Bear Creek Reservoir

Since we knew that the rest of the weekend was going to be cold and miserable, Sarah and I decided to make a quick trip up to Bear Creek Reservoir to do a little birding.  We did not see a whole lot, but we did get a brief look at a red-breasted merganser, which is not too common, and some ruddy ducks, which are downright funny looking.  I tried to get a digiscoped shot of the merganser, but the lighting was poor, and I would always take the shot a fraction of a second too late just in time to snap a picture of nothing but water as the bird dove underwater to chase a hapless fish.  Oh well - you can't win them all.

Anyways, this was a good chance to warm up a little before I started leading the bird walks for the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, and it was also fun to generate a list to post on eBird.  For those you who don't know, eBird is a citizen science program developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is quickly becoming one of the largest databases on bird diversity ever generated.  For me, it represents a fantastic union of the interests of scientists and citizens.  It epitomizes my general belief that people will not care about conservation unless they can become a part of the process; science must be relevant.  eBird allows a diverse group of people, in part, to be directly responsible for bird conservation by inputing data into an online database that ornithologists can use to monitor changes in bird species frequency and abundance - pretty cool.  

I know not all species can afford this luxury, but it is still unfortunate that only one taxa of organisms has such a large backing of both a large University and citizens.  Georgia did develop a herpetafauna (reptiles and amphibian) atlas, but I was not able to find out much about it, and as far as I know, there is nothing like an eBird for herpetafauna.  There is FrogWatch USA that appears similar to eBird, but there is no way for a person to directly input data online.  Just looking online now, there are many citizen science opportunities designed for short term projects throughout the United States.  So, if anyone knows of an online database system similar to eBird, but for other species,  or just cool citizen science programs in general, please let me know!     

For some reason, I have not been utilizing eBird as much as I could be.  I believe it to be a combination of laziness, and the fact that I do not derive much enjoyment from sitting in front of a computer inputing data (especially after my first shrike field season!)  Somehow, making this fun hobby of mine into a somewhat detail-oriented scientific endeavor takes some of the enjoyment out of it.  In addition, I know many ornithologists take data gathered by non-experts with a grain of salt, and I think they should be cautious as to what conclusions citizen data can yield.  But these are lame excuses.  I also believe that some of it is shortsightedness on my part, with myself thinking that one eBird report will not make a difference in bird conservation.  But isn't this the way of thinking I am trying to dissuade people from using? Not contributing to things like eBird when I have the chance makes me a hypocrite to my own personal cause, whether I can rationalize my way out of it or not.  No, one eBird report will not make a difference, but the total combined effort between citizens and scientists is awe-inspiring if you really think about it.  I know that citizen science is a major tool for conservation, and with that in the back of my head I generated this not super thrilling, but equally important list that will help a little bit in the conservation of a group of critters that I cannot imagine a world without.

Location:     Bear Creek Reservoir
Observation date:     1/29/10
Number of species:     23

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis     15
Red-breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator     1
Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis     9
Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps     8
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias     2
Black Vulture - Coragyps atratus     2
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura     20
American Coot - Fulica americana     30
Red-headed Woodpecker - Melanerpes erythrocephalus     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus     1
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens     1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) - Colaptes auratus [auratus Group]     1
Pileated Woodpecker - Dryocopus pileatus     1
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     1
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     12
Carolina Chickadee - Poecile carolinensis     3
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor     3
Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialis     3
Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos     3
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia     1
White-throated Sparrow - Zonotrichia albicollis     2
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis     4
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus     5

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

1 comment:

  1. Haven't heard of Ebird. Here is something similar with amphibians. Kind of a beefed up frogwatch USA.