August 2015 eBirding Challenge: 20 complete lists

challenge-logo-2015There’s no question that July’s challenge was a tough one! Birding for 20 hours through the month, and in the ‘off-season’, is not a task for the faint of heart. Several of us pledged to meet the challenge, but soon fell behind and had to admit defeat. Now, while we wait to see which dedicated souls have managed to meet the target, here is the challenge for August.

It’s a relatively easy challenge — to upload at least 20 complete, effort-based lists during the month, each of a minimum duration of 15 minutes. This same challenge was run last year in April (with 17 birders meeting the challenge) and August (23 birders); and was again run this April (35 birders). So to stick with tradition, we have the same challenge for this August.

So: the target for August 2015 is to upload at least 20 complete listsicon_tooltip to eBird during the month. As in previous months, each list should be an effort-based, complete list of at least 15 min duration.

While birding towards this target, we’d like to remind you of a few listing ‘best practices’:

  1. Most importantly, your list should be an accurate reflection of what you saw/heard and did. Please don’t feel tempted to guess at species identity; when unsure, liberally use the slashes (eg, “Jungle/Common Myna”) and ‘spuhs’ (eg, “white egret sp.”). When a sighting of yours is flagged for rarity, please add informative comments on how you identified the species and eliminated other similar-looking species. Do count numbers of individuals if you can, rather than simply reporting them as present (ie marked with an ‘X’).
  2. The most valuable lists are those which are ‘complete‘. See the recent post on this on the eBird India Facebook page. Multiple lists of shorter duration (eg four 15-min lists) are more valuable than a single longer one (eg one 1-hr list). You might consider using a smartphone app (iOS or Android) for ease of recording multiple short lists. Similarly, travelling lists that cover a short distance (less than 5 km) are better than long travelling lists. Please never include birds from multiple sites in a single list.
  3. The accompanying information should be as accurate as possible: the location name and geographical coordinates; the start time and duration; the distance covered; and the number of birders in the group.
  4. And, of course, please record any signs of breeding under Add Details–Breeding Code; and embed photo, audio and video files to make your lists richer and more memorable.

Please upload all your lists by 5 September so that we can announce the results on 6 September. All birders who reach the target will be named and recognized on this website. One of these names will be chosen at random to receive a small birding-related gift in appreciation.

Here are the general rules of our monthly challenges. You can keep track of fresh lists coming in from India at this page.

Important. if you are new to eBird, please read this description first, and do take a look at the Beginner’s Guide.

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Repeated lists at a location

In June 2015, the India eBirding challenge was to upload at least 20 complete lists (of at least 15 min each) from a single location. Why is this an interesting thing to do and what can one learn from this? Here we explore these questions.

As birders we often like to explore as many different places as possible and see as many species as we can. But we might also have a favourite location or ‘patch’ that we frequent. This might be the locality where we live, or a nearby park or lake or patch of forest.

Can we, though our repeated visits, build up detailed information of the birds in these patches? The answer, of course, is yes! All we need to do is survey the patch repeatedly and write down what we find. These ‘surveys’ can be more or less sophisticated — the simplest is to keep a list of all the birds you see during each survey. And this is exactly what the June challenge was about.

How can one use the information collected in this way? Here are some possibilities:

1. Assess the ‘completeness’ of the survey. This can be done by making a graph of the total species seen against the number of lists. As you can see from the examples below, in the beginning the line rises rapidly because new species are seen in each subsequent list. But as more lists are added, fewer and fewer new species are seen. If the line is completely flat at the end of the survey it’s a sign that all or almost all species present have been seen. If the line continues to rise then it’s a hint that the total species list is incomplete.

Location-cumulativespecies-eg

Examples of accumulating species counts with repeated surveys at a single location. This can be used to understand the graphs at the bottom of this post.

2. Estimate the total number of species present. If the line described above is flat at the end of the survey, you can draw a line to the left and see how many species are likely to inhabit the locality. Use this with caution if the line is still rising!

3. Assess the relative common-ness and rarity of different species. This can be done very simply by calculating the frequency of sighting of each species. Very common species will be present in close to 100% of lists; rare species will be seen only a few times out of the total number of lists. These percentages can then be compared over seasons or years. Do note, though, that there are limitations to this simple method. For example two species may have the same true common-ness, but if one is vocal and the other silent, they may yield very different percentage calculations!

