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Email Alert: Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

What are the benefits of subscribing? What are the benefits of subscribing?
How much does it cost? How much does it cost?
Can I try the service without paying? Can I try the service without paying?
When I click the Log In button, I see the login page again – what can I do? When I click the Log In button, I see the login page again – what can I do?
I have to type both my email address and my password every time – is this right? I have to type both my email address and my password every time – is this right?
I visit the site from more than one computer – do I need to subscribe twice? I visit the site from more than one computer – do I need to subscribe twice?
Why do I need a password? Why do I need a password?
What if I forget my password? What if I forget my password?
Can I change my password? Can I change my password?
I've changed my email address – what should I do? I've changed my email address – what should I do?
What do the codes [N], [R], [A], [S] at the end of the messages mean? What do the codes [N], [R], [A], [S] at the end of the messages mean?
Can I have my Email Alerts sent to two addresses? Can I have my Email Alerts sent to two addresses?
Can I stop my Email Alert messages temporarily? Can I stop my Email Alert messages temporarily?
I've not been receiving Email Alert messages - why not? I've not been receiving Email Alert messages - why not?
Why didn't I get a particular report? Why didn't I get a particular report?
Can I opt out of reports of particular species or forms? Can I opt out of reports of particular species or forms?
Why do/don't you have Avon, Tyne and Wear, Breconshire, Cleveland, Caithness, etc. in your list of counties? Why do/don't you have Avon, Tyne and Wear, Breconshire, Cleveland, Caithness, etc. in your list of counties?
How do I contribute information or comments? How do I contribute information or comments?
I submitted a sighting, but you didn't use it. Why not? I submitted a sighting, but you didn't use it. Why not?
How do I subscribe? How do I subscribe?
If I subscribe, when will my subscription start and end? If I subscribe, when will my subscription start and end?
How reliable is the news published by BirdGuides? How reliable is the news published by BirdGuides?
Why do you charge for your news services? Why do you charge for your news services?

Any other questions?

What are the benefits of subscribing?

Email Alert allows you to receive selected reports of rare and scarce birds in the UK and Ireland via email to your computer or email-enabled PDA or mobile phone. You can specify reports by rarity category (e.g. all reports of rare and very rare species, wherever they occur), by region (e.g. Northeast England), county (e.g. Northumberland) or species. Emails can be sent out singly (so you receive the news as quickly as possible once we've entered it into our system), or in "daily digests" sent every 24 hours at a time of your choosing. Each Email Alert will tell you the time of the report, the county, site and species, and as much detail as we have available.

You can change your settings as often as you like, including the region, county and species settings, and the address to which your emails are sent, without additional charge. Email Alert can be switched off temporarily, or you can set it up in advance to send emails to different addresses (or not at all) on different days of the week.

A typical Email Alert report might look like this:

A typical Email Alert

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How much does it cost?

It depends on how many of our services you subscribe to:

  • Bronze (one-year subscription to BirdGuides webzine + any one service): £40
  • Silver (one-year subscription to BirdGuides webzine + any two services): £50
  • Gold (one-year subscription to BirdGuides webzine + any three services): £60
  • Platinum (one-year subscription to BirdGuides webzine + all four services + Iris Pro): £70

One-month subscriptions are also available for £5 per service per month.

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Can I try the service without paying?

All first-time visitors to our site are eligible for a three-day trial of our Bird News Extra and Email Alert services, with no obligation to subscribe once the free period is up.

To start a free trial, register (if you have not already done so) and click here click here. Then select which reports you want to receive – just click "Email Alert" on the Bird News page or go directly to the settings page.

More information on free trials More information on free trials

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When I click the Log In button, I see the login page again – what can I do?

The login page does not work if your Internet browser is set up to refuse temporary cookies. You should be able to adjust your browser settings to avoid the problem:

To alter your settings in Internet Explorer 5 on a PC:

  1. Select Tools, Internet Options.
  2. Click the "Security" tab.
  3. Set your Internet security level to Medium (or lower).

In Internet Explorer 6:

  1. Select Tools, Internet Options...
  2. Select the Privacy tab.
  3. Click the Edit button.
  4. Type www.birdguides.com in the box marked "Address of Web site" and click the Allow button.
  5. Click OK.

