Many years ago birders used to carry Field Guides, in the field hence the name. These days few do, although most have a Collins perhaps tucked away in the car in case of an emergency.
Reliance on memory and familiarity is fine but if you're starting out or have only been birding for a couple of years and yet to achieve the dizzy heights of being able to nail a Blyth's Reed Warbler at fifty paces with one eye closed finding a new bird can often be frustrating. Cases of misidentifcation and ones that got away are all too common in the early days for most birders (or at least the ones without an ego too big to admit to getting anything wrong).
So what if you carry a Field Guide on your phone, sounds good? What if you could throw in a huge quantity of superb portrait images for many of the species, sounding better? Add to that some distribution maps and the songs and calls for 271 British & Irish species and the definitive text accounts from the Concise edition of Birds of the Western Palearctic and it starts sounding just a little bit better than good doesn't it?
That's what the team at Birdguides have delivered with their latest Iphone Application the Birds of Britain & Ireland available from the Iphone App Store now for £14.99. No, that's not a misprint before you reach for the comment button, £15 quid gets you more information at the swipe of a screen than you could possibly carry around in your rucksack.
Browsable in A-Z listing or by family group, searchable by first three letters of species name, access to the species accounts is fast and easy. Double click on a plate or picture and you can increase the size and zoom in on that bill or tail pattern with ease. Moving between plates and texts is simply a matter of a few side swipes with the finger.Now if I'm honest I was never a huge fan of the plates in BWP but just as on the Birdguides flagship product BWPi the ability to zoom enhances their use and improves the usability. As you would expect the image quality on the portraits is often outstanding (although as a laridophile the lack of any Caspian Gull images is disappointing, although I'm sure this will be rectified at some point).
Of course many long in the tooth birders will be waiting for the next 150 species, the rare and increasingly scarce, which is sure to follow before too long, but if you are amongst them don't dismiss this product as unnecessary. With the Iphone in your pocket and armed with Concise BWP all those tricky post-birding pub discussions about the difference between Taiga and Tundra or the Western Palearctic distribution of Red-breasted Flycatcher can be sorted in an instant.
If you haven't got an Iphone this might just be the start of a long line of apps that makes it the phone of choice for Birders and finally consigns the pager to the annals of history. If you have got one get this app, you won't be disappointed, the value for money delivered here is extraordinary.
All the reviews on the app store so far (five) have delivered five stars, they're not wrong.