Showing posts from June, 2022

Artificial Identification

The relatively recent rise in popularity of birding "tools" such as the Merlin Bird Identification app  and Swarovski’s dG which identifies the wildlife it focuses on reflects a universal explosion in machine learning and artificial intelligence in general. Artificial intelligence or AI has taken over in most industries and is now used to complete incredibly complex tasks, ranging from automatically labelling CCTV footage to understanding and responding to human speech in Alexa and Siri. In some medical diagnosis tasks, machine learning has been found to perform better than doctors themselves. None of these are a far cry from bird identification. If ANPR can identify the letters on a speeding car’s numberplate it won’t be long before a camera is able to reliably identify passing birds, especially given Merlin’s demonstrable identification skills. Merlin relatively recently released the sound identification extension to its birding app which can identify (or at least give sug


Last summer, there was an attempt on Twitter to produce the official wader league table between the UK reserves, ranking them on how many species they had recorded over the entire lifetime of the reserve. The results shocked me! As a young birder, there were reserves at the top that I never would have predicted: Blacktoft Sands (52 species) above Frampton Marsh (47); Breydon (55) above Titchwell (53); Pagham Harbour (56) above Spurn (55). Ask any young birder to name a top 10 site for waders and they'd probably say Frampton Marsh. Yet just over a decade ago it was a collection of fields and consequently it finds itself a long way down the table at position 37! In this way, birding perspectives change with every generation. If you were looking to live in a mainland rarity hotspot, this year you might go house hunting in East Yorkshire! Yet, a while ago you'd probably be mad not to have picked Norfolk.  Perspectives can change dramatically in the short term too. Birds are unpredi