In AOL 9.0:

  1. Click the AOL Settings icon near the top of your AOL window.
  2. In the Essentials section, click on Internet [Web] Options.
  3. Select the Privacy tab.
  4. Click the Advanced button.
  5. Ensure that "Override automatic cookie handling" is checked.
  6. Set First and Third party cookies to Accept.
  7. Check Always allow session cookies.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click Apply and then OK.
  10. Exit AOL and restart your computer

In AOL 8.0:

  1. Click the AOL Settings icon near the top of your AOL window.
  2. In the dropdown that appears, select Preferences.
  3. Click the By Category tab.
  4. Find Internet in the listings.
  5. Click the Privacy tab.
  6. Click the Advanced button.
  7. Ensure that Override automatic cookie handling is checked.
  8. Set First and Third party cookies to Accept.
  9. Check Always allow session cookies.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Click Apply and then OK.
  12. Exit AOL and restart your computer.

In Netscape 4:

  1. Select Edit, Preferences.
  2. Click "Advanced" in the left-hand pane.
  3. Select "Accept all cookies".

In Netscape 7:

  1. Select Edit, Preferences.
  2. In the Category list, double-click "Privacy and Security", then double-click "Cookies".
  3. Select any option EXCEPT "Disable cookies".

In Internet Explorer 5 on a Macintosh:

  1. Select Edit, Preferences.
  2. Select Receiving Files, Cookies.
  3. Set "When receiving cookies" to "Never ask" (or anything other than "Never accept").

You may need to exit and reopen your browser for the new settings to take effect.

If you are unhappy to allow permanent cookies on your machine, bear in mind that the BirdGuides website will work adequately if you disable "persistent cookies" (though you will have to enter your email address and password every time you log in), but it does require "temporary" or "session" cookies to be enabled – such cookies are removed when you close your browser.

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I have to type both my email address and my password every time – is this right?

Most subscribers should find that when they get to the Bird News Extra login page they see their email address already filled in, and they just need to enter their password to gain access to the site. In order to do this, the website needs to know "who you are" – the way it tries to do this is to place a small file called a "cookie" on your hard disk. Every time you visit the page we look for this cookie on the computer you're using – if we find it we put up your email address and invite you to supply the matching password. If it doesn't find the cookie we have to ask you for both.

There are several reasons why your cookie may not be found:

  • your browser doesn't support cookies – some older browsers, and some web TVs, do not support cookies
  • your browser is set up to refuse permanent cookies – check your browser settings (instructions follow for various browsers).

    To check your settings in Internet Explorer 5:

    1. Select Tools, Internet Options.
    2. Click the "Security" tab.
    3. Set your Internet security level to Medium (or lower).

    In Internet Explorer 6:

    1. Select Tools, Internet Options...
    2. Select the Privacy tab.
    3. Click the Edit button.
    4. Type www.birdguides.com in the box marked "Address of Web site" and click the Allow button.
    5. Click OK.

    In AOL 9.0:

    1. Click the AOL Settings icon near the top of your AOL window.
    2. In the Essentials section, click on Internet [Web] Options.
    3. Select the Privacy tab.
    4. Click the Advanced button.
    5. Ensure that "Override automatic cookie handling" is checked.
    6. Set First and Third party cookies should be set to Accept.
    7. Check Always allow session cookies.
    8. Click OK.
    9. Click Apply and then OK.
    10. Exit AOL and restart your computer

    In AOL 8.0:

    1. Click the AOL Settings icon near the top of your AOL window.
    2. In the dropdown that appears, select Preferences.
    3. Click the By Category tab.
    4. Find Internet in the listings.
    5. Click the Privacy tab.
    6. Click the Advanced button.
    7. Ensure that Override automatic cookie handling is checked.
    8. Set First and Third party cookies to Accept.
    9. Check Always allow session cookies.
    10. Click OK.
    11. Click Apply and then OK.
    12. Exit AOL and restart your computer.

    In Netscape 4:

    1. Select Edit, Preferences.
    2. Click "Advanced" in the left-hand pane.
    3. Select "Accept all cookies".

    In Internet Explorer 5 on a Macintosh:

    1. Select Edit, Preferences.
    2. Select Receiving Files, Cookies.
    3. Set "When receiving cookies" to "Never ask" (or anything other than "Never accept").

  • you have a program such as "Cookie Cruncher" installed that deletes cookies automatically
  • you are using a network or firewall system that prevents the use of cookies – consult your network manager
  • you are using a different computer each time you log on (remember that the cookie is stored on the hard disk of the computer you use)
  • you have manually deleted the cookie (often from a folder called Cookies or Temporary Internet Files)
  • your cookie has expired (we set the cookie to expire 1 year after your last visit to our site)

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I visit the site from more than one computer – do I need to subscribe twice?

