Gap analysis

One of the things I have been curious about is how my “life list” compares to the British list in different types of birds. I know that when it comes to pipits, warblers and buntings I’ve got a fairly big deficit because historically I’ve put these down into the category of LBJ without really putting in the effort to work out the finer details (that was the old me of course, this year I’ve made more of an effort to identify my grasshopper warblers from my reed warblers). In terms of ducks and owls though I’m doing pretty OK.

Although this is the first step and I want to add some graphics, what I’ve done for now is implement a comparison of a “life list” vs the “master list” which for the purposes of the program is the BOU list as of Dec 2010, and represent the percentage of species on the list vs my own ticks :

Ignore the figures - I'm doing much better when I get all my data in!

So what the screen shows is how many species are in each taxonomic order, how many species have been “ticked” in the database, and the percentage those ticks represent.

A slider across the top allows you to change the level of detail between Orders, Families and Genera, so the above shot shows it broken down by order. Move the slider across one notch and you’ll get it broken down by Family :

This time by Family, Showing common names

As you can see from the above shot, the lists can be shown by either scientific name or latin name.

At the moment this functionality only compares the user’s life list to the master list of species, however it would be simple enough to extend this to allow comparison of year lists so you could see if you are missing out on species that you’ve seen in previous years, or indeed to compare any two lists (perhaps a patch list vs a county list)

As mentioned above I’d like to implement some graphical representation of this kind of data – either pie charts or some kind of “progress bar” towards 100% species coverage.

Another issue that this throws up is that for me, I’m highly unlikely to ever see a Red-billed tropicbird in the UK so I’m always going to have a big fat zero in that row. Likewise while my kingfisher count sits at 1 – a meagre 50% of available species, the chances of getting to 100% by spotting a belted kingfisher ARE pretty slim, although not impossible. But… you could say that the chances of me seeing a black scoter were nil until one turned up a few miles north of me this year and stuck around long enough for me to drop by and get a view of it. So.. I don’t want to chuck the baby out with the bath water and delete species from my master list, but at the same time being realistic I really want to see my efforts compared with a “realistic” set of birds. To that end I may keep the BOU (or even the IOC) list as a master list but have some way of marking the species that are just so unlikely that they shouldn’t cloud the stats and the selection lists if I don’t want them to.

Of course for hardcore listers they will no doubt want to see a priority list showing the 7 species they are missing to complete their UK set.

Any thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Gap analysis”

  1. Len Waterworth Says:

    Hi,
    Just came across your site- hope you complete it!

    Just a note on lists- I’m not hardcore but I use a simple Orgbase database to record sightings and query using SQL to determine lists. SQL is handy as it gives a lot of flexibility. What I have found is that I sadly like to compare one year with another- (or year to date or season)– be it UK total or birds seen by patch- which in my simple database is a dropdown for county/region or a flag for my “local”. Which by the way is in Northumberland.
    Another feature that would be nice is to be able to see earliest date seen.

    What I lack is a way of readily linking photos- I have recently got into low quality bird photography and it would be nice to be able to link into images of specific birds – e.g at the sighting level – at the bird level- and perhaps at the bird family, sighting region level.

    Hope you finish it– if you ever have anything to look at /test get in touch.

    • bedlingtonwanderer Says:

      Thanks Len – some good points there and hopefully I should be able to cover pretty much all of that in what I have planned.

      Links to photographs is definitely something that will be there (either links to local files or URLs of online photos), and also the option to link to sound recordings and even videos.

      I agree SQL does give a lot of flexibility (so long as you have fields for all the necessary data) but has the downside that its far from intuitive for the average user as well as requiring a good understanding of the underlying database format – and indeed is the mechanism the system uses internally to retrieve data. I will probably look at some form of query builder eventually so that users can build their own powerful queries, but I will concentrate first on “pre-canned” reports that cover most bases.

      I certainly plan to implement a lot of functionality for comparing records across time periods – be it year-on-year or month-on-month – filterable for different regions. One thing I will try to start on soon is some graphical reporting, ie graphs, bar charts etc and time based reporting lends itself to this nicely. It would be nice to have some of this done to show people the kind of thing I’m thinking of so I will try and have something in place early next week.

      As to getting things like earliest records for a species again this is definitely on the list but is on a screen I’ve not really started on yet, which is the species information. This will allow you to select a species and get the basic taxonomic position within the “family tree”, and then will give you a breakdown of sightings by region and date including things like earliest and last dates in the calendar year. I’ll also have a list of any photos, sound recordings etc logged against that species.

      Many thanks for your comments – I think we’re thinking along similar lines which is always good to hear, and I’ll certainly drop you a line when I have something testable.

      Paul


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