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How do you record your sightings?

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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 11:09   #1
Julie50
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How do you record your sightings?

Hi all,

I have just updated my lists having finished my summer holidays. I started birding nearly 3 years ago and just kind of absorbed my habits from viewing others and using this forum.

I have three books; one which I take with me and record sightings each day, where and when, one which I record all sightings from each place I visit and one, which is alphabetical, were I record all my sightings.

I wondered how others make their records?
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 13:56   #2
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I use eBird. I am trying to learn all the different types of birds and eBird is great to see the list of what has been spotted at what time of year in a hotspot near me.

You can update the app as you are out and about, it logs time, date, location, distance, etc. you can add photos and more specific details.

I can also upload a photo for identification using another of their apps.
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 14:47   #3
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I record all of my sightings, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, arthropods and wild flowers in photos. The photos are then indexed by time/date/location. It is a very good system, but I generally only keep about 30% of my photos. So, in the case that I saw a species but did not record it through photos then I will make a note of it.
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 14:58   #4
Dan Miller
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I have been using eBird for my birding records going on six years now. A long time ago, I wrote my sightings in my field guide, but then it got ruined by water and all was lost. Now I still note first sightings in my regional guides, but work back from eBird to do so. I started using eBird on my fiftieth birthday, so it is my "life-after-fifty" list.

Recently I've started using iNaturalist for other natural history photographic recordings (which has in turn spurred me to take photos of more than just birds).
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 15:05   #5
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There's this website called waarneming.nl for Dutchies, observation.org internationally which imho has the most elaborate features I could find when recently comparing it with ebird, iGoTerra and a few other platforms. I enter my sightings on spot in the app, which are gps based and fall into named smaller or larger natural regions. All kind of personal lists are thus automatically made or you can make them yourselves. All observations from a giant database which gives oversights, maps and statistics, and information of all birds which make great learn and discover features. One can directly upload pictures and have ID software make determination suggestions. And there's a dedicated team of moderators reviewing sightings with pics and sounds, acknowledginng sightings or correcting them thus offering learning experiences. A real interactive birding community.
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 16:14   #6
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I use both ebird and several binders, one for each continent. ebird is excellent but I like the paper version also because I write notes about my sightings. Not just date and location and it is easy to look up what I have already seen without using the computer. This is handy if you are in a place that does not have internet.
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 16:55   #7
Farnboro John
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Notebooks. One per year in Britain, one per country or region abroad. I refer to them surprisingly often, and having all the species for one day of all groups on one page or series of pages triggers memories like nothing else.

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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 17:42   #8
andreadawn
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I generally don't keep any records other than those that are in my head. Most of my birdwatching involves spending time observing and studying individual birds or groups of birds.

As such I am likely to miss lots of other things as I become engrossed in watching particular individuals or groups for long periods of time and often spend much of the day watching one particular species.

I do sometimes count wader flocks on my local patch in winter and pass the information on where appropriate but I don't keep a record of every individual species seen on any given occasion.
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 18:04   #9
Mike C
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Notebooks - one per year for all birding trips (birds, mammals and insects)
Diary - transcribe the rough notes made "in the field" (if there’s space some detail about where I walked or sat and chronological list of birds followed by chronological list of other wildlife.
BUBO - currently has a number of country lists and year lists, considering migrating to Scythebill.
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 20:59   #10
Paul Chapman
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Bird track - https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/birdtrack

Ebird - https://ebird.org/home

Bubo - https://www.bubo.org/

Igoterra - https://www.igoterra.com/landing.asp

I suspect choice will boil down to whether you simply want a manuscript or computer record; whether you want to record all wildlife; whether you want to keep a simple list or cover all sightings; & whether you wish the repository of your records to include photos and recordings.

I use ebird and wish it had been available when I started but I keep a few lists on Bubo as well.

Bear in mind taxonomies will differ between recording systems as well as definitions of geographic areas.

All the best
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Old Saturday 31st August 2019, 21:31   #11
Julie50
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Thanks for all the interesting posts.

I might stick to the written word, but I have signed up to ebird to see what it has to offer!
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Old Monday 2nd September 2019, 10:01   #12
Euan Buchan
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Notebook, photos and videos (from my phone).
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Old Monday 2nd September 2019, 10:55   #13
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I record species, number location and grid reference then send them off to the County recorder at the end of the year. The submissions are collated in the county records so they can gauge numbers and trends. I think they are then submitted to a national recording organisation so national numbers and trends can be recorded. Many of my recordings end up on the WEBs data since they are often higher than those recorded on the set WEBs days.
All very useful data and a reminder where to go at which time of year to catch up on different species, so it kills two birds with one stone[ not sure that's the best way to put it on here].
I do this on the computer so it's no great chore.
My personal records show how Common Cuckoo are holding up round here, being recorded in the same sort of places they were seen or heard a few years ago.
This year there was a remarkable increase in Blackcap and Common Whitethroat were more numerous. Willow Warbles are still widespread and numerous, reflected in the latest county report which have increased by 5% compared to a drop nationally. I've recorded more Marsh Tit than ever this year, a reflection of the area, where there are many limestone woodlands, which they seem to favour.
A dip in Green Woodpecker this year was unexpected, although I didn't visit two hot spots this year where I'd be surprised if they weren't there.

