Oh lawsey, a frost. I finally put the fire on for first time this winter, a quick warm before heading out to try for some more passerines uber-locally. And an outside shot at Pochard and Tuftie. Both had been disturbed from their favourite spots by shoots this past weekend, and it usually takes a few days for them to try returning. They're happy in winter gatherings, but some local breeders are already about reclaiming territory, indulging in a little early morning exchanges at their display pools. All half-hearted at mo', why no quick return after flushing- but give it another month.
Trouble now was their pools near here only need a couple of nights of cold nights to freeze over completely. Today, or not going to score close to home. And it wasn't to be today.
Passerine numbers in the cover crops had shot up again (pun intended). Big increase in Reed Buntings. The estuary edge must be becoming hard work. But no joy with any newbies.
Did I care? Not in the slightest. I'm playing, I'm not even competing against myself. Part of how I settled to local birding was dropping personal lists. I've got a few CWs and the hard work is done. I'd drawn a blank and had a brilliant time.
Some CBC big figs:
Christmas 2012: 71,531 participants. 2,369 locations.
Christmas 2005: record 250 species counted in the Mad Island Marsh count circle, Texas.
Christmas 2015: international record 431 species counted in the Cosanga-Narupa count circle, Ecuador.
(Pfffft. In Blighty this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch was the biggest ever; in January over a million people took part in counting more than 17 million birds. We've got this.)
We've got this. Have we?
If we can get that number of people counting garden birds, why can't we get all our WeBS sectors covered?
In my Bible, Colwell's Shorebird ecology, conservation and management, the author reviews the effectiveness of monitoring programs. CBC is in there- as well as giving several examples of where the CBC has provided some useable data for a few species, he concludes 'despite its shortcomings, CBC data are useful in understanding range shifts, especially given (its) century-long history'.
Of more interest, his comment on programs in general: 'Most of these programs have relied heavily on the cooperation of volunteers to collect data; consequently, they have traded off quality in their survey methods for willing volunteers.'
Oof. Roughly translated, they've pared down the methodology to the bare bones, and they really do need volunteers to RTFM.
He does, however continue to explain the statistical sorcery of double-sampling is helping; Essentially run a first analysis, spot anomalies, run a second analysis. Sorcery becomes necromancy when the initial data is poor, however. You're running a dead horse.
Back to vol numbers.
Why do they drop away so much from the simple surveys to the more complex?
From the team to the individual efforts?
From the fun to the serious?
Covering that is a series of posts in itself. But if those counties who have trouble getting national atlas surveys covered within original timescales want to think about getting more 'troops' in the field for the next effort, then could they try something between now and then to encourage more to be involved, to get more individuals working as teams, to see how counting can be fun?
Could something modelled on the CBC team game be the spark for some?
Final day of the count week tomorrow. I've tried most elements, I had a sort of go at one at lunchtime on my allotment, which I think I'm going to try properly tomorrow. That Blighty Garden Bird watch? Well, CBCs have a specific feeder watch element. Let's give that a go..