That ebird thing

For the past week I have been putting this year’s records into ebird – I’m about 70% done, then I start on last year etc. etc. Quite why I ignored ebird for so long is a mystery even to me, it is so easy to use and once you are up to date, quick to add a new trip to. Initially I was just putting in the highlights of any trip, then I realised that there was no real context for the records and so I am putting in complete checklists now and have back edited previous lists. There are a few things that you have to get used to. The species’ status in your area is really only as good as the records logged and so there are a few of the ‘rare in your area’ type messages but that is really a good thing. So far I’ve only had two emails from the Regional Data Reviewer but I expect many more because I probably get out as much as anyone in Quebec and therefore have a lot more to add and be reviewed.

In Quebec there is a similar system which ran before ebird but which I have never contributed too. A recent debate regarding the merits of continuing with the Quebec system seemed lively but largely passed me by because it was in French. As I understand it, the Quebec system was all take and no give whereas ebird gives as much as it takes. To me this is important as there is no available record for the status of birds in Quebec which is user friendly. County avifaunas in the UK have always been the cornerstone of reporting but here, or at least in Quebec, they don’t exist.

At my patch, which regular readers will know is St-Lazare sand pits, I’ve been systematically recording everything for nine and a half years. It is my intention to do an annual report for this year covering everything and including an annotated checklist, I’m also going to try to make it available as a pdf. because most people still prefer to print and keep. Electronic versions of such reports are obviously the way things will go but they cannot replace the written report in terms of a permanent reference and those of you who are in bird groups that produce and annual bird report should treasure that facility. The lack of a genuine bird report rather than the business report that they produce here is the main reason I am no longer a member of Bird Protection Quebec, although that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate that the group works hard in other areas. To me any bird group is about the birds full stop and if it does not meet your requirements as a birder, no point being a member really.

Now to the birds and not much to report in the past couple of days. At the pits Eastern Bluebirds have continued to pass through daily and in the nearby farm fields off Montee Chenier the American Golden Plover flock increased a bit. One unusual bird at the pits has been a hybrid Snow x Canada Goose. I’ve been hoping to get a few snaps of it but the weather and the bird’s habit of leaving the site early have hindered me. Below are a few flight shots from today taken in less than perfect light, at least you can tell what it is.

In my last post I commented on the female Tufted Duck being reported from Ottawa at the moment. There are some photos on Bruce Di Labio’s blog, link on the side of this page. I have seen literally thousands of Tufted Ducks in all plumages and have never seen one with the female ‘scaup’ type face this one shows. Some white occasionally yes, but not this much or so well defined in shape. I think it is a hybrid.


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