This page contains some information about my hobby of birding / birdwatching. You will find some information about my birding reports, the clubs I participate in, what birds I have seen, what programs I use and more.
I mostly go birding in my general area, but I am planning on visiting other locations in order to see birds which do not reside in Bielefeld and the surrounding region. I mostly use my Canon M100 camera with a 55 - 200 mm lens to take and watch the birds, but I am planning on upgrading both my camera and, especially, my lens some time soon. I have also recently begun recording birds’ songs and calls and creating spectrograms thereof.
Clubs and activites
I participate mainly in activites of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ornitholigical Society (Nordrhein-Westfälische Ornithologengesellschaft) of which I am a member. I have asked to participate in the AG Wasservögel and will take part in the Wasservogelzählung (i. e. in the counting of various water birds once every month — depending on region) starting in 2022. This will entail my walking around specificed bodies of water, counting all the relevant bird species and submitting the data electronically via the ornitho.de system. Please look at the following link if you wish to participate yourself: Wasservogelzählung. A membership is not required, but at least rudimentary knowledge of German and a decent water bird identification ability would most likely be advisable.
In addition to being a member of the above-mentioned club, I am also a member of the NABU (Naturschutzbund) of the city that I currently reside in, namely Bielefeld. I have yet to take part in any activites of that club, but I am planning on attending a few Vogelkundliche Spaziergänge (ornithological walks) and also the photography meet-up some time soon.
Programs I use
I use a variety of programs and website for identifying birds, writing down and sharing my sightings, editing audio recordings and more.
The program I use most frequently is Scythebill; it is free and open-source software which you can use to enter your sightings and export them to, for example, eBird or iNaturalist. I have even helped somewhat with the German translation of this program. It has a lot of features and the developer is friendly and replies swiftly to emails when you have problems or ideas on how to improve it. This is, in my opinion, a must-have! You can even import your sightings from eBird or even the Ornitho system prevalent in German-speaking areas of Europe.
Raven Lite is a great program for analysing and improving one’s audio recordings of bird songs and calls. Additionally, it allows you to view the spectrogram of a particular audio recording, adjust it to your liking (themes, contrast, etc.) and even export is as an image. I tend to pre-process my audio slightly using Audacity, but I am sure all that processing (mostly applying high- and low-pass filters and removing noise) can be doing quite comfortably in Raven Lite as well if you know how to.
R (statistical programming language)
Since I always note which birds I saw at what location, I can use this data to create statistics and maps showing where particular species were seen, how many species were seen at a particular location, how many birds where seen at which location during a birding trip and so forth. In order to better visualise this data, I started learning the R programming language which, unlike many other (so-called general purose) programming languages, has a particular purpose: statistical computing.
The main advantage of using R over other, more general-purpose programming languages, is the fact that R makes it particularly easy to create visually pleasing statistics and maps and I was, therefore, able to create my first maps and graphs after only a couple of hours of playing around with R in RStudio. I have been refining my scripts ever since and have attempted to make them more aesthetically pleasing. If you wish to take a look at them yourself and perhaps use them for your own projects as well, you’re free to check out the GitHub repository. Beware, however, that the code is still rather messy.
In addition to programs I use offline on my computer, I also make use of a variety of online tools, especially for entering trip data. This is also required for a lot of the activites of the club mentioned above.