As an illustration of the information that can be generated from repeated surveys/lists at a single location within a single month, we have taken the June survey data (ie eBird lists) from those who met the challenge for that month, and have created the same graphs as above for all locations covered in this way. (For standardization, we took only locations that had at least 20 lists of 15-20 min duration each.) The results are in the graph at the bottom of this post. There is a lot to explore in these graphs, but to summarize:

1. A diversity of locations are represented, some relatively poor in species (total species around 20) and others very rich in species (total around 50).

2. In some locations, the species number rose rapidly as lists were made, thereafter flattening out. However in other locations, the species numbers continue to rise even after 20 lists were completed. This implies that in some places, even 5-6 hours of birding is insufficient to document all the bird species present. This is a very sobering thought!

3. Across many of these locations (which are from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi and Assam), the usual House Crow and Common Myna appear frequently in the list of most-observed species. But other species appear too, including Common Tailorbird, Asian Koel, and Oriental Magpie-Robin.

 

Location-cumulativespecies

Information on change in species totals with repeated lists from fifteen locations with 20 lists or more (each 15-20 min) in June 2015. The locations differ in their total species, how rapidly new species are discovered, and in the identity of the most common species.

 

So much information from the simple act of repeated birding! We hope you are inspired to make repeated lists of the birds you see at your favourite location!

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Kerala Bird Atlas starts today

Kerala Bird Atlas, first phase (2015-2016). Squares show the grids that will be surveyed in each district.

Kerala Bird Atlas, first phase (2015-2016). Squares show the grids that will be surveyed in each district.

For the first time in the India, a planned and systematic atlassing effort at the State level is getting underway. The Kerala Bird Atlas effort is expected to take 5 years to complete. Roughly one out of every ten kilometre squares will be surveyed once each in July-Sept and Jan-March. As you can imagine it is a huge effort, and it will be done district by district rather than simultaneously through the State.

In the starting year, the districts of Thrissur and Alappuzha will be covered; other districts will be surveyed in subsequent years.

You can read more details of what is planned at the Kerala Bird Atlas page.

Do join us in wishing Kerala birders all the very best in this magnificent endeavour!

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June 2015 eBirders of the Month

challenge-logo-2015

Apologies for being a day late with the announcement, but the winners of the May eBirding challenge are now available! The challenge was to upload at least 20 complete listsicon_tooltip from a single location through the month. The idea being that this encourages regular birding at a single spot to thoroughly document the birds of that location.

May, June and July usually see a dip in birding activity, and this year has been no different. Still, there has been a reasonable amount of birding in June, with the number of observations from the month being more than double that in June last year.

Overall, during June, the number of complete, effort-based lists of at least 15 min duration was 2,460. In all, 315 birders uploaded 3,100 lists of all types from June, together accounting for nearly 60,000 observations from India.

Of the 315 June eBirders, 25 people uploaded 20 or more eligible lists from a single location through the month! They are (as always, excluding group accounts):

Able Lawrence
Anish Aravind
Aparajita Datta
Balwant Negi
Chithrabhanu Pakaravoor
Dhanesh Ayyappan
Diwakar Jha
Dr George P J
Erle Brito
Ganeshwar S V
Jaydev Mandal
Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi
Manju Sinha
M D Madhusudan
Meghna Joshi
Narayan Sharma
Panchapakesan Jeganathan
Premchand Reghuvaran
Selvaganesh K
Sheeba Nanjan
Shivi Mishra
Suhel Quader
Swati Sidhu
T R Shankar Raman
Vidhya Sundar

Many congratulations to all of them!

One of these 25 was chosen using a computer-generated random number to receive a small gift, and that person is

Shivi Mishra

who receives a copy of Collins Field Guide: Birds of India by Normal Arlott.

