How to Use the Mobile eBird App ABC Meeting Summary

Tuesday March 7th the ABC meeting at the UP Library featured a program by Wendy Connolly of the WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife, who presented on how to use the eBird mobile app to best benefit both us as birders and the eBird data base to help conservationists and biologists do their work.
Bill Tweit, one of our WOS members, a Westport Seabirds leader, and superb birder as well as being an eBird guru was also in attendance to add a birder’s expertise and point of view. Bill talked of how by using the mobile app instead of going home and transcribing field notes into the online eBird interface saves time, improves accuracy, and maybe most important is a positive factor in relationships with non-birding partners. Now when he gets home instead of an hour on the computer entering data, he has a glass of wine with his wife.

Bill Tweit (Android) & Wendy Connally (iPhone) offer eBird help, with a bit of a flame war

An important feature of the app is that there is always a way to fix, or change choices made along the way. You can usually make these changes within the app, and if not you can make changes later using the eBird online interface. Don’t worry about making mistakes, you can fix them later.

Here is a summary of the “How to use the eBird mobile app presentation.

Download the Free eBird App:
You’ll want to have the eBird mobile app on your smart phone. You can download the eBird app from either the Apple or Google app store. It’s free, and has ongoing free upgrades and support. It looks like this on the Apple store:

After you download the app, the first time you use the app it will ask for your eBird user name and password, so that it can upload data from your mobile app into your eBird account.

Once downloaded and registered you are ready to start.

On opening the app you’ll see a screen with a big green “Start NEW CHECKLIST” icon, and several other smaller options below this.

Opening Screen:

-The “My Checklists” option brings up a reverse chronological list of checklists entered using the app.
-The “Trip Summary” brings up a summary of the sightings noted today, over a period of time you can choose, or all time.
-The little “?” icon at the left bottom is the help section of the app. Wendy says it will be your new best friend. It has FAQ options, a tutorial likely better than this one, an area to send feedback to the eBird team.
The little gear symbol at the bottom right brings you to your personal settings area.

Start New Checklist
First just click on the eBird app icon on your phone, and tap on the “Start NEW CHECKLIST green button on the screen. This brings you to an area to select your location. This can be one of the most confusing areas for beginners. Don’t let it be a roadblock.

Select Location and Starting Time:

There are seven options as to how to select your location. Wendy stressed that the default option should be the second from the top, “Choose a Location From Map.” This brings up a screen of the area you are currently located denoted by a yellow teardrop shaped marker. It may also show red markers (eBird Hotspots) and Blue Markers (Your personal locations). (note that these markers are also labeled at the bottom of the screen view)


If a Red Hotspot marker is on the screen and it appropriately describes your location you should use the hotspot location. To use a location just tap on or touch the marker you choose. Using a Hotspot marker if appropriate allows the best compilation of data. If you have birded in this location previously you will see Blue markers. If there is no hotspot you should use your previous location so that data from the location will be compiled as one location, not many separate but nearly identical locations. If neither a hotspot or a previous personal spot marker are appropriate you should use the default yellow marker. This is where you are currently located as determined by the GPS function of your phone. If you don’t choose another location, the yellow current location marker will be the default place chosen by the app.

If you use a Hotspot or Previous location the checklist for that location will load when you click next at the top right to move to the next step. If you choose a new personal location you will have a two more things to do.

Before you accept your current location you probably will want to name the location something more descriptive than the street address and longitude-latitude coordinates. This is especially helpful if no street address is shown. To do this just “long press” on the location shown, once it becomes highlighted just type in a description, for example “Dad’s Backyard” to make a personal location you can use repeatedly or at least know where the list is from. Then tap on “next” in the top R corner of the screen.

This will bring you to a screen to start a checklist.

Best practice is to do all of this right when you arrive at a new location. If you do it then the current time will be correct and you can just click on the bar at the bottom to “Start Checklist.” If you need to adjust the time you can do it by adjusting a few minutes using the + or – “Adjust Minutes” circles, you can “Reset to Now” by clicking on that option in green typeface, or you can tap on the time itself and a scroll screen will appear allowing you to change the hour and minute and even date you started birding. When the time is correct you click on the “Start Checklist” green bar at the bottom.

Sometimes it saves time to use one of the other options for selecting a location, rather than using “Choose a Location From Map.” Here is a brief discussion on when to choose a different option: (note that this information is from me, not from Wendy’s talk, so if mistakes it’s all on me.)

