To make the most of your records, we need to know where you go birdwatching. You can set up as many sites as you wish, though records from sites that you visit regularly are the most useful. These sites are assigned to you within the BirdTrack database. If a friend wishes to enter records from the same site then they will need to set it up under their own user ID.
The information that we require is straightforward:
All of the last three location recording methods are used to derive a grid reference that we will use to map your data. We have provided three different methods to make it as easy as possible to use the system. The Google mapping system (including satellite images) is now available for Britain, Ireland and the Channel Isles. Postcodes are not used in the Republic of Ireland. When registering a site, we will automatically assign it to a county unless that square covers more than one county. In such cases, the site confirmation page will prompt you to choose the most appropriate county from a list of options. Read more on how to select counties.
An alternative method of adding a site to your list is to select it from one of the drop-down lists on the 'Create new site' page. These lists include many well-known birdwatching sites in Ireland, major RSPB reserves and MOD holdings. To add one of these sites to your list just select it from the drop-down menu and click go. You can also select from a list of Top County Birdwatching Sites by selecting the county and then choosing your site from the new drop-down list. For both methods, the name, county and grid reference will be added to your personal sites list automatically. Please use these pre-populated sites wherever possible to help reduce the number of variations of site names and grid references that County Recorders / Bird Club database managers have to deal with.
A site can be almost as big (up to a 10 km square) or as small as you like. For most BirdTrackers a site will be a regular birdwatching area such as your garden, a local park or a nature reserve. For these sites you will be able to provide us with a fairly accurate location, such as postcode for a garden (eg IP24 2PU) or a four-figure grid reference for a nature reserve (eg TL8781). If your site overlaps two or more 1 km squares, please give the grid reference for the 1 km square in which most of the site lies. If you are birdwatching in an area where it is difficult to provide an accurate location, such as Rannoch Moor or Thetford Forest, then a 10 km grid reference will be sufficient (eg TL88). After you have registered a site, the site name will appear on a personalised site list every time you use the data entry system. You can then select the appropriate site. If you discover that you haven't set up the site for which you want to enter data you will need to create it before you proceed.
You can also now upgrade or downgrade your sites for ease of use, and this is ideal for entering casual records. Downgraded sites won't appear in the drop-down list when you enter a species list, nor will they appear on your main 'Manage my sites' page. You can also upgrade these sites at a later date if needed.
Most of the time we will map results by 10 km squares and present other results at a regional level. For such analyses it is not vital to provide a highly accurate location for every site although it will be helpful if you are as precise as possible.
Providing accurate grid references will be really useful because it will allow us to disseminate bird records to County Recorders for use in bird reports (with the observer's permission). It would also help if you use site names that are likely to be understood by your local bird recorder.
For each birdwatching visit we will ask you for some simple information. We will need to know where you went birdwatching, the date and the times of your observations. Please do add start and end times whenever possible because these give us a valuable measure of observer effort. You also have the opportunity to enter notes about your visit. These might cover topics such as which parts of the site were covered or who you were with. There is also a weather comment field and a choice of 'count type' - this can be left as 'General' unless you were doing a seawatch, visible migration watch or a roost count.