Here is the full list of all 315 eBirders from June 2015:

Aahanaa The Corbett wilderness, abhijith a.p.c, Abhijith surendran, Abhinand C, Abhirami C, Abhishek Gulshan, Able Lawrence, adhithya srinivasan, adiseshiah p, ahil rishi rajasekaran, Aidan & Savio Fonseca, Ajay Gadikar, Akshay Surendra, AL BADUSH, Alkesh Thakare, Amit Bandekar, Amol Bapat, Amol Lopes, Anant Deshwal, anant pande, Aneesh Sasidevan, Anil Mahajan, anil subramaniam, Anirban Pal, Anish Aravind, Anjali J, Ankam Vishak Keerthi, Ankit Vikrant, Anoop CR, anshuman sarkar, anuj raina, Aparajita Datta, Appavu Pavendhan, Arabinda Pal, Arjun R, Arundev G, Arun kumar, arun lal, Arya Vinod, Ashwin Hp, ATANU MODAK, Athira K Nair, Avinandan D, Ayaan Decosta, Balwant Negi, Bela Arora, Bernad Thampan, Bhagyashree Ingle, Bhalchandra Pujari, BHARAT RUGHANI, Bhavesh Mengar, BHAVYA MM, Bindu Madhavi Racherla, Bindu P V, Biswajit Saha, Bruce Liggitt, Castro Karthi, Chinmay Rahane, chithrabhanu pakaravoor, Chris Bowden, CNS Nature, David Patick, david stanton, Deepika Prasad, Devica Ranade, Devika Rani, Dhananjai Mohan, dhananjay bhamburkar, Dhanesh Ayyappan, Dhaval Vargiya, dhiren malani, dilip kg, Dilip Polpakkara, Dilip Virkhade, Dinesh K.S., Dinesh Pundir, Dipak Gudhekar, Dipu Sasi, Divya Mudappa, Diwakar Jha, Dr George P J, Ekalavya Gurum, Elrika D’Souza, Enakshi Bhattacharya, Erle Brito, Eveny Luis, Gajanan Wagh, Ganeshwar S V, Garima Bhatia, Gaurang Bagda, Gautam Krishnan, Geetha Venkataraman, Ginu George, Girish Jathar, gokul vadivel, Gopal bhagavatula, G Parameswaran, Harikrishnan Surendran, hari kumar, HARI MAVELIKARA, HARISH K, harsha nr, Hemanth Byatroy, Hema Sa, Humayun Taher, Ian Barber, induchoodan sreedharan amalath, jadeswamy madaiah, Jaichand Johnson, Janhavi Rajan, jayakrishnan mannar, Jayant Wadatkar, Jaydev Mandal, Jithu Gopal, Jyotirmay Dev, Kalpalata Rajan, kalpesh chodnekar, Kalyan Varma, Karan Tambe, Karthikeyan G B, Karthik Teegalapalli, Kaustubh Rau, Kavi Nanda, Kiran bagade, kiran more, Krishna Deepak, K.Sravan Kumar, Kulbhushansingh Suryawanshi, Lekshmi Jayakumar, Lekshmi R, Luke Gammon, madhushri mudke , MAITREYA SUKUMAR, Mandar Bhagat, Manju Sinha, Manoj Bind, Manu Mengi, Maulik Varu, M D Madhusudan, Meghna Joshi, Mike Prince, Milan Sojitra, Mohan Kumar, Mohith Shenoy, Monica Kaushik, mujeeb pm, Muthukumaran Balasubramanian, Muthu Narayanan, M V BHAKTHA, Mythri S, Nabarun Sadhya, Nameer PO, Nandana prasanth, Narayan Sharma, Navya r, Neha Waikar, Nelson George, Nihar Madkaiker, Niranjana C, NIRMAL V, Nisarga Srinivas, Nisarg Prakash, Nishant Shah, Nishit Soni, Nitin Agarwal, Olivier Langrand, Panchapakesan Jeganathan, PANKAJ GUPTA, paramita mazumdar, Patrick David, Pavithra Sankaran, P. B. Samkumar, Pooja Joshi, pooja pawar, Pradeep Sangwan, Pradyut Choudhury, PRAJIT J, Pranjal Mahananda, Prasanna Parab, prashant bhagat, Prashanth NS, prateek choudhury, Premchand Reghuvaran, Prem Prakash Garg, Priyadarshini K, Raaj Bora, Raghavendra S N, Raghunath r, Raghurama Hegde, Rahul Matmari, Rajesh Bhalodia, Rajesh Kumar Reddy, Rakesh Kalva, Ramachandran R, Raman Kumar, Ramesh Desai, Ramit Singal, Ram Mohan Angadipuram, raphy kallettumkara, raveendran kc, Ravi Arora, Raviprakash KB, renju tr, Rohan Chakravarty, Rohit Chakravarty, Rohit Naniwadekar, Ronit Dutta, Roshnath R, Ruben Stoll , Rushil Fernandes, Sagar Adhurya, sahana m, Sahas Barve, sajith mannar, Samanyu Neelson, Sameer Desai, Samyak Kaninde, Saneesh C S, Sanjay Sondhi, SANJEEV NALAVADE, Santharam V, santosh thakur, sarbjeet kaur, sasidharan manekkara, Sathisha CH, satish siwatch, Selvaganesh K, Shanmugam Kalidass, Sharad Apte, Shasank Ongole, Shashank Birla, Shashikantha Koudur, shashikant Naik, sheeba nanjan, SHEKHAR BOPARDIKAR, SHESHGIRI BAGDE, Shivakumar M, Shivaprakash Adavanne, Shivashankar Manjunatha, Shivi Mishra, Shiv kumar, shobita asthana, shreekrushna kore, Shubhadeep Mukherjee, Shubham Gautam, Shwetha Bharathi, Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, Sita Rama Raju, Sivakumar AK, Sivashankar Ramachandran, Siva T, skanda sn, Smitha Prabhakar, Sneha Gupta, soham brahmbhatt, Soma Ateesh, Somoyita sur, Somraj Gupta, Soni Nambiar, Sourajit Ghosal, Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan, Sreekumar E R, SRI RAMAN, S S Cheema, Subham Sengupta , Subhashini Sivasubramanian, Suhel Quader, Sumanta Pramanick, sumant mali, Sumesh b, Sumin George, Surendhar Boobalan, Surya Prakash, sutirtha lahiri, Swathi Bhat, swathi chandramohan, Swati Sidhu, Syed Muzamil, Taksh Sangwan, tanuja dasharath haunsbhavi, Tanuj Nagpal, Tejas Vagadia, TheNatureTrust (GroupAccount), Thomas Falk, Thomas Job, Thorkild Michaelsen, Tim Bawden, tony antony, Troy Blodgett, T R Shankar Raman, Udiyaman Shukla, Umesh Vaghela, Vaishali Jathar, Vasant Kulkarni, vedant kumbhar, Vidhya Sundar, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vijay Jethva, Vijay kumar, Vijay Kumar, Vinay Nadig, Vinoba Anand, VINOD KUMAR P.K., Vipul Vedi, viral joshi, Viral Pankaj, Vishakh Gopinath , Vishnupriyan Kartha, Vishnu Vinod, Vivek M, Vivek Puliyeri, vrinda lath, Wesley Rajaleelan, Yogesh Parashar, Young Birders Club Darbhanga

