Archivos de Diario para diciembre 2021

20 de diciembre de 2021

White Pines Christmas Bird Count

Every year come Christmas Bird Count season I do several counts, one of them is the White Pines CBC centering around Oregon IL. My area is on the SW edge near Dixon. Mostly farm land, with the Rock River dividing my territory in half (I actually have to leave the circle to get from one side of the river to the other), and a couple of Dixon City parks that have good habitat.

I wasn't expecting a good count this year: waterfowl haven't shown up in any good variety, and lack of snow on the ground means that finding birds in farm land would be difficult. But wow, in spite both of those things being true, I had a great day.

I don't usually do any pre-dawn owling for this circle because I have to drive 50 minutes to even get on site, so I typically do my owling after dark. But this year I was on site by 0600 and the air was so still it would have been a sin to not try for owls and I scored Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, and Great Horned Owl, easily the best haul I've had here. Later in the day I added two Christmas Bird Count life birds with a very photogenic Red-shouldered Hawk and a not so photogenic Northern Shrike. A dense thicket with a mountain bike trail was packed with sparrows, waxwings, Chickadees, and this titmouse eating a caterpillar.

In the end, I got 42 species, got decent coverage on the area, and even got to get home earlier, since I didn't have to stay out to look for owls. I don't usually write journal posts but I really had a good day.

Anotado en 20 de diciembre de 2021 a las 10:42 PM por neylon neylon | 4 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de diciembre de 2021

Start of Count Week

This is the first day of count week. I went out to Candlewick Lake today and had Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Cackling Goose, and a possible Oregon morph Junco.

Anotado en 26 de diciembre de 2021 a las 12:57 AM por neylon neylon | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de diciembre de 2021

Birding in groups

When joining a bird count, you might be placed into a team or join with your own team. Teams are usually small, I've never seen one with more than four people and it's usually only two people. Being in a team has a number of advantages, like more pairs of eyes to notice things, safety, additional witnesses in the event of a rare bird, having the option of splitting up for large areas. It's especially handy for driving, having one or two passengers makes birding by car so much easier. One thing I've seen before with newer birders, is that they're afraid to join a count because they think they'll get in the way, if you're thinking that, join up and volunteer to hold the checklist and keep the tally. That is incredibly important (it's basically the reason everyone's out) and this way the experienced birders can keep eyes and ears up.

If you come to a large area and decide to split up, remember, you are now creating an extra team and need to track your time/miles split-up separately. Something people sometimes forget is that it is just as important to know how much time and how many miles were covered by how many teams as it is how many birds were found. Without that information, the bird data is worth significantly less.

I would say don't let your team get over four though, at that point you practically need two vehicles, and with a second vehicle, two people could make up a second team to go to another part of the circle.

When you are in a group it's perfectly alright to talk, but remember that the primary reason you're out is to find birds so if someone sees something then everyone stop talking and look for birds. Also this is not the time to bring up your favorite controversial opinion and it is entirely possible that the fun likable guy you're birding with doesn't agree with everything you believe. If you're unsure what to talk about, well how about birds, I would assume that you both like those. As a compiler I would be annoyed if a team turned in a low list because they spent two hours arguing about climate change.

One important thing to remember, if you are signing up for a count and are bringing your own team (spouse, friend, kids ect), tell the compiler that when you sign up.

What if you join a smaller count and don't get put into a team? This isn't necessarily a disadvantage, and if you're a bit competitive, this can be fun, to quote Kipling: "Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, he travels fastest who travels alone." Working solo allows you to be a little more decisive in how you work the circle in a way that would make you a bit of a jerk if you did that with a team. I've also found that I can have my route planned out more before hand. Something that I do when working solo which I've found to be useful is I don't stop for a lunch break, I take snacks that I eat over the course of the day, this gives me an extra half-an-hour or so to look for birds and means better coverage.

Working solo or in a group both have advantages and can both lead to a fun and successful count, they just have slightly different tactics to employ to be successful.

Anotado en 27 de diciembre de 2021 a las 12:35 PM por neylon neylon | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Christmas Bird Count Tips: Scouting

After you have signed up for a count and are assigned your territory the next thing you need to do is scout the territory. You could go into a new territory cold, but you won't find nearly as much as if you scout it in advance.

