? Even commercial tours often use another local guide to find the actual birds.

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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 16:24   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittykat23uk View Post
To be honest I find uploading images on here to accompany my trip reports to be rather time consuming compared to other forums I use. That might be putting off people from posting..
One thing I will say in favour of the tours and the guides who upload images, is that especially on Surfbirds with no limit to the number of uploads, their galleries are now a valuable ID aid in some cases where a particular regional guide may be a bit lacking.

Birdforums limit of three images per day is pretty miserly I think, why is this?


Andy

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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 16:52   #20
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I'm pretty certain it's more than 3 p/day Andy.

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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 16:52   #21
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I have no issue attaching 5 images per post on Birdforum, so at the end of my report I just add extra posts with the images. I usually only have to add 3 extra as I rarely have more than 15 images.
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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 17:28   #22
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Originally Posted by wolfbirder View Post
I have no issue attaching 5 images per post on Birdforum, so at the end of my report I just add extra posts with the images. I usually only have to add 3 extra as I rarely have more than 15 images.
Not to posts, to the galleries

Gallery guidelines state just 3 posts per person per day

'Postings are limited to THREE in a 24 Hour period. This is because submissions by occasional posters are getting swamped by large numbers of photos from a single member so that the thumbnails are disappearing from view before everyone has had opportunity to view them'


that's answered my Q anyway.

Anyone familiar with surfbirds may have seen that we often post e.g 20 images per day when we return from a trip.



.........Andy

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Old Monday 31st August 2015, 19:51   #23
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Originally Posted by kittykat23uk View Post
To be honest I find uploading images on here to accompany my trip reports to be rather time consuming compared to other forums I use. That might be putting off people from posting..
I agree on that one.I simply post a link to my Blog which for me has the benefit of being in control of it's destiny. I have used other sites to write reports on only for the web site to fold and my report with it. I also like to show as much of my report in a pictorial way with a little text in between. You can't do that on Birdforum.
I guess my objective with a report is two fold 1) to help others in return for the information I have gleaned from reading reports 2) as a personal diary to look back on in years to come.
As far as commercial reports, I'm always interested to see where the itinerary takes them so as to help plan my own. More often than not I'm staggered at the cost some trips demand and I'm surprised anyone is prepared to pay the amount demanded but I do understand that some feel more comfortable in a group, particularly to foreign places.
I do try to give a bit of logistical information too, particularly on cost because to most of us it's a major consideration.
I think a list of birds has a limited value but can be worthwhile I guess. You can't guarantee that what was there last time will still be there on the next visit.
As for Jos Stratford's reports, he goes places the rest of us wouldn't so that's of huge interest to the less intrepid explorer like me!
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Old Tuesday 1st September 2015, 10:10   #24
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Don't get me going on costs Dave....!!!


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Old Tuesday 1st September 2015, 20:30   #25
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I planned my recent Malaysia trip initially on the BirdQuest trip report. Yes it was fairly useless from a logistical point of view but it gave me an idea of the number of days to spend at each site and an idea of what I might fine. Yes, I had to do some more digging for more informative gen but it was a good starting point. Also the precise co-ordinates given in some reports are not particularly helpful when they are a couple of years old and you are in the forest where birds move.

Additionally, it was a pleasure to be able to find some sought after species like Great Argus and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo that had not been seen at all on recent BirdQuest trips. I also took pleasure in seeing only about 15 less species than the standard BirdQuest itinerary, while saving over 2000 on the cost!
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