habitat INFO

Dec 102016

November proved to be a prolific month with 6,733 records added taking the data bank tally from 144,671 to 151,329 observations.

click on the image for a high resolution map:

Highlights this month included more than 2,500 historical and recent observations from Volker Salewski and a further 592 observations from Bram Piot for west Africa which provided much needed data for this region. Data from surveys organised around the 14th PAOC in Senegal aimed particularly at gathering vulture sightings data were also submitted (thanks Ralph Buij, Wim Mullie, Keith Bildstein, Lindy Thompson, Evan Buechley, Darcy Ogada, Jean-Marc Thiollay and colleagues); Brian Waswala provided more than 700 observations from Kenya and great coverage of South African and Namibian roads continued.

Records were kindly supplied by the following raptor observers:

Volker Salewski – 2584
Brian Waswala – 774
Keith Bildstein, Lindy Thompson, Rien Van Wijk – 726
Bram Piot – 592
African Impact South Africa – 266
Evan Buechley, Alazar Daka, Sisay Seyfu – 236
Ralph Buij, Darcy Ogada, Kees Camphuysen, Almut Schlaich – 195
Kevin Shaw – 173
Wim Mullie, Jean-Marc Thiollay, Kees Camphuysen, Almut Schlaich – 172
Dirk van Stuyvenberg – 163
Trevor Hardaker – 104
Wim Mullie, Wouter Vansteelant, Kees Camphuysen, Almut Schlaich – 101
Andy Branfield – 95
Bernard Madden, Antje – 91
Andre Botha – 79
Wim Mullie, Wouter Vansteelant, Kees Camphuysen, Jean-Marc Thiollay – 79
Ashwell Glasson – 67
Dirk Human – 51
Mark Brown – 49
Clive Barlow – 26
Jaco Smith – 14
Steven Evans – 14
Alfie Curling – 11
Dawie de Swardt – 11
Bruce Wardsmith – 10
Dirk Heinrich – 9
Rob Thomson – 9
Gisela Madden – 8
Jean-Marc Thiollay – 8
Sidney Shema Kamanzi – 7
Washington Wachira – 3
Jean-Marc Thiollay, Wim Mullie, Almut Schlaich, Kees Camphuysen – 2
Ralph Buij, Darcy Ogada, Evan Buechley, Almut Schlaich- 2
Stefan van Stuyvenberg – 2

Thank you and best wishes,

Rob and ARDB team



Aug 282015

‘Junior’ the buzzard went back to the wild yesterday so he could take advantage of late summer. He has spent nearly two years in rehab at Habitat Info and has recovered really well after his op to fix his wing. Still holds it a bit down when perched but he flew magnificently and seemed to be heading straight back to Fishguard…

Feb 022015

  • 1,878 records received during January
  • First significant data received for North Africa (Tunisia)
  • Total records in the ARDB now stands at 105,890
  • 9,829 kilometres travelled over 14.4 days in Android app’s survey mode

A great month with more records than ever received via the Android app and the ARDB’s first delivery of data for North Africa (Tunisia) courtesy of AAO (BirdLife Partner)

Since our last update for the month of December we have received an additional 1,876 records via the Android mobile app. This includes a huge 784 records from Andre Botha, 2 from Andrew Rayner (the app’s programmer who spent his holidays in South Africa) and 339 from Simon Thomsett (spanning June 2014 to January 2015) – thanks!

  • Andre Botha – 784
  • Simon Thomsett – 339
  • Etienne Albertyn – 160
  • Joseph Heymans – 118
  • Kyle Mannheim – 70
  • Walter Jubber – 67
  • Dirk van Stuyvenberg – 65
  • Stefan van Stuyvenberg – 63
  • Anja Teroerde – 60
  • Brian Waswala – 58
  • Mark Brown – 48
  • Andy Branfield – 20
  • bruce wardsmith – 11
  • Rob Davies – 4
  • Troye Weston – 2
  • Steven Evans – 2
  • Joubert Heymans – 2
  • Andrew Rayner – 2
  • Danny Sapsford – 1

All Android app users and their respective contributions for December are listed in the table to the left. During January 352 surveys were carried out using the app which amounted to 9,829 km being travelled over 14.4 days.

