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Log Books/Note Books

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Old Friday 5th February 2010, 10:36   #1
mattwhite
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Log Books/Note Books

Hi

Just wondering what info you keep in your log/note books? Are they just a list of dates and birds, or do you put more detail?

I love looking at other birders note books, I think they offer a great insight into the person/birder.
I especially like log/note books with illustrations/paintings, has anyone any links to websites which contain scanned images from birders notebooks.

Matt
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Old Friday 5th February 2010, 13:26   #2
davercox
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I can't draw and I don't do photos, so my notebooks are very dull. But yes, as much detail as possible, after all you can't rely on memory for ever.
One of Bill Oddie's earlier books (it may have been the Little Black Bird Book) has some great copies of his notebooks through his various plumage phases, worth a look if you can.
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Old Saturday 6th February 2010, 00:56   #3
Canadian Lady
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Hi.

Every day in my nature binder, I write down the date, name of park(s), birds and wildlife sighted, gender of bird (if obvious), number sighted, is the bird an adult or imm., any other special stuff - eg. moulting, appears pregnant, in a nest, etc. Sadly, also if bird is dead. Yikes!

Then there's "OK, it's now the official start of Spring " ... every year, an adult male Red-winged Blackbird waits until I've walked by and then it attacks from the rear ... the back of my head gets pecked, he flies to a nearby branch and "laughs" at me! Last year was quite early with a March attack. In the nature binder, I just write "He's Back!"

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Old Sunday 7th February 2010, 17:35   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davercox View Post
I can't draw and I don't do photos, so my notebooks are very dull. But yes, as much detail as possible, after all you can't rely on memory for ever.
One of Bill Oddie's earlier books (it may have been the Little Black Bird Book) has some great copies of his notebooks through his various plumage phases, worth a look if you can.
yes bill oddies little black book has loads of copies of pages from his diary. very humorous. you can pick up that book for a couple of quid 2nd hand its a fun read.
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Old Monday 15th February 2010, 07:28   #5
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Originally Posted by deansmith View Post
yes bill oddies little black book has loads of copies of pages from his diary. very humorous. you can pick up that book for a couple of quid 2nd hand its a fun read.
The photographs of Bill Oddie's original notebooks and drawings which Dave mentioned, are actually contained within his second book, 'Bill Oddie's - Gone Birding'.
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Old Monday 15th February 2010, 17:43   #6
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I just write on the calendar. It takes almost no time, and is starting to pay off in spades.
And... www.ebird.net is for hard-core notebookers!!!!!
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Old Thursday 18th February 2010, 16:50   #7
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I do all my birding/nature/travel notes on a tiny (smaller than most mobile phones) digital recorder that hangs around my neck. I can't draw for toffee so I don't need a notebook for that and the recorder is good enough to pick up nearby bird calls/songs. I've used it to playback the song of, for example, a Barratt's Warbler and entice the bird into view and have also used it many times to support the identification of unfamilar birds.

The files can be uploaded to PCs etc. for safekeeping and because it's on a lanyard it can be recorded into "hands free" meaning I can keep looking at/for birds whilst using it. The model I use now is a few years old and will record for about 30 hours on the highest quality setting and 120 on the lowest quality. Main drawback is the tendency to forget to switch it off, which uses the (AAA) batteries. Best thing about it is that you can take the notes whilst actually looking at the bird, thereby recording every detail that occurs to you. 2nd best thing is probably that it doesn't rot or get soggy in the tropics.

If I could draw, then I'd probably like to use a notebook and pencils, but I much prefer it to the notepads I used to use.
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Old Tuesday 2nd March 2010, 01:20   #8
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My "Rite In The Rain" notebooks are full of chickenscratch. I do one line per point count - station, time and species ticked like "APA-IIIII,III ELE-II YFC-IIII HWA-I" etc. Very little else goes in there, though I occasionally add notes about unusual things like band colors, habitat condition, vandalism, feral dogs, weeds, rare plants, etc. For endangered birds I make some note about their identification to appease the e-Bird moderator. I used to try to make cryptic and often ineffective notes about the calls made by less common alien and endangered birds to try to remember all the different things they say, but recently got a digital recorder to do that job vastly better. I always had a difficult time remembering what "pnH" and "chEE" actually sound like. When I get home all the chickenscratch gets uploaded into eBird.
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Old Tuesday 2nd March 2010, 13:39   #9
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I tend to just list the very basics in an A4 day-to-a-page diary - weather conditions, time, areas visited etc and the birds seen - totals, sexes etc. Put in photos of birds seen too....my sketching is hopeless

One if my favourite sites is the Boulmer Birder who is a local guy - I always check his sites first He's a fabulous artist too and I'd love to be talented enough to produce notebooks as good as his....here's a link....