1 Get historical intel
When you get a new territory, the compiler will in all likelihood give you some intel for the area on places to check and features that are present. Feel free to ask additional questions and also ask if you can talk to whoever had the territory before you. A couple of years back, I was moved to a new territory and the first thing I did was contact the previous counter who very kindly sent me a two page email filled with information about the area which was incredibly useful, especially since I couldn't get down to the area beforehand for any scouting.

2 Online Information
After you've got the map and acquired all information that you could get, the next step is to go online and research your area. Pull up Google Earth, eBird, and the websites for city parks, county forest preserves, state parks, and any other natural land groups in your area. I like to have a printout of the map and some markers, first I mark out any water (creeks, wetlands, ponds ect) with a blue marker) next any park or eBird hotspot with a green marker, remember at this point you want to mark every park even city neighborhood parks, they may look useless on google, but you'll know for sure when you check them.

3 Location Scouting
Last step is to actually go out and check it out prior to count day, I don't bother with the obvious bird hotspots like large forest preserves or eBird hotspots with more than 100 species, because I know I'm going there on count day and in all likelihood the compiler mentioned those sites as focal points for the area. Instead I'm going to check out those little parks, creeks, and see which neighborhoods have bird feeders or are in sheltered areas.

If you do your scouting in the three days prior to the count, then rare birds that you see might be added to the count week list (see count week https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/rock-cut-christmas-bird-count/journal/60788-christmas-bird-count-tips-count-week). Also remember that compilers usually like to keep people in the same territories year to year, so even on count day I'm thinking about what I'm finding and how I might change my route next year. I've had a few counts where I discovered a park that I didn't know about on the day of the count and factored that into my planning for the next year's count.

Anotado en 27 de diciembre de 2021 a las 12:53 PM por neylon neylon | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Tips: Hedgerows, all of them

I think most of us are fully aware that edge habitats and hedgerows are great places to look for birds, so this isn't some astounding revelation, it's more of a reminder.

Hedgerows are all over the place and are frequently allowed to grow up as a property boundary, look for ones where you have a big open space like corn field, mowed grass or prairie divided by a hedgerow, that will act like a funnel for where all of the birds will be. This can be right in town or in the country or in a natural area.

Some that I've found:
A couple of years ago in winter, I was giving someone rides to physical therapy and then since I had about an hour, I went birding around the hospital grounds. At a property boundary was a hedge next to a weedy grass field loaded with House Sparrows, Chickadees, Cardinals, Song Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, and I even got to witness a Sharp-shinned Hawk grab a Starling.
At a forest preserve on a CBC was a large grass prairie and then a corn field with a hedge dividing them, not much in there but there were American Tree Sparrows, White-throated Sparrow, and a Field Sparrow.

A big one to remember here: if you were just going out birding or chasing, then some of those birds I mentioned really aren't that interesting, but if you're doing a Christmas Bird Count, then every single bird counts, and a hedge row filled with House Sparrows is still useful data. Plus you never know what might be mixed in with the sparrows.

Anotado en 27 de diciembre de 2021 a las 12:55 PM por neylon neylon | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Christmas Bird Count Tips: Count Week

When you join a Christmas Bird Count, you are joining a one day count with the main goal being to find as many birds as possible in a 15 mile diameter circle in one day of searching.

However, if you want to have some extra fun you can add in Count Week. Count Week is the three days preceding and the three days following the day of the count. The differences here are you are only looking for birds that no one saw on count day, and you don't tally numbers, just presence in the circle.

I like to make use of the three days prior to count day for scouting (see scouting https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/rock-cut-christmas-bird-count/journal/57237-christmas-bird-count-tips-scouting), if I see an interesting species that isn't there on the day of the count, I've got it as a back-up. For the three days following, you can run out to grab things that you didn't see on count day.

Most of the time, I wouldn't worry about common birds that you see in count week, but I did do a CBC once where no one reported any gulls on Count day, so a Count Week Ring-billed Gull would have been welcome. So feel free to keep track of what you see during Count Week and when the compiler sends out the count summery, look for things that aren't on there that you could add.

Anotado en 27 de diciembre de 2021 a las 01:12 PM por neylon neylon | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario