Saturday, March 2, 2024

Scythebill 16.3 - easier editing of existing visits

Scythebill 16.3 is now available!  It adds several small improvements and refinements; in particular, it's much easier to edit existing sightings.  There's also a number of new   As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

Editing existing sightings

Entering new sightings is easy, but getting back to the "Edit sightings" screen - to edit all the sightings from that visit - has always been a lot more difficult than it should be.  There was one way, buried deep in "Browse by location", but it was hard to find.

Now, it's easy: any time you select a sighting, whether in "Browse by species", "Browse by location", or even "Show reports", you'll see a new Visit sightings... button.  Click that, and you'll be taken to the "Edit sightings" screen with a list of all the sightings from that same visit.

Location checklist spreadsheet improvements

When you save a location checklist as a spreadsheet, there's two new options:
  • First, you can turn off including family names, which can make your spreadsheet much shorter.
  • Second, you can add a column for whether a species is a lifer.  Previously, the only option was marking the species name in bold, which was hard on those of you who like to write spreadsheet formulas.

BirdLasser import improvements

Scythebill now supports BirdLasser users who use scientific names as something other than the "Tertiary" name.

Scythebill also had a bug that could lead to some species being dropped from BirdLasser imports.  This would only happen in cases where the "ISO Date" column - which has date/time down to the millisecond! - had multiple species with the exact same value.

Small fixes

  • In some very odd cases, US states whose two-letter abbreviation matches a country's two-letter abbreviation might display as that country.  (For example, Pennsylvania would appear as Panama!)
  • State/province lists are updated for a few countries, to match updated eBird treatment.  The only really significant changes were for France, which changed from 22 regions to 13.  (Scythebill will automatically rearrange your records to match.)

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Scythebill 16.2 - small improvements and refinements

Scythebill 16.2 is now available!  It adds several small improvements and refinements.  There's also a number of new   As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

Update: Scythebill 16.2.1 was released with bug fixes and small new features - see below.

Update 2: Scythebill 16.2.2 was released with one bug fix - 16.2.1 broke the "New for" column in Enter sightings for everyone not using multiple observers.

16.2.1: New for an observer

If you've enabled multiple observers, Scythebill will now tell you if that sighting is a lifer for just one of the observers.  You'll still see "World" if it's new for all of the observers, but if it's just new for one or more of them, their abbreviation or abbreviations will appear.

16.2.1: Another way to create trip reports

You can now select multiple "visits" in Browse by location and create a trip report from those visits.

New for "Photographed"

When entering sightings, if a species was photographed for the first time ever in your list, Scythebill will tell you that in the "New for" column.  This is really handy for those of you who care about your list of photographed species. (A fix in 16.2.1: this feature now works if you drop pictures directly onto the camera icon.)

Hybrids and sp's of eBird groups or IOC subspecies

I got pretty annoyed with myself recently when I had an intergrade "Red-shafted"/"Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker in my backyard - and no way to enter it!  Scythebill now lets you create a sp. or hybrid of these eBird groups or IOC subspecies.

New spreadsheet option - "Omit sp./hybrid sightings?"

When you save a report as a spreadsheet, you now have a new "Omit sp./hybrid sightings?" option.  This will automatically remove any Sp. or hybrid sightings.  This option is particularly useful if you output a spreadsheet sorted by date, which is great for seeing what your 100th species for your patch or 1000th bird for your life list, without having the numbering confused by sp's and hybrids.

Fast access to location maps

You can now click the place-marker icon which shows up for any location with latitude and longitude coordinates, and it'll take you right to Google Maps.  Even better, that icon now shows up in any sighting editing part of Scythebill.  (Let me know if it'd be helpful to add support for other map providers, like OpenStreetMap, Bing, etc.)

Better Wildlife Recorder imports

Wildlife Recorder imports are now much improved.  In particular, if you export a second CSV file with locations, you'll have vastly less work to do on imports.  Also, Scythebill no longer assumes you're using UK-formatted dates

Other fixes

  • Some MacOS users with Sonoma (not me!) had reported problems with Save dialogs not showing up when they tried to save reports or country checklists as spreadsheets.  I've made a tweak which might help, though I'll admit the underlying problem is still opaque to me.
  • The "Total Ticks" report had problems handling mutli-continent countries, like the US, Indonesia, and Russia.
  • A very long-standing bug with an error message "IndexOutOfBoundsException: bitIndex < 0"  is hopefully fixed.
  • An error that some users saw when changing observers should be fixed.
  • Birder's Diary imports now are more tolerant of files using different encodings. (I think this will fix issues when using the latest version of Birder's Diary, but I also expect that most users will get better results asking Birder's Diary to create a file for eBird, then importing to Scythebill with that.)

