I'm busy getting all the last minute laundry, packing and travel arrangements finalized as I head to BirdFair in the UK for the first time. I'm so excited because I have always wanted to go this event and I even get to do an iPhone digiscoping presentation on Saturday as well as partake in an improv game called a Question of Stork.
I'm excited to see old and new friends and to make Birds and Beers officially international by having one thanks to the aid of Drunk Birder on Friday night at 7pm at the Three Crowns! I think we will be two peas in a pod. When all the bird fun is over, I get to meet Non Birding Bill in London for some fun.
Also, just in time for my trip across the pond comes the Collins Bird Guide app to all of Europe, based on the best-selling Collins Bird Guide, by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström, lucky me! I have to admit, I was leery because BirdFair isn't really about going on field trips, it's about looking at birding products and services. After the fair, I'm going to meet Non Birding Bill in London to visit with friends and not really do that much birding. Would this be more bird info than I would need. Should I just take a little British Guide with me instead?
But, the app lets you tailor your location and list of possible birds. If you are like me and just studying from somewhere in the states, you can tap the map of Europe of where you plan to be (and note the season) to get a list of likely birds. If you are already in Europe, you can use the location services of the app to pinpoint where you are as well as the time of year to generate the likely species.
When you see a bird you can't identify, most apps will allow you to create a list of possible suspects based size, shape, habitat, colors, etc. This app will also let you type in specific types of field marks which is pretty darned cool. One of the reasons I really like the Sibley app is that you can compare two species at once, this app will let you compare up to 6 different plumages at once--which will please the European warbler watchers.
The Collins app is a comprehensive European guide with over 700 species, 750 recordings of songs and calls, over 3500 illustrations and 60 videos of common birds--because sometimes you need to see the wagging tail of a wagtail to make sure that yep, that is like the most common bird over in Europe and the have some variation and that is indeed the bird that I saw. The app is £12.99 which in the grand scheme of field guide apps is par for the course. If you are going to Europe and you don't want to take a book but want to know what birds you will see, it's worth a download on an Apple device.