Bird Atlas update

Recently I have been working through the validation of Bird Atlas records to check whether they look all right for inclusion or whether there needs to be a follow up to check the record with the observer. I have been helped out here by Peter Watson and Phil Bone, with consulting with Andy Booth, the YOC recorder; many thanks to them for their help as it was a large undertaking.

 Thanks for bearing with us if you have had queried records and apologies to those few who have been asked about a record more than once. It was a large task as there have been several thousand records to check, so the odd double-checking issue was inevitable.

In addition to checking the TTV and roving records, there have been feeds of data from other sources: BirdTrack, other BTO surveys and Birdguides reports where the sighting can be pinned down to a grid reference.

What we have been checking are things like possible grid reference errors, breeding status that might result in a misleading entry (e.g. on a winter visitor that is known not to breed in the UK), unusual numbers and identification queries. The latter doesn't necessarily imply that a mistake was made, this usually will not be the case, many of them are that the bird in question is scarce in the area and might require a description by the YNU or YOC; the atlas has to be in line with the decisions of these bodies. Some could have been data entry issues, such as a few we had at the beginning of the atlas where hybrid carrion/hooded crow has been picked from the drop down lists. Occasionally it could be that the bird is one suspected of being in a collection and will have been pinioned and not living in the wild. Escapes are relevant for the atlas so long as they are full winged.

We have now reached the point where all breeding and wintering records have been validated or queried. In addition, records from outside the Bird Atlas periods have also been validated where they have breeding evidence. There are only a few records now that are still left in a queried status.

So, validation is virtually done but there is now a lot of work still to be done by Dawn and her team to pull together the final publication. That  is due sometime in 2013. Keep an eye out for pre-publication offers. Having seen preview maps for some of the species, it should be an interesting and informative read.

Thanks are, of course, due to all of you who have done fieldwork and submitted your records to the project, it couldn't have made it this far without you.

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