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Scythebill 16.1 - IOC 14.1 taxonomy

Scythebill 16.0 is now available!  Its main feature is the new IOC 14.1 taxonomy, with some small fixes.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

IOC 14.1 taxonomy

The IOC 14.1 taxonomy was finalized today, and Scythebill's ready today.  You can get an overview of the changes on the IOC website, as well as a full list of splits and lumps.  There's a 3-way split of Intermediate Egret, 4-way splits of Hooded Pitta, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, and Black-throated Trogon, and an 8-way split of Olive-backed Sunbird!  As always, if you want to see what it did for your list, visit the Splits and Lumps special report, and you'll see a rundown of just what happened with your life list (I'm up net 10 species):

Other changes

There's not a huge number of other changes, just a couple of fixes:
  • When searching for latitude and longitude from a location name (especially towns and cities), you'll get results far more often from Google than before.
  • Extended taxonomies which don't contain checklists would act as if they supported (empty) checklists, giving users lots of "New for checklist" notices.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Scythebill 16.0 - eBird/Clements 2023 taxonomy and more

Scythebill 16.0 is now available!  Its main feature is the new eBird/Scythebill 2023 taxonomy, but it also includes a number of smaller improvements.  There's also a number of new   As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

eBird/Scythebill 2023 taxonomy

This is a big update - more than 90 splits, many of them multi-way, with several four-way splits, a 5-way split of Hooded Pitta, a 6-way split of Rufous Fantail, and an 8-way split of Olive-backed Sunbird!  You can see the full list of changes on the eBird site, but if you want to see what it did for your list, head over to the Splits and Lumps special report, and you'll see a rundown of just what happened with your life list (I'm up net 27 species):

(My Splits and Lumps report)

Better world taxonomies with checklists!

There's new massive Reptiles of the World, Amphibians of the World, and Odonates (Dragonflies and Dameselflies) of the World taxonomies.  And the Butterflies of the World and Mammal Watching world taxonomy got updated not long ago as well!

You may have thought Scythebill already had these - and it did.  But now, virtually every species comes with a range statement and per-country checklists (plus US, Canada, and Australia state/province/territory checklists). It took a lot of work to get range statements for all of those taxa.  But now that they're available, you can see (for instance), 175 species of dragonflies and damselflies found on Madagascar (138 of them endemic!), or more than 200 species of snakes in Australia!  I've pulled this information from iNaturalist, but, to be clear, it didn't have this information when I got started, so I've dug up the information and contributed range information for somewhere around 10,000 species across the various taxonomies.  And for every one of them, you're one click away from the iNaturalist account for the species, often with a wealth of information (a new feature in 15.9.0).

"Verify against checklists" for extended taxonomies

If you're using an extended taxonomy with checklists (today, the Mammals, Butterflies, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Odonates of the world), you can use the Verify against checklists... option in the File menu.  It'll tell you any species you've recorded that the checklists say shouldn't be there.  It's possible that the checklists have errors, and if so, please consider submitting a correction to iNaturalist - but when I tried this on my own mammal list, I uncovered a lot of mistakes in my own records.  For example, that "White-fronted Capuchin" I saw in northern Peru wasn't that widespread species at all, but rather the critically endangered Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin!

Browse by species: "Only species found in"

The Browse by species window now has a new option any time you're using a taxonomy with checklists, like the built-in bird taxonomies or any of the new world taxonomies.  You can enter a country, a continent, or even a "magic" region name like Western Palearctic or ABA Region, and the taxonomy will automatically filter itself down to orders, families, and species found in that area:

Mammal Watching taxonomy for the ABA region

This is especially handy for making the new world extended taxonomies manageable.  So if you want to use "Browse by species" for exploring a taxonomy, but just for one country, you can do it.

