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A funky thing happened on the way to the Forum

Forum.net off to a flying start?

On-line discussion amongst birders is nothing new ? ever since we found the net we have filled in the wet days and dark winter nights surfing the web in search of the perfect birding destination and chatted to our fellow obsessives about everything from ID to colour-ringing, the cat menace to birding books. Countries, states and even counties and local clubs have their mailing groups, and there are a growing number of groups for specialist interests from digiscoping to an unnatural love of gulls! As regular Fatbirder aficionados will know there are literally tens of thousands of websites across the world that respond to the birders thirst for knowledge, good deals and great birding. Some even have forums. Since ICQ and other forms of real time chat came in their have been chat rooms too? dammit there are even websites where you can find a birding life partner or find out about the latest doings of good old Bill Oddie. So what [I can almost hear you chant] is new about Birdforum.net?

The answer is lots or I wouldn`t bother to take up valuable space to sing its praises. [Take a look for yourself http://www.birdforum.net ]For a start I think it is definitely the best of its kind in the world? what I hadn`t realised is that its originator had been running another forum for ages ? completely unrelated to birding but somewhere he has obviously tried out the tech, format and possibilities. Small wonder that he has tried to make Birdforum.net so comprehensive. Having been alerted to its existence some while back I hadn`t taken a really good look at it until recently and when I did I looked up its originators address and mailed him. This resulted in an hour-long chat and my becoming infected with his enthusiasm for the project. Not least because he has the same attitude as me about commercialism on the net ? that is, there is nothing wrong with making money through a bit of advertising etc. but that the information such sites contain should always be free to the users ? its then up to them if they care to look at the ads or buy from the on-line shop. So everything on the site is absolutely free to people who join up!Back to what`s new? well for a start there are numerous forums on various topics ? Raptors, Sea-watching, Garden Birds, Conservation, News, a Member`s Noticeboard and so forth. The range of forums and the breath of their scope would, in itself, make this the biggest and best on the net. The fact too is that it has grown from a UK forum to an international one very quickly and now is as big in the US as here in Europe and attracts, just like Fatbirder, lots of interest from every continent. It`s a place to meet birders from all over and to get a truly global view. [For the strictly parochial UK birder it still has an updated sightings forum where you can share your latest birding coup and see what`s about too.One of the freshest and best features is that you can share pictures too and there is a remarkable and growing gallery with everything from the rankest amateur to some top pros. You can post up your trip reports as well (although this makes it a tad hard to link to).In short it is a growing forum that I loudly applaud. I`ve joined up too as I have long sought a place to ask questions and post answers without having to sign up to dozens of mailing groups. Just this probably makes it the best worldwide bird forum there is. So why not join me? Bird watchers of all levels are becoming members and include noted published authors and photographers as well as us more humble birders. The Forum is growing in membership in an exponential way ? whilst I had a peak this afternoon there were 300 people on line and 3 new members joined right in front of my eyes.

It really is one to watch and I`ll keep you all posted on developments.


4th July 2014