We also received 2 records from Sebastian and Sarah Tham via the online iOS app – we’re hoping to have an offline app for iOS released at some point this year so sit tight…

We are extremely grateful to Hichem Azafzaf and his team at Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO), the ARDB’s regional coordinator for North Africa who have submitted 1,405 records for Tunisia! This is the ARDB’s first significant data for North Africa so marks a big milestone in the development of the database – the database can be viewed at http://gis.habitatinfo.com/java/ardb_viewing/ – thanks Hichem! We’re looking forward to receiving more for Tunisia and neighbouring countries.

If you haven’t already then please check out the ARDB’s annual review for 2014 which can be downloaded from:


Best wishes,

Tim, Rob & the ARDB team


Dec 082014

  • 1,081 records received during December
  • Total records in the ARDB now stands at 102,971
  • 4,253 kilometers traveled over 6.7 days in Android app’s survey mode

Quieter on the spread sheets but the app takes another leap forwards…

Since our last update for the month of November we have received an additional 1,081 records via the Android mobile app. All users and their respective contributions for December are listed below. During December 241 surveys were carried out using the app which amounted to 4,253 km being traveled over 6.7 days.

  • Andre Botha – 469
  • Loutjie Steenberg – 133
  • Brian Waswala – 102
  • Shannon Hoffman – 81
  • Mark Brown – 74
  • Joseph Heymans – 61
  • Bernard Madden – 53
  • Walter Jubber – 33
  • Andy Branfield – 16
  • Pierre duToit – 10
  • Stefan van Stuyvenberg – 10
  • Bruce Wardsmith – 8
  • Darcy Ogada – 8
  • Mark Dixon – 8
  • Washington Wachira – 7
  • Steven Evans – 5
  • Shayne Dalton – 2
  • Andrew Pearson – 1

Alongside this update we are also publishing the ARDB’s annual review for 2014 which can be downloaded from:


We hope you had a great holiday and look forward to receiving your data during 2015!

Best wishes,

Tim, Rob & the ARDB team


Dec 052014

  • 100,000 record milestone! 1,201 records received bringing the total to 101,938!
  • 724 records received via Android app
  • 3,325 kilometres travelled over 124 hours in Android app’s survey mode
  • Rare find in Botswana!

More data in via African Raptor Observations and a rare find in Botswana.

New data has been received by spread sheet (see the table below) from Andre Botha (309, South Africa) and the West Africa Bird Database (WABDAB) (168). This is our first data from the WABDAB project which is run by Joost Brouwer, Ulf Liedén and colleagues – thanks very much for these data!

  • Andre Botha – 309
  • West Africa Bird Database – 168

We’ve received 724 records via the app (contributors are in the table to the left) and users in survey mode have clocked up 3,325 km over 124 hours!

  • Steven Evans – 134
  • Loutjie Steenberg – 111
  • Joseph Heymans – 78
  • Mark Dixon – 69
  • Andy Branfield – 60
  • Aneldi Steenberg – 56
  • Mark Brown – 49
  • Walter Jubber – 49
  • Pierre duToit – 27
  • bruce wardsmith – 26
  • Rob Thomson – 20
  • Brian Waswala – 15
  • Thomas Reed – 12
  • Washington Wachira – 6
  • Troye Weston – 4
  • Andre van Sittert – 3
  • Stefan van Stuyvenberg – 3
  • Ig Viljoen – 1
  • Rob Simmons – 1

Tom Reed has submitted a record of an Egyptian Vulture via the app…. In Botswana! It was identified by Stratton Hatfield. This is a great spot Tom and Stratton – thanks for sending it into us! The Egyptian Vulture is very rare in Botswana with the last known breeding attempt being in 1923. There have been very few sightings in recent times causing BirdLife Botswana to place it on their Category A Rarity list (less than 10 accepted records).

Remember, the app can be downloaded at http://goo.gl/ne7NKC and the majority of our monthly updates released to-date can be found at http://www.habitatinfo.com/tag/ardb-update/.

This is the final update you’ll receive from the ARDB this year (December’s update will be sent out in January) so that leaves us to wish you all happy holidays – hopefully you’ll all get out and about on your time off with the app recording raptors!

