Saturday, April 24, 2021

Scythebill 15.2 - BirdTrack support, browsing and import improvements, and more

Scythebill 15.2.0 is now available, with many improvements across the application, including BirdTrack support and several browsing and import improvements.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

Update: 15.2.1 was released on April 26 with two bug fixes - one for eBird MyData imports containing records from "January 1, 1900" (which eBird uses for dateless records), and a second for correctly setting the "Photographed" field when adding photos in one missing case.

Browsing improvements

Browse by location, has two improvements, both of which you can see in the screenshot below (though you may have to squint).  First, you can now select a single visit and immediately see the list of species from that visit - this is a November 23, 2006 visit of mine to Iberá Marshes in Argentina:

Previously, you could only see the visit data when you selected a single visit (things like visit comments, the eBird observation type, etc.).  That's still accessible, with one more click - select "Visit data..." - but now you can see all the species observed (and edit them) immediately.

You can also see an "Only visited locations?" checkbox at the top, toward right.  Instead of showing all the countries and states/provinces of the world, as was the case in earlier versions, if you select this, you'll only see locations where you've recorded at least one observation.  So, I've got just the six countries in South America visible, and you can probably guess that I'd really like to visit Colombia!  This option is "sticky" - Scythebill will remember its setting as you leave and come back to this window.

Similarly, Browse by species has a new "Only encountered species?" checkbox, which will hide all the species you've never encountered.

BirdTrack support

Scythebill now supports importing from and exporting to BirdTrack, a very popular website and mobile application for recording bird sightings in the British Isles and Ireland.  As with any other new import format, when it's new, it's likely to have a few rough edges.  If you encounter any of them, please let me know!

BirdTrack imports happen in the usual way in Scythebill.  From any page, use "Import sightings" in the File menu, and then choose importing from BirdTrack.

To export to BirdTrack, go to Show reports, then in the bottom left select "Export sightings..." and choose  "... to BirdTrack".

Other import improvements

When you get done with an import, you also now get an accounting of what new species you recorded at a site.  For example, in this recent trip to a local site, I had 13 species which I hadn't yet recorded from that site, and 40 species that were new for my year list:

If an import gives you world lifers, or new birds for your country, state, or county lists, you'll get that here too.  You've always gotten this sort of information when entering sightings directly in Scythebill, but now you get it from imports as well!

As part of adding BirdTrack imports, Scythebill can now look at a lat/long point and identify the country (and sometimes state) without asking Google or eBird.  This has been used to make Wildlife Recorder and HBW imports significantly easier - large imports that used to require manually resolving hundreds of locations to a country can now import in one go.  You do need to have entered location names in the original application (this is important for Wildlife Recorder users!).

Importing did a poor job of letting you resolve an imported location to one you'd already recorded in some cases.  This should would much better in all cases now.

Finally, you can now use import from eBird even when you're not in a bird taxonomy.  This never happens for eBird, of course. But BirdJournal can create eBird-style imports for taxa other than birds, and these can now be imported into Scythebill.

Reconcile "sp's" against checklists

    The Scythebill taxonomy upgrade has long let you reconcile splits using its checklists. But up until now, there wasn't any way to redo this process once you left it.  You can now, at any time, use a new "Reconcile sp.'s automatically" option in the File menu.  You'll get a dialog that tells you what will happen before you click "Yes".  Here's the results of me going back in time and grabbing my list as it existed in 2016:
    The next time you run a taxonomic upgrade, you'll also get this improved information - instead of just telling you how many sightings will be resolved, it'll tell you what species changes come of it.

    You can do this with either the Clements/eBird or IOC taxonomies - it'll run with the current taxonomy in either case.

    Small improvements

    • Scythebill is now "signed" on Windows.  For now, this won't change much - though when Windows gives you warnings about an "unrecognized app", you'll see my name as the publisher.  But as people install and use Scythebill, the installation warning will eventually disappear.
    • When using Enter sightings, the "New for" column will also tell you if you have new species for your "year" list (though only for your world year list - if you're tracking multiple year lists, this doesn't quite do what you need).
    • The BOU names for the IOC taxonomy are updated for some recent changes, most but not all of which align better with widespread non-British usage (for example, Greater and Lesser Canada Goose are now just Canada and Cackling Goose).
    • Scythebill automatically uses its checklists to simplify data entry when you're typing abbreviated species names.  It now prioritizes regular species over rarities - for example, the first "D" in England is now Dartford Warbler and not Dark-eyed Junco.
    • There is now a new preference to let you choose the language for Scythebill.  If you don't want to use the system language, you can explicitly choose from English, German, or Spanish.
    • As always, a bevy of recent first records are incorporated into the checklists.  The rarity list is fixed for Oregon and British Columbia, and the Armenia checklist is much improved.

    Fixed bugs

    • When entering sightings, if you quit Scythebill or asked to import sightings before clicking "Done", you'd lose your work!  You now get a warning, and you can also use "Save" in the file menu during species entry to immediately save without leaving.
    • Some of the keyboard shortcuts when entering sightings - like "H" to toggle on Heard Only - would not always get saved
    • When entering sightings and moving to or from the IOC taxonomy, the table might not correctly display species counts and other information. (The data was always present.)
    • The IUCN Redlist status for endangered species wouldn't appear in "Browse by species" if the species only had a scientific name.  This just affected extended taxonomies.
    • An error dialog that sometimes appeared on MacOS when plugging in or plugging monitors should no longer appear.


    1. Can I import my AviSys records into Scythebill ?

      1. Yes, absolutely! Check out the Scythebill manual section on this at