Birding journaling by the Day One app

I have some difficulties to write, even on my native language but I love to write! I am not sure how many people is interested what I have been writing but I always loved to write. Writing is an expression for me, often works better than talking. However my writing is rather restricted to a single topic what is always around birds. I learned from my ‘teachers’ that making notes on birding observations is important and could be beneficial for birds. They were right. I have been keeping bird records more or less for about 30 years.

In these days entering simple numbers next to a bird name in a birding app isn’t really satisfies me. I need to add some personal feelings, sometimes could be personal and private. Those I don’t share with the public but I keep them for myself for future. It is good to look back and see what and why I thought this and that.

hero-dayone-iconI found an app which is not only easy to use and having a lovely interface but offered exactly what I needed for keeping my public or private saying. I have been using the Day One app for a while and I love it. It is available for both a desktop computer and mobile devices. The feature list impressed me even for the earlier versions but the Version 1.9.x for iOS contains a bunch of new features which encourages me to use it more often.

Image courtesy of Bloom Built, LLC

Image courtesy of Bloom Built, LLC

Just to list some of the key features which I love from the birding notes making point of view:

  • Map function with the current location service integrated – I love mapping and love to see my records on the map. Especially upon sharing it could be a useful feature.
  • Fancy text editing options (bold, italic, list etc.)
  • Easy date and time changing option – by default it adds the current date so I don’t need to bother remembering the dates and times as I am normally start using the app in the field.
  • Integrated weather information – when entering location information weather info for the actual location and date is automatically added.
  • Option to add or take image directly in the app – weak point for me is that I can add only one image per post but I can live with that bottleneck.
  • Tags – I extensively use tags for my posts for easier search.
  • Synching – I prefer my iCloud service over Dropbox but that is a personal taste. Both are available for backing up the whole content. Synching is rather fast and works properly.
  • While sharing is not the feature what I have utilized but it has Twitter and Foursquare integration. Facebook is yet missing.
  • Keeping it private – You can use pass lock against lurkers.

As a birder I love to start making filed notes while in the field. While earlier I entered manually every bird names and numbers to Day One, recently I use the eBird BirdLog app to keep and submit my records. This way my records are used for good purposes. When the record is submitted to eBird I copy the checklist and paste it into actual entry in the Day One app where I can easily add additional and personal comments.

The desktop version should have had a way more potential for additional features but interestingly it is weaker than the mobile version. I miss the location service a lot. If I make my note in the desktop version I always go to the iOS version to edit it and add the location info manually. I hope it will be improved by time.

Here are some features I would love to see in future updates:

  • Capability to add GPS info to off-road locations
  • Multiply image uploading per post
  • Direct publishing option to major blogger sites like WordPress
  • Facebook integration
  • Map view of all the entries by tags

I highly recommend this app for anyone likes to record the happenings of life. Last but not least Day One app was awarded by Apple as the 2012 Mac App of the Year!


Whining about the Ural Owls

First official record of the Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) in the Gerecse Mountain, nw Hungary. ©

First confirmed record of the Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) in the Gerecse Mountain, nw Hungary. © Mészáros Komáromy Márk

It’s been a while, about 30 years now, since I would like to see at least a single Ural Owl. No matter where! Despite it is a regular breeder in Hungary I could not manage to find one. I could have seen it easily by asking a local birder to show me one but somehow I always wanted to find it on my own. I failed to find one. Yesterday I got a news about a bird which was seen next to an artificial nest box placed by local rangers in the Gerecse Mountain, Hungary. The bird was seen in a strictly protected forest which is just a few km away from my previous home town, Tata where I have been living for more than 20 years. The whining part is I have moved to the UK last summer. 😉

This is a fantastic find and apart of whining about my dips I am so pleased to read this news on the local mailing list. I wish the bird stayed there for breeding. Probably I can manage to find one bird in Hungary or in Finland later this year.

Poll: Are you reading bird related news on a daily basis?


A couple for the Spoonies

The critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the most known and sought after bird species among birdwatchers and bird addicts. Not a single organisation decided to campaign for bringing this unique and adorable little peep back from the brink of extinction. The publicity on the conservation efforts for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is extremely wide and has reached thousands of members of different NGOs or social media groups.

However, still not many of them are aware of an interesting private project called Wader Quest. Behind the project there is a couple. An ex fireman, a teacher, a nice bird guide and an addict to waders and a wonderful partner, a photographer from Brazil. To make it short, they are the Simpsons.

Wader Quest

Wader Quest

Would two dowitcher species have been too good?