Choose a Recent Location: This is a descriptive label. If you birded the same location recently click this, and your most recent checklist locations will appear in reverse chronologic order. If you are at a place you birded in the last 5-10 checklist entries this may be a good option.

Create an Offline Checklist: This is for use when you don’t have a cell connection. When you choose this it will mark your location using the GPS feature of your phone, and you will need to confirm your location prior to submission of your list later when you have internet connectivity. More on this later.

Create a New Personal Location:
This should be a rarely used feature. Use the Choose a Location From Map instead so you don’t miss a nearby hotspot, or previous personal location.

Choose a Nearby Hotspot: This brings up a list of nearby hotspots instead of a map showing nearby hotspots. It may be easier if you know where you are and know it is a hotspot and you know the hotspot name.

Search Hotspots by City: Almost always a better choice to use other location options. This may be useful as a way to look for local hotspot names in a distant city, but not for actual real-time location choices.

Choose a Nearby Personal Location:
This can be useful if you know you have birded in this location previously and entered a list using your phone app. It will bring up a list of nearby personal locations. Duh?

Enter Species Sightings.
Once you choose the location a checklist of species of birds likely in that location is downloaded you are ready to enter species you encounter while birding. The best practice for data entry is to enter birds as you see them. This is practical when birding is slow, or you just seeing birds occasionally, but not really practical when birding is faster paced. IF you cannot enter birds as you encounter them try to do it as frequently as is reasonable. Waiting several hours to enter species on a longer stop lends more room for forgetting species, or for mis-estimation of numbers of birds seen. .

No “X’ Lists Rule:
At any rate however you enter data, ALWAYS try to make your best reasonable estimate of the actual number of species seen, and avoid using the “X” feature denoting you saw the species but are not saying how many A best estimate is much more useful than an “X” for data analysis by biologists and researchers.

We did learn some cool tricks for entering species information. At the top of the species lists are three options of what view to see. The default on opening is the “Likely” screen in the middle of the menu bar at the top of the screen. It lists all species deemed “usual” from the eBird database for the location you are birding. The option on the right is the “Checked” view. This shows you species and numbers already entered. On the left is an “All” option. It is for use when you need to add a species not expected in your location. It brings up a list of all 10,000+ world species, so it is no useful as a scroll through list for finding a species, but if you cannot find a species you identify in the “likely” screen, it will be in the “all” screen.

You can find a species by scrolling down through the likely species list. This is useful when entering birds after a bit of time birding. Once you find the species you want, you can enter the number seen by tapping on the + symbol at the left of the species. Each tap will add 1 to the number seen. This is fine when only a few are seen. If you see a large number tap on the species name and a screen to enter the number seen will occur. You could for example enter an estimated 500 Dunlin in a flock this way. After entering the count, just click on the “Done” button at the top of the screen.

If you are entering a species when you see it, or adding one or a few species to a list, it may be easier to use the # species name/code entry space at the top of the list. In this space you can enter the number of birds seen and the species name or 4 letter code. On iPhones you will need to put a space between the number and the species name or code. On android phones don’t use a space.

For example on my iPhone if I want to enter a sighting of 4 American Robins, I can type in the dialogue box “4 amro” which will bring a screen with American Robin as an option to select. If I tap on American Robin, the app will enter 4 next to the species American Robin. Later if I see an additional 35 robins, I could tap the number area 35 time, I could add in my head 4 + 35 and tap on American Robin to go to the species area and change 4 to 35, or I could just type in the dialogue box “35 amro” and tap on the American Robin species and the app will add 35 to the 4 and now show 39 American Robins seen. Don’t be intimidated by the 4 letter codes. The app is smart, and using a few letters of either the first or last name usually gets you to just a few species to pick from. Hint: Choose the more unique name, i.e. choose “Bay-breasted” rather than “warbler” to get a shorter list.

Review and Submit Your List:

Once you have a list complete you will want to Review and Submit the list. If you selected a location to start once you click on “Review and Submit” on the bottom of the screen a screen asking for information about your visit will occur.

Yes or No to the complete list question?:

At the top is the choice asking, “Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify.” The best practice is to be able to check yes here. Remember it is YOUR LIST. You enter information for your level of expertise. Don’t worry that you missed some sightings. Use this option if you are trying to enter all the birds you were able to identify. If you were on a hike and are only entering one or two of the species you saw and making no effort to enter others you saw and could identify, then select “No.” In general try to be in a position where you can JUST SAY YES!

