Scholar Builds Bird Watching App

3 May 2021

"I have always had a passion for nature. A large majority of my childhood was spent climbing trees, going on walks, and camping with my family in the Peak District near where I live. Whenever running in the Peaks, I would always wonder which birds were singing. That’s how the idea for Chiffchaff began to form in my mind.

Chiffchaff is a social media bird watching app that allows users across the world to detect over 4000 birds by their sounds and many more features. I started Chiffchaff during the summer of 2019. It took me just over a year to release – though the majority of it was done during the first lockdown in early 2020.

During Year 10 I began teaching myself about machine learning in my spare time. I learnt the majority of my skills through reading articles online and practicing on Kaggle datasets. I would browse Kaggle looking for an interesting dataset and then play around with the data and neural networks until satisfied with the accuracy.

Users on Chiffchaff can record and share posts. These range from your local robin to discussing migration patterns of birds. When recording a bird’s sound the most likely birds are suggested. This is done through a variety of neural networks which I have developed.

Before Chiffchaff I had never built an app or even looked at cloud computing, so it was a big learning curve for me. To this day the only application I have in android studio is Chiffchaff. I will be honest; it has been incredibly tough creating Chiffchaff alongside my A-levels, especially doing it by myself - I have encountered enough errors to fill multiple novels!

I created the neural network using python TensorFlow and server functions using JavaScript. I also used the Flutter API so I could code in one language for both iOS
and Android. My Arkwright Scholarship funding has been vital in the development of Chiffchaff.

The core principle behind Chiffchaff is about 'Reconnecting people and nature'. My vision is not only to reconnect people to nature, but to reconnect people through being in nature. So, I encourage you to download Chiffchaff and discover what nature has to offer near you."