No – you only need to subscribe once. For example, if you subscribe at home but also check the site from work, you can log in using your home email address on your work computer (or vice versa) – we only use the address to identify you and it doesn't have to match the address you normally use on that particular computer. You can use your subscription from any computer, such as one in an Internet café or library, provided you log in using your registered email address with the password allocated to that address.

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Why do I need a password?

We use your email address as a user ID. As the service is chargeable, we need a mechanism to prevent non-paying subscribers from obtaining access to the chargeable service, simply by logging in with a known subscriber's email address. A password is the simplest way to achieve this. If you did not choose a password when you registered you will have been allocated a random password – click the reminder link on the login page to receive your password by email. You can change your password by clicking Change Details on the login page or "My details" on the main Bird News Extra page.

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What if I forget my password?

If you forget your password, there is a link on the login page that will send a reminder (to a registered email address) by email.

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Can I change my password?

Yes – just go to the login page, enter your email address and current password, then click the "Change Details" button. You can also access the same page by logging in to Bird News Extra and clicking "My Details" in the left-hand margin.

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I've changed my email address – what do I do?

Please DON'T re-register with your new address – you won't be able to access your Email Alert settings using the new login address. Instead, update your existing registration as follows:

  1. Go to page www.birdguides.com/login/userdetails.asp
  2. If you haven't already logged in, do so using your currently registered (old) email address and password. (If you don't know your password you can ask for a reminder, but it will be sent to your old address; if that address is already inoperative, , quoting both your old and new addresses.)
  3. Enter your new email address and click the Submit button.
  4. You'll be sent an email to check that your new address is valid. Just go to the page given in the email to confirm it (in most email packages, all you need to do is click the link).
  5. If you don't receive an email within a couple of hours, drop us a line by .

NB If your Email Alert messages are set up to go to your old registered email address, we'll automatically update Email Alert so that messages subsequently go to your new address. However if you want to continue having your Email Alerts sent to your old address, or you have set up a different address for Email Alerts, or you want them delivered to an address other than your registered address, or you simply want to check your settings, you can do so via the settings page.

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What do the codes [N], [R], [A], [S] at the end of the messages mean?

These codes indicate why you've been sent the message:

  • [N] indicates reports that match your national setting
  • [R] indicates reports that match your regional settings
  • [A] indicates reports that match your area or county settings
  • [S] indicates reports that match your species settings

Occasionally a report way meet more than one of your criteria, in which case you may see two codes (e.g. a national mega in one of your selected counties may show the code [NA] - you won't receive such messages twice).

Can I have my Email Alerts sent to two addresses?

We allow you to specify two email addresses and send your email alerts to one or other (but not both) depending on the day of the week. We do not allow messages to be sent to both addresses on the same day. It is against the terms and conditions of the Email Alert service to specify a mailing list or other multiple recipient, and doing so could result in termination of your subscription without compensation.

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Can I stop my Email Alert messages temporarily?

Yes. Go to the settings page, uncheck the box that reads "Send Messages", and click Submit at the bottom of the page. Don't forget to re-enable Email Alert later!

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I've not been receiving Email Alert messages - why not?

The Email Alert service is generally highly reliable and few reported problems turn out to be down to the service itself. There are a number of possible reasons why some or all of our emails don't arrive:

  • Your Email Alert is switched off: you can check whether your Email Alerts are switched on by visiting your Email Alert setup page - if the box reading "Tick this box to enable Email Alert (or clear it to stop receiving emails temporarily)." is not ticked, your Email Alert is switched off. You may have forgotten to click the Submit button when switching your Email Alert back on, or in exceptional circumstances we may have switched off your Email Alert if the emails were bouncing back undelivered.
  • Your Email Alert subscription has expired: your Email Alert expiry date is listed on the Email Alert setup page.
  • There have been no reports matching your criteria: if you select unproductive counties or only extreme rarities when setting up Email Alert, there may be periods when no emails are sent to your address.
  • Your emails are being sent to the wrong email address: check the Email Alert setup page to ensure that your emails are being directed to the address you intend.
  • There is a problem with your email address: there may be problems at your ISP, or your mailbox may be full; try sending an email to your own address to make sure it's working. If we know of problems with particular providers, you may find information on our status page.
  • Your ISP may be blocking our emails: some ISPs (particularly, but not exclusively, BTInternet and Yahoo) may incorrectly identify Email Alert emails as "spam". Check your "Trash", "Junk Mail" or "Spam" folder and if possible set up your spam filter to allow emails from the address emailalert@birdguides.com. Occasionally, certain words used innocently in the context of bird reports (use your imagination!) may trigger "profanity filters" that are intended to block unsolicited emails containing profanities.