Choose an Observation Type:

-Traveling: This is for when you are traveling by foot or vehicle over more than a fairly limited location. If you wander up to 30 meters or so, choose a Stationary location. If travelling enter the estimated “one way” distance. On out and back hikes use just one direction to describe the actual distance of terrain covered.

-Stationary: This is for use when a location is fairly limited, i.e. up to 30 meters of so of moving about to see birds.

-Incidental: This is best for entey of a species of interest you want to document, but when you are not trying to enter all the species seen. An example is seeing a Peregrine Falcon fly in front of your vehicle while traveling, or seeing a flock of common murre fly past a ferry when you are not primarily birding.

Other: for specialized birding activities.

Number of Observers: Self explanatory, enter the number of people birding with you. Don’t worry if they are entering their own lists. You can share a list or each enter your own, if in a group describe the number of birders.

Duration: If you started the checklist when you start, and submit or end when you finish, just use the “Calculate” feature and the clock in your phone will fill in the number of minutes. If not enter the duration of your birding in minutes

If a green checkbox shows up beside any of your sightings something is unusual about the sighting, and it falls outside the eBird “filter.” First double check to be sure you have not made a data entry error. This happens often using a small screen like a phone. If it is an error you can delete the sighting by swiping from the Right on iPhones or long-tapping the sighting on androids. You can then enter the correct species if needed by clicking on the “add species” option. If you really saw what you entered, you will need to enter information in the comments section of the species. To do this tap on the species and a dialogue box will show up where you should describe the sighting, how you made the ID, what optics were used, etc. Don’t be intimidated by this, it helps the eBird reviewers assess the sighting validity and helps keep the eBird data base more valid. Then check the green box prior to submitting the checklist.

Submit the Checklist:

Once you have reviewed the list click “Submit” on the bottom of the screen and your list will be submitted to eBird and will be added to your personal account.

Offline Checklists:

When you are birding in areas where you do not have a cell connection good enough for internet data, you will not be able to select a location from a map, or using internet connectivity. In those cases you may need to enter an “Offline” checklist. Other options may be “Choose a Recent Location” if you have birded here recently. When you use the enter an offline checklist option the first option is whether to use a “Recent Checklist” or the “Full Taxonomy” option. It is almost always better to choose a “Recent Checklist” The likely species may not be perfect, but it is likely it will better facilitate species data entry that the full world taxonomy checklist .

Wendy taught us a handy way to prepare to go birding in a place where you know you’ll be offline and where none of your recent checklists will be appropriate. This is great for international travel, or for just a first trip to a place with a very different avifauna than on any of your recent checklists. In this case just start a checklist before you leave for the Hotspot you are going to visit, or for a nearby hotspot. Then leave the checklist unsubmitted, and when you get to the place, and start an offline checklist, you can use the “Recent Checklist” option to select an appropriate likely list for where you are birding. Pretty cool, like a Boy Scout, you an “Be Prepared.”

After you select a recent checklist the phone will use the GPS feature to find your location, usually within 5-10 meters. Once the location is reasonably close, click on OK and you will proceed on the same process as for every checklist.

Later, after you complete your sightings checklist, once you have internet connectivity you will just confirm the location prior to submitting. When you check “Submit” you will be forced to confirm the location in order to be able to submit the list. Just follow directions to do this.

Wendy finally gets us to the Submit page! Tah-Dah!

This is just the basic stuff, but with a little practice you’ll be entering eBird data in the field like a pro. Many thanks to Wendy and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for their continued support and teaching.

Freezathon 2017

Saturday Jan 14th Ken Brown and 15 other ABCers headed east for what has become an annual MLK weekend trip we call our freezathon.” As we have in recent years we met at 7:30 AM at the Snoqualmie Pass ski area comfort station in carpools, this year 4 cars of 4 each. Heather Vorobil was the only first timer on the trip and she rode with Ken, Ryan Wiese and myself, so caravanning was easy, and we set off for the first potty stop at the Confluence State Park in Wenachee. There we saw Redheads as well as a few other waterfowl and quickly headed for the Waterville Plateau. We went up a different way this trip, ascending through McNeil Canyon but on the way saw 9 Trumpeter Swans (unusual for this season and area) in the Columbia River just south of mile marker 229, and got a flock of about 30 Bohemian Waxwings in a tree beside the road along with a few Cedar Waxwings.

