A magical app

It was a full day of coaching at Benslow today, so I didn’t get out and about at all, but I did have an idea for something to write about…

So let me take this opportunity to tell you about an app I recently downloaded to my phone. It’s called Merlin and is produce by Cornell University – a very clever bird identification app with seemingly almost limitless species lists that can be downloaded….for free! Although it can attempt to identify a bird from a photo you may have taken on your mobile device, I don’t take many bird photos that way, so the thing that I’m using it for is sound identification. I’m reasonably good at recognising bird calls, but there are a lot I don’t know, and one way to get better is to have something which can tell you – in the field – what you’re hearing.

There have been some rather limited apps which I’ve used in the past, but Merlin, I have to say, is superb. If you’ve ever marvelled at Shazam – an app which can recognise a piece of music from just a few seconds of sound – then you will appreciate Merlin. It takes the sound from the device microphone and analyses it in real time and tells you exactly what birds it is hearing. And I have found it to be both accurate and fast, and able to recognise multiple species calling at the same time. Remarkable!

I took the screenshot below at Sculthorpe Moor a few days ago, and this shows the birds it identified within a few seconds of sound recording. All common enough species which I would have known anyway, but now that I have confidence in the app I will be much more likely to turn it on if I hear something I don’t know, and that will be a huge help in trying to identify birds that I might initially only hear.

No new species for March 21st:

Birds = 147
Moths = 13
Wildflowers = 25