How to submit Beach Patrol records
A new reporting procedure for beach patrol records will be used from October 2022 that will enable observers to make submissions using their own computer at home, also from a smartphone. This digital approach builds upon the wider use of computer technology applied to other topics on the Birds New Zealand website, including access to papers in Notornis, the Birds New Zealand magazine, access to a range of technical reports and regional newsletters, for submitting reports of rare or unusual birds, for information about conferences and for providing access to the membership system.
The same information required in the past will continue to be recorded but in order to increase the scientific value of each observation most questions (excepting two) will need to be answered; these are termed “required fields”. New records cannot be submitted unless all “required fields” are completed. In the past, estimates of the age and the freshness of birds, also plumage contamination from ships oil, were not always submitted leading to many incomplete records. In addition to recording oil pollution on birds, records can now be made of birds caught on fishing lines and birds that have been shot. Observers can upload photographs of dead birds – helpful for confirming identification.
A beach patrol report should be submitted as a Nil return if no birds are found. It is just as important to know when and where birds are not washing up on beaches, as it is to know when and where they are being found.
Information to be recorded is set out in the following table.
A = Fresh body or decaying (< 7 days dead).
B = Dried body, wings or other parts of a body, or a skeleton
(> 7 days dead).
|Notes for Completing a Beach Patrol Submission
|Click on the date of the patrol using the on-screen calendar.
|Beach Patrol district code
|Select the Beach Patrol district code from the drop-down menu on the screen.
|Enter the beach name using geographically recognised names shown on “NZ Topo 50” maps; ref Land Information New Zealand.
|Record the name of the nearest town or city. Use nationally and regionally recognised names of a city/district/town. This information is helpful to researchers who may not recognise the name of beaches.
|Beach length patrolled
|Enter the length of the beach patrolled in kilometres (in 00.0 format) as measured from a “NZ Topo 50” map, or recorded using the GPS facility on a mobile phone or other GPS instrument. Report distances to the nearest 0.1 km. This information is essential in order that the effort involved in finding specimens (number of specimens per kilometre) can be deduced over time by month, year and by region.
|Enter a clear description of the start point.
|Enter a clear description of the finish point. Latitude and longitude coordinates are optional and may be used to locate start and finish points on remote coastlines where headlands, bays and beaches are not named.
|Name/s of observers
|Initials & family name of the primary observer, also the email address. Add names of other observers if needed. The primary observer must be a real name of a person having their own email address. Observations reported from third-party natural history websites will not be accepted.
|Current weather & tide
|Briefly describe weather & and tide on the day of patrol.
|Briefly describe weather over previous four weeks. Weather records might be useful in analysis for providing insights into the occurrence of bird wrecks.
|Bird species found
|Enter the ‘Common name’ of a bird from the drop-down menu. Common names are derived from the Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, 5th edition. Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2022. Ornithological Society of New Zealand Occasional Publication No.1. A drop-down menu will appear on the screen when the first two or three letters of each bird name are entered. Following on-screen directions record the number of birds found, estimated age [three categories: adult, sub-adult, unknown], and freshness [two categories: A, B].
|Species name or category in the pre-2021 database
|Select the corresponding ‘Species name or category in the pre-2021 database’. The purpose of requiring names of birds in two fields is to link new observations using 2022 common names with the names of birds that were recorded in the database earlier than 2021; many bird species were renamed in the 2022 Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand.
|Maturity and Freshness
|Estimate the maturity (adult, sub-adult, unknown) of birds found. Enter the numbers of birds counted in each category.
Estimate the freshness of birds found using one of two categories. Enter the numbers of birds counted in each category.
A = Fresh body or decaying (< 7 days dead).
B = Dried body, wings or other parts of a body, or a skeleton (>7 days dead).
|Evidence of unusual causes of bird mortality
|Record evidence of (a) oil pollution, (b) birds caught in fishing lines, (c) birds that have been shot. Reply Yes/No to each question. If Yes, select the species and number as requested on the screen.
|Record significant observations or comments about the birds found, particularly where the specific identity is uncertain e.g., leg, wing and bill measurements, colour of bill, legs and plumage. Particulars of banded birds can be recorded here.
|Are you submitting photographs? (optional)
|Photographs can be uploaded to support your observations where the identity of the specimen is uncertain. Follow the menu on your screen to submit photographs. Maximum 3 images for each species, each image should not be more than 2 mb in size. Please place a ruler beside the specimen being photographed to show the relative size of the bird.
Use of common names
Common names are used because most members submitting Beach Patrol reports are not scientists and more familiar with common names for everyday use than they are with scientific names. Common names are in the Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, 5th edition. Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2022. Ornithological Society of New Zealand Occasional Publication No.1. When submitting new observations, a drop-down menu will appear in the “Bird Species Found” box on the screen when the first two or three letters of a common name are entered, then select the name of the bird. The aim of this approach is to simplify and speed up the submission of records and to eliminate naming errors. The computer system will reconcile common with scientific names, and, if needed, both names can be selected in data summaries and for analytical work.
Also select the corresponding “Species name or category in the pre-2021 database”. The purpose of requiring names of birds in two fields is to link new observations using 2022 common names with the names of birds that were recorded in the database earlier than 2021; many bird species were renamed in the 2022 Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand.
Beach Patrol submissions can be made at any time; there is no need to accumulate records – so please submit them soon after each patrol. A receipt of each submission will be emailed to the primary observer. Please note: only records of birds will be accepted. Interesting though they might be records of seals, dolphins and turtles cannot be submitted.
A message will appear at the top of the submission page requesting corrections if specific information boxes are not completed. The message will read, “There was a problem with your submission. Errors are marked below”. Scroll down to find empty fields; a message will read “This field cannot be blank”. Please complete the blank field.
What to do if a banded bird is found?
A specific banded bird panel for new records is no longer provided in the Beach Patrol Scheme because the number of historical records is miniscule and have never been used for study. New records of banded birds found dead on coastlines (locality, species, band number) should be submitted directly into the National Banding Scheme; for particulars, please refer to birdsnz.org.nz/schemes/nz-national-banding-scheme/
Historical records of banded birds (65 in more than 440,000 birds in the database) are being maintained. Observers may, if they wish, record the numbers and species of beach-wrecked birds carrying leg bands, or flipper bands in the case of penguins, in the general comments panel but these observations will no longer contribute to statistical records in the Beach Patrol database. However, this is not a substitute for submitting information about banded birds directly to the National Banding Scheme.
What to do if a rare bird is found?
Periodically rare, unusual or vagrant birds are found on beaches, for example, Adélie penguin, Bridled tern, Manx shearwater, Bulwer’s petrel and Cory’s shearwater. Although it is helpful to submit records of rare birds that have been found dead on beaches to the Beach Patrol database it is essential that such records are also reported as rare and vagrant birds on the Birds New Zealand website birdsnz.org.nz/schemes/rare-and-vagrant-birds/. This is the primary webpage for reporting rare birds, irrespective of whether specimens are dead or alive. It leads observers to the Society’s rare bird database. Please follow the instructions on this webpage for submitting records of rare, unusual and vagrant birds.