Best wishes,

Tim, Rob & the ARDB team


Nov 052014

  • Database grows by 2,314 to 97,945 records with 1,015 received via Android app
  • 6,786 kilometres travelled over 162 hours in the app’s survey mode
  • First helicopter and focused nest survey data received

More data in via African Raptor Observations and our first helicopter survey data by spread sheet.

New data has been received by spread sheet (see the list and map below) and added into the ARDB from Andre Botha (467, South Africa) and Joseph Heymans (43 driving survey records, South Africa and 789 helicopter survey records of White Backed Vulture nests along the Limpopo River). This is our first helicopter survey data and focused nest survey! – Great job Joseph! We have also received data from Bruno Bargain (1,361 from Senegal) which is pending submission into the ARDB whilst we validate the coordinates. Thanks very much for these data!

  • Andre Botha – 467
  • Joseph Heymans – 832
  • Bruno Bargain (pending) – 1,361

In addition to the data received via spread sheet we’ve also received 1,015 records via African Raptor Observations; the ARDB’s Android mobile app. Importantly our user base is growing with 24 different users contributing data (see the list and map below). Data is mainly coming in from South Africa (607) and East Africa therefore, we’re really keen to push the app’s adoption further North and West. Remember that it’s free to download and use! Feedback so far has been very positive with one user telling us that they’re now far more aware of all raptors whilst out and about thanks to using the app! The app can be downloaded at http://goo.gl/ne7NKC.

  • Bernard Madden – 261
  • Mark Dixon – 158
  • Mark Brown – 103
  • Steven Evans – 98
  • Walter Jubber – 90
  • Brian Waswala – 72
  • Dirk van Stuyvenberg – 61
  • Rob Thomson – 49
  • Andy Branfield – 23
  • Darcy Ogada – 19
  • Washington Wachira – 14
  • Shannon Hoffman – 10
  • Shayne Dalton – 10
  • Rob Simmons – 9
  • Pierre duToit – 8
  • Troye Weston – 7
  • Kyle Mannheim – 7
  • Stefan van Stuyvenberg – 6
  • ashwell glasson – 4
  • danny sapsford – 2
  • Joy Clack – 2
  • Ig Viljoen – 1
  • Calvin Harris – 1
ARDB - October 2014

ARDB – October 2014

We’re able to really analyse the data that we’re receiving via the app allowing us to pick out, amongst other stats the number of birds which were spotted perching, nesting or the country they were observed in. The list below shows the different activities noted.

  • flying – 467
  • perched – 394
  • food / predation – 53
  • undetermined – 24
  • nest – 38
  • heard calling – 22
  • dead / mortality – 13
  • flock (mixed) – 3
  • communal roost site – 1

The survey results are very promising too with a total of 6,782 km travelled over 162 hours! That’s not far off travelling from the very North of Africa to the very South! The accompanying survey data means we can do so much more with the observation data.

We’re nearly at 100,000 records which it would be brilliant to achieve by the end of 2014 so please get out and about recording raptors! Don’t forget to register with the ARDB at http://www.habitatinfo.com/ardb and download African Raptor Observations to your Android smart phone from http://goo.gl/ne7NKC.

Tim, Rob & the ARDB team


Oct 062014

habitat INFO ran the Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday 5th October 2014, raising money for the NSPCC and Wales Air Ambulance!  After weeks of training we arrived at the start line for what was to be a couple of hours of pain, more pain and a little more pain!  We all completed the run successfully and enjoyed a well deserved pint afterwards!  Between us we raised £700 for our chosen charities; thanks for the sponsorship guys!  Times below…

  1. Andrew – 1:47
  2. Tara – 2:03
  3. Tim – 2:10
  4. Clare – 2:20
  5. Rob – 2:23

You can still sponsor Tim or Rob at https://www.justgiving.com/teams/habitatINFO and Andrew and Clare at https://www.justgiving.com/Clare-Rayner2

Rob, Tim and Andrew post race (and pint!)

Rob, Tim and Andrew post race (and pint!)

