29/06/2005
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Bird News Anywhere: 'better than a pager'?

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Some of the birdwatchers who have subscribed to our Bird News Anywhere service have described it as 'better than a pager'. So, what can you get from Bird News Anywhere that you can't get from a pager?

A pager just provides whatever information is in each message. For example a message might say that the Terek Sandpiper was seen again at Cemlyn, Anglesey at 11.35 this morning, perhaps with details of which pool it was on. That's it. No more. You can scroll back through a limited number of past messages but basically the information in the message is all there is.

Bird News Anywhere provides 'pages' of information on your mobile phone; if you look up the latest sightings on your phone you will see similar information about the Terek Sandpiper at Cemlyn but you will also be able to ask further questions:

Where is Cemlyn?

By clicking on the word Cemlyn, you will access a 'site page' giving details of the site including a grid reference and (in this case) details of how to get there, where to park, where to walk, what other species occur regularly etc.

How long has the Terek Sandpiper been there?

Click on 'All reports' and you'll see a list of all the previous reports of this bird, dating back to its first sighting.

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Is it always in the same spot?

You can look at each of those past reports to see what was said about where the bird was showing (or not showing) - so you'll be able to judge whether it consistently prefers a certain spot or whether it disappears for long periods.

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Is anything else in the area?

Click on 'Reports within 30km' and you'll see a list of the 10 most recent sightings within 30km of Cemlyn. If you click on any of those you can access the same sort of details that you've had for this sandpiper. If you want more sightings, click on 'Earlier reports'; if you want to cover a wider area, click on 'Wider...'.

Is anything else in North Wales?

Just click on 'Home' then click on 'Wales' then 'Latest (SCARCE+)' to see the last 10 reports in Wales of relatively scarce species. If you need to go further back than that, click on 'Earlier reports'. Or you can select any Welsh county and see the last 10 reports from there.

I'll be passing through Cheshire. Is there anything I might look for en route?

Click on 'Home', then 'Northwest England', then 'Cheshire' and you'll see the last 10 sightings in Cheshire.

What does this Terek Sandpiper look like?

On the screen about the Terek Sandpiper is a button that says 'Photo of this bird'. Click on this and a photo of the Cemlyn Terek Sandpiper will be downloaded to your phone (this is only worth doing if your phone can display photos). OK you probably know what a Terek Sandpiper looks like, but the photo will at least give you an idea of the kind of views that people are getting of this bird. And if the bird in question was an immature Audouin's Gull it might be very helpful to know what sort of plumage you'll be looking for when you get there. Of course we don't always have photos of EVERY rarity but we usually have photos of any birds that stay for a while. If we don't have a photo of that particular bird, click on the species name, then 'Photos of...' and you'll have access to the most recent photos of that species from our photo archive.

Have there been any other recent reports of this species elsewhere in Britain?

Click on the species name and you'll see the last 10 reports of Terek Sandpiper in Britain. You may have to keep clicking 'Earlier reports' to get past all the updates on the Cemlyn bird.

Are there any 'megas' in Britain at the moment that might be worth going for instead?

Just click 'Home', then 'Nat'l (MEGAS ONLY)' to see the last 10 reports of megas in Britain.


Whenever you access Bird News Anywhere you will always see the latest information about what's been seen in Britain - it is updated constantly (if there are birds being reported!). But I hope this article conveys that Bird News Anywhere isn't just the latest sighting - it's also access to an archive of all recent news everywhere in the country plus details of thousands of birding sites and photos of most British species. Whatever you might want to know can be found out by interrogating that archive. YOU CAN'T ASK QUESTIONS OF A PAGER!

To be fair, I should also point out what Bird News Anywhere DOESN'T do. It doesn't 'beep' when a new report is added. You will only see the information on Bird News Anywhere when you choose to look - if you don't look for several hours you won't get to know of a rare bird that's turned up since you last looked. To solve this problem, we recommend you also subscribe to Bird Text Alert. By doing so you can tell us which kinds of news you really would like to be 'alerted' to (e.g. any national rarities in your county) and we'll then send an SMS message to your phone whenever such a sighting is reported. This service isn't as fast as a pager but at least you will be alerted to the birds you want to know about, and, as someone once said, by selecting only the birds that matter, you don't have the irritation of 'beeps' going off every few minutes.

How much? Anyone can access Bird News Anywhere, whenever they like, for just £1* a time or £3* a day (you just need to have registered for our free trial so you can set up the service on your phone). If you use it regularly it will be cheaper to subscribe for either one month (£10*) or one year (£50*). These amounts don't include whatever connection charges you pay to your mobile phone company.

A year's subscription to Bird Text Alert costs £35* (including the first 100 text messages). If you use these up you can buy more at £10.50* per hundred). Or you can subscribe to both services for just £75* a year. That compares with a cost of over £200 a year for bird news via a pager.

To get set up with Bird News Anywhere, go to:

http://www.birdguides.com/anywhere/setup

To subscribe to either or both services, go to:

http://www.birdguides.com/subscribe

* Prices exclude connection charges and are correct as at 29th June 2005.