15/11/2007
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Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat....

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It seems like no time at all since we launched the Webzine in January, and we hope you all agree it's gone from strength to strength. Since then we've revamped the photo pages, the sites, the species reference, nearby and search pages and now, finally, I'm pleased to say the estore. Just in time for all your Christmas shopping, we've finally got rid of that "BirdGuides Green" look. We've also released a brand new catalogue that's available to download.


Robin (Photo: Sue Tranter)

Our webmaster, Dave Dunford, has positively slaved over the improvements to the website. He has been instrumental in the developments to the site, and he's keen to hear how he can further enhance it. Dave said, "It's been a busy year, gradually moving our web pages over to the new design, as well as helping out with BBi [British Birds interactive]. From our visitors' point of view the changes may seem largely cosmetic, but internally the improvements are far-reaching and will make it much easier to update the website in future. Although there are some key pages yet to be "revamped" (including, crucially, the main Bird News Extra pages), I'm looking forward to implementing more exciting new features in the New Year...and who knows, I might actually be able to get away from the computer and go birding some time!"

Many of you will be acquainted with Andy Hirst,our office manager. Andy is person you normally speak to when you phone BirdGuides on 0800 919391. He has been joined for the past couple of weeks by our seasonal "elves". This year, appropriately, there are seven helping out [Doesn't that make them dwarves? — Ed.]. Andy said "It's been an exciting year for me — we had a busy winter and early spring with the release of Version 2.0 of BWPi, and the more flexible way of ordering bird news services proved popular. The addition of a new video camera to our kit meant I've been out and about filming, from the Northumberland coast chasing Waxwings and Lapland Buntings to the Cairngorms and the West Coast/Isles of Scotland having exciting experiences with Slavonian Grebes, Corncrakes and Crested Tits in the rain! Summer saw preparations for the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water (my 13th on the trot!), which proved to be our most successful yet with the exciting launch of the well-received British Birds interactive. The autumn has also been hectic, with development and preparations of new products in time for the rush of Christmas orders. I'm looking forward to the Christmas break and catching up on birding on my local patch to the east of Sheffield...oh, and seeing my family. It gets really busy in the run up so I need all the help I can get. This year I have Tony, Andrew, Sarah, Geoff, Lyn, Trish and Jen to give me a hand with the phones, picking and packing."


Andy Hirst

Elves

All year the team have been busy filming at locations far and wide. It has been great to meet so many birders while we've been out and about. We would have, in fact, filmed much less without the outstanding help of our readers who put us in front of some fabulous birds. Max Whitby said, "Dave Gosney, Andy Hirst and I have spent a lot of time filming in the field this year, and it's been truly enjoyable. We now have greatly enhanced footage of 220 British species including some really stunning sequences. I'm looking forward to including this new material in our new products for 2008...as well as polishing off the rest of the European list. I'd sincerely like to thank all of the people who helped by telling us what birds to film, where and when."

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DVD-ROM Guide to British Birds We have a host of new products. The acclaimed DVD-ROM Guide to British Birds has received a top-to-bottom overhaul. Version 9 includes plenty of our new footage, massively improved video quality, updated maps, commentaries and texts. One of the biggest new features is the inclusion of over 500 wonderful still photographs by some of the top photographers who contribute regularly to the photo gallery. They really provide a brilliant supplement to the current illustrations.
I know that British Birds interactive will be high on many a Christmas list. An incredible treasure trove of information, it is a great spotlight on the past, and a reflection of the social history of birding. Explore the many notes from the likes of the inimitable Rev. Jourdain, or immerse yourself in the seminal stints and peeps papers. John Cromie, Technical Director, said "Squeezing 100 odd volumes of British Birds onto a single disk was always going to be a massive undertaking, but with such fascinating content and a superb team, developing BBi has been a hugely satisfying project for me this year. Equally rewarding has been all the positive feedback that we've had from delighted users of BBi." British Birds Interactive
Rare Birds Yearbook 2008 We're very pleased to be helping out Birdlife International by stocking the Rare Birds Yearbook 2008, covering all 189 critically endangered species in the world. £4 of each sale will go to Birdlife to help the conservation of these species. There's a photo of nearly all of the species, and some fantastic articles on climate change, ecotourism, the latest scientific developments in identification, and in-depth reviews of some of the species such as Balearic Shearwaters.

You can find out about these, and all our other products, in the new catalogue. The time has finally come to raise our postage costs. It's been many years since we last altered them, but the Post Office has now forced our hand. We are however, making postage FREE on orders over £60. This change won't happen for another week. So if you would like to take advantage of our current rate of £1.99 then order now.

The catalogue is available as a PDF in two sizes to download: a broadband-friendly 3.24Mb version, and a 624Kb version more suitable for dial-up connections.

All of us at BirdGuides would like to thank you for your continued support throughout 2007. As the year closes we'll be arranging the final flourish — the Picture of the Year competition. Watch this space!

We know that many of you may miss our green look. Some of you may remember even farther back than that. For a quick reminder from when we launched the main site in April, click here.

Written by: Fiona Barclay