|Collins Bird Guide App (image borrowed from Touch Press twitter feed)|
Along with a sense of well being, a great signed book by Mark Avery (A Message from Martha), and a warm fuzzy feeling from meeting so many great people one more thing that I came home from the British Birdwatching Fair with was a copy of the new Collins Bird Guide app for my iPhone (it pays to have a connected dad!), while it's a review copy and I have not yet downloaded the videos (I have to pay for them, and I will) I think I am now ready to give a quick review of the app.
I'll start here as it seems the best place, although many of you will already know exactly what it is I'm talking about, for those who don't the Collins Bird guide is the premiere European field guide to birds, and they have recently released (with the help of Touch Press) an iPhone/iPad app for it (yeah bird books in Europe are way behind when it comes to technology). The app is basically an interactive version of the book (no idea why it isn't on android yet or if it will be).
Ease of use
It is a very simple app (at first appearance), open it up and you have a list of the bird families found in Europe (these can be listed taxonomically or alphabetically through the settings), touching one of the family groups will list all the birds in that category for you to browse through, you are then able to select the bird you are looking. All nice and simple.
What is there
Once you are looking at the birds, you will see a nice group of drawings (the images from the book) that can be zoomed into fully (ideal for identification) or you can look at distribution maps, bird atlas data (UK data via in app purchase of £1.99) video (assuming you have paid [vol 1 - £3.99, vol 2 - 5.99] for and downloaded them) or similar species comparisons. You will also find a call button (sorry can't think what better to call it) by pressing this you can hear the bird call (assuming there is one in the system, not all birds have one). Below all this is the excellent text from the original book, as well as the option to add the bird to lists (life list is the standard but you can add new lists yourself).
How well does it work
So far so good, I used it just the other day to make sure I was looking at what I thought I was looking at while in the field. So far the only limitations are with the iPhone not the app (I have a 5c) sometimes things are a little small, but you can zoom up, and the calls can be a little quiet (you can turn them into looping via the settings). I've not found a single issue so far (and I'm quite confident I won't), it is really easy to use and really useful to have with you (sure saves carrying a book around with me, and I have the calls for instant playback if I hear something I'm not sure of.
An excellent app, intuitive, useful and nice to use, full of all you could want/need to identify the bird you have found, and right in your pocket (assuming you have the iPhone app)an European/UK birder with an iPhone/iPad should own this app! High praise indeed. My only gripe is having to pay extra for videos (2 sets) and the bird atlas (although as some money goes to organisers of the atlas - The BTO - so I'm not worried about that, I just think you could increase the full cost and have them already there).
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