The Birding Sites of the Week

The site of the Week - Previous Winners

No.1 ..... Birdguides

Not an aesthetically pleasing site, but very functional and it has a real-time link to BirdNet's rare bird Paging facility which probably multiplies it's hit rate by a factor of 100! I bet there's not an on-line birder in the UK that doesn't visit this page on a daily basis. It wouldn't surprise me if we eventually had to start paying for this one! (This has now happened but there is a free facility)

No.2 ..... Osprey Project 2000

Basically an attempt to re-introduce Ospreys to England by trans-location of young birds from the growing Scottish population. The really exciting aspect is the use of lightweight radio transmitters that enable the youngsters (and some older birds) to be tracked by satellite as they migrate to their winter quarters in Africa and southern Europe. The amount of data being generated is phenomenal and the size and complexity of the site is increasing by the day. Leading edge stuff!

No.3 .....European Birds - Songs and Sonograms

Look no further than this splendid site for the calls and songs of all the birds of Europe!

(Now defunct)

No.4....Birds in a Cheshire Garden

Out of necessity Phil Barnett's birding is restricted to his garden in Wilmslow, Cheshire, this has not prevented him producing a superb website, containing some interesting and unique ornithological observations combined with an obvious talent for website design!

(Now defunct)

No.5 ........ The Sheffield Bird Study Group

A very active group of enthusiasts, with a whole range of meetings and projects, inluding surveys and an interesting section on visible migration. A technically superb site available in frames or Flash format.

No.6 The UK Phenology Network

Global climate change seems to be accelerating, as we in the UK suffer this Autumn from widespread flooding on a scale never experienced before : and what do the great British public want? yes that's right fuel tax reductions so that they can use even more petrol and continue ferrying the kids back and forth to school in 3½ litre 4X4's - brilliant!! Anyway, as we seem to be determined to bugger things up for future generations, one way of measuring the changes taking place is by carefully recording a range of reoccurring natural phenomena, this is phenology. As the dictionary says........ the study of recurring phenomena, such as animal migration especially as influenced by climatic conditions. Phenology in the UK can be traced back to 1736, so there are plenty of data to be analysed and argued over! Those first and last records you have amassed over the years may well turn out to be more significant than you thought.

No. 7 Dee Estuary Birdwatching

Thanks to Debbie Cameron for recommending Richard Smith's fine site. This is a little more than a local patch and Richard must spend an awful lot of time keeping it bang up to date. The layout is clear and simple, making the whole site easy to navigate and a delight to use.

No. 8 Surfbirds

Another site that comes via a recommendation, this time from Sheila, our own Chairperson, who's e-mail I quote! "This site is mind- blowing - something for everyone, from I.D. features, photos, news, including rarities, from around the world etc etc etc. Also the comprehensive list of links could keep you occupied for hours, whether you're looking for information on birding, health, weather, etc etc etc. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (sorry to shout!). "

No. 9 The British Trust for Ornithology

Bird populations are in a constant state of flux, they always have and always will be, but things are getting a bit out of hand in the British Isles with the decline in some species in the order of 94% in the past 25 years. Eight species have declined by more than 25% in the past 5 years alone! These figures come from the BTO, an independent organisation, formed in 1933 as a research trust dedicated to investigating the populations, movements and ecology of wild birds in the British Isles. It's essential this organisation prospers and the supply of data generated during the Trust's survey work continues undiminished whilst the "experts" determine the reasons for these population slumps and action is taken to reverse them. Cancel your subscription to that glossy bird magazine - and invest in a BTO membership, otherwise the "Silent Spring" will shortly become a reality.

Number 10 The Norwegian Gull-page

Gulls - You either love 'em or hate 'em - I fall into the latter category - Birding is supposed to be enjoyable, not an esoteric intellectual exercise! Still they have an increasing band of followers and if you fancy a serious challenge this is the place for you!

Number 11 The Mid-Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Group

Everything you need to know about The Barn Owl, presented on a well designed, easy to use Website. Excellent! Thanks to Sheila Blamire for recommending this one!

Number 12 SK58 Birders

For mapping purposes the whole of the UK is divided into 100km X 100km squares and each of these is sub-divided into squares measuring 10km X 10km. The Breeding Birds Atlas is based on these 10km squares - there are 3,858 of them in Britain & Ireland - SK58 Birders are a unique group in that they concentrate solely on a single 10km square! The site is frame-based, easy to navigate and kept up to date by an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable group of birders.

Number 13

In the early days of the Internet before the advent of browsers, communication between individuals was mainly text based, using "bulletin boards". These still exist in the form of the Usenet Newsgroups ; there are more than 36,000, dealing with every subject under the sun - and beyond! I know of three Ornithological newsgroups that use English, the most popular is uk.rec.birdwatching there are some eminent ornithologists amongst the contributors, and any bird related question will, on a good day, receive an authoritative response. Unfortunately most Newsgroups are not places for the faint-hearted because they are un-moderated and allow anonymous postings - as a consequence they tend to attract all sorts of perverts and weirdos, so investigate them only if you're very broad-minded. Frank Gleeson has recommended Birdforum for our "site of the week" - thanks Frank! - basically this is a web-based birdwatching newsgroup, or forum as they're known. It's moderated by volunteers and divided into numerous sections covering most aspects of birdwatching ; 190 (Now [july '04] risen to more than 12,000![140,000 by Feb 2015] )people are currently registered with the site so someone in there will be able to answer your birding questions. If you don't want your kids on the newsgroups this is definitely a place where you can let them roam unrestricted.

Number 14

Satellite Tracking of Honey Buzzards

All very hi-tech, but currently compelling reading as a young bird battles to reach the coast of Africa after being blown half-way across the Atlantic by easterly winds. I trust the radio transmitter strapped to it's back didn't cause problems. It's been flying for >100 hours non-stop, without food or water. Click on migration maps.

Number 15

Isle of Man Birding

Thanks to Keren Wormwell for recommending this comprehensive website dealing with the birds and birders of the IOM. The recent reports page is kept up to date, with links to pictures of the species concerned, the photo gallery contains some first class digiscoped images and the species database is especially useful for potential visitors to the Island with it's notes on species status and site maps. The opening page claims that it's the Northwest's #1 Website - what do you think?

No. 16

Three Owls Wild Bird Hospital and Nature Reserve

Another recommended Website, this time from Graham in south Manchester, a long time visitor to this website................."would you consider adding The Three Owls website to your site of the week page, they are situated at Norden Rochdale and are a sanctury for sick & injured birds, I have just paid them a visit and found that they do a marvelous job on limited funds,I think everyone interested in wild birds should try and help this sanctury"

No. 17

Birding Babylon

This is a "blog" - an online diary that can be set up and updated from a browser any where in the world - without any programming skills or knowledge of html. This particular example is owned by an American soldier serving in Iraq and is devoted to the birds he's observing during his tour of duty - quite remakable! (written in 2004 - I think that nowadays we all know what a blog is but at the time it was something new!

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