The blog home page

http://www.boulmerbirder.blogspot.com/

Notebook section...click on 'field notebooks 1 & 2' on the right of the page

http://sites.google.com/site/theboulmerbirder/
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Old Tuesday 2nd March 2010, 14:00   #10
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I usually just jot down place, date and time and what I see (how many, gender, age and so on), although for rarities I often like to add a bit more, like some ID pointers, how many other birders were there, the bird's behaviour and so on.
Fot some reason I always forget to write down the weather...

I would love to be able to draw, so I've been thinking I'm going to try it come the spring. (Far too cold now to take off my mittens!)
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Old Monday 19th July 2010, 02:41   #11
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I can tell you I keep copius notes when I am watching. I include: time of day, temperature, basic weather conditions, birds by species and number seen, and anything else of note I see.

As time goes by, the notes help me establish the frequency of visitors. I also try to get pics of my regulars and visitors. And, I am constantly trying to improve upon the pics I've taken. For example, I saw a White-Crowned Sparrow this spring, snapped a couple long range shots with my 250mm lens, and had a terrible IQ when I uploaded it. However, that was enough to get help ID'ing the bird, along with my notes. Now, I must wait for them to migrate back through to improve upon that shot. Others, like my Northern Cardinal, have several high quality pics because I see them multiple times per day....great lighting, bad lighting, winter, summer, spring, fledging, etc.

Notes are important, and will help you remember what/who you saw. You can then start catering your feeding stations, or visits, to your experiences and start to predict what you will see when you go out.....and also know what is truly a rare sighting the minute you spot it.
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Old Tuesday 20th July 2010, 09:40   #12
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my is quite dull but i put where i seen them in which area the time and the name of bird sometimes the sex if its easy to tell.
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Old Tuesday 20th July 2010, 11:04   #13
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My field notebook usually has general weather obs, date, place at the start of the day then an eclectic mix of species, counts, observations ( and shopping lists etc) I also carry a sketch book for anything good. When I get home I tend to do a write up in a A5 day to day diary. At the end of the year the notebooks, sketch books and diary go into a box file which means you've got all on one years records in one place. Having said that threr is no fixed rule, just put what you want in - it's your notebook.
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Old Friday 10th December 2010, 19:49   #14
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+1 for boulmer birder, now called "from the notebook" brilliant blog.

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Old Wednesday 5th January 2011, 12:16   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gill Osborne View Post
Notebook section...click on 'field notebooks 1 & 2' on the right of the page
http://sites.google.com/site/theboulmerbirder/
Those sketches are amazing. I sketch sometimes, so I can quickly describe plumage patterns and colours, but the end results generally don't look much like the bird I saw.

In addition to some of the things others have mentioned, I make sure I write down the time I finished as well as the time I started, as the duration of the survey is required for the Birds Australia Atlas database (https://www.birdata.com.au), and the coordinates of the site. Sometimes I put down the time I saw each bird, or every 5th one, etc, if it's busy. That helps me work out where I saw a particular bird later, if need be, if I've recorded a GPS log, and to identify photos I've taken.

I often record details that might help others find a bird again, e.g. landmarks, time of day, tide level and direction, and I try to record enough that I'll fully understand my notes in a few years (e.g. not too much abbreviation of species names), and be able to find the place again myself (e.g. distance down a road, etc).

Once I've entered the details into a database, I record the survey number the computer assigned, so that I know I've entered it, and so I can look it up on the computer easily.

For what it's worth, I use A7 vertically bound notebooks with spiral binding big enough to stick a mechanical pencil into so they stay together in my pocket. I also keep it folded back to the page I'm using, and I put an elastic band around it so the pages don't get caught on my pocket and ripped.

Last edited by pshute : Wednesday 5th January 2011 at 12:21.
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Old Wednesday 5th January 2011, 19:08   #16
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My notebooks are dull in appearance. I record the date, location, time and weather conditions. I list species seen or heard underneath but not all species, only the 'notable' ones if you excuse the pun. I tend not to include the common species or ones I find boring/take for granted i.e Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant as well as some species of gulls or corvids, amongst others. In spring/summer I record all species I hear singing so, for example, I don't include common species such as Blue or Great Tits unless I hear them singing. I keep notes partly for the satisfaction of writing down what I see/hear but mainly for future reference. Saying that, I don't look back through old notebooks often enough.

