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Communicating bird information
Posted by Jeff Butcher
When I first started birding in 1971, getting information on bird sightings was difficult. You had to be on a grapevine that existed among the elite birders of the time. New birders had no chance of seeing anything unusual unless it was at a reserve or they stumbled upon it. How wonderful it was when Eric Hardy started broadcasting information on Sunday afternoons on Radio Merseyside.
When I first came to this area nearly 15 years ago I remember being very pleased to find LDBWS had its own website reporting bird sightings. Also I found the website had a links column in which a lot of other internet sites were listed, some for adjoining areas.
I then decided to subscribe to Rare Bird Alert for which I use a pager.
When I travelled to other parts of the country for holidays or day trips I would look up their websites too.
Then complications started in that some bird clubs had Yahoo Groups instead of webpages. As they were accessible through the web it wasn't too much of a problem.
A while ago I was trying to find some information about one of those areas and nothing seemed to be on the Group. When I enquired I was told by a local user that they were putting most of their sightings on their Facebook page now. I believe Leighton Moss RSPB also uses Facebook.
Another area I was interested in whose website looked dead told me that they were using Twitter to get information out to people.
I recently commented on this website about a wrong address for waxwings on RBA and was told I should keep up to date on What's App.
It seems to me this is getting silly. Information is being put out by a lot of different people using whichever medium suits them. People trying to find out what is around, either where they live or where they are visiting, now have to start by Googling to find possible websites, check the pager for RBA, then search Facebook and Twitter and now presumably What's App as well.
I know it's not going to happen, but wouldn't it be great if birders could just agree one means of communication of sightings. Life is too short
An interesting point of view Jeff.
I think, given that telephone Birdlines, pagers, weekly radio broadcasts and newspaper bulletins are now consigned to history we have to expect that as technology improves and changes, then so must we as users.
If the current method of getting-out and receiving rapid info requires one to sign up to a WhatsApp group then so be it. The alternative is to get left behind. If one is so keen to hear about other people's discoveries, then presumably one must make oneself available to receive that news. We've all 'missed' stuff because we weren't informed in time.
If going out and finding your own birds is your main passion then this is of course irrelevant, but if you want to chase others' finds then I'm afraid you need to keep up to date with the preferred method of the day. And be prepared to change when that becomes old hat.
Welcome to the somewhat irritating modern world.
But it's not just whatsapp is it? To stay up to date he needs to check websites, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and possibly multiple iterations of each.
Its not the technology that's the problem: its the disjointed, unconnected use of multiple technologies which make life difficult
Of you are chasing other people's birds you need an IPhone or similar and sign up to the RBA phone alert system and back that up locally with the cheapest form of communication, the WhatsApp. Failure to do that is cheapskating and is going to lead to stuff being missed or received late in the day on eg sightings websites
Sites like the LDBWS recent sightings are NOT about instant news. However, if you do have news and it is the only outlet you know for putting it out please do it straight away!
Then it is all picked up by RBA who spend hours traveling local sites and for example have an instant link to our WhatsApp.
Having said all this it's basically a repeat of what Jon has said!
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