NiBDaB news

23 Nov 2011 [ULi]

Dear all,

The NiBDaB's first anniversary as a public database was four weeks ago.  Time for a NiBDaB update.


When we went public on 23 October 2010 we wrote

At present the database holds 25,900 records of 456 species from 130 half-degree blocks in Niger.

We can now write

On 18 November 2011 the database held 37,015 records of 476 species from 170 half-degree blocks in Niger, with breeding records for 135, as well as 611 photos of 230 species, all taken in Niger.

We are very pleased with this addition in one year of 11.000 records that cover 40 new blocks.  The photo gallery has been particularly successful, thanks to Ulf's foresight.  Please note that there are often pointers on identification included in the captions to the pictures.  Please keep adding records, with and without photos, and encourage others to do so, too!

Note that it is now also possible to comment on records without photos.  Just click on the "i" symbol at the end of the record concerned.  As for the photos, the submitter of the record will be notified if any comments is added.

Use of NiBDaB information by others

We are pleased that BirdLife International has asked to be allowed to use the NiBDaB records in a project to investigate possible effects of climate change on bird distributions in protected areas in West Africa.  The fee that BirdLife will pay will be used to pay for the server and to expand the NiBDaB.

We are also pleased that Nik Borrow has asked if he and Ron Demey can use the distribution information from the NiBDaB in the upcoming revised edition of their Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa.

The latest new species for Niger

The latest new species for Niger, both with pictures, are African Black Swift (Gouré) and Wattled Starling (Mainé-Soroa).  The East seems to be where the action is!  It is in any case even less explored ornithologically than Niamey and surroundings.

Accessibility to information on threatened species in the NiBDaB

This accessibility has been changed.  For Hooded Vulture, White-headed Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Rüppell's Griffon Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcon, Black-crowned Crane, Arabian Bustard, Denham's Bustard and Nubian Bustard, only an overall distribution map is shown, without indication of breeding and with only one size symbol, irrespective of the number of observations in a block.  Individual records, breeding maps and breeding records are only made available on special request and to trusted individuals and organisations.

Difficult species pairs

We thought it would be useful to add a section on separating species that look very similar.  See the menu under documentation.  We hope to add in the next few weeks information Yellow-billed vs Black Kite and on Booted Eagle pale morph vs Wahlberg's Eagle pale morph.

Local bird names and bird lore

A first version has been made of a file that will include information on bird names in Haussa, Zerma, Sonray, Gourmantché, Tamashek, Kanuri, Arab and Toubou.  Also included will be local sayings and stories involving those birds.  We hope to put the file on the website before the end of the year.  That way you can see what is known and, just as important, what knowledge is still missing and perhaps for you to add!

Look out for colour-ringed Spoonbills

Csaba Pigniczki, coordinator of Hungarian Spoonbill Colour-ringing Project, sent the following message on 17 November 2011:
You may know, we Central European ornithologists run a Spoonbill colour-ringing project. It is possible, that some of our ringed Spoonbills will occur South of the Sahara with colour rings. I would like to ask you, to ask birdwatchers in Niger, and the neighbouring countries, to check the legs of Spoonbills, and try to read rings, and take pictures about the ringed individuals, and send for the project manager those data.  Detailed description and photos about ringed birds are given the links below.
Thanks for your help in advance
If you have relevant information, please contact Csaba at csaba.spoonbill@gmail.com.  Of course we expect you to enter all sightings of Spoonbills, European or African, in the NiBDaB!

Trip to Niger

Joost had the pleasure to go on an ornithological mission to the Termit Massif with the Projet Antilopes Sahélo-Sahariennes (projet ASS) in September.  Of the total of 78 bird species seen - very high for a 150 mm rainfall area -, more than 40 were migrants from Europe, just arrived after crossing the Sahara.  We hope that being able to see so many of "their own" birds in such different surroundings will eventually lure eco-tourists to the region.  And of course we hope that the Termit-Tin Toumma reserve, which qualifies as an Important Bird Area, will be gazetted soon.

On 11 October Projet ASS and the Saharan Conservation Fund organised a very enjoyable grand evening on the exceptional biodiversity of Niger.  Present were, among others, the ministers of Environment, Agriculture and Animal Production.  In addition to a presentation and documentary on Termit-Tin Toumma, there was a presentation on the value of birds in general and the value of the NiBDaB to Nigeriens in particular.  We hope that the seeds planted at the meeting will soon sprout and lead to additional interest in, and growth of, the NiBDaB

During his trip Joost also had the pleasure to meet a number of you residing in Niger.  All going well that number will be increased on his next trip from 25 November to 14 December.  It is hoped that ties with the Club Aves in Niamey will be strengthened then too.

Getting in touch with other contributors to the NiBDaB

A number of you have expressed interest in getting in touch with, and in being got in touch with, other NiBDaB users. Ulf is working on a messaging service on the NiBDaB that will allow logged-in users to send a message to another user.  In your registration details, under "My profile", there will be a checkbox titled "Contact". This checkbox won't be checked by default, but if you tick it, other users will be able to send you a message from your profile page on the NiBDaB.  You will be sent an explanatory message when this service is available.

As a part of this we also propose to add places of residence to the list of sources that is publicly accessible on the NiBDaB: we would add the country for those living abroad, and the town for those living in Niger.  Let us  know if this is alright by you.  We can also add the names and residence of those who are registered users but have not yet added any records to the NiBDaB.  If you would like that, please let us know.

Comments on this message are very welcome, as are of course further contributions to the observations and photo sections of the NiBDaB.

Happy birding, Joost and Ulf

Edited: 2011-11-24 [ULi]