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Old Monday 2nd September 2019, 11:36   #14
Paul Longland
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I keep a notebook (start a new one each year) which I carry with me in the field to keep a record of what I see on each trip etc. I use the birdwatchers year book to keep an annual list as this has the british list in, divided into months (I only record the first sighting of the year in these rather than every occasion) with several additional columns that you can use for different things such as your full year list, county list, garden list, holiday list also. I like the yearbook as it has a diary section where you can record your actual trips or any other information. There is also a section with maps of reserves by region, tide timetables sunrise and sunset information etc.
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Old Tuesday 3rd September 2019, 09:03   #15
temmie
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For me, the very best to use in the field, and logging most information will probably be the observation app (obsmapp or iObs: https://apps.apple.com/be/app/iobs/id713587892?l=eng ), but I can't compare with igoterra and inaturalist as I haven't tried those (is anyone volunteering to try / compare all of those and publish an article :-) ?.

Obsmapp / iObs have a build-in obsidentify function: you take a picture of an insect or plant (or even a digiscoped bird) and the app will try to recognize it. It works very well for some groups (like beetles, butterflies,...) but not all.

Note that ebird only does birds. Other sites do all groups of animals.

The reason I still believe ebird is not great, is their use of hotspots. Hotspots make it easier to get a general grip on an area because it has great filters.
But their use of hotspots are my main gripe: hotspots produce a nice list but it's actually very vague information, and while ebird enables you to use personal markers, it's not encouraged / designed to do this and not many users make good use of personal markers. They keep using checklists and the exact location of certain birds ends up being lumped in the hotspot coordinate, that is often totally unrelated to the habitat of the bird.

Fact is that hotspots dilute location data in a way that they are annoyingly confusing when you are trying to locate a certain species or sighting. The hotspot can be miles off the real location of a certain sighting.

Other sites log sightings while your GPS on your mobile phone is active, so you have exact coordinates for each sighting. This makes it way, way easier to locate sightings of other birders (like for a twitch or travel), and it makes it also easier for yourself to retrieve that info (e.g. when you want to check certain nest holes in the forest or certain fields for butterflies).

Anytime a good bird comes out in the USA, I see all kinds of people giving long descriptions of where to find a bird, often referring to google maps because the link to an ebird hotspot is often worthless. With observation, all you need to do is go to the insert-your-country subsite of observation and all info, with exact location, time stamp etcetera, is there. The only thing needed is a broader userbase ;-)
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Old Tuesday 3rd September 2019, 12:26   #16
kb57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by temmie View Post
The reason I still believe ebird is not great, is their use of hotspots. Hotspots make it easier to get a general grip on an area because it has great filters.
But their use of hotspots are my main gripe: hotspots produce a nice list but it's actually very vague information, and while ebird enables you to use personal markers, it's not encouraged / designed to do this and not many users make good use of personal markers. They keep using checklists and the exact location of certain birds ends up being lumped in the hotspot coordinate, that is often totally unrelated to the habitat of the bird.

Fact is that hotspots dilute location data in a way that they are annoyingly confusing when you are trying to locate a certain species or sighting. The hotspot can be miles off the real location of a certain sighting.
I agree about the hotspots issue, and would go on to say that it goes against Cornell Lab's own instructions on how to use eBird, in relation to the Global Big Day - namely, to start a different list every time you go to a different location. The first time I used eBird I let it track where I was using the GPS co-ordinates, then realised that unless this was turned into a hotspot, there was no way third parties could view these data. Now if I use eBird I tend to lump observations together into a hotspot, adding to the problems you set out.
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Old Sunday 8th September 2019, 17:21   #17
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I tend to use a notebook when doing trips abroad, but I keep all my life-lists on BUBO. I note that I tend to describe sightings far more than others do on BUBO.

I also record all my sightings in the Birdwatchers Logbook, I started in 1998 and am up to Book 14 ! It is nice to look back at my own rambles and descriptions of my trips.
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Old Monday 23rd September 2019, 18:26   #18
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Originally Posted by kb57 View Post
I agree about the hotspots issue, and would go on to say that it goes against Cornell Lab's own instructions on how to use eBird, in relation to the Global Big Day - namely, to start a different list every time you go to a different location. The first time I used eBird I let it track where I was using the GPS co-ordinates, then realised that unless this was turned into a hotspot, there was no way third parties could view these data. Now if I use eBird I tend to lump observations together into a hotspot, adding to the problems you set out.
I'm a big fan of eBird and use it almost every day.
But it can be abused. For example, I have seen birds listed as 'in Surrey' (my home county) which just don't occur here - some guys doing a 'big year' were the culprits on at least one occasion. They were probably more interested in keeping a UK list than in worrying about where the birds were.
eBird is very versatile. It could, with comparatively little effort, be adapted for non-avian lists. But I don't think that Cornell is interested.