Bohemian Waxwings

We didn’t see much on the ascent through McNeil Canyon, but the day on the Waterville Plateau was wonderful. The visibility was excellent, avoiding the fog that can often make it difficult, and we saw huge numbers of Horned Larks, one flock we conservatively estimated at 2-3000, another of >1000 and many flocks we estimated to be 100-500 bitds. Interesting it seemed most of the HOLA were a pale subspecies, with very little or no yellow, and a minority were the more bright yellow birds we tend to see locally. Our theory is that this may be a big year for northern migrants in this area. We also for the first time on this annual trip found Lapland Longspurs on several occasions

Lapland Longspur


We had a pair of Short-eared owls, initially one perched, then the pair flying over a field. We also spotted a falcon we all hoped would be a Gyrfalcon, but turned out to be a very puffed up Prairie Falcon on a cliff edge for great scope views for all.

We descended from the plateau down Bridgeport Hill Rd., and Ryan managed to get us on a few Sharp-tailed Grouse as they flew from some distant trees into a cattail marsh area near the usual water birch stand. Next we got to Bridgeport State Park about 3 PM, earlier than

Northern Saw-whet Owl

usual and all got very close looks at the now seemingly annual Northern Saw Whet owl there.

We added a wintering California Gull at the toilets before the park and headed for the Omak Inn. We cleaned up, bemoaned the Seahawks loss, and had dinner at the Breadline as usual.

Sunday we spent the day in the Okanogan Highlands. On the way up we stopped a Fancher Loop to look for the usual Golden Eagle (successfully) and Chukar (not in the morning). The rest of the day was spent driving the roads, stopping for anything we could see, and being amazed at the almost entire absence of any finches of any type. No Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, no crossbills of either species, no Redpolls, no Siskins, no Pine Grosbeaks, just nothing. We did get nice looks at Ruffed Grouse, Golden Eagles, modest numbers of buteos, both Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks, a single Gray Jay and two Clark’s Nutcrackers. We had planned to stay for owling, but by 3 PM were just worn down by unrewarded eye-strain and headed down early to try for White-headed woodpecker, seen by the WOS group near 777 Okanogan Highlands Road, where we just could not find a place to get off the road to park 4 cars, and so we went for a last chance try for Chukar. This time the women in the back car spotted them near the usual place by the farm on the lower loop area and we all got nice scope looks as dark approached. Tonight dinner at Rancho Chico where I was thrilled at a whole new menu with a nice vegetarian section, and we all enjoyed the food.
Monday we started by going up the north end of Cameron Lake Rd looking for the White-headed woodpecker and Pygmy Nuthatches we often find in the pines near the American Flag over the road. Today it was early, cold and nearly birdless there. We saw or heard Ravens, Stellar’s Jays and little else. No action at the cattle operation and no sparrows to look over for possible American Tree Sparrows, so we headed back to the Waterville Plateau to try for Gyrfalcon and tree sparrows. No luck on the Gyr, but we did strike American Tree Sparrow nirvana. We initially found them at the copse of trees on Heritage Rd where we also looked for Long-eared owl but without success on the owl. The sparrows responded to a song recording right from the road to pop up for great views.

American Tree Sparrow


The rest of the day we looked for Snowy Owl or Gyrfalcon without success, but found a flock of about 40 American Tree Sparrows, found another 1500 or so Horned Larks, found 2-3 Snow Buntings and at least 3 Lapland Longspurs mixed in these flocks.

We called it a day about 2 PM in Waterville, where we all headed for home. A very cold weekend of good time with friends, mixed success at finding our winter specialties, but as always excited to be out birding again. I put a few more photos on my birding blog site and expect much better photos from Pat and Heather when they get them ready. Pat and Heather, please add links to your photos in comments below.

Total Species: 64
Okanogan County Species: 38
Douglas County Species: 41

Kenya Trip Report

Lesser and Greater Flamingos with Great White Pelicans and shorebirds at Lake Bagoria.

Lesser and Greater Flamingos with Great White Pelicans and shorebirds at Lake Bagoria.


