Wildlife Recorder http://www.wildlife.co.uk/birding_software/prod01.htm World edition £99.99p with PDA version at £30 [See full features at the end of this review]
Wildlife Recorder is described by its creator as the most flexible package for storing and analysing your wildlife records and lists and I have no reason to doubt him.
Let me say from the outset that for some reason I had a big barrier to using software for recording my birding records and I think this prejudice was based on my attempts to get to grip with early products that seemed to be a lot harder work than long-hand recording. With some systems you had to learn two letter codes for the birds – bad enough when dealing with the UK list of 500+ but totally ridiculous for a world species list of over 9,000! There is none of this nonsense with Wildlife recorder.
I am a new user and have yet to work out all the possibilities of the system but my first dip of my toe into the water has found it ambient. So far I have put up my historical records of overseas trips and it has automatically generated a world life list for me and so will certainly make it easier in the future for me to record such trips without having to update the world list. What is more it cuts out the need for at least half of the research needed to ID sub-species.
The way the system works is that you enter your records by being offered a checklist for the area you visited. On a world level this means that you set a record up by saying where and when you visited a country and it presents a checklist for you to pick from either by checking boxes on the screen or using voice recognition to select species. In some cases [like the US] you will be offered a state list to pick from if you set up the record for, say, Texas. This is so sensible and easy to use and, if you want, you can set up lists for any configuration or combination and these will automatically be populated with your new sightings… a one-stop-shop. If you are lucky enough to have sighted something not on the country list you can add it and alter your system to show it on future checklists.
Moreover, every sub-species has been integrated into the system and, if you turn this facility on, the checklists you are offered to select from will give the sub-species that occur where you have been – sometimes this will just be one so you can confidently select that subbie as the one you saw. Of course it may offer you several choices so you can use this as the basis of your research and may be able to get an ID by referring to your fieldguide or species account to see which sub-species occur at the sites you visited. Of course the ultimate fall back will have to be your own ID in the field but this system gives you a head start with very little effort.
Of course, even better you can take a checklist with you before you go generated by Wildlife Recorder handily set up as a ticklist for however long you will be there. These can be printed as hard copy or downloaded to a PDA – you can enter your sightings in the PDA and these can be uploaded back to your computer. I confess that this facility was what motivated me to overcome my prejudice in the first place… a newly acquired PDA which would mean I could enter records as I went along and not have the hard work of transcribing everything on my return – wish me luck on my next trip!
I am acutely aware that I have, so far, barely scratched the surface of this excellent product – the multimedia linking alone could make your records tie up to your own photos or sound recordings seamlessly and once you’ve tried it out you will find it indispensable. And remember, this is WILDLIFE Recorder, not just birds… the system also allows recording of any species you care to enter and databases are already set up for Birds, Butterflies, Moths, Dragonflies, and Mammals! This is only my first review of this product but I intend to take another look when I have field tested it further and educated myself about its other features.
In two days this product has converted me from a technophobic longhand recorder to an enthusiastic advocate of such software in general and this product in particular. They don’t pay me to say this – so I’ll say it for free – this is an excellent product with second-to-none after sales. I have had my queries answered very quickly and been pointed in the right direction no matter how dumb my questions have been! In fact most of the problems I have encountered have nothing to do with the software but the idiosyncrasies of either Clements or Howard & Moore [the systematic orders available are Howard and Moore and Clements and it comes with comprehensive distribution]. Wildlife Recorder offers you the choice of these two alternatives and the choice in Clements of choosing US or UK names. It really must have been a labour of love to create such an excellent and comprehensive package and it deserves more attention than it receives. I have no hesitation in giving it a personal recommendation and endorsement.
Comes with a complete and up-to-date World Species database or optionally a local database (Western Palearctic or North American). The World version contains distribution information for all the countries of the World + states for large countries, 393 areas in total. Other databases available include World Mammals, European Butterflies, British Dragonflies, North American Butterflies, North American Dragonflies and British Moths.
Keeps comprehensive details about your sightings including unlimited free text notes. Wildlife Lister even has its own mini word processor to let you format your notes. Sightings can be entered either in trip form or using the bulk sightings entry facility which allows rapid entry in any sequence.
Keeps details of all the geographic areas you have visited. The database provided contains all the countries of the World plus state names for larger countries. You may enter details of States, Counties and Sites. Sub-sites can be defined if required.
Keep details of the observers who provided the sightings data.
An unlimited number of lists can be kept automatically from the sightings you have entered. Any type of lists can be produced; country, state, county, site, faunal zone, ABA/AOU lists are all possible. Wildlife Recorder will automatically keep life lists and if required detailed year lists. Lists are automatically calculated from sightings data and contain information about the species seen, first and last dates, early and late dates etc.
Flexible Queries allow you can pull up a list of sightings for a site, county, country or any of the data you have entered, you can even search your free form notes. The Query designer allows you to design your own queries.
Wildlife Lister is provided with a comprehensive set of reports to print checklists, trip reports, lists etc. Reports can be output to the printer, as a web page (HTML), an Adobe Acrobat document (PDF) or as a rich text file which can be edited using a word processor. A Report Designer is included so you can design your own reports.
Allows you to produce your own checklists based the distribution areas provided with Wildlife Lister. Checklists can be can be output to the printer, as a web page (HTML), an Adobe Acrobat document (PDF) or as a rich text file which can be edited using a word processor.
Linking Images and other Media
Allows you to easily link digital photographs, videos, sound clips and other media to species and your trips and sightings.
Sightings and geographic information can be imported from other systems. Conversion packages available from Birder's Diary 2.5, AviSys and BirdBase. Bird Recorder 32 data can also be transferred if required.
You can export you sightings data as a comma separated file.
Palm Top (PDA) integration
Full integration with Pocket Bird Recorder allows you to export species and site lists to a PDA running Pocket PC2000, 2002, Windows Mobile 2003 or Palm OS. On return from your trip the sites, trips and sightings are seamlessly imported into your Lister database.
Help and Tutorials
Complete on-line help and tutorials.
Integral backup and restore utility will compress and save your data to ensure you never lose it due to PC or other failures.
Interfaces to the external DMAP program (not provided). Distribution mapping facilities. Charting and graphing facility.
Created: 23rd Oct 2005