Smaller fixes

  • Entering sightings using a checklist could sometimes display information like a species count on the wrong row.  (It was a display-only problem - the data was saved on the right species.)
  • When building a new extended taxonomy, Scythebill was very picky about having each order, family, and genus appearing consecutively in the CSV file.  (That is, you couldn't have a block of species in family Someidae, then Otheridae, and then go back to more species in Someidae.)  It's now much more flexible.
  • The Splits and Lumps report confused just about everyone with how it reported changes.  Now, instead of telling you it's showing splits for "2022", it'll say "2022 vs. 2023".
  • The "English (BOU)" name option for IOC showed "Yellow Warbler" for the wrong species (Setophaga petechia instead of Setophaga aestiva).  A few other BOU names have been added for that option, e.g. Daurian and Turkestan Shirike.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Scythebill 15.9 - the IOC 13.2 taxonomy, Butterflies of the World taxonomy, and more

Scythebill 15.9 is now available!  Its main feature is the new IOC 13.1 taxonomy, but it also includes a number of smaller improvements.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

IOC 13.2 taxonomy

IOC 13.2 is just released, and is already supported by Scythebill.  It's got 42 splits and 21 lumps - to see which affect you, visit the Splits and lumps special report.  (This report shows what has changed from one older taxonomy to today's taxonomy - so for just the changes in 13.2, you want to look at what's changed since 13.1)

My "splits and lumps" report;  only net plus-two, alas!

Butterflies of the World taxonomy

There is also a brand new Butterflies of the World taxonomy!  It's a separate download, but it does take advantage of some newly added features (see below).  And you may have missed it, but there's also Reptiles of the World and Odonates of the World released back in March, and there's also new updates for both of these taxonomies today.

If you want to upgrade from one of the older butterfly taxonomies covering just part of the world, it's a few quick steps:
  1. Switch to the older taxonomy.
  2. From "Show reports", use "Export sightings..." and " Scythebill CSV".
  3. Switch to the newer taxonomy
  4. From Import, use "Import from Scythebill"
Once you're satisfied with the results, you can delete the old taxonomy altogether (which will delete all your records for the old taxonomy).

This taxonomy comes from iNaturalist data (also true of the Reptiles and Odonates of the World taxonomies).  That data is pretty good, but not as mature as the data for birds - both in taxonomy and in checklists, birds are in way better shape.  If you find issues with these taxonomies, and you have access to quality, modern data, you can visit the iNaturalist site and make adjustments.

If it's a problem with the underlying taxonomy, you can add a "flag" to a taxon to get a curator to look at it.   If it's a problem with the checklists, you can add species to a country's checklist directly.  But, in any case, please only do so if you have some expertise or access to up-to-date resources.  (For example, "I've got a 2001 field guide" might not be a good enough resource by itself, as taxonomy in these areas changes quite a lot.)

Species account links

In both the eBird/Clements and the Butterflies, Odonates, and Reptiles of the World taxonomies, when you select a species in "Browse by species" and other parts of Scythebill, you'll see a new link - "eBird page" or "iNaturalist page".  These links will open up a browser on the associated pages, letting you quickly learn more about each species.

New "eBird page" link!

Range and lifer maps for extended taxonomies

For "extended taxonomies" which include checklists - like the new Butterflies of the World checklist, or many of the other recently released world taxonomies - you can now click Range links and get a world map.  You can also use the "World lifers map" to see where you might have the most possible targets.

And you thought Brazil had a lot of birds...  there's over 2,500 butterflies!

Fixing photo directories in bulk

Previously, if you moved photos from one directory to another, you'd have to click each one to point Scythebill at the new location.  This was tedious, to say the least!

Now, if you fix one photo, Scythebill will see if it can find an analogous change to apply to the rest of your photos to fix them all at once.

Other changes

There's two new sighting statuses: "Better view desired" and "Unsatisfactory views".  "Better view desired" is always countable, "Unsatisfactory views" is not.  It is entirely your choice which of these statuses you want to use (or if you want to use them at all!)

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Scythebill 15.8: the IOC 13.1 taxonomy, and lots of other improvements

Scythebill 15.8 is now available!  Its main feature is the new IOC 13.1 taxonomy, but it also includes a number of smaller improvements.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

Important! Scythebill now has an email list - you can join online at

Scythebill 15.8.1 was released on March 4: it fixes eBird imports from the "year list" and "life list" pages, adds support for 11 new IOC languages, and some other small improvements.

