29 February 2012

Atlassers to 2012

G. Ross atlassing at newly discovered Bank Swallow Colony

The British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas is on its last year this year – 2012 – wow. I doubt I will be around for the next one.

I know we have to be motivated by our own satisfaction mostly (fun, thrill-seeking bunch that we are),  but I am sure our efforts are greatly appreciated by the organizers, the birds, and Gaia –  the biosphere.

Region 1 – Southern Trench – Atlassers

Since the BCBBA website lists the top 10 contributors (and their intrepid assistants) to date for the province, I thought I would mention some of the atlassers in our area  – Region 1: Southern Trench – and send them a BIG THX!

# atlassers registered

# of point counters


top point counter

Kevin Knight, Fernie, BC – 165

honourable mentions, 
+70 counts

D. Nicholson, D. Cooper, C. Di Corrado

# of breeding evidence (BE) counters


top BE counter

Dianne Cooper (moi) – 66 forms

top 10 BE counters

D. Nicholson, K. Knight, K. Stuart-Smith, C. Di Corrado, J. Fenneman, G. Ross, A. Bartels, M. Machmer, P. Ohanjanian

farthest travelling to atlass

from Corvallis, Oregon

Thank you in different ways to our local atlassers, also to those who have gone out of their home regions to snoop on the birds and contribute, and, of course, to the organizers and data crunchers, and inspirers.  I hope you have another great year atlassing.

Brief Superficial Regional Comparison

As far as comparing atlassing efforts by region, I am happy to see two non-“Lower Mainland” regions in the “Top 5” for hours spent atlassing: the Peace Region and the West Kootenay Region.

It is a very large province with a tendency toward “Lower Mainland”-centricity, as far as humans are concerned.  The Peace, of course, being on the other side of the Rockies, is the place to document eastern species in our political area – a coveted dream for many birders, especially listers. The seabirds and shorebirds of the Coast are indeed wonderful; as are the incursion of southern species into the Okanagan and beyond.

Species-wise – the region with the highest number of species (according to the online data summaries) is the Chilcotin – with 213 – and the lowest is Haida Gwaii – with 83 species.

The Southern Trench ranks 8th in number of species and 13th in number of hours. Way to Go! Yay!

K. Knight, #1 point counter in typical higher elevation habitat for our region.

Upcoming blog posts will show you with maps jpeg’s where you can go to atlass most effectively in the Southern Trench. ^_^

Happy birding!

22 February 2012

I love getting lifers but $#%^$ ...

Field sketch showing colour pattern

I love getting lifers, especially since I don't travel much since starting my new life list  ...

This is a Swainson's Hawk. Very rare in my area anytime but apparently, they are not satisfactorily documented in the interior of the continent in winter. These are the ones that mass up and head out to Argentina, I have since found out. I saw this bird on 20 Feb 2012 at Skookumchuck Prairie in SE British Columbia.

Alas, no photo because grabbing our cameras was the last thing on our minds - we were pulled over on the side of a busy highway with large chip-hauling trucks heading for the pulp mill zooming by - very uncomfortable spot to be in.  And, at the time, I didn't know how rare it was.

Yes, I understand that a photo would be essential for this sighting to be "officially" accepted. But, if this bird is NOT a Swainson's Hawk, then the field guides have to do a much better job of including this plummage variation for a different species - IF it exists! (I vow to have my camera available at all times, cross my heart.)

I don't see another species in the field guides, or on internet photos that has this large light wedge-shaped wing lining, all dark remiges, and dark head with a distinct border between the light belly.

Maybe it is an F2 hybrid Swainson's / Rough-legged with a Swainson's and decided to fly to the beat of a different sapsucker having been shunned for its parentage by it's cohorts at the staging thermals. If it is a falconer's bird it has been free for a while and surviving just fine because no falconer would fly his bird in a strip of gravel between a coal-hauling railroad and a chip-hauling highway.

So, we are calling it a Swainson's so far, and it's going in my records.

That is often the case with these extralimitals, I know: people see something weird, without taking a photo, nobody believes them but they could be right, so nobody says anything except "she's crazy". Lol. I wouldn't believe it either, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, and this does appear to be a very distinctive colour morph.

Anyway, the full "rare bird report" can be seen on my flickr.

Now I have a really good excuse to spend some gas money! And it's all tears in the rain, eiderdown in a blizzard, and candles at noon, and shouting in the wind, and ...

^_^  Dianne C.