Birding in British Columbia

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Do you keep field notes for every day
Poll ended at Mar 30 8:47 pm
Yes 33%  33%  [ 6 ]
No 39%  39%  [ 7 ]
Sometimes 28%  28%  [ 5 ]
Total votes : 18
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 Post subject: Field Notes
PostPosted: Feb 29 8:47 pm 
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Joined: Jan 26 8:47 pm
Posts: 52
Hi everyone
I would like to know what you put into your field notes.
Thanks
Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 01 10:33 am 
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Joined: Aug 05 12:03 pm
Posts: 3638
Location: north shore
my field notes are the photos i take and look over later on. :)

_________________
Paul Kusmin
http://www.flickr.com/photos/revs45
http://45revs.blogspot.com

Digital (photo) Life List:
284 birds B.C. / 427 birds N.A. / 736 birds World (including NA)


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 01 10:51 am 
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Joined: Jan 12 11:49 pm
Posts: 62
Location: Langley
I do a yard list daily, out in the field usually just pics as well (usually just FOY's, rares or gifts!), sometimes day lists. eg. AMRO SOSP, location, numbers, sexes.


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 01 11:30 am 
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Joined: Dec 08 7:11 am
Posts: 1156
Date
Location (UTM's if it is a site I don't visit regularly)
Start time
End Time
Start weather
End weather
Notes on anything that would affect my ability to detect birds, or cause the birds to be more/less detectable, or any major changes to the site since the previous visit.
Species and total number (I record by sex and age only with certain species)
Unusual subspecies for area
Abnormal plumages
Visible markers or bands (numbers or codes if noted)
Occasionally I might make a note on behavior, but I don't generally keep detailed notes on that type of thing, unless working on a specific project that requires it.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 01 8:53 pm 
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Joined: Apr 20 9:03 am
Posts: 102
My background as a biologist and working in the RBCM collections for three years means I can get a bit obsessed about field notes.

For each site I visit I record:
- Place name and location (UTM's)
- Date
- Start and end times
- weather
- all species seen
- for some species I will count numbers, and for some I will count sexes. For example I am not going to count a flock of starlings, but I last weekend I did count the number of WEGR I saw (2).
- Any other natural history notes - for example last fall I was birding at Clover point when a group of 4 orca went by about 20-30m off shore.
- Who I was with
- If it is a new site I will make notes on habitat type
- I will note bands, deformities, other weird/unusual things. Interesting behaviour.
- I will sometimes record how I detected a bird - song/call/visual/fly-over...
- In the breeding season I will make notes on breeding behaviour/evidence - nests, carrying a fecal sack...

When I am at home for the day I keep a very basic feeder/yard list with all the species, sometimes numbers, that I saw over the course of the day.


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 02 11:18 am 
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Joined: Dec 26 10:39 am
Posts: 107
Location: Vancouver
I'm not a biologist, but I do contribute to eBird. When I'm on dedicated birding adventures, I'll record:

- Date/location
- Start & end times
- Distance travelled (or, if it was within a 30m radius, I'll consider it 'stationary')
- All bird species seen
- # of individuals of each species, I'll also sometimes count subspecies, sex, juvenile/immature/adult status.
- I also count 'sp's - birds I can't identify to species, but I have a general idea what it was. Eg, if a large gull sails overhead, but I can't tell ya exactly what it was, its a "Larus sp."
- notes on bands, unusual plumage, behaviour: courting/breeding/nesting type behaviour is particularly valuable - pairing in suitable nesting habitat, courting displays, carrying food, etc.
- notes on weather, # of people I was birding with, factors that might influence what the birds are up to (people & dogs about, etc), and other things worth noting down.

I used to also keep a feeder list on days when I was home, but we had to move late last year, and then found out that our new place doesn't allow seed feeders. So sad, so very sad. (my hummingbird feeder has been a real hit though!)

I like sharing my notes with eBird - it isn't much extra work, and helps build a global database of populations & migration patterns.