Kay and I joined Bruce Labar, two other central california birders, and two guides on a 15 day birding trip to Kenya in November. James Bradley, our primary guide is almost ready with a detailed trip report on his website Birding in Kenya Safaris and I’ll let you know when this is ready, but I did a report more focused on the experience (it was fabulous) than just the birds since James’ report will be much better than any I can do re the birding. Here is the post to my report. I think I’ll be able to get James to give a talk on Kenya birding to our group next year. Kenya 2016 Trip Report.

Weekend Coast Trip

Saturday on the new steps to Bill's Spit

Saturday on the new steps to Bill’s Spit


Ken Brown organized and led a trip to the coast last weekend, and the group of 12 ABC’ers lucked out re weather with showers Saturday only until about 9 AM, a mildly blustery rest of the day, and a gloriously sunny Sunday. I took few photos, none very good, so other birders are encouraged to post flickr or other links in the comments to theirs.
Saturday we headed straight to the Hoquiam Sewer ponds with a potty stop as usual in Elma. There we really saw remarkably few birds, battled some wind and rain, and saw only a smattering of ducks, a fly over by 3 American Pipits, and 19 total species. We then headed to Ocean Shores, where on arrival the sky’s cleared nicely. Little activity was noted at the beach by the Oyhut picnic area, so we went on the Brown’s Point Jetty. By far the most exciting thing there was a large feeding frenzy of birds on an apparent bait ball of fish just off the jetty. We remarkably found zero rocky habitat shorebirds, but enjoyed an estimated 2500 Sooty Shearwaters, 800 Brown Pelicans, and lots of gulls including 300 Heermann’s Gulls. STwo species of alcids were seen including 30 Common Murres and Rhinoceros Aucklet.
Next stop was Bill’s spit, where we went next thinking mid tide would be best. There we did find our only Herring Gulls of the trip, but not the hoped for shorebird flocks. We had lunch and Diane took our group photo (above) there.
From there we birded both ends of the Oyhut Game Range. First the south end entry by the sewer ponds where we found 32 Black Turnstones at the base of the jetty, and studied a good flock of about 350 Western Sandpipers mixed with a few dunlin, least sandpipers, Semi-palmated Plovers, and a lone Black-bellied Plover.
We walked back out and looked in vain for any longspurs. From the Tonquin Ave. end we again located a good flock of mixed peeps, primarily WESA, but found a single Baird’s Sandpiper near the edge of the flock for excellent views.
On the way back to Aberdeen we drove and stopped on Burrow’s Road and again revisited the Hoquiam Sewer ponds hoping for better luck, but really found little of added interest. Dinner as usual at the Mazatlan was good, and we stayed at the old Guesthouse, now a Best Western.
Sunday we had breakfast a bit before the official opening time of 7 AM and got off about 7:10. First stop was at Tokeland, first a drive by At Graveyard Spit where fog prevented any viewing. Next fog again at Tokeland, where we really saw just a few Willets and a Belted Kingfisher.
Next we headed for Midway Beach were a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was seen the day prior. This turned out the best shore-birding of the trip, with about 17 Pectoral Sandpipers along with an 18th that in flight was intriguing as a possible Sharp-tailed, but remains just intriguing. We also found a Ruff, lots of American Pipits, and a nice fly by of a Golden Plover we called American based on wing length, coloration, and call note.
At Bottle Beach we hit the tide perfectly, but except for a nice group of 5 Baird’s Sandpipers found only a good flock of Black-bellied Plover, a mix of the usual peeps, and relatively few birds that failed to congregate very well as the tide came in.
On the way home we chased Sabine’s Gull in Pierce County at Sunnyside Beach, Steilacom seen earlier that day by Bruce Labar, but without luck.
A nice trip, with 90 species, 17 shorebird species, and a few really nice birds seen. As usual great fellowship and a good time had by all. Thanks to Ken for leading.
Here is an e-Bird trip summary:

