Sunday, July 30, 2017

Scythebill 13.7, with IOC 7.3 and more

Scythebill 13.7 is now available!  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.    This version includes the just-released IOC 7.3 taxonomy, improvements to Scythebill's location database, and a number of bug fixes.  Thank you to all of the users who reported these bugs!  Your help in keeping Scythebill reliable is invaluable.

IOC 7.3

The IOC 7.3 release is just out, and includes a number of splits:
  • All of the recent AOS updates have been incorporated, including:
    • Thayer's Gull is, at long last, lumped into Iceland Gull.
    • Cassia Crossbill - a form endemic to southern Idaho - is split from Red Crossbill
    • Lesser Redpoll is (alas) split from Common Redpoll
    • Baird's Junco is split from Yellow-eyed Junco.
    • Great Grey Shrike has been split in two - the North American and eastern Asia forms are now Northern Shrike.  (There are a few proven records of Northern Shrike in the Western Palearctic, and a lot of hypothetical records.)
  • Glossy Swiftlet has been split 8 ways
  • Two southern Indian laughingthrushes (Black-chinned and Kerala) have each been split in two.
  • Silktail, an enigmatic Fijian endemic, has been split in two.
You can see the full list of splits, lumps, and other changes on the IOC website.

One note:  while most of these splits are automatically handled to the extent possible, the Common/Lesser Redpoll split is not.  All sightings will be kept as Common Redpoll, unfortunately.  At a very loose level, Common Redpoll is the form in most of the world, so North American records can be left alone.  But Lesser Redpoll predominates in Great Britain and Ireland, and is common in northwestern and central Europe.  Lesser Redpoll is also the form introduced into New Zealand.

Australasia improvements

I've changed the definition of "Australasia" to more accurately match what denizens of that part of the world typically think, and now follow the Eremaea eBird definition.  In particular, this means that the following locations are now in Australasia (and out of the Pacific Ocean region)
  • New Zealand, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Norfolk, and Macquarie Island
This definition does not follow the ABA listing regions.  For those of you that care about that, I've added an "Australasia (ABA)" location that can be used in reports.

There's also a new checklist within this region, for "North Solomons (Bougainville)" (politically, part of Papua New Guinea, but biogeographically part of the Solomon Islands).

And for the truly nitpicking among you, I'm working with ABA rules committee members to clarify some as-yet ambiguous rules in some of their listing regions.

Location updates

Scythebill has updated its location database to reflect the last couple years worth of changes (and to properly align with eBird).  This should mostly be pretty transparent to all of you, but if you've been birding in Latvia and have been assigning sightings to Latvian districts, that work is likely for naught;  its political organization is now totally different.

For the detail-oriented among you, the Åland Islands are no longer treated as a top-level country, but instead as a province of Finland;  this means the "Finland (with Åland Islands)" location is no longer necessary or available.

Bug fixes

The following bugs have been fixed in this version of Scythebill:
    • BirdLasser imports should now be working again.  (They removed a "Location name" column from their exports which Scythebill was expecting.)
    • eBird imports will work a little better in some rare cases.  (They've added yet another date format, it seems.)
    • If you were building your own extended taxonomies, there were some glitches when entering sightings just after importing your own .csv taxonomy file.  Those are fixed.
    • Scythebill's "choose your own abbreviation" feature did not work well for some accented characters found in Turkish names, in states like "Şırnak".
    • Entering IOC sightings for the Moluccan and North Solomons Dwarf Kingfishers did not assign those sightings to the correct species!
    As always, this release of Scythebill includes a number of recent country records as well as small checklist fixes here and there.

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