If you suspect there is a problem with your email address, you can divert your Email Alerts to a different address via the setup page - if you don't have an alternative email address, you might consider setting up a temporary free web-based email account with, for example, Hotmail.

If none of the above suggestions identifies the problem, email quoting your registered email address and, if possible, details of the last message(s) you received.

Why didn't I get a particular report?

There are a number of reasons why you might not get a message you were expecting:

  • Service switched off: You may have switched the service off at some point, or the report was carried on a day when you have asked for No messages. Go to the settings page, tick the Send Messages box, and click Submit at the bottom of the page. If you allow your subscription to expire, your service will be switched off automatically; if you subsequently renew your subscription, you need to switch the service back on manually.
  • Too common: The species in question is commoner than your minimum setting for that county or region. For example if you've asked for "Scarce and Rarer" species, you won't receive reports of Local or Common species. For a list of species and categories, click here. Note that only the "main" species determines whether or not the report is sent to you (not other species that happen to be mentioned in the report), and the rarity of a particular species is determined on a national basis so the relative abundance or rarity of that species in your particular area is not taken into account.
  • Update: The report in question was considered an update on previous reports, and you've asked for "first reports only". Sometimes birds that are clearly NOT the same individuals as before (e.g. Black Terns passing through an inland reservoir several days apart) are treated by our automatic system as Updates, but these anomalies are fairly rare. Note that first reports only DOES NOT mean that you'll get the first report of a particular bird EACH DAY - it means just the very first report of a particular bird, however many days it stays thereafter. If you've asked for first reports only and you happen to have Email Alert switched off when a rarity first arrives, you'll miss the first report, and you won't receive subsequent updates even if you switch the service back on.
  • Untwitchable: The bird in question was judged to be "untwitchable", and you've asked not to receive such reports.
  • Wrong county: We may have the site allocated to a different county to what you were expecting (and the county we have may not be among those you've selected). Click here for a list of "our" counties, with notes where necessary.
  • Subscription expired: Your subscription may have expired - check the settings page.
  • Email failure: see above.
  • System problems: Very rarely, and usually for reasons beyond our control, the Email Alert service may be out of action. We may offer subscription extensions as compensation, subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Service.
  • Report not known to us: Although we have a large pool of loyal contributors who submit bird news, and we do our best to monitor as many additional public-domain sources of bird information as we can, we don't get to hear about every report - if we don't hear about a particular sighting, we can't report it!

One particular situation that often prompts enquiries occurs if you choose First reports only in a certain category, and elect not to receive untwitchable reports. If the first report of a rarity is considered untwitchable, you won't hear about that bird at all - the first report won't be sent because you've asked not to receive news of untwitchable birds, and any subsequent reports won't be because you've asked for First reports only. Of course such a situation only arises if a supposedly "untwitchable" bird is seen subsequently, but this can happen occasionally: the twitchable/untwitchable decision is not always straightforward, especially as first reports are often vague and are received before a rarity has "settled down" and its pattern of occurrence established. As we say in the advice for the "untwitchable" box on the Email Alert settings page, "Of course an "untwitchable" bird may return, or turn up elsewhere...it's possible that if you opt out of untwitchable reports you may miss some potentially interesting reports as a result". If you want to avoid this (fairly unusual) situation occurring, either ask for All reports, or opt in to Untwitchable reports.

Can I opt out of reports of particular species or forms?

No. This may be a feature we add in future releases of the service.

Why do/don't you have Avon, Tyne and Wear, Breconshire, Cleveland, Caithness, etc. in your list of counties?

Our list of counties is a considered compromise between existing and easily defined official regions and traditional birding areas. Thus for example Cleveland is still included, although it no longer exists as an official county, as an Annual Report is still published for the area and many local birders still maintain a Cleveland list. Other areas (e.g. Caithness, Breconshire) have been amalgamated with others to form larger units (e.g. Highland and Powys, respectively) as on their own they are small and/or unproductive of bird reports.

For a list of our counties, with notes where appropriate, click here.

How do I contribute information or comments?

By email: Sightings can be reported by email to . As with the phone number, this is only for bird news and corrections to published reports, and we would prefer not to receive large attachments on this address. General comments and enquiries about the Bird News Extra and Email Alert services, or queries about your subscriptions, should be sent to . Sales enquiries should be sent to .

Via our online Submissions form:

  • To report a new sighting, use our online submissions form (click Submit in the left-hand menu).
  • To send an update (i.e. a more recent report, positive or negative) of a bird we've already reported, subscribers can save time by clicking the button against any report of that bird – then click "Report a sighting of THIS bird".
  • To comment on a sighting (subscribers only), click the button against any report of the bird, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Post comment".

