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Post Info TOPIC: General record submission discussion


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RE: General record submission discussion


Hi Paul,
Thanks for flagging up the error in The Dip grid reference. This is a Site of Biological Importance, called Daisyfield SBI and the site central grid reference used by the GM Ecology Unit (GMEU) is SD791098. So I've amended the site in the database accordingly. Let me know if you'd like a map showing the SBI boundary for this site and the other Elton area SBIs of which there are eight in total.

Records submitted against the individual SBIs are used by GMEU to review the sites on a five year cycle and maintain their status as local wildlife sites. Whilst recording by tetrad has its uses, such as mapping the distribution of species, it does have limitations. For example a pair of Little Grebes may breed somewhere within the Elton Reservoir tetrad (SD70Z) but unless we have either a six figure grid reference, or know which SBI the birds bred in, then the record cannot be used to assess any of the SBIs in the area.

If you spot any other grid reference errors on the GMBRG sites list which is generated from the database, please drop me a pm. The GM Local Record Centre's interactive map is a good way of checking grid references
GMLRC Interactive Map

There are still plenty of free copies of MapMate to go round for anyone who wants to submit their records to GMBRG. It doesn't matter if you record at just a few sites in your area, as local patch records from birders who regularly cover a site are very valuable. Looking at the number of records you submitted to BirdTrack in 2014, you are in any case one of the top bird recorders in GM. If you'd like to drop me a pm with the spec of your computer I will be able to confirm whether or not you can use MapMate, or you can check the MapMate requirements here System requirements

I know it's not easy to use a phone app with gloves on. I've recently bought a pair of touch screen compatible interact gloves so I can still input records into the RODIS app without getting frostbite in my fingers But even these are not quite as dexterous as bare finger tips. Sometimes a good old-fashioned notebook still comes in handy, although you lose the accurate grid refs which is what makes the RODIS app so good in my opinion.

Steve

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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Thanks for the reply Steve. I have noticed that quite a few of the grid references don't seem to be very accurate. Entering some stuff for "The Dip" this morning, I checked the reference number and it was further away from the actual place than the Alpha Hospital reference number (Florence Nightingale).

How many free copies of MapMate do we get? I avoided asking for one as I thought it best that they go to birders who get out and about more than I do (I tend to just do Elton at weekends and I make very few trips to other GM sites). If there are plenty available, I wouldn't mind giving it a go as I've been informed it is a lot easier to enter records.

I have used the BirdTrack app when out and about but find it a bit cumbersome - especially when it's cold and I'm wearing gloves. I tend to rely on memory and just enter things when I get home. I'll use a notebook if I visit somewhere that I can sit for a while, but Elton isn't somewhere you sit down at - it's very much a walk round place. As I have already mentioned, I usually enter records on a tetrad basis, as the reservoir falls mainly into one 2km square. I do use the adjacent tetrad as well as that covers the area where I live (the Daisyfield / Cromptom Lodge area).

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Hi Paul,

Hopefully, I can answer your questions. Firstly, I'm not surprised that you have experienced problems using the GMBRG Excel recording form out in the field because it was never intended to be used in this way. It was created in 2004, as a simple way for birders to input records from their field notebooks and submit them to GMBRG for import into the group's database which runs on MapMate.

Since then things have moved on, and in 2012 GMBRG reached an agreement with the GM Local Record Centre who have made available free copies of MapMate to individual birders. This biological recording program is widely used across the UK by recorders of a wide range of taxonomic groups from birds to moths to plants. It is easy to use and there are now approximately 20 GMBRG members who input and store their records on MapMate. It enables you to analyse your records generating site, borough and county lists, as well as year lists. Records are electronically transferred to the GMBRG database and then on to the GM Ecology Unit who make use of them on a daily basis to support the conservation of species and sites.

There is a 3rd option available to GM birders who wish to see their records used to support local conservation and that is RODIS. You have to look no further than the bottom of this page. Just click on the RODIS link and sign up.

BirdTrack is a fourth, but our least preferred option, simply because the format of the data is not compatible with easy import into the GMBRG or GMLRC databases, consequently there are delays in the records being made available for local conservation purposes.

Bird recording in GM and most other counties has traditionally been site based and in the days before mobile phones with inbuilt GPS were widely used, most birders were (and probably still are) happy just to record on a site basis. You say that you enter records by tetrad (2km square) which does allow the accurate mapping of species and was the method used when submitting records for Bird Atlas 2007-11. However, the six figure grid references on the Excel form are site centroids and are not intended to show the exact location of the birds you see. They are just intended as geo- reference points. If you wish to submit sightings against precise grid references then RODIS is the probably the best option.

