I hope that you are keeping well and are looking forward to spring, in the last few days the first summer migrants have started to return yet it seems like only yesterday that we were reporting on Britain’s first Siberian Accentor on Shetland!
I am writing to you to let you know that, after much deliberation, and 13 very enjoyable years at the helm of Birdnet, that I have decided it is time to retire.
The birdnews scene has changed considerably since I took over Birdnet and although the easy option would have been to simply close the doors and turn out the lights, we wanted to make sure we left our long-standing and loyal customers with a continued birdnews service. So we are really delighted to report that we have been working very hard with Rare Bird Alert (RBA), who have agreed to supply you with birdnews going forward.
RBA are more than familiar with both the personal and technical requirements needed to provide you with an expert birdnews service. As you may be aware they are the longest running and most experienced providers of bird information and we believe are the best people to provide you with a first rate customer experience going forward. This transition has been facilitated with the expert help of Spurn Bird Observatory Trust Ltd, who are long-term partners of both Birdnet and the last couple of years RBA too. As Spurn holds a special place in our hearts and to recognise their help making this changeover happen, we are proud to announce that Spurn Bird Observatory will be benefitting financially from the deal.
We have agreed with RBA that whenever any of our customers renew with RBA, a percentage of this renewal will be donated to Spurn Bird Observatory, every year for as long as you continue to re-subscribe. The proceeds will be used to provide new habitat in the Obs garden plus a look-out tower for birders to use. Speaking about this deal SBOT Chairman Rob Adams told us, “We were privileged to be involved in this process. By transitioning your memberships to Rare Bird Alert you will not only have access to a first class news birdnews service but you will also be contributing to the future success of Spurn Bird Observatory. We know this will assist Spurn in providing a safe haven for the thousands of migrants that frequent our shores every year as well as a superb experience for all birders who visit.”
So how will the transition work?
From 27th March 2017 RBA will feed their bird news directly to your existing pager or Twitter services. The Birdnet website will no longer be operating but users will be provided with full access to RBA’s excellent birdnews website, more on this below.
RBA will continue to send you birdnews right up until the end of your current subscription period. Before the end of this period you will need to notify RBA if you intend to renew your bird news services and subscribe to RBA. They have committed that in the first year your new subscription with them will be at your current rates and going forward they are unlikely to increase their prices for existing customers so we expect you have a great deal for many years to come.
Following the changeover, your pager will automatically switch over to receive RBA’s news. If you currently have a full subscription you will continue to receive news on Megas, Rarities as well as Scarce birds. RBA send individual messages as and when they get news, so as a result you are likely to receive more messages and in a more timely fashion.
You will also be able to receive news of uncommon species such as Whinchat, Red-necked Grebe, Snow Bunting etc. However you will need to send your pager away to be reprogrammed to receive this news, RBA will advise on the procedure for this if you continue your subscription with them. You will be able to select your local county(s) for ‘uncommon’ news, which is another improvement. You will not be charged for this service as RBA have kindly agreed to pick up the cost of the reprogramming, nor will there be any additional charges for the extra news.
RBA pager customers get free access to their website and also the Lite version of their smartphone app. RBA have also agreed that you can have access to both these services. Combined with your pager service these two additions mean you will have the most comprehensive bird news service available - a pager for in the field news, website for desktop/laptop use and their app for use… well, whenever you like!
As RBA will be transmitting news on your current pager so it will remain on the PageOne paging network.
It is important to note that as per your original pager contract, at the end of your contract you must return the pager to ensure you are not liable for the £135.00 replacement pager fee. Please return your pager to Rare Bird Alert to ensure you are not liable for this fee.
RBA have not previously run a birdnews service on Twitter. However we are delighted to report that they have agreed to operate a service exclusively for our current Twitter customers. They have invested significant time and resources into developing this new service so we hope that most, if not all of you, will continue with your subscription going forward, which should ensure its continued existence.
The RBA news will come through on the current Birdnet Twitter accounts to which you subscribe. There will be a slight change to the service as the regional area accounts will carry not just uncommon birds but also scarce, rare and mega news. This will be particularly helpful to those of you who really only have an interest in a particular region or county as all the news will be in one place. Otherwise it will be very much as you were although RBA have their own ‘house style’ for construction of messages but this is similar to ours so you should feel right at home pretty quickly.
RBA have had their own very comprehensive bird news website since 2001, and it has numerous exciting features. You will receive a full subscription to this website, giving you access to all the live bird news plus all other subscriber only features. You will need to create an account on their website www.rarebirdalert.com and then get in touch with RBA letting them know you are a Birdnet customer and they will then extend your access in line with your current subscription.
So what happens next?
If your next payment is due in April you will need to transfer to RBA immediately if you wish to continue to receive news going forward. You will need to download and complete and contract transfer form and return it to RBA before March 27th. If you pay by standing order, please download and complete a form and return it with the contract, please ensure you cancel your standing order payable to Birdnet before April. If you pay by cheque please send it to RBA, made payable to R A Filby. And if you pay by card please include your card details on the transfer form. If you are unsure of your usual payment amount please contact me for confirmation. If you pay by card or cheque and would like to make future payments by standing order then please download and complete a form and return it to RBA.
RBA have agreed to refund you on a pro-rata basis should you not wish to continue beyond April, after you have made your payment to them of course. You will need to inform RBA before April 30th if you do not wish to continue with their service, after that date, and as per the usual Birdnet terms and conditions, no refunds can be issued, you will continue to receive their service until your next payment date.
If you next payment is due after April then as already discussed RBA will provide you with their services until your next payment is due, you do not need to take any action right now. However if you wish to continue with RBA beyond that you will need to notify them no later than three weeks before your next payment.
If you pay by standing order, please download and complete a form and return it with the contract, please ensure you cancel your standing order payable to Birdnet. If you pay by cheque please send it to RBA, made payable to R A Filby. And if you pay by card please include your card details on the transfer form. If you are unsure of your usual payment amount please contact me for confirmation. If you pay by card or cheque and would like to make future payments by standing order then please download and complete a form and return it to RBA.
If you have any questions for RBA please contact them, by email in the first instance. If you need to speak to them on the phone then they can be reached on 01603 457016 but please be mindful that during the transition over the next few weeks the admin team will be extremely busy and email is the best way to communicate with them.
RBA’s address for returning forms is:
Rare Bird Alert, 17 Keswick Close, Norwich, NR4 6UW
If you have any questions for me and Birdnet please get in touch. You can phone on 07863 208 400 or preferably by using our contact page. I will be unavailable from 3rd to 12th of April so for any queries during this period please direct them to RBA.
I really hope that you can see we have done everything possible to ensure you are left with a terrific service following my decision to retire. We also hope that your continued subscriptions will mean that Spurn Bird Observatory will benefit for years to come from your loyal support to RBA. We believe it is a win- win for everyone, knowing that quality and customer care are at the forefront of the service that RBA provide.
I would like to thank you all for your support over the years. I have made many friends and both Jen and I look forward to seeing you in the field and out and about at Spurn in the near future.
Thank you for support and friendship over the last 12 years.