By text message: Text BIRDS RPT followed by your message to 07786 200505.

By phone: To report urgent news, you can phone our freephone number 0333 5772473. We will ask you for the species, site and county, a grid reference if possible, your telephone number and any further details (such as directions or access arrangements). This number is only for reporting bird news – sales enquiries about Bird News Extra, Email Alert or other BirdGuides products and services should be directed to our sales number 0800 919391.

All contributions will be vetted by our bird news staff before they appear on the site.

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I submitted a sighting, but you didn't use it. Why not?

Firstly check that we definitely didn't actually use the report. We sometimes amalgamate sightings from the same or nearby sites into a single report, so it's possible you might overlook the fact that we did mention your bird on another report; also you may have filtered the reports you see or receive such that your own report is not included.

If we haven't used the report it could be for one of several reasons:

  • The species is too common to be of more than local interest (reports of species in our "Common" and "Local" categories will often not be published unless the date, location or numbers are unusual).
  • The bird in question has been recently reported by another observer.
  • We have been asked by local or national conservation agencies not to mention the particular site or species, or we are aware of local sensitivities.
  • We are still investigating the report with other local contacts, or have requested more information from you and not yet heard back.
  • There has been a lengthy delay since the observation.
  • We didn't receive the report (which could be for a number of reasons, depending on the mechanism you used).
  • In our opinion the bird reported has, on the balance of probabilities, been misidentified.

All reports are forwarded to the BTO's BirdTrack system (with the exception of the last two categories above) so your report is not lost. We don't intentionally ignore relevant reports without good reason. Please don't feel discouraged if we don't use your report.

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How do I subscribe?

Go to our estore, purchase the appropriate product for the number of services you want, and check out. Later in the process you will be asked to choose the services you want.

If you prefer not to subscribe online, we can accept payment for subscriptions by credit card over the phone (on 0800 919391).

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If I subscribe, when will my subscription start and end?

If you have never previously subscribed, or your previous subscription (free or otherwise) has expired, your new subscription will start the day you sign up and will run for one calendar month or year from that date, depending on which option you choose.

If you have an existing subscription (free or otherwise) that has not yet expired, your additional subscription period will be added to the end of your current subscription – so you don't lose out by renewing early.

If you want to defer the start of your subscription, please .

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How reliable is the news published by BirdGuides?

We are very keen not to be criticised for publishing 'duff' information, as has happened to at least one bird news service. To prevent this we will ensure that our news service is only run by experienced and knowledgeable birdwatchers, who will be able to communicate directly with many of the observers and quiz them directly about any reports that seem unlikely.

In some cases, sightings come from third-party sources, so we won't be able to check them directly and we'll have to rely on the 'quality control' provided by that service. There is no doubt that some sightings will slip through inaccurately but the considerable knowledge of those who run our service should ensure that mistakes are minimal. If you do discover that we've published an inaccurate or inappropriate sighting, please let us know (by emailing ).

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Why do you charge for your news services?

We believe our news services provide terrific facilities for birdwatchers to use and enjoy but providing this information is a very expensive operation. We have to pay the members of our news team to gather information from early morning to late evening, every day of the year, plus the salaries of our technical and editorial staff, the costs of maintaining the servers (yes, it needs two of them!) and software, sending out messages, processing photos, updating the British Birds database, adding new facilities, etc. Although we now have many subscribers to our services, the income we get from those subscriptions STILL doesn't even cover our costs, though we're hoping this income will continue to grow so that one day the services will be self-sustaining.

Meanwhile we intend to continue providing a first-class bird news service in a variety of formats that provide better value for money than any other rival services. And for anyone who is unable to pay to access our bird news, we still provide a more basic service free of charge. For details of what is available to subscribers and non-subscribers, click here.

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More information

Introduction to Email Alert Introduction to Email Alert
Free trials of Bird News Extra and our other services Free trials of Bird News Extra and our other services
SUBSCRIBE SUBSCRIBE

Other bird news services from BirdGuides

Bird News Extra Bird News Extra
Bird Text Alert Bird Text Alert
Bird News Anywhere Bird News Anywhere

Back to top Back to top

Services Services
Email Alert Email Alert
Your settings Your settings
Free trials Free trials
Ts & Cs Ts & Cs
Status Status
SUBSCRIBE SUBSCRIBE

other FAQs

Bird News Extra Bird News Extra
Bird Text Alert Bird Text Alert
Bird News Anywhere Bird News Anywhere
 
   
 
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