Oct 012014

  • Database grows by 1,536 to 95,554 records with 772 received via Android app
  • 2,922 kilometres travelled over 77 hours in the app’s survey mode
  • Huge boost in uptake of the app following BirdLife SA’s African Birdlife magazine article
  • Rick Watson’s Bateleur data for Kruger NP added to the ARDB
  • A great response to Darcy Ogada’s call for help with Cassin’s Hawk Eagle records

This month has seen the number of records received by the app overtake the number received by spread sheet for the first time! We’ve also had a great response to Darcy Ogada’s call for help with Cassin’s Hawk Eagle records.

New spread sheet data received during September 2014 has kindly been submitted by Andre Botha (533; South Africa), Clive Barlow (96; The Gambia) and Robbie Whytock (41; Cameroon) – thanks very much for this!

We’ve also processed the Bateleur data we received from Rick Watson last month which he collected during his PhD. This is the first Bateleur-specific data we’ve received so is great – thanks Rick!

The Android app continues to grow from strength to strength. This month has seen another increase in records received via the app to 772 (over double August’s total!) – individual users and their record counts are in the table to the left – a special thanks to Mark Dixon who has surveyed the Garden Route and submitted 18 records of Forest Buzzard!

  • Mark Dixon – 189
  • Darcy Ogada – 148
  • Shannon Hoffman – 117
  • Bernard Madden – 101
  • Mark Brown – 46
  • Lilyarison RenedeRoland – 42
  • Ben Hoffman – 30
  • Andy Branfield – 22
  • Walter Jubber – 20
  • Steven Evans – 15
  • Pierre duToit – 11
  • Rob Thomson – 7
  • Brian Waswala – 4
  • Ig Viljoen – 4
  • Anthony Archer – 4
  • Gisela Madden – 3
  • Joy Clack – 2
  • Shayne Dalton – 2
  • Robert Smith – 2
  • Paul Eslick – 2
  • Marc Molle – 1

We’ve also seen a rise in the use of survey mode with 50 % of all records created using it. Please see the attached map which shows the density of surveys – a total of 2,922 km have been travelled over 77 hours! It’s great to see repeat surveys being carried out (red indicates more surveys at a particular location) and further data from Madagascar – thanks Lily!

September 2014 survey density

September 2014 survey density

Since Darcy’s call for help with Cassin’s Hawk Eagle data last month we have received 100 more records of this elusive forest eagle bringing the ARDB’s total to 160 (125 recent records and 35 from the Snow Atlas). Special thanks to Marc Languy who contributed 52 records from Cameroon (pending verification) but thanks also to those who e-mailed us with sightings and literature data (a further 27 records). Please continue to send us any additional records!

There has been a lot of discussion on the African Raptors list server recently about Yellow-billed and Black Kites! – We’ve attached a map showing the records of these species in the ARDB and are hoping it will prompt you to consider whether we have your records classified correctly. Please get in touch if you think there may be any misclassifications of your data.

migrans/aegyptius recirds

migrans/aegyptius records

The growth over the past few months has been brilliant and we’re seeing strong signs of month-on-month growth with user registrations (54 during September up from 30 during August), app downloads and record submission.  We’re really grateful for the coverage the ARDB received in the latest edition of BirdLife SA’s African Birdlife* magazine which prompted a surge in user registrations and app downloads!  We’re really keen to see this continue and therefore, please share this report with any colleagues or like-minded friends!  You can download the app from http://goo.gl/ne7NKC (where registration is also possible) or, alternatively register at http://www.habitatinfo.com/ardb

Tim, Rob & the ARDB team

*African Birdlife, September/October 2014, page 12


Sep 042014

  • Database leaps by 24,702 to 90,999 records
  • 331 records received via African Raptor Observations app
  • 2,682 kilometres travelled over 55 hours in the app’s survey mode
  • A call for help with Cassin’s Hawk Eagle records

This month has seen the highest number of records submitted to the ARDB ever!  A staggering 24,702 new records were added!

Andre Botha has submitted Ronelle Visagie’s data which totals 6,821 records for the Karoo and Northern Cape.  Munir Virani has submitted Adam Eichenwald’s (an intern working with The Peregrine Fund) 588 records for Kenya.  We’ve also received data from Martin Odino (183, Kenya) and Ralp Buij (7 records of Cassin’s Hawk Eagles from Gabon and a huge 9,228 from Cameroon).

The Tanzanian Bird Atlas have also submitted to the ARDB an additional 8,163 records which includes the first major delivery of owl data (on top of the 11,793 records which were already in the ARDB from them)!