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Old Wednesday 5th January 2011, 21:44   #17
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Originally Posted by treecreeper View Post
My notebooks are dull in appearance. I record the date, location, time and weather conditions. I list species seen or heard underneath but not all species, only the 'notable' ones if you excuse the pun. I tend not to include the common species or ones I find boring/take for granted i.e Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant as well as some species of gulls or corvids, amongst others. In spring/summer I record all species I hear singing so, for example, I don't include common species such as Blue or Great Tits unless I hear them singing. I keep notes partly for the satisfaction of writing down what I see/hear but mainly for future reference. Saying that, I don't look back through old notebooks often enough.
I find I'm falling into the same habits as I become more experienced, not because I intend not to record common species, but because I've somehow trained myself to only look for the unexpected, so I sometimes forget to write them down.

Depending on what you do with your notes, I don't think it's always a good idea. One day any of those species might become rare, and people will suddenly be very interested in how the numbers have varied over the years.

I often hear complaints that some people refuse to record "ferals" - non native species. In this country many of these species are slowly spreading, and it's certain that one day someone will be interested to see how fast that spread occurred.

Another note taking style I've heard criticised is not noting where a species was seen during a trip. A researcher was trying to get an idea of changes in species diversity in a particular area by going through old notebooks owned by a club. They found that some people starting listing species from the moment they walked out the door, as they were now on their "trip". The site was 100km away, and there was nothing in the notes to say when they actually arrived and left there. Therefore what could have been valuable information was rendered useless for that purpose.

I've noticed that I've become guilty of taking barely any notes at all when I'm on a "mission" to see a particular species. Too busy looking for it, perhaps?
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Old Wednesday 5th January 2011, 22:06   #18
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I was just reminded by this on another thread I contributed to. I always write my name and phone number in the front of every notebook I start, with the words "PLEASE return ASAP!". I've never needed it yet, but it's so easy to leave things behind in someone else's car after a trip.

I started doing this when I dropped a nearly full notebook once, and didn't realise for several minutes. It took nearly an hour to find, it was just a metre to one side of where I thought I'd walked. I don't know if anyone else would have found it before it was too sodden to read, but I knew there was no chance it was ever coming back without my contact details in it.

I often hear of old notes being entered into databases years after the note taker is deceased. I wonder if anyone would do that if they didn't know for sure whose notebooks they were.
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Old Thursday 6th January 2011, 01:49   #19
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Someday I'll switch my 'notebook' to a mobile device that uploads my counts to eBird immediately, from anywhere....
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Old Friday 7th January 2011, 19:16   #20
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Originally Posted by pandachris View Post
I do all my birding/nature/travel notes on a tiny (smaller than most mobile phones) digital recorder that hangs around my neck. I can't draw for toffee so I don't need a notebook for that and the recorder is good enough to pick up nearby bird calls/songs. I've used it to playback the song of, for example, a Barratt's Warbler and entice the bird into view and have also used it many times to support the identification of unfamilar birds.

The files can be uploaded to PCs etc. for safekeeping and because it's on a lanyard it can be recorded into "hands free" meaning I can keep looking at/for birds whilst using it. The model I use now is a few years old and will record for about 30 hours on the highest quality setting and 120 on the lowest quality. Main drawback is the tendency to forget to switch it off, which uses the (AAA) batteries. Best thing about it is that you can take the notes whilst actually looking at the bird, thereby recording every detail that occurs to you. 2nd best thing is probably that it doesn't rot or get soggy in the tropics.

If I could draw, then I'd probably like to use a notebook and pencils, but I much prefer it to the notepads I used to use.
Which digital recorder do you use?
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Old Wednesday 2nd February 2011, 20:06   #21
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I use a rite in the rain book. It's full of very awkward handwriting and places where my pen quit working and I had to scribble... If I forget the notebook sometimes I make sighting notes on my ipod touch instead. I am kind of really horrible at writing everything down, though, and often end up bringing home half of my list for the day in photographs or my head...
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Old Tuesday 19th April 2011, 08:12   #22
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Many years ago I seem to remember that there were birding templates with the main feather tracts outlined which enabled a birder to fill in the salient points that he wanted to record, (kind of paint by numbers). The pages were Filofax size approximately 7x4 inches.
It would be very handy for someone to reinvent such an aid. The outlines could be for Duck, Wader, Warbler type bird etc.
The birder would turn into a competent artist overnight.
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Old Tuesday 19th April 2011, 08:54   #23
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Many years ago I seem to remember that there were birding templates with the main feather tracts outlined which enabled a birder to fill in the salient points that he wanted to record, (kind of paint by numbers). The pages were Filofax size approximately 7x4 inches.
It would be very handy for someone to reinvent such an aid. The outlines could be for Duck, Wader, Warbler type bird etc.
The birder would turn into a competent artist overnight.
I think Bill Oddie used to draw outlines of birds to fill in however he had to write 'NB This was actually a duck' etc

I just use an A4 notebook and keep it like a diary. I record time, weather, location, route etc and write about the birds. This way I'll remember the trips in the future instead of just seeing a list of birds seen.
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