There are approximately 4000 sites in the GMBRG database. The Elton Bury site is to be used for the urban area i.e. the Elton ward, although on checking the site central grid reference is not correct, so I will ensure that this is amended in the database.

It is great that you record everything you see when out birding. Do you use the BirdTrack app or input the records when you get home? We would encourage GM birders to record all species they see when out birding. If you use a traditional notebook or a recording app then this is not particularly time consuming. However, even more important is actually doing accurate counts, logging these and recording using breeding codes. So just generating a species list for a specific date is of little value to either GMBRG or the GM Ecology Unit. There isn't much either organisation can do with this information. However, a record of six Willow Warblers singing on 10th April and the continued use of breeding codes throughout the breeding season means we know how many Willow Warbler territories there are, and whether the numbers are increasing or decreasing year on year, as well as the species breeding status i.e. possible, probable or confirmed.

Ian McKerchar and I are happy to discuss how best to record and the best option for individual birders to submit their records to GMBRG. If you'd like to have a chat please drop me a pm with your mobile no. It really is important for the conservation of birds in GM that more of the birders who post on this forum submit their records. Ian and I have worked hard over the past three plus years to make it as easy as possible for GM birders to do so. If anyone wants to discuss the pros and cons of the different options please get in touch with Ian or me.


-- Edited by Steve Atkins on Wednesday 28th of January 2015 09:40:51 PM

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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I have been submitting records into BirdTrack since starting birding ten years ago. Normally I enter them at the 2km tetrad level (except for sites like Spurn, for which I enter at the 10km level).

Recent discussions between Elton regulars has prompted me to start looking at entering records using the GM Excel spreadsheet. This has confused me totally. I just can't get my head around the best way to start.

The sites listed in the spreadsheet are all very small, and when I'm out birding I don't just pick a small area and record what I see, then move along to the next "square". Some sites don't seem to make any sense at all. For example "Elton Bury" is SD790100. When I searched for this I found it on a MapMate web page and it is an area of Elton that very few would ever visit! I assume it is the bottom left square in a larger 1 km square.

I can't see anyone birding in a site like Elton and recording everything they see in these small squares - it would take them forever to get round the site!

I normally record EVERY species I see - easy when entering in BirdTrack, as the whole of Elton Reservoir and surrounding areas (Withins, the canal etc.) falls into one tetrad. Recording these using the spreadsheet would take ages - even if you could remember where exactly you saw all the birds, and even if you could work out which "site" in the spreadsheet to record them against!

I suppose my question is, are we expected to record ALL sightings, or just those for species that are "interesting" (Little Bittern, Jack Snipe, Grasshopper Warbler, Willow Tit etc.)

This morning I used the spreadsheet for the first time to record birds seen in my garden and on Daisyfield Lodge (aka Crompton's Lodge). It was fairly easy as it is such a small area (most of it falling into SD793104). I recorded 24 species in half an hour of bird watching. If I were to record the whole of a morning going around Elton, it would double the time it takes to gat around the site, and it would take me hours to enter everything up into the spreadsheet.

Some guidance from others using this would be useful. I don't want to record everything I see when stood at the side of reservoir (SD790095) when some birds I see may be only 5 yards away but in the Old Hall Farm Elton Resr (SD789090).

Not sure any of this makes any sense, but it's hard to explain.

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Originally posted by Bill Myerscough:



After using the Excel recording method for keeping records of my sightings and then sending them into the Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group (GMBRG) for the last few years and more recently having switched over to using MapMate, then I would like to make a small point about the comments section that is available in both of these recording methods and also now for RODIS too. Ah yes, mustn't forget those doughty Bird Trackers as well! You too have the luxury of a field available for any additional comments.

I write as someone who has been involved in not only keeping records but also in actually using the data held on our yearly database files, whilst helping out in a very small way with the annual county bird report for the last few years. The comments section is often overlooked by some record keepers but it is a really important part of record keeping in helping put a "bit of meat on the bones" for many sightings. It's amazing how a little further bit of concise, relevant and interesting information in the comments section can really stand out. This additional information may firstly help expand upon or even clarify the record and secondly may help in livening up and improving upon the readability of any individual species paragraphs within the county report. This is particularly so for some of the commoner species, for many of which we get surprisingly few records and for which we are always looking for something appealing and possibly coming from a different angle to add to the county report, to make it more interesting and enjoyable for all of us to read. If I can use just a few examples of such - then any additional comments such as the type of roosting sites used or any unusual behaviour observed or unusual plumages seen will always appeal. For breeding birds the situation of any nest (even more so if different from the norm), food types being provisioned to young, size of broods, success or failure of breeding attempt (and reasons for failure, if known), or indeed any personal observations will all be of great interest. For sites, where records may be summarised if you so wish, then comparisons with earlier years for numbers and success of any breeding attempts, together with early or late dates for any resident or migrant species are again most welcome.

