LONG STANDING Bird Watching readers may recall that I was delighted back in 2013 when the BirdTrack app hit the app store; indeed, I have used the app routinely ever since. This updated iOS version considerably broadens the app’s capabilities, to the extent that you can now use it globally!
As well as the convenience of being able to use BirdTrack while on holiday, your records now add conservation value to in-country organisations in the same way as they do here.
Given the now broadreaching scope of the app, various taxonomies are available in-app. The ‘BirdTrack Legacy’ list is the one to go for if you are UK-based. If you travel widely, you could leave it set on the default ‘International ornithological Congress’ list and merrily BirdTrack your way around the world!
When the overhauled version 2.0 hit the app store in March 2016, I hit some initial stumbling blocks, all of which have now been overcome. Paying heed to the in-built help module would have largely avoided the issues I faced, but much like flat-packed DIY, who actually reads the instructions?
First, under the Settings section of the app, be sure to press the blue ‘Update’ button once you have added your user details. If you have used BirdTrack before, this will pull in your existing sites and allow the app to recognise your location in relation to your established nearby sites. Thereafter, the aforementioned ‘BirdTrack Legacy Baselist’ will ensure the familiar species’ names are in use. I am aware that some users have expressed concern over the removal of the ‘Casual’ recording tool from the app, which allows for the input of a one-off sighting.
However, this functionality is still available; it is just that all records are submitted in a standardised manner. For a casual record you input in the normal way but leave the Complete List slider in the Off position. This adds value to your BirdTrack records, as it avoids a collection of ‘mobile sites’ building up in your site history by ensuring all sites have a meaningful place name associated with them – a very welcome change for end-users like County Recorders!
Overall, once you have set up the app, the functionality is now closer to the desktop version than ever. It is an incredibly powerful bird recording tool with the scope now broadened to allow for data entry anywhere in the world! In itself, that is a hugely impressive achievement - reducing the World and its 10,000 birds to one app.
Perhaps my favourite functions are the ability to create and name sites in the field and to cumulatively add to counts of already recorded species.