We’ve still got some great data received during August to report on next month after receiving Bateleur records from Rick Watson which we are waiting to digitise the routes for.

This month has seen 331 records from the recently launched African Raptor Observations mobile app for Android.  See below for a breakdown of those users and their records.  In survey mode observers travelled a total of 2,682 km over 55 hours!  The app is available for everyone to download to their Android devices at http://goo.gl/BN8V1t

  • Bernard Madden – 65
  • Mark Dixon – 64
  • Steven Evans – 58
  • Shannon Hoffman – 55
  • Mark Brown – 38
  • Darcy Ogada – 24
  • Etienne Marais – 8
  • Brian Waswala – 5
  • Ben Hoffman – 4
  • Andre van Sittert – 3
  • David Cater – 3
  • Trelda Ostrosky – 2
  • John Davies – 1
  • Rob Simmons – 1

Darcy Ogada and the ARDB are trying to get all the existing Cassin’s Hawk Eagle records into the ARDB for a small project we are working on.  We’d appreciate your help in adding any additional records you may have or know of that are not already on the map – we’ve had a great response so far taking the number of records from 25 to 45; see the map below (the blue dots are from the Snow Atlas and red stars are other records).

 Cassin's Hawk Eagle records

Cassin’s Hawk Eagle records

We’ve recently tested African Raptor Observations on the Samsung Galaxy Camera (EK-GC100) and are pleased to report that it works very well.  The camera runs Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) and therefore, is supported by the app.  It boasts a built-in GPS, microphone, touch screen, WiFi/3G and impressively a 21 x optical zoom camera (~483 mm).  It therefore, goes some way to bridging the gap between a smartphone capable of recording raptors in the field and an SLR capable of getting the perfect photo!  They can be picked up for under £200 on Amazon UK and eBay UK.  More information available via Samsung at http://goo.gl/LD3GSt

Best wishes,

Tim, Rob & the ARDB team


Sep 032014

Darcy Ogada and the ARDB are trying to get all the existing Cassin’s Hawk Eagle records into the ARDB for a small project we are working on.  We currently (3/9/2014) have 80 records; 45 recent and 35 historic (Snow Atlas).  We’d appreciate your help in adding any additional records you may have or know of that are not already on the map.  Please send any records to Rob (rob.davies@habitatinfo.com).

Aug 082014

  • Database reaches 67,683 records (3696 records received during July)
  • 1st operational month for Android app (546 records received)
  • 1st data received for Madagascar

A milestone month for the ARDB in more ways than one!  We’ve received a tremendous 3696 records which includes 546 from the newly launched African Raptor Observations Android app!  We’ve also received the ARDB’s first data for Madagascar (via the app!) – read on for more info… 

We’ve received an additional 3150 records via spread sheet from Andre Botha (346) and the NiBDaB (Niger Bird DataBase) (2814).  Thanks very much for these!  Since the launch of African Raptor Observations for Android we’re delighted to be able to tell you that we’ve received 546 records from users of it!  See below for a breakdown of those users and their records.  In survey mode a total of 1786 km has been travelled over 82 hours!  The app is available for everyone to download to their Android devices at http://goo.gl/BN8V1t

  • Simon Thomsett – 242
  • Lily-Arison René de Roland – 182
  • Munir Virani – 25
  • Brian Waswala – 23
  • Darcy Ogada – 22
  • Bernard Madden – 17
  • Steven Evans – 9
  • Mark Dixon – 7
  • Sratton Hatfield via Munir Virani – 1

We’re pleased to announce the ARDB’s first data for Madagascar which is home to some of the most endangered raptors on the planet.  Lily-Arison René de Roland, Marius Rakotondratsima, Russell Thorstrom and Andry Hiankinantsoa of The Peregrine Fund submitted 182 records for the island over the course of this month’s survey there.  This is a real milestone as it represents the ARDB’s first island species but it also opens up a whole new Biogeographic zone and the power of the African Raptor Observations app.  Great work guys!  Scroll down for a map of their survey.