As someone else mentioned, different software uses different taxonomy. For example, Brent goose (pale-bellied) and Brent goose (dark-bellied) just count as one species on eBird. I suspect (but don't know) that some lists would treat them as two species.
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Old Monday 23rd September 2019, 20:07   #19
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I keep my "official" lists in various spreadsheets. I also now have spreadsheets for each major trip I take and I save those, too for future reference (i.e. taxonomy changes).

I also use eBird, albeit inconsistently, most for inputting local data. But I've never made the effort to add all of my international sightings / lists to eBird. Too much work.
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Old Thursday 26th September 2019, 11:45   #20
kb57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreybirder View Post
I'm a big fan of eBird and use it almost every day.
But it can be abused. For example, I have seen birds listed as 'in Surrey' (my home county) which just don't occur here - some guys doing a 'big year' were the culprits on at least one occasion. They were probably more interested in keeping a UK list than in worrying about where the birds were.
eBird is very versatile. It could, with comparatively little effort, be adapted for non-avian lists. But I don't think that Cornell is interested.

As someone else mentioned, different software uses different taxonomy. For example, Brent goose (pale-bellied) and Brent goose (dark-bellied) just count as one species on eBird. I suspect (but don't know) that some lists would treat them as two species.
Despite the shortcomings we've discussed, I should use eBird a lot more too...it still doesn't have the reach in UK it has in other parts of the world (and I don't mean just USA), although I guess others would say we should use BirdTrack here instead. When out in the field, I still find a pencil and notebook less distracting than a mobile phone.

As far as taxonomy is concerned, it defaults to Clements, which tends to lump species which are split by IOC, and to be a bit less up-to-date. You can set it to IOC taxonomy for data input, but everything on their database is listed in Clements. That said, AFAIK both lump brent geese together, not sure if there is any mainstream taxonomy which currently splits them?
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Old Friday 4th October 2019, 10:28   #21
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I think that the one thing that hasn't been mentioned is why record at all?

If you solely want to keep a personal record of what you see and that is it, then it doesn't matter where you put the information.

If you want to share this information and it to assist in the understanding of species trends and dynamics then it has to go somewhere that the information is available. This is making your data part of a citizen science project that helps other birders, conservation and scientists.

The key thing then is the moderation of the records, the security of the data, and your accessibility to the data set.

I have tried Birdtrack, igoterra and others in my time, before settling on eBird.

Yes it is birds only, yes it has moderation and yes it is 'probably' the largest citizen science project in the world. It gives lots of graphics, the mobile app works - so far anywhere I have been (10 countries in 2 continents) and gives easy access to others birding in the same area.

The adoption by others around the world is amazing, over 700k checklists submitted in August, and 27 countries more than doubling their submissions over last year.

I agree it is patchy in terms of pick up, but some countries eg Israel have adopted it as the platform for all their bird recording.

As it has subspecies I can live with the difference with IOC, although this appears to be diminishing with every update.

With the records held by Cornell University - they are not going to disappear and the data is open source If I was paranoid, I would download it to keep my records.

However as someone has said. It is only a good as the inputted records. The moderators do a good job, but there are always things that slip through. It is easy to question these. Peer review, however is only possible for anything in the public domain.
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Old Friday 4th October 2019, 12:02   #22
Steve Lister
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My recording process is...….
Everything goes in field notebooks. I get through three a year and have about 120 stored somewhere. Separate ones for trips to eg South America, Africa etc.
Then daily summaries go into a page-a-day diary.
Everything goes onto eBird.
Records in the UK also get sent to county recorders by whatever system they use.
I also use Bubo to keep my lists, and also Igoterra as that is a source of information not available on Bubo or eBird.
I prefer Clements/Cornell/eBird taxonomy but use IOC for my British recording.

Following up something mentioned above, eBird does list all races if you select the right setting, so you could enter the races of Brent Geese separately if you wanted to. But no list will have them as separate species as no proper authority has yet split them.

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Old Friday 4th October 2019, 12:12   #23
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I keep my birds and wildlife notes by writing everything down as I see it on my way around the reserve, or any place I happen to be at the time.
I also photograph landmarks so I know where I am between bird hides. This is an aid into helping me produce a report at the end of the days birding, and it gives a feeling of what the place was like to visit

I have written (long bird reports) many from Menorca, Spain), and added them onto the BirdForum, RSPB and my other wildlife Forums over the past 12 years or so and I enjoy doing that.

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Old Saturday 5th October 2019, 11:58   #24
Carl Beel
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I think in Africa Birdlasser is a good app to record your sightings. If you register with SABAP2 (the second southern Africa Bird Atlas Project), you can submit your records as atlas records (from anywhere in Africa). it can be used elsewhere in the world as well as other species lists are included. Follows IOC.
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Old Monday 7th October 2019, 02:26   #25
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I note down all trip sightings on my phone and transfer it to Scythebill afterwards. This app has greatly simplified my sorting and recording of bird lists plus you can choose which taxonomy you want to follow (IOC/Clements). It allows you to generate a large range of reports as well based on specific criteria (world lifers map, date, location, etc). Worth giving a try if you are considering moving your records to a digital platform or looking for a better app to consolidate your lists.
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