The comments section in my opinion is really rather under-used, not only for their use in the annual county bird report but also to provide a bit of more information (if there is any) to someone else who may be looking at the record many years down the line but without a great deal of familiarity to the site in question or the time of the original sighting(s). As mentioned earlier, there is a field available for comments in all recording methods that are currently in use in GM. Please do try and use this field (as concisely as possible) where finer detail might be of vital importance to the record or where there is something else of relevance to add or interesting to tell on a particular sighting.

As usual, any queries then please just ask...help is always at hand.


Many thanks.


Bill.



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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)


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With recent reports on the forum of Ravens nest building and Dippers in pairs or holding territories and a few other species just starting to sing then it appears that once again a new breeding season is just around the corner! Super, smashing, great!! Bearing that in mind then this might be an opportune time for just a quick reminder about the real importance of using breeding codes when sending your records into the Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group (GMBRG). The addition of a either a single or a double letter breeding code will only take just a few seconds to add to a record but will increase many fold the worth of that particular sighting. An un-coded breeding season record just indicates that a species was present at a site and has little value but a coded record makes clear what it was actually doing there and therefore has much greater potential value in helping protect birds and the sites that they use. Just a quick reminder that there are three categories of breeding classification - possible, probable or confirmed breeding. The codes for these three categories and when they should be used are detailed below. These standard BTO breeding codes are primarily to be used during the main months of the breeding season - normally recognised as April to July. However, for those earlier and later breeders then please feel free to use them outside of these core months but note that in all instances breeding codes should only be used for birds in what is considered to be potentially suitable nesting habitat. Breeding records for all species will be gratefully accepted, including those which might be considered to be common or garden birds, for which surprisingly few records are ever received.

As always this forum is here to discuss any concerns or queries over the use of breeding codes and it would be best if this could possibly be done on the forum so that we can all learn as we go along but help is also available via pm if wanted.

Finally, a very big thank you to all those GM birders, including the "old hands" and also those relatively new to bird recording, who are making the effort this year to record and send in the details of their valuable and valued sightings to GMBRG. And for those who haven't quite yet got round to it....well it's certainly still not too late to get started!

Many thanks.

Bill.


Breeding Evidence
All codes for Possible, Probable and Confirmed Breeding must relate to individuals in potentially suitable nesting habitat.


Non-breeding

F - Flying over
M - Species observed but suspected to be still on migration
U - Species observed but suspected to be summering non-breeder

Possible breeder

H - Species observed in breeding season in suitable nesting habitat
S - Singing male present (or breeding calls heard) in breeding season in suitable breeding habitat

Probable breeding

P - Pair observed in suitable nesting habitat in breeding season
T - Permanent Territory presumed through registration of territorial behaviour (song etc) on at least two different days a week or more apart at the same place or many individuals on one day
D - Courtship and Display (judged to be in or near potential breeding habitat; be cautious with wildfowl)
N - Visiting probable Nest site
A - Agitated behaviour or anxiety calls from adults, suggesting probable presence of nest or young nearby
I - Brood patch on adult examined in the hand, suggesting Incubation
B - Nest Building or excavating nest-hole

Confirmed breeding

DD - Distraction-Display or injury feigning
UN - Used Nest or eggshells found (occupied or laid within period of survey)
FL - Recently FLedged young (nidicolous species) or downy young (nidifugous species). Careful consideration should be given to the likely provenance of any fledged juvenile capable of significant geographical movement. Evidence of dependency on adults (e.g. feeding) is helpful. Be cautious, even if the record comes from suitable habitat.
ON - Adults entering or leaving nest-site in circumstances indicating Occupied Nest (including high nests or nest holes, the contents of which can not be seen) or adults seen incubating
FF - Adult carrying Faecal sac or Food for young
NE - Nest containing Eggs
NY - Nest with Young seen or heard


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GREATER MANCHESTER NEEDS YOUR BIRD SIGHTINGS!


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Yes please Karen,

Records of dead birds are well worth submitting. Enter the stage as dead.

If the corpse is in good condition Henry McGhie, curator of zoology at Manchester Museum would be pleased to receive it for the museum's collection.

Steve




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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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A question that applies to all forms of submission.

Do you want us to submit records of any dead birds we see too? I don't mean dead pigeons, but as an example, last year I saw a dead Water Rail!

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Only the obsessed understand!


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Whilst Birdtrack records will eventually (and I do mean eventually!) make their way into the county database, the format we receive them in from the BTO makes integrating them into our system frankly an absolute nightmare!