Species Name Sep 17 Sep 18 Sep 19 Sep 20 Sep 21 Sep 22 Sep 23
Cackling Goose — 45
(1) — — — — —
Canada Goose 30
(6) — — — — — —
Gadwall 50
(2) — — — — — —
American Wigeon 50
(3) 2
(1) — — — — —
Mallard 80
(6) 1
(1) — — — — —
Mallard (Domestic type) 1
(1) — — — — — —
Northern Shoveler 60
(4) 8
(1) — — — — —
Northern Pintail 100
(5) 40
(2) — — — — —
Green-winged Teal 30
(4) 30
(2) 4
(1) — — — —
Greater Scaup — 3
(1) — — — — —
Surf Scoter 300
(3) 150
(4) 3
(1) — — — —
White-winged Scoter 13
(2) 30
(1) — — — — —
Barrow’s Goldeneye — 1
(1) — — — — —
Common Merganser 1
(1) — — — — — —
Red-throated Loon 2
(2) — — — — — —
Pacific Loon 20
(1) — — — — — —
Common Loon 4
(3) 1
(2) 4
(1) — — — —
Pied-billed Grebe 1
(2) — — — — — —
Horned Grebe 2
(1) 3
(1) — — — — —
Red-necked Grebe — 8
(1) 10
(1) — — — —
Western Grebe 20
(1) 8
(2) — — — — —
Sooty Shearwater 2,500
(1) — — — — — —
shearwater sp. 1
(1) — — — — — —
Brandt’s Cormorant 12
(1) 4
(1) — — — — —
Pelagic Cormorant 8
(2) 6
(4) — — — — —
Double-crested Cormorant 15
(6) 4
(4) 2
(1) — — — —
cormorant sp. — 200
(2) — — — — —
Brown Pelican 800
(3) 60
(5) — — — — —
Great Blue Heron 3
(6) 1
(2) — — — — —
Great Egret — 2
(1) — — — — —
Turkey Vulture 2
(1) — — — — — —
Northern Harrier 1
(2) — — — — — —
Sharp-shinned Hawk — 1
(1) — — — — —
Black-bellied Plover 8
(3) 80
(1) — — — — —
American Golden-Plover — 1
(1) — — — — —
Semipalmated Plover 12
(2) — — — — — —
Killdeer 2
(2) — — — — — —
Bar-tailed Godwit — 1
(1) — — — — —
Marbled Godwit — 1,000
(2) — — — — —
Black Turnstone 32
(1) 11
(1) — — — — —
Ruff — 1
(1) — — — — —
Sanderling 5
(2) 1
(1) — — — — —
Dunlin 7
(1) — — — — — —
Baird’s Sandpiper 1
(1) 5
(1) — — — — —
Least Sandpiper 40
(4) 20
(1) — — — — —
Pectoral Sandpiper — 18
(1) — — — — —
Western Sandpiper 350
(3) 200
(1) — — — — —
peep sp. 11
(2) 2
(1) — — — — —
Long-billed Dowitcher — 2
(1) — — — — —
Greater Yellowlegs 1
(1) 3
(1) — — — — —
Willet — 8
(1) — — — — —
Common Murre 30
(1) 7
(1) — — — — —
Pigeon Guillemot — 1
(1) — — — — —
Rhinoceros Auklet 6
(1) — 1
(1) — — — —
Bonaparte’s Gull — 2
(1) — — — — —
Heermann’s Gull 300
(2) 300
(4) — — — — —
Mew Gull 4
(2) 1
(2) — — — — —
Ring-billed Gull 50
(4) 80
(1) — — — — —
Western Gull 6
(5) 4
(3) — — — — —
California Gull 200
(6) 500
(3) — — — — —
Herring Gull 2
(1) — — — — — —
Glaucous-winged Gull 12
(5) — 2
(1) — — — —
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid) 20
(1) — — — — — —
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull 280
(8) 100
(6) 14
(1) — — — —
gull sp. — 400
(1) 10
(1) — — — —
Caspian Tern 8
(5) 6
(3) — — — — —
Rock Pigeon — 12
(1) 2
(1) — — — —
Eurasian Collared-Dove — 1
(1) — — — — —
Mourning Dove — 1
(1) — — — — —
Belted Kingfisher — 1
(1) — — — — —
Northern Flicker 1
(1) 3
(3) 1
(1) — — — —
Peregrine Falcon 1
(1) 2
(1) — — — — —
Steller’s Jay 1
(1) — — — — — —
American Crow 4
(7) 4
(2) 6
(1) — — — —
Common Raven — 2
(2) — — — — —
Barn Swallow 12
(2) 11
(2) — — — — —
European Starling 40
(1) 400
(2) 4
(1) — — — —
American Pipit 8
(3) 50
(2) — — — — —
Cedar Waxwing 1
(1) 1
(1) — — — — —
Orange-crowned Warbler — 1
(1) — — — — —
Common Yellowthroat 1
(1) 4
(1) — — — — —
Yellow-rumped Warbler — 2
(2) — — — — —
White-crowned Sparrow — 1
(1) — — — — —
Golden-crowned Sparrow 1
(1) — — — — — —
Savannah Sparrow 30
(8) 30
(2) — — — — —
Song Sparrow 2
(2) 2
(2) — — — — —
Red-winged Blackbird — 2
(2) — — — — —
Brewer’s Blackbird — 20
(1) — — — — —
House Finch 5
(1) — — — — — —
House Sparrow — 2
(1) 8
(1) — — — —

