Tuesday, 7 January 2014

BirdTrack Birdrace

Your birding might be your link to nature, your escape at weekends or the thing that keeps you sane with the day to today grind of work, but it can be so much more too. One thing we’re very keen to promote here at PWC is that your birding benefits you and others (including the birds themselves!), be that by greening-up the way you pursue your hobby or by making more use of your observations.

There’s a very easy way to contribute your data to a long term database where it will be used for the good of the birds. BirdTrack (run through a partnership between BTO, RSPB, BirdWatch Ireland, the SOC and WOS) is a massive database, made up of contributions from birders all over the UK and Ireland – you can find out more about it here

To give you an indication of the size of the database, as I write this on the 7th January, more than 85,000 records have been collated this month alone! This is a staggering volume of data and over the years will continue to grow: an utterly invaluable resource in terms of bird conservation in the UK and Ireland. The records are available to county recorders too – with the observer’s permission.

By encouraging you to add your sightings to BirdTrack, we hope to increase the volume of data flowing into the database and increase the geographic coverage, This has obvious conservation benefits, but using BirdTrack can also benefit you. What you get from registering for BirdTrack is an excellent, free system for keeping and displaying your own records and the benefit of an online data entry and smartphone apps that allow you to enter your records as and when you collect them – no more sitting in front of spreadsheets!

With all this in mind we are introducing an element of competition between PWCers to see who can enter the most data into BirdTrack – and as such, we’ll be asking for the numbers of complete lists and records from your patch when we ask for your monthly scores. When we present the minileagues and top 20s on BirdGuides, we’ll include this ‘BirdTrack Birdrace’ so you can see how you’re faring against everyone else! We’ll also be able to look back at this point next year and give ourselves a collective pat on the back for submitting all those records. With 300 patches, 52 weeks, and let’s say an average of 50 species on each patch, we should easily manage a combined contribution of 780,000 records per year! Let’s be a little ambitious though and aim for 1.25 million records in 2014!

To show what sort of numbers ca be achieved, here’s a quick summary of what Nick Moran managed from his PWC patch last year... “logged 16,487 records and 489 complete lists for my patch in 2013, from a total of 23,617 records and 730 complete lists across the UK last year. My ‘patch stats’ would account for 1.3% of the total you’re gunning for in 2014.”

Keep an eye on the blog, as there will be a post coming along shortly on how to get the relevant stats out of BirdTrack for submission to PWC (it’s not difficult – but if you’re new to the system you might appreciate a wee bit of guidance). 


  1. While I applaud the BirdTrack Birdrace, I do hope that there is no ill feeling toward me nor wonderment when, at the end of the year, I am hopefully the only “patcher” not to have entered a single patch list on to BirdTrack.

    The reasoning behind this is very simple. I share the same patch with my better half Yvonne B and it was decided (meaning that I was told) long before PWC started that she would be putting her patch lists on BirdTrack. Since we do most things together, I have always thought that to do the same would just be duplication, so I only input any additional sightings as roving/casual records.

    Neither do I have an aversion to BirdTrack and can often be found actively encouraging everyone to record their sightings no matter how trivial they may believe them to be. I am also no stranger to the said database as Yvonne and I are joint county recorders, so despite the lack of patch lists, you will find me sitting at the PC entering data for many a happy hour throughout the year.

    Ian T – Askernish patch

  2. No need to worry Ian you won't be alone. I will also have a personal blank when it comes to the BirdTrack Birdrace.

    This is because all Dawlish Warren Recording Group records go into BirdTrack under a joint account, I will however encourage the group to increase the number of complete lists and to improve on the 14,827 records submitted last year.


  3. Yip, don't worry Ian and Kev, we understand not everyone will/can enter its just a wee side comp to encourage people who don't or seldom use it to start BirdTracking.