Use of electronic technology for recording and data input

One major change since our First Atlas is the increased availability of technology. Twenty years ago, personal computers did not exist, nor did e-mail or the internet. Mobile telephones had not been invented. The satellites for the GPS (Global Positioning System) had not been launched. Digital cameras had not even been dreamed of.

In this Atlas, most observers filled in computer spreadsheets with their tetrad data and submitted them by e-mail. We were able to communicate with about two-thirds of fieldworkers by e-mail. We established the website to advertise the project and to provide information and reference material for participants.

In the field, some surveyors took advantage of the GPS (Global Positioning System) to obtain accurate locations for observations and tetrad boundaries. In most other types of wildlife recording, their use is now routine, but many birdwatchers apparently think that GPS devices are expensive; in fact, a simple hand-held GPS receiver costs about the same as a bird book, and would probably be the cheapest item in an average birdwatcher’s armoury of equipment.

The prompt submission of records meant that preliminary maps could rapidly be produced and regularly shared with observers in the Atlas newsletters. Finally, in contrast to our First Atlas where data were collected on paper and the analysis and production of the maps and the book took many years, this Atlas has made it to publication in the calendar year after the end of fieldwork.