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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Software to plan your next trip (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I wanted to find some software that would take my life list (or UK etc) and tell me which sites to visit to knock off the most new species. Even better if it could find the most economical trip i.e. the most new birds per mile travelled. Maybe there is something out there but I had a go doing it myself and found some public domain data on the BTO site which is licensed under the Creative Commons license.

By just importing the atlas data into a mySQL database along with my own UK list I was quickly able to locate the grid squares with the most new species for me and once obtained another quick query will list out what those new species are. The data is slightly obfuscated by multiple and in some cases overlapping epochs but in the first run where I used all the epochs (and hence the totals aren't real) I get this,

| "TM46" | 53 | Saxmundham
| "TG04" | 52 | Cley
| "TL87" | 48 | Lackford
| "TR01" | 43 | Rye-Dungeness
| "TF62" | 43 | Kings Lynn coast
| "SX98" | 42 | Dawlish?
| "TG42" | 41 | Norfolk Broads
| "SZ19" | 41 | Poole Bay
| "TR26" | 40 | Stodmarsh
| "SZ39" | 40 | Lymington
| "TF74" | 40 | Hunstanton
| "NH80" | 40 | Loch Insh (!)

Using the latest epoch only puts TG04 top with 22 species and I reduced my potential acquisitions for a(nother) trip to the Cley area to this list:

| "Sooty Shearwater" |
| "Leach's Petrel" |
| "Taiga/Tundra Bean Goose" |
| "Pink-footed Goose" |
| "Snow Goose" |
| "Egyptian Goose" |
| "Mandarin Duck" |
| "Goshawk" |
| "Merlin" |
| "Lady Amherst's Pheasant" |
| "White-rumped Sandpiper" |
| "Jack Snipe" |
| "Great Skua" |
| "Mediterranean Gull" |
| "Long-eared Owl" |
| "Woodlark" |
| "Richard's Pipit" |
| "Waxwing" |
| "Red-flanked Bluetail" |
| "Firecrest" |
| "White-crowned Sparrow" |
| "Balearic Shearwater" |

and so on. The data contains breeding and wintering data so obviously you would want to delve deeper into that aspect - this is more like what I could add if I moved to Cley rather than went there for the day ;-)

It was particularly amusing from that first run to find Loch Insh coming in at 9th equal as I was just up there and added nothing. I did try though.

The data came from here:

Licence: Creative Commons, with Attribution, Non-commercial v4.0 (CC-BY-NC). See here for full details of what is permitted: Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International — CC BY-NC 4.0

and I used this site to map the grid squares:

Most of these places are now a nuisance to get to from where I live so I may visit the 'economy' query next.

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
One of the useful features on the free Scythebill software for keeping your life list is the 'World Lifers Map'. This generates a colour-coded map of the world from your life list that shows you which countries have the most lifers for you. What you're doing here sounds somewhat similar at a UK level.


Staff member
One deficiency of such data driven approach is that you need to quantify the search effort put in. Is a bird likely to be seen at site because the bird is common there or because the site is heavily watched. If it is the former than the bird might be there when you go, if the latter then less so.

A nearby site is always listed in all County reports, not because it is a great birding site but because there are two old boys who spend hours each day sat in the car park staring out to sea.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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