I would urge birders where ever possible to submit their county records to us directly using one of the two submission methods. Even if this means you only submit the most important records, the ones we desperately need, to us (which can be found on the systematic list on the website) then that's fine. You will be doing us a massive favour in allowing us to get on with other things rather than weeks/months worth of data inputting


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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)


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Hi Nev,

as far as Atlas records go - they will all find their way into the county database, though there is no harm in submitting them direct as well.

Birdtrack and Garden Birdwatch records are also available to our county as well, though I believe the vast majority are of limited use as they contain very little information. As Messrs McKerchar and Atkins have stressed below, the addition of breeding codes to your records makes them hugely more valuable in conservation terms. I'm sure you can add these codes in BirdTrack, but few people do.

Hope this answers your question. Keep those records rolling in

Steve

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Hi Ian
Just a general query re BTO Birdtrack, Garden Birdwatch or Atlas submissions....
presumably you get these already and don't need duplicate separate record submissions...or do you?


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Dear all, as the 2010 report nears imminent completion, I am already looking forward to the 2011 report; no rest for the wicked and all that

As such we really need your 2011 records if you have them. There's no immediate rush so don't worry but for those thinking of using their sightings in a positive way please submit your 2011 sightings on the excel recording form or via MapMate. Feel free to copy the sightings from your posts on this forum into the recording form if you didn't keep any records, that way we loose none of the fantastic information that has been posted on here during the year.

If you're not sure what to submit or what you think we're interested in, the systematic list on the website also includes a column on what records we really need. Please note that we need all breeding records of any species, no matter how common. If in doubt just drop me a line and I'll be only too happy to assist.

It may seem that I'm harping on about submitting your records a lot recently but it is absolutely for a good cause. Without them we can't learn more about or county's birds, contribute to national and county surveys in full, look forward to their future conservation and continue to improve our county bird report which flies the flag for our little county

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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)


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Hi Charles,

Thanks for your comments and for bringing to my attention the Essex Birdwatching website. I've just signed up and submitted a few records from a visit to Essex in May 2002. Although I couldn't see any link to BirdTrack. Online recording and access to the GMBRG database is an area we may well look into in the future.

However, at present the GMBRG database is held on MapMate, so we wish to encourage increased submission of records in formats which are compatible with this recording program, either by using MapMate itself or our Excel recording form which can be downloaded from Manchester Birding. Whilst we receive records submitted to BirdTrack importing these into our database is a very time-consuming exercise because the format is not compatible.

Whilst recording for the national and GM atlases has finished it is important that observers continue to use the standard BTO breeding codes with their records as these add significant value to them. If anyone would like a card listing the codes please drop me a pm. Otherwise they can still be viewed on the BTO website Breeding Codes GMBRG records are supplied to the GM Ecology Unit and used to justify the selection of Sites of Biological Importance across GM. The breeding evidence is of crucial importance in enabling the ecologists to assess a site.

We also supply records to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel which since 2010
includes Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker amongst the species they monitor. Again breeding information is vital as we have to provide a county summary of the numbers of possible, probable and confirmed breeding pairs for each of the species monitored by RBBP. This information is held in the RBBP database and used in the compilation of their annual report which appears in British Birds (usually the Sept issue).

If anyone has questions about any aspects of recording then please post on here. The more information we have the more chance there is of protecting sites and the species which we all enjoy watching.

Steve
Assistant County Recorder

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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RE: Record submission discussion


Sightings on this forum are not taken off it and used for official county recording though and so the vast majority of the sightings on here are, in ornithological terms, useless. Yes, we know whats about and where we can go out and see them but they have no value towards protecting the birds and the habitats they occupy in Greater Manchester.
There is the same problem with the London Wiki, which I beleive the London recorder cherry-picks for some sightings, but in the main, records are still submitted by spreadsheet. Personally I like the way that the Essex Bird Watching Society have integrated the submissions of records with Birdtrack while simultaneously producing a nice looking news feed of recent sightings. 
http://www.ebws.org.uk/ebs/default.asp

The Website software used in Germany and many regions of France is also cool if a little complex to use.

However, any records that I have posted on here are also posted to Birdtrack, usually within a few days - depending on the available time.

I'm happy to pull any records that you might need out of Birdtrack and re-format as necessary. Most of my recent records are saved at the 1km square level, though some of the older records cover larger area and are less precise.

At the moment I'm not sure that I want to invest in Mapmate, as I'm using my iPad more and more and my laptop less

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General record submission discussion


Please feel free to discuss any aspect of record sumission.

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Friday 13th of April 2012 04:12:12 PM

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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)
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