Date: 1/13/18 1:01 pm
From: Chuck & Lillian <misclists...> [CALBIRDS] <CALBIRDS-noreply...>
Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Are Regional/County Listservs Still Relevant?
Yes, they're still relevant. I read CALBIRDS and
LaCoBirds every day. I try to post only when
necessary. [I have been accused of posting
slightly off-topic items, an accusation which -
IMHO - is lacking a sense of humor.]

I find it very useful for people (it certainly
doesn't have to be the *same* person) to continue
to report on rare birds. I don't get out right
away on rarities, as some people habitually do,
and it might take a week - even two - for me to
get there. It's nice to know the bird is still
there. Driving around fruitlessly in Los Angeles
or SoCal traffic is hazardous to your mental health.

I don't use GPS (no smartphone - Luddites Live!),
but many do, and it seems silly to possess the
exact location info and not share it. Written
descriptions of location PLUS the GPS coordinates
would serve both camps. One can always google at
home the GPS coordinates and write down where it is.

I have found *many many* times that descriptions
given on-line will get you to the general locale,
but then are lacking some crucial detail(s) which
would get you to the bird, if you had them.
Details, please! Put yourself in the birding shoes of someone new to the area.

Chuck Almdale
North Hills, Ca.

At 07:46 AM 1/13/2018, Ken Burton <shrikethree...> [CALBIRDS] wrote:
>You raise some good points (thanks for
>venting). Your eBird analysis raises a
>slightly off-topic issue with eBird that bothers
>me and this seems like a reasonable opportunity to share it.
>As you point out, eBird hotspots can be quite
>large. eBird reviewers, following eBird
>instructions, ask people who submit rarities at
>more-precise personal locations to move their
>observations to the hotspots or they create new
>"stakeout" hotspots for them and ask observers
>to move them there. For some reason, there's a
>desire within eBird to consolidate rarity
>sightings. I feel this consolidation often
>masks location precision that can elucidate
>valuable movement patterns of these birds, and I
>generally resist these requests (unless the
>existing hotspot is extremely small or my
>sighting was extremely close to its plotted
>location), at least until the bird is gone.
>Perhaps someone can explain why having rarity
>sightings clumped into single locations is worth
>erasing the precision of personal locations
>plotted exactly where sightings are made, which
>is especially easy and accurate to do on mobile devices.
>Ken Burton
>Crescent City
>On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 2:18 PM, Paul Lehman