Are you doing your best to match the target for July? And don’t forget the several flavours of yearlong challenges for 2015!

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July 2015 eBirding Challenge: 20 hours for birds

challenge-logo-2015We have had several comments from eBird users that the challenge for June (20 lists in the month) was too easy, so July’s challenge is considerably tougher!

In July last year, the challenge was to spend 10 hours birding  through the month, and this proved rather easy, with 36 birders meeting the target. So, for this July, we have decided to raise the game by a fair margin.

In July 2015, the target is to spend an aggregate at least 20 hours eBirding through the month. Each individual list can be of any duration, but all lists must be complete (containing all species that could be identified) and effort-based (ie, Travelling or Stationary, but not Incidental or Historical in eBird parlance).

Twenty hours of birding in a month is not a short time by any standard! One way to approach this challenge would be to look for birds for 30 min each weekday, and for a little over 1 hour each Saturday and Sunday. This should get you to the target. Remember, that you can make a birdlist whenever you spend a bit of time outdoors — while talking a walk, waiting at a bus-stop, eating a packed lunch on a canteen balcony, and so on.

Do remember to add descriptive notes if we see anything unusual. And, of course, please record any signs of breeding under Add Details–Breeding Code; and embed photo, audio and video files to make your lists richer and more memorable.

Please upload all your lists by 5 August so that we can announce the results on 6 August. All birders who reach the target will be named and recognized on this website. One of these names will be chosen at random to receive a small birding-related gift in appreciation.

Here are the general rules of our monthly challenges. You can keep track of fresh lists coming in from India at this page.

Important. if you are new to eBird, please read this description first, and do take a look at the Beginner’s Guide.

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