Jill Mitchell
Vancouver


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 02 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Jun 01 4:29 pm
Posts: 97
Location: Malahat, B.C.
Wow, I should be taking notes on the best note taking ideas! I'm not that great at keeping records, usually only when I am away from home will I record many details. Best I pick up my socks!

Jill: "seed feeders not allowed" I've never heard of such a thing, do you live in a condo complex, or other Strata type housing? Are they worried about birds nesting? bird waste products? attracting predators? All of the above, maybe. How sad for you. :( Hope they don't ban your hummer feeder too.

Deborah
Malahat, B.C


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 02 8:04 pm 
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Joined: Dec 26 10:39 am
Posts: 107
Location: Vancouver
Deborah -

I live in a housing co-op - we're still fairly new here, but its like a big extended family. We thought of hiding a feeder in some bushes in the back yard, but its not worth the fallout if we get caught - they've had significant problems with rats & squirrels, and don't want anything about that would attract them (Everett Crowley Park is literally in my back yard...so there's lots of interface with habitat). The 'no feeder' rule is about the only thing we don't like about living here, so we're not going to rock the boat.

I've really enjoyed keeping notes actually - I find it more rewarding than "just bird watching".

Jill


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 05 8:32 am 
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Joined: Jan 17 5:43 pm
Posts: 78
I never take field notes. Birding is fun, taking notes reminds me of school... no fun.
I'm surprised any serious birders can take daily detailed notes. When I go out birding I'll typically hit several sites, see over 40 species, and in total hundreds if not thousands of birds; how could anyone accurately record that? Not to mention the time I would waste inaccurately recording the total number of robins and other common as stink birds, I might as well hit another 2 sites instead.
I will recall and report rarities, odd colour morphs, and any weird behaviour so that next year I have a good idea where and when to look for stuff, but even these notes are incredibly undetailed. My brain takes all the field notes.
Even a 'backyard list' would top 20 species daily, but would include entries like 1200 crows, 116 robins, and 40 GW gulls, but nothing special... there's no point paying extra attention to regular birds when I could be out finding something rare.
I also find the humour in several people selecting the 'sometimes' option, referring to daily notes. Nobody can sometimes do something every day.


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 06 1:15 pm 
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Joined: Dec 08 7:11 am
Posts: 1156
Everybody is free to bird however they like, but I am far more interested in the "regular stuff", and rarities are just an interesting sidelight.

For those of us more interested in seasonal distribution or habitat usage, keeping notes in ones head simply is not an option. My personal database includes over 400,000 records and close to two million data points. Try keeping all of that straight in your head! Even if all that you are interested in is chasing rarities, it pays to keep records of some kind.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 06 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Nov 28 12:29 am
Posts: 464
Location: Victoria
I'm reminded that some of the tools I use such as field guides, location guides, species occurrence lists, and online sources have been derived and compiled from field notes. Without the field notes as a basis, birding becomes be much more of a guessing game with perhaps less success.

Hats off to those who do take field notes and keep a journal of the species they observe and thanks to those sharing their notes and filing their reports into things like eBird, the Breeding Bird Atlas and local birding club record committees.

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Kevin Slagboom
Victoria, BC


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 17 2:53 pm 
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Joined: Jan 26 8:47 pm
Posts: 52
Guy L. Monty wrote:
Everybody is free to bird however they like, but I am far more interested in the "regular stuff", and rarities are just an interesting sidelight.

For those of us more interested in seasonal distribution or habitat usage, keeping notes in ones head simply is not an option. My personal database includes over 400,000 records and close to two million data points. Try keeping all of that straight in your head! Even if all that you are interested in is chasing rarities, it pays to keep records of some kind.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

Hi Guy
What do you mean by" My personal database includes over 400,000 records and close to two million data points"?
Thank you
Wesley
Campbell River


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 Post subject: Re: Field Notes
PostPosted: Mar 18 6:27 am 
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Joined: Dec 08 7:11 am
Posts: 1156
I enter most of my field notes into a searchable electronic database, of which I have records of over 400,000 bird sightings. Within those records, there are multiple points of information, such as date, time, weather, number, age, sex, band numbers, etc.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC


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