>It is pretty obvious that over the past few
>years that many of the
>local/county/regional/state listservs have
>become less and less relevant to a large number
>of birders, as many of these people have voted
>with their feet….er, fingertips….and moved over
>to other sitestes such as eBird. Not only that,
>but bird information dissemination appears to
>have become MORE fragmented as time goes on,
>rather than less fragmented. We now have the
>local listservs, eBird, WhatsApp/GroupMe text
>messaging groups, Facebook individual and group
>sites, personal Flickr sites, personal and
>private-group text messaging, and even a handful
>of old-school folks who actually still call
>their friends on the phone! Some of these
>services are SUPPPOSED to complement each other,
>e.g., a text-message group that is supposed to
>be used for immediate dissemination of high-end
>rarity information only, and folks are supposed
>to post to it AND to the local listserv in a
>timely manner, but instead the former is used
>almost exclusively and often for more standard
>bird fare, so the general listserv gets only some scraps, if anything.
>Using my home-county listserv here in San Diego
>as an example, the number of local birders who
>now rarely if ever post to SanDiegoRegionBirding
>has grown steadily. Most of these folks still
>happily get information from such sources, but
>rarely, if ever, post to it. But a good number
>of these people do submit eBird reports on a
>regular basis instead. Why only to one? Is it
>the ease of eBird submissions? Is it the
>instantaneous reporting from the field? (But
>that is also easy to do to a local listserv with
>any smartphone.) Is it that they can easily
>attach their photos to their eBird reports? Is
>there a widespread belief that posting rarity
>news only to eBird is “enough”? Or for
>some, are they timid to post publicly, or just
>lazy, or simply don’t care to give back to a
>listserv from which they got information
>allowing them to see a rare bird? Whatever the
>reason, recent checks on many days since
>mid-December of the number of posts to the San
>Diego listserv versus the number of county
>“rarity” alerts coming through eBird is
>something on the magnitude of 1 to 20 or 30
>(albeit somewhat skewed by the numbers of
>out-of-town Nazca Booby viewers and local-birder
>2018 “big year” kickoffs, and by the
>potential for multiple rarities mentioned per a
>single listserv post but only one species per
>eBird alert). A little of this dichotomy can be
>explained by the fact that some birds such as a
>semi-tame, multi-year-staying Greater
>White-fronted Goose at a local lake still
>appears daily on the eBird rare-bird alert—given
>that it is a flagged species—but that vt
>virtually nobody would dream of posting its
>continued existence on a regular basis on the
>county listserv. Or, over the past few weeks,
>the continued presence of Nazca Boobies, a
>wintering Red-throated Pipit, and many other
>regional and state-level rarities locally, has
>drawn an especially large number of California
>birders from out of town as well as many
>out-of-state birders—few of whom have posting
>privileges to the San Diego listserv, but almost all of them can post to eBird.
>In most areas, eBird has become the best way to
>keep track, on an almost daily basis, of the
>continued presence of existing rarities. (With
>the caveat that some such reports are erroneous,
>as they are through any source, and folks should
>be careful following up on some such reports,
>especially when made many days after anyone else
>has reported seeing the bird. Even when some
>folks are chasing known birds at known
>locations, they can mess it up. Posted photos of
>misidentified stakeouts are not overly rare, and
>the number of such erroneous reports without
>photos are likely even greater. Just recently,
>for example, a friend of mine from out-of-state,
>after seeing Nazca Booby here, drove up to Santa
>Maria to see the tame Garganey. He was greeted
>there by a birding couple, also from out of
>state and chasing the same birds, who proudly
>pointed out the bird to him: a female Northern
>Pintail. He quickly showed them the real
>Garganey. But, the bottom line is, don’t
>underestimate the ability of some observers to
>misidentify even known stakeouts. But I digress…)
>Are eBird reports also good at giving the needed
>background information on how to FIND these
>stakeout rarities? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
>A dropped pin at a hotspot may or may not
>signify a specific spot or may just denote the
>location of a large park or marsh where the bird
>is. Some observers add in exact lat/long
>information, but many do not. Also, because many
>human beings (including many birders) are
>geographically challenged, many locations they
>give in their eBird submissions are MIS-STATED
>or MIS-PLOTTED, which is one potentially serious
>problem with using eBird data in a number of
>ways in general. But even if the general
>location is indeed correct, the included
>comments (if any) may say little about the
>specific tree(s) a bird is frequenting, or the
>best time of day it might be seen there, origin
>questionable issues, or information about
>possible legal access issues, etc. These
>specifics, which can be very important, are
>often best imparted through posts to the local
>listservs. Just in the past couple weeks, such
>was the case here in San Diego County with a
>couple good posts to the listserv dealing with
>private property issues and homeowner and birder
>behavior involving the Ramona Harris’s Hawk.
>Does one need to post an update on every
>continuing rarity every single day on a local
>listserv? No, although regular updates on
>high-end and just-recently-found rarities are
>very helpful, and then periodic (weekly?)
>updates that such-and-such long-staying or
>returning rarity is still present is also
>helpful to other birders. But few local birders
>supply that information. Recently here in San
>Diego, there have been MULTIPLE DAILY eBird
>updates on Nazca Booby, Red-throated Pipit,
>Greater Pewee, Thick-billed Kingbird and
>Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Harris’s Hawk,
>Tricolored Herons, Nestor Park birds, etc. etc.
>etc., and almost nothing on these birds for well
>over a week or more on SanDiegoRegionBirding.
>Nothing. The question then becomes: “Does it matter?”
>Looking at the broad birding community, some
>birders spend almost their entire birding lives
>chasing stakeouts found by other people. If
>that’s what they like doing, then great. Some
>(but far fewer) birders hate chasing “other
>people’s birds,” very rarely do it, but
>spend almost all their time doing “their
>own” birding. That’s great, too! And most
>of us birders are at some point in the continuum
>between these two extremes. But the bottom line
>is, a relatively small number of birders find a
>relatively large percentage of the rare birds.
>And many birders do spend much of their birding
>time chasing previously found birds. So, what
>can this large group of chasers contribute?
>Perhaps rarity-status update information (BOTH
>positive and negative) if they see that such
>updates have not been made in “a reasonable
>time period,” or perhaps any news on changes
>in a bird’s preferred exact site or timing of
>appearance during the day. Maybe include a bit
>more information than the standard "continuing
>bird"? Include maybe where and when the
>continuing bird was seen if possibly different
>from “usual.” And if the report
>substantially extends the date-span, then
>ideally including some comment about how it was
>identified, or a photo. Some eBird reviewers
>avoid confirming late reports of continuing
>rarities without at least some documentation,
>given that some birds are reported long after they actually departed.
>If folks use only eBird for their rare-bird
>chasing bird info, and then submit only to
>eBird, then fine. If they do likewise only via
>some texting or Facebook group, fine! But if
>they routinely use a local listserv to get their
>“chase” information, see the bird, and then
>rarely or never return the favor to birders
>following behind them—be it for reasons of
>laziness, cluelessness, or simply
>self-centeredness—then thhis does seem just a
>wee bit galling to those birders who are finding and sharing.
>Perhaps most birders are perfectly happy with
>the quality and speed (i.e., efficiency) of the
>rare-bird information they receive and think
>that my concerns are unfounded and mostly merely
>tilting at windmills. Others may sympathize
>fully. In any case, at least I got to vent!
>--Paul Lehman, San Diego


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