Date: 9/25/19 11:49 am
From: Earl Lebow <hawkowl...>
Subject: Re: [MBBIRDS] Rare Birds on MBB

I am thrilled that Clay has initiated this conversation and that Don and Phil are weighing in on this. I agree with Phil that MBB is for more than Rare Bird reports but there have been fewer and fewer of those over the years and Monterey is not the only omission. I have noticed eBird reports from Santa Cruz that do not make it to MBB. The plus of MBB in this regard is that reports can be in real time so that those interested in rarities can know immediately if something has appeared and can also receive real time updates. Right now Monterey Birders use a Whats App messaging program to inform each other of local rarities. According to Brian Sullivan at his talk Saturday night that is open to anyone who wants to join. Santa Cruz birders could also have their own Whats App program(open to anyone) to report rarities immediately. Of course that could mean the death knell for MBB.
I hope everyone weighs in on these options and I hope whatever ultimate decisions are made they are ones with the greatest buy-in from county birders in both counties so that rarities at least are communicated to every one as close in real time as possible.

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 25, 2019, at 11:18 AM, Don Roberson <creagrus...> wrote:
> ´╗┐Clay et al. -- this might be a good idea, but MBB readers would need to understand that eBird alerts are "unfiltered" and can often include mistaken identications and protocol mistakes made by newbies or out-of-towners.
> Monterey County has 5 separate eBird filters, four on land and one for pelagics. The way the GIS works for the pelagic filter is that anything reported on salt water (of what the GIS reads as salt water, and that can include beaches), pulls up the pelagic filter that is meant for boat trips more than 2 miles offshore, and those excludes landbirds and inshore pelagic birds. We've created Hot Spots that usually avoid these problems, but whenever an eBirder, often a visitor, creates a "personal location" that the GIS layer reads as salt water, suddenly a whole bunch of common birds are on the eBird Alerts. It is easy to tell when that happens when suddenly Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Barn Swallow, Rock Dove, or Brewer's Blackbird is listed a new "rarities" on the Alert. Someone out of town this week created a "personal location" at Bird Rock in Pebble Beach -- instead of using the Hot Spot readily available -- and the GIS read his spot as "ocean" and Cal Scrub-Jay, American Crow, Brewer's Blackbird, and Black Phoebe were found on that day's "rarity alert."
> Double-crested Cormorants and Common Mergansers often get caught in the filter, because the Monterey Peninsula filter includes Seaside and Carmel as well as Monterey and Pacific Grove. DC Cormorant has big roosts at Laguna Grande, Del Monte Lake. and Roberts Lake, but the filter is set at 12 because, from years of experience now as an editor, I know that many out-of-towners will claim all the cormorants at Pt. Pinos as Double-crests because it is the one they "expect" to see where they live in the East or South. Unless constrained by the filter, we'd have to spend hours weeking out mistaken huge counts for Double-crests at Pt. Pinos or Pebble Beach. So the local eBirders just have to live with the fact that counts of 30 Double-crests are not rare in Seaside, but will be posted as a rarity on the eBird alert. Same problem for Common Merganser and Common Raven -- both regular at Carmel River lagoon -- but rare elsewhere on the Peninsula. Out-of-towners routinely report female Red-breasted Mergansers in Monterey harbor or Pt. Pinos as "Common Merganser" [ as will claim crows in P.G. or Monterey as ravens] -- and the only way to avoid a lot of mis-identifications being shown on the maps is to set the Peninsula filter for Common Merganser and Raven filters at zero.
> On top of all this, any eBird user -- particularly beginning users -- can be prone to typos or mistakes. One person on Rick Fournier's tour who got to see the great Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher at Pt. Lobos was so unfamiliar with rarities that she reported it as "Yellow-bellied Flycatcher" on her list, and that got on the alerts. We've had new eBirders use the name of a bird from Asia, by mistake or ignorance of common birds, and those get on the alerts. Every eBird alert should come with the warning: "BEWARE. These are unverified reports. Use at your own risk."
> These are chronic and continuing problems, and this is just a partial list. The reader of eBird alerts needs to understand these idiosyncrasies, but non eBird users are likely to be very confused by these sorts of problems.
> This is something to think about when considering your propositions. Of course, any active birder can get a free eBird account -- and subscribe to the Monterey County alerts -- without having to do anything more. They don't even need to use eBird to get the alerts. Such folks would need how to read eBird alerts, with the problems outlined above -- but that might be easier than automatic provision of sometimes very-confusing alerts to the general public.
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