Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Recording my bird sightings

I’ve been meaning to blog about something I more or less fell into some months ago, but now I’m continuing to do it deliberately.  Every Saturday morning I spend the first half an hour or so of the day birding around Roundtop and recording my sightings in e-Bird.  My Saturdays are terribly busy, and sometimes the only free time I have is early in the morning before stores open or most people are awake.  The time I take my mini-birding run varies somewhat.  I start whenever the first birds are starting to move around in the new day.

I count every bird I see and can identify and log it in BirdLog, an app for my phone that automatically submits whatever I record to Cornell’s e-Bird.  The advantage is that I don’t need to be near a computer or WiFi to record my sightings.  Sometimes I drive slowly around Roundtop, counting bluebirds and starlings. Occasionally I’ll see something more interesting, like the first juncos or a vireo. Sometimes I walk around the cabin.  With BirdLog I can add to the checklist as I go along, save it, and then submit it whenever I’m done. I don’t have to write down my sightings, juggling binoculars and notepad.  I don’t have to worry about not having a notepad. I don’t have to worry about losing my handwritten list, translating my abysmal handwriting or even finding the time to sit down and enter data in e-Bird. When I hit Submit on my phone, it’s done.

Over the space of the months, I’m actually recording more birds than I did before.  Before I started using BirdLog, I tended to ignore the common birds around Roundtop, perhaps adding them to a list only when I also found something less common. I also tended not to enter birds I saw every day at Roundtop, mostly because I didn’t consider my daily sightings as birding in the strictest sense.  The way I’m entering sightings now gives a much better picture of the resident birds and their seasonal fluctuations.  If I don’t see anything unusual, so be it, at least I got out and got in half an hour of birding, even if I didn’t go on an official birding trip to someplace.

Then, if I do have time to drive to the river or the nearby state park, that’s great!  If not, at least I got to see something, even if I didn’t have time to go on an “official” birding run somewhere.


Scott said...

I probably should try this, too, Carolyn. I've got an iPad that would probably accommodate BirdLog, but the iPad's not connected to the Internet until I get in a "WiFi" hotspot. (I don't have a smartphone.) Would BirdLog save the information so that I could submit it when I get back home to a WiFi connection?

Very nice images accompanying the post, by the way. they make me want to go for a walk.

Sharkbytes said...

That is a very interesting app. I don't think I'd have the discipline to do it, though.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I don't have an iPad, but I don't have any trouble saving my in-process bird list on my phone, even if I turn the phone off or use another app, the list is always there when I go back to BirdLog.

Carolyn H said...

Sharkbytes: Do you keep a birding life list? If you do, BirdLog is an easy way to keep track of your sightings.