Lily-Arison René de Roland (left), Marius Rakotondratsima (center), and Andry Hiankinantsoa (driver; right)

Lily-Arison René de Roland (left), Marius Rakotondratsima (center), and Andry Hiankinantsoa (driver; right) 

Madagascar Kestrel

Madagascar Kestrel

The Peregrine Fund's July 2014 Madagascar survey using the African Raptor Observations Android app

The Peregrine Fund’s July 2014 Madagascar survey using the African Raptor Observations Android app

We’re now on a drive to collect records in those countries which are currently lacking in data.  We’re specifically looking for more data in Northern Africa and therefore, if you or someone you know has an Android phone then please download the new app and send in your records!

Best wishes,

Tim, Rob and the ARDB team


Jul 072014

  • Database reaches 63,345 records
  • 947 records received this month (including 186 via beta mobile app)
  • African Raptor Observations Android application released



Another busy month for the ARDB!  We’ve received more data but have also been working incredibly hard to deliver the finishing touches to the ARDB’s mobile app; we’re delighted to be able to tell you that it’s now available!

We’ve received an additional 947 records (with 186 of these coming from beta versions of the new app) bringing the total in the database to 63,345!  Thanks are due to Andre Botha (431; South Africa), Darcy Ogada (392, Kenya), Brian Waswala (4; Kenya), Bernard Madden (12; Southern Africa) and Clive Barlow (108, The Gambia).

As of today African Raptor Observations is available to the public for download from the Google Play store!  The app keeps the recording of raptors simple but leverages powerful new technologies to deliver precise locations and functionality.  Of real significance is the behind the scenes tracking of observer effort making records submitted considerably more useful.  This combined with the addition of features such as ‘point and locate’ and voice recording makes for a very powerful application.  More information is available on our website at http://goo.gl/FOfYDR

Anyone can download the app to their Android device from http://goo.gl/BN8V1t – if you’ve been testing a beta version then please ensure that you first upload any observations and then uninstall it prior to installing this release.

We’re really looking to receiving your data via this application!

Best wishes,

Tim, Rob and the ARDB team

Jul 072014

habitat INFO launches a novel mobile app to help people share their observations of Raptors across Africa in a live data observatory (African Raptor DataBank, ARDB)

Monday 7th July 2014, Solva, Wales

Raptors are one of the most sensitive indicators of ecosystem health. They are the first to decline or be lost from our skies when something is amiss lower down in the food chain.  Today Habitat INFO launches a unique free mobile application, ‘African Raptor Observations’, which will enable enthusiasts and novices alike to submit their records of these vital species from across Africa.  This will transform the way citizen scientists record raptor sightings and provide an invaluable and accurate database for scientists and others professionally involved in raptor and habitat conservation.  Data may now be collected in the field using Android devices without the need for a cellular network or source of Wi-Fi.  When a connection becomes available, the observations can be uploaded to a live data observatory housed on a server situated in a high tech barn on the coast of Pembrokeshire, West Wales.  From here the data will be analysed to model the abundance of each species and to help identify and monitor the health of their habitats across one of the most biologically rich yet vulnerable continents on Earth.

African Raptor Databank splash screen: Stu Porter (Bateleur Eagle photo) and Paul MacDermot (splash screen)

African Raptor Databank splash screen: Stu Porter (Bateleur Eagle photo) and Paul MacDermot (splash screen)

Large raptors, notably vultures are showing catastrophic declines in parts of Africa.  Decreases of up to 97% for some species have been indicated in West Africa in just over three decades.  Declines of 50-60% are indicated for the savanna regions of East and Southern Africa.  There is a desperate need to get good baseline information on raptor populations in all regions, to monitor these populations closely, and to understand the causes of declines so these may be addressed, quickly.

There is a long history of ornithological observation of birds of prey (raptors) in Africa which has followed the traditional methods of field notebooks, with the information either painstakingly transferred to computer later or sometimes forgotten altogether.  Habitat INFO has teamed up with The Peregrine Fund, Kurt Eckerstrom, the Convention on Migratory Species, Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Bird of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU) and ESRI software providers to offer new opportunities for our methods of observation.  Armed with the new ‘African Raptor Observations’ app, birdwatchers, naturalists and members of the public are being encouraged to record sightings of raptors anywhere on the continent using their personal phones.  The app has been designed to use the GPS and other advances in phone technologies to obtain precise locations of these sightings and also the mortalities of raptors, even when out of cellular network range.

A crucial advance is the ability of this app to log the efforts of the observers.  A common problem with the majority of biological records is that they often reflect the movements of the observers more than the locations of the target species.  However, by recording where the observer has been as well as what they’ve seen it’s possible to assess observer effort and to calculate observations per kilometre or hour.  This means we will be able to compare what is happening to these birds and their environments across regions and through time.  Of equal importance is the design of the App to accommodate information on the causes of raptor mortalities and to convey this information quickly to the live data observatory.

Much of the information required for a robust biological record: who recorded it, when and where, is handled automatically by the device leaving the observer to focus solely on what they have seen or witnessed.  Raptors can be a challenge to identify, and a challenge that birdwatchers seem to relish.  Novices can assign confidence to their identifications and photos can be uploaded to enlist help from experts.  There are future plans to couple the recording app with an e-guide to African raptors.  The application is designed to make recording as simple and intuitive as possible.  Extensive testing has been carried out and the development process has been dynamic and iterative, with a strong focus on the small details which can often be overlooked.  Voice recording permits the user to enter detailed information when there is a lot going on and when it is impractical to type.

These additional dimensions, and the fact that it is available completely free, really set ‘African Raptor Observations’ apart from other mobile applications and will make it the default application for recording raptors across Africa.  The App is downloadable now, free, from the Google Play store.

This project has been designed to empower globally-concerned citizens, both residents and visitors, to play an active role in monitoring the state of the environment in Africa.


Notes to editors

ARDB partners include The Peregrine Fund, CMS (Raptors MoU), ESRI, EWT Bird of Prey Programme, Birdlife Tunisia (AAO), NiBDaB, Tanzanian Bird Atlas, and other representatives in West Africa & Namibia.  For more information visit www.habitatinfo.com/ardb

Habitat INFO is a GIS consultancy based in Pembrokeshire, Wales which specialises in the collection, management and analysis of spatial data and works in the contest zone between conservation and development.  More information is available at www.habitatinfo.com

The CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Birds of Prey (Raptors MoU) aims to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline when and where appropriate. The Raptors MOU came into effect on 1 November 2008 and has 46 Signatories (45 countries and the European Union) and 3 Cooperating Partners. It covers 76 species and extends to cover 132 Range States and territories in the African-Eurasian Region. More information is available at www.cms.int/raptors

Kurt Eckerstrom runs a consultancy in the USA and works closely with a variety of NGOs to help them achieve their goals

The Peregrine Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, based in Idaho, USA, dedicated to saving birds of prey from extinction.  They have a very active programme in Africa.  More information is available at www.peregrinefund.org

For related media please navigate to http://goo.gl/ATdqez

For more informaton or to schedule an interview with a company representative, please call habitat INFO’s office on +44 1437 732812 or email info@habitatinfo.com

Download this press release as a PDF here

Jun 122014

We’ve had a bit of a population boom at habitat INFO recently.  On Friday 16th May we hastily setup the incubator for the first time and loaded it with approximately 40 Partridge eggs which had been laid by our resident hens.  We didn’t really know what to expect!  Not only was it all a bit of a rush but we were also entering uncharted territory; our normal day involves map making not Partridge breeding!

However, we were delighted to discover on Tuesday that the first little one had hatched and then, over the next 24 hours another ten hatched leaving us 11 in total!  They’re Grey Partridges (aka English Partridges) and our intentions are to release them here at the office to try and re-build the local population.

Partridge chicks

Partridge chicks

Tim and his girlfriend have also taken the plunge and got a puppy; Molly the Border Collie!  Ketchup (Rob’s English Pointer) and her are getting to know one another and Molly is slowly settling into her new surroundings!

Molly the Border Collie

Molly the Border Collie

Jun 062014

  • Database reaches 62,398 records
  • 837 records received this month
  • Project logo developed
  • 10th Annual Conference of the Birds of Prey Programme, Etosha National Park, Namibia
  • African Harrier-hawk

May has been exceptionally busy for the ARDB!  We’ve not only been processing more data but have also developed a project logo and presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the Birds of Prey Programme, Etosha National Park, Namibia – read on for more!

We’ve received an additional 837 records bringing the total in the database to 62,398!  Thanks are due to Clive Barlow (159; The Gambia), Thierry Helsens (202; Mali), Simon Delany (128; The Gambia), Andre Botha (166; South Africa) Rob Davies (122, Namibia) and Bernard Madden (60, Namibia/South Africa).

We’ve worked with artist Paul MacDermot to develop the splash screen for the app and the project logo; we hope you like it!  The original photograph of the Bateleur Eagle was taken by Stu Porter of Wild 4 Photographic Safaris who has kindly allowed us to use it.  We’ve worked to try and portray raptors as a safeguarding mechanism for Africa with the Bateleur looking down across the continent.

Rob attended the 10th Bird of Prey Programme (EWT) Annual Conference held at Eldorado near Etosha National Park in Namibia during May and launched the mobile app for the ARDB to the southern African audience thanks to a lot of very hard work by our developer Andrew Rayner.

habitat OBS - African Raptor Observations

habitat OBS – African Raptor Observations

The first day was a workshop organised around the plight of African vultures and the widespread and acute problem of poisoning.  The workshop was capably mediated by José Tavares of the Vulture Conservation Foundation in Europe.  There were lots of exciting outcomes from this workshop that Andre and team will broadcast in due course but one of these was that the ARDB and the mobile app should function to capture and host reports of vulture mortalities through poisoning.  The structure of the database will be developed further to accommodate the protocol for poisoning investigations.

Several delegates installed the mobile app on their android phones and we are now receiving their data.  We had a field excursion on day 2 with nice sightings of Redneck Falcons chasing an African Harrier-hawk (or Gymnogene!) and several vultures.  For four days after the conference Rob was able to rigorously field test the app and the map shows all the sightings and survey routes that he recorded.  The app works well and only used 30% of phone battery power on a full day out in the field.  So in light of the bad news we heard about vultures during the conference it was great to observe 150 Whitebacked Vultures and 9 Lappet-faced Vultures come down to a carcase on the Andoni Plain (top right in the map).

Mobile app field trial - Etosha NP - 21st-28th May 2014

Mobile app field trial – Etosha NP – 21st-28th May 2014

The app is now available for download through Google Play but still in beta mode while we make sure the server is able to handle all the survey waypoints that are coming in.  Please email Tim (tim.wroblewski@habitatinfo.com) to be added to the beta team and for instructions on how to set up.

Rob also met with Drs Chris Brown, John Mendelsohn, Alice Jarvis and Tony Robertson in Windhoek at the EIS office to discuss the proposed data exchange agreement between the ARDB and the Namibian Avifauna Database which houses a substantial number of records for Namibian raptors.  Holger Kolberg has kindly offered the valuable Namibian raptor data he holds to the ARDB.  We will post more on Namibian data soon.

Neil Baker noted the ubiquitous distribution of African Harrier-hawk or Gymnogene across Tanzania (we are using African Harrier-hawk as the English name for this species in the ARDB to match most text books and Birdlife’s World Birds Database but we also prefer ‘Gymnogene’!).  Clive Barlow asked if the distribution is ubiquitous Africa-wide and the attached graphic showing the 1184 records this species in the ARDB (particularly historic records in grey) demonstrates their occurrence across the majority of sub-Saharan habitats.

Records of African Harrier-hawks in the ARDB

Records of African Harrier-hawks in the ARDB

Keep sending your records in and, if possible, via an Android smart-phone (iPhones next!)..

Best wishes,

Rob, Tim and the ARDB team

May 022014


  • Database reaches 61,410 records
  • 636 records received this month


Another productive month for the ARDB!  The database now stands at 61,410 records which is fantastic!  We’ve had a further 330 records from Andre Botha for Southern Africa which brings his contribution to the ARDB to 20,013!  We’ve also received 301 records from Oliver Fox for The Gambia who Clive Barlow referred to the ARDB – great job guys!  Even I’ve managed to collect some records this month although not nearly the same number I’m afraid; I collected 5 records during my time in Botswana!  No map this time but here’s a photo of the first ever African Fish-eagle I’ve seen!

An African Fish-eagle seen whilst on a Mokoro in the Okavango Delta (Photo: Tim Wroblewski)

Keep sending your records in!

Best wishes,

Tim and the ARDB team