I cannot make up my mind as to whether or not the instantaneous feed of other birders sightings is a good thing or not. To the pure lister it is all a gift from heaven. It lessens the guesswork, the effort and the time that might otherwise be spent travelling to and searching for the target species. The choice of venue for a day's birding can made based on up-to-the-minute news. An itinerary can be cobbled together thanks to the input of tweets, blogs and websites.
But does this not take the adventure, the surprise and the joy out of birding? Does it not reduce us to a pack chasing the good fortune of others? Are we failing to discover, for ourselves, what is out there?
Apart from the old twitcher's grapevine (based on who you knew and having access to their telephone number), finding out 'what's about' was through word-of-mouth (normally by bumping into birders out in the field) or actually being out in that field yourself and looking. My early trips to Pagham Harbour, Staines Reservoir and Dungeness were leaps of faith into the unknown, and all the more exciting for it. Many was the time when, on arrival, I would be given the good news about a present rarity, or be told that I "should have been here yesterday". Now, if I were to go down to Dungeness I could almost take you, blindfolded, to each and every avian attraction that is present even though I've not trodden the shingle since November. Yes, I could still wander off and do my own thing, but it would be a bit like paying to see a film and already knowing the ending.
Maybe this is why, after 43 years of birding, I tend to bird the places that are off of the radar - I don't know what was there yesterday. Everything is a surprise. Limiting, may be, but undoubtably satisfying.