Rick and Elis Simpson. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Rick and Elis Simpson launched Wader Quest last year with a tremendous preparation work prior to kick off. Their target was to see a many shorebird species within a year as possible by traveling across the globe. During their trips they try to reach as many locals as possible to spread the word about the importance of shorebird conservation through the conservation efforts of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

While they are traveling they try to get more and more donors to support the WWT project on the Spoonie. So what is happening there? A couple is collecting money for their travels under the umbrella of Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation? The truth is that this amazing couple spends its OWN money and time to find funds for the WWT’s Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Project. If we talk about addiction then Rick & Elis are definitely role models! I am lucky to know them and they are very close my family’s heart. Life often overwrites even the most perfect plans as it had happened to Rick and Elis. Due to a critical health issue of a very close family member they had to postpone some of the travels but the original idea is still the same, supporting the Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation efforts. We can show our sympathy to Rick and Elis by donating the Wader Quest Project in these difficult times with a donation of a price of a box of beer or whatever small or larger amount. That is absolutely a personal choice! At the time of writing £1,000.25 cash + £116.95 Gift Aid raised from ‘only’ 29 donors. All donations DIRECTLY go to WWT and in the meantime Rick and Elis make huge efforts to find funds for their travels, but that is a different story – as they said. I am pretty sure that there should be more than 29 people who wishes the Spoon-billed Sandpiper to be back from the brink of EXTINCTION!

Saving The Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Courtesy of WWT

Should you think this project is worth to support, please go to their JustGiving fundraising page:

Personally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Elis and Rick for setting up and running this ‘donation quest‘ for an impressive shorebird species, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper!

Next door Leach’s Storm Petrel

An amazing news was texted to me this afternoon about the presence of a Leach’s Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) just 10 km away from my home. The bird was found at the Brogborough Lake next to Lidlington, Bedfordshire as a result of the recent strong northwesterly winds. The bird was first seen at 11:10 and immediately reported to BirdGuides. Several local birders relocated it in the afternoon.

For me it would be or would have been a life bird. Even if the location is a bit weird for this species it would be a nice addition to my list of seen bird species. It was suggested on the local bird list that the night survival of the bird is very unlikely and there is a little chance to see the bird in the morning alive. I am pretty sure some will give it a try so do I. I need some escape anyway…

Leach's Storm Petrel © Ron LeValley

Ron LeValley has kindly offered an image to illustrate the Leach’s Storm Petrel. © Ron LeValley

Thanks to Ron LeValley for the image usage!

Update: Based on report posted to BirdGuides there was no sign of Leach’s Storm Petrel up to 10:46 this morning! I have to see it at the ocean.

I am not a contest guy but…

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Cancún, Yucatan, Mexico © Gyorgy Szimuly

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Cancún, Yucatan, Mexico © Gyorgy Szimuly

I have never ever entered any of my images to a photo contest but I have just added one of my images. The contest was announced by the Facebook Page of Carl Zeiss Birding US in celebration of the launch of the new Zeiss Terra ED line binoculars of the renowned brand. The prize is a new pair of the Zeiss TERRA ED binoculars in your choice of 8x or 10x.

Zeiss Terra ED 10x42 Binoculars

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars. Image curtesy of Carl Zeiss USA

I have submitted one image of a gorgeous Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture seen at the beach of Cancún, Yucatan, Mexico. It is a relative of Turkey Vulture with an impressive head colouration.

I need some dozen of votes to have chances to win this nice looking pair of binoculars. Hopefully my readers will be generous to give me a chance to win so here is the link for the contest voting page: Registration is trustable.

Italian Sparrow split accepted – a new lifer

It’s been a while I have been waiting for a split of the italian race of House Sparrow (Passer domesticus italiae). Now the International Ornitholgists’ Union (formerly IOC) has officially accepted the split and raised the subspecies to a species level as published in the update V3.3 on the IOU’s website. The Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae) split is another example of hybrid speciation and probably more will come.

Male Italian Sparrow in Cornino, Italy.

Male Italian Sparrow in Cornino, Italy.

Male Italian Sparrow at the Mediterranean coastline at Viareggio, Italy.

Male Italian Sparrow at the Mediterranean coastline at Viareggio, Italy. Images were taken by a Nikon CoolPix V1 compact camera.

I have seen this species for several times in northern Italy (Cornino) and western coastal Italy (Viareggio).

This species became my 2,179th lifer.

This is a way better photo of an Italian Sparrow by my Italian friend and bird photographer, Daniele Occhiato.