As we head into the potentially busiest time of the year for rarities, I just thought I would post this note to hopefully highlight a few things… Hopefully, it won’t get too lost in the multitude of other posts…
I’m not sure how many people are actually aware of SA Rare Bird News – it is an email group which disseminates news about rarities throughout Southern Africa (from the national megas through to the regionally out of range birds). At the moment, it is a free service and you can subscribe to it via email. It is a fairly easy process to subscribe and, for those that are interested in joining the group, you can find out more about it at http://groups.google.co.za/group/sa-rarebirdnews
. The membership numbers are growing daily and, the more members that are subscribed and passing their news of rarities on, the better it will be, so I would encourage you all to consider subscribing to it. It is not an email discussion group, but rather a news service, so the only person you would be receiving emails from via this group would be me. I receive all the news, check up on it and then pass it on accordingly.
Then just a reminder that the most critical part of reporting rarities is in the timing. It is imperative that they are reported as soon as is humanly possible. I am sure that virtually every single birder carries a mobile phone with them and is very capable of sending a text message. I would encourage you to make contact with me to let me know what you have found as soon as possible. A simple sms to my phone at 082 780 0376 (save that number in your contacts list…) is more than adequate – please also include your name in the message so that I know who it comes from as I don’t have everyone’s numbers stored in my phone. This applies to both new rarities that have been found as well as updates on rarities that have already been reported previously. I receive many, many requests wanting to know when last a particular bird was reported and, if I don’t receive the updates, I will not have the correct information at hand. So, a report direct from the field would be most appreciated – please don’t wait until you get home which may only be several hours or days later. Many people also have email facilities on their phone and you can then alternatively send an email to me at email@example.com
which will come through to my phone. Either way, I will then get the message timeously and be able to share the news to others immediately if it seems appropriate.
If you have managed to get a photo(s) of the bird you are reporting, please do make an effort to send it through as well. I find myself constantly having to chase after people to get photos and I would rather just have them sent to me straight away, so then I can decide on which ones to use in the various alerts and reports. They don’t have to be award-winning photos, just good enough to see what the bird is. Please don’t feel shy about your photos or feel that you need to ask me first if I would like photos – rather just send them through.
If you do carry a GPS with you, it would also be great if you could include the GPS co-ordinates of the sighting you are reporting. It helps to include these in the reports so that others then have a better idea of where to go for the bird you have reported.
Please remember that there are birders out there who keep various lists, so a regionally out of range bird might be of equal appeal to someone who is a very keen regional lister as an absolute mega. Any and all reports of rare birds for the subregion as well as regionally out of range birds should be reported with the same urgency.
I try and pick up on as many records as possible, but the problem is that people literally post their records all over the place and there is no way that I can personally keep tabs on absolutely everything that gets posted. There are the various email birdnets as well as internet discussion forums like Globalbirdtrekkers, Simply Birding, SANParks forum, Birdforum, etc., photographic forums like Outdoorphotography and then even Facebook and it’s amazing what gets posted on all of these. Some people do make the effort to make me aware of what is being posted around the ether, but if more people are trolling these forums, it would be great if you could forward the info on any rarities from these forums as soon as they get posted. In fact, I would ask that those of you that are registered with the various forums perhaps encourage the people on those forums to join SA Rare Bird News or perhaps post this note on those forums, so that more and more people become aware of this service and how to disseminate news of a rarity as quickly as possible. The more members we have here and the more people that are aware of what procedure to follow to report a rarity, the better and more comprehensive this service will become. Please also consider forwarding this email to all the various birding-related email groups out there and sharing it amongst your bird club members as well.
Lastly, a big thank you to all of you out there who do currently make the effort to report your rarities and updates to me as well as sending through your photos. Your input is what keeps others interested and what makes actually having this service worthwhile.