IOC 13.1

IOC 13.1 is just released, and is already supported by Scythebill.  It's got 43 splits and 12 lumps - to see which affect you, visit the Splits and lumps special report.  (This report shows what has changed from one older taxonomy to today's taxonomy - so for just the splits here, you want to look at what's changed since 12.2)

Import improvements

BirdLasser imports should be working again - the column header names changed.

eBird checklist imports will now automatically try to fetch the county for your sighting.  It can only do so for hotspots, not private locations.

eBird imports to Scythebill will automatically drop entries like "gull sp." (not supported by Scythebill), and tell you how many such entries were dropped.  Scythebill also lets you automatically trim "My Data" eBird imports to just new dates.  These two features did not play well together!  They do now.

Data entry improvements

After entering a species, earlier versions of Scythebill would let you change a single-species sighting to a "sp." or a hybrid, and let you change "sp." sightings back to single species.  You can now make any change among these options - hybrid back to single species, "sp." to hybrid, and hybrid to sp.

Browse by location now supports a Remove sighting... button.  (This is actually a bug fix, not a new feature - this button accidentally disappeared a couple of years ago.)

Total ticks improvements

The total ticks report is now much less spartan.  Instead of just presenting you with a total number and putting all the details in the spreadsheet, you now get a sorted list of all the locations and their totals, and you can browse species lists (and even edit!).

Extended taxonomy improvements

Extended taxonomies added support for per-country checklists in 15.5.0.  This has been enhanced to support per-country status (introduced, escapee, rarity, and extinct).  There aren't yet any taxonomies that take advantage of this feature, but I needed to support it in Scythebill first!

Extended taxonomy country checklists also now support Indonesia and Russia.

Other improvements

  • The "Reconcile sp.'s automatically..." menu item now lets you - optionally - take advantage of rarity information.  For example, a Whimbrel (in the eBird taxonomy) that you saw in California could be a Eurasian Whimbrel (in the IOC taxonomy), but that'd be a rarity.  It's much more likely that it was a Hudsonian Whimbrel. 
  • Scythebill's a bit better at handling backups to Cloud storage - in particular, re-trying automatically (and quietly) when your Cloud storage isn't available at the moment.
  • The World Lifers map now honors your countability preferences (so, for instance, if you don't count introduced birds, it won't include those in its count of possible lifers).
  • I've added Greek, Ecuadorian and Peruvian Spanish, Albanian, Armenian, Persian, and Marathi as eBird/Clements international names.
  • Sri Lanka, Oman, and Russia have updated lists of "states".
  • The second IUCN 2022 Redlist updates have been incorporated.
  • The Big Day special report summary should now look better on Linux.
  • As always, a variety of first country and state records are included in the checklists.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Scythebill 15.7.5 - eBird/Clements 2022 update is here!

Scythebill 15.7.5 is now available!  Its main feature is the new eBird/Clements 2022 taxonomy.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

Update: 15.7.6 was released on November 9.  It includes a few small improvements, but the most notable change is improved country checklists.  In particular, I'd completely flipped the ranges of Black-faced Bunting and Masked Bunting in 15.7.5, so if Scythebill auto-resolved this split for you, it may have gotten it wrong. You can always use "Verify against checklists..." in the File menu to look for sightings that may have the wrong species.

eBird/Clements 2022

The 2022 update of the eBird/Clements taxonomy is finally here, and it's a big one, with 118 new species from splits (and 41 lumps).  If you're a North American birder, this introduces just the Chihuahuan Meadowlark.  But if you've spent much time birding in the neotropics or southeast Asia, there's a good chance you'll have a lot of armchair ticks awaiting you.

As always, Scythebill will automatically handle the upgrade as much as possible, and use its checklists to automate splits where possible.  When you're done with the upgrade, visit the Splits and Lumps "special report" to see what's changed since 2021.  (For me, I had a whopping 31 gained against just 2 lost.)

There's also been some species where subspecies have been rearranged - moved from one species to another - which may give you some work even if there isn't truly a split.  This year, examples include:
  • Golden-bellied and Golden-crowned Flycatchers
  • Black-throated and Green-breasted Mango
  • Sulawesi and Moluccan Scops-Owl
  • Tropical and Large Scrubwren

Other changes

Other changes in this are fairly minor:
  • I've added over 1300 alternate scientific names to both taxonomies, mostly reflecting changes in genera over the years.  This will help users with imports that only include scientific names.
  • Scythebill should give a better message to Windows users whose file permissions prevent Scythebill from being able to save.