By Piers Higgs, Gaia Resources
BIGnet logoBIGnet, the Bird Interest Group network, held their bi-annual meeting on Sunday, 3rd April, 2011 at Lake Parramatta Reserve in Sydney. BIGnet invited Piers Higgs, the ALA’s Citizen Science team leader, to talk to them about the Atlas of Living Australia. BIGnet is a network of birding groups in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, and members from across the region, plus representatives from Birds Australia, came to Sydney for the meeting.

Piers gave a presentation “How can the ALA help BIGnet” (PDF, 6MB), which provided an overview of the Atlas of Living Australia, and demonstrated the citizen science software (the Biological Data Recording System, or BDRS) being used by Birds Australia. Through the partnership between ALA and Birds Australia, an offer was made to the BIGnet groups that they could use the Birds Australia instance of the BDRS software to help manage their own records.

The Birds Australia instance of the citizen science software has been operational for over twelve months. During this time, the main focus has been on the Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo project, where almost 1,000 people have recorded over 4,300 sightings of this species. Birds Australia staff are working on other projects, such as the Black-Cockatoo Night Roosts and Hooded Plover projects, to provide tools for them to capture their data using the Biological Data Recording System.

The BIGnet groups were also interested in some of the other areas that the ALA is working on. Several groups expressed an interest in sharing images through the ALA’s work on Morphbank, while others were keen to look at ways to migrate their data using the built-in uploader in the Citizen Science software, or with the support of the ALA. In the coming weeks, the ALA and Birds Australia are working out ways that the BIGnet group can use the existing web form to records, manage and share their wide range of data about birds with Birds Australia, the ALA and the wider community.