San Diego Deep Water Pelagic on the Searcher

RBTR

RBTR


I got home yesterday from a 5-day pelagic trip out of San Diego on the 95-foot Searcher. I wrote a trip summary on my notes page. For anyone interested you can see the notes here:

San Diego Deep Water Pelagic Trip on Searcher

I felt the trip was exceptionally well organized, run and led. The ship is reasonably comfortable, the food outstanding, and overall I recommend the trip as an experience and as a way to see deep water SoCal specialties.

GUMU

GUMU

Rolan Nelson Memorial Great Gray Owl Trip

Our Group in Spring Creek after Ryan's family joined us.  Photo by Diane Y-Q

Our Group in Spring Creek after Ryan’s family joined us. Photo by Diane Y-Q


Our ABC Birding club took off on Friday May 20th and headed south on a trip to find the Great Gray Owl in LaGrande, OR as a tribute to Rolan Nelson, one of our longtime members who passed away last year. GGOW was one of his long-time nemesis birds, one I believe he never saw, and our hope had been that his widow Kathleen would join us on the trip. Kathleen was unable to come due to a work conflict, but the rest of us had a great adventure as Rolan would have wanted us to do.

Friday we caravanned south, 4 cars, 14 birders, to our first stop to the cemetery on Balsh Rd, Lyle, WA. There under sunny skies we had FOY looks for many of us at Ash-throated flycatcher, Lesser Goldfinch, White-breasted nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, and others. checklist

Ash-throated Flycatcher by Diane Y-Q

Ash-throated Flycatcher by Diane Y-Q

To see a photo montage of the whole trip visit Diane’s Flickr site

From there we headed to the Acorn Woodpecker granary, where we found neither the granary tree or the woodpecker, but heard a wild turkey gobble, saw a male Western Tanager up close, and enjoyed the sunshine. checklist

Western Tanager by Diane Y-Q

Western Tanager by Diane Y-Q

Next stop was Rock Creek, where we birded the gravel road, had great looks at more Lazuli buntings and a Yellow-breasted chat. We also saw my FOY Willow Flycatcher. checklist

We spent the first night in La Grange after a good Mexican meal in Pendleton

Saturday we were up early to seek the Great-gray owl ner Spring Creek on nest boxes provided by the Walawa-Whitman National Forest management group. We headed back east out of La Grande, and onto FR 21 where after a few more turns came to the area for the first search. This area involved a walk through beautiful monotone meadows on a muddy two-track road looking for the promised Purple polka-dotted flag to mark the first nest box area. We looked, and we looked, and found no tape/flag but did manage two very brief fly-by sightings of large, gray silent owls. One look seen by most was adequate to ID the GGOW but not good enough to feel satisfied. The next was only seen by Ken and myself, and was much more fleeting, in a deeper forest area. We got good looks at Mountain bluebird, and enjoyed the exercise. checklist

After this we sent to the box described as where everyone goes. We figured out why, it’s where you can actually find the box and see the owls. The box had 3 downy chicks, and we had one good but brief fly in by the adult presumed male to feed them a rodent.

by Pat Dameron

by Pat Dameron


By Pat Dameron

By Pat Dameron


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Better photos to follow when our photographers send them. As we got ready to flee the incoming rain a male Williamson’s sapsucker treated us to a great show, working a vertical “V” of sapsucker holes on a tree near the nest box. checklist with photos

We spent the rest of the day birding a large wetland near La Grande called Ladd Marsh. This area has huge colonies of Northern Pocket Gophers, and this brings in large numbers of hawks, Swainson’s (12), Red-tailed, (10) and Northern Harriers. (10).
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In addition there were large numbers of Yellow-headed blackbirds, lots of waterfowl, and just generally good birding. See checklist.

We drove back to Pendleton for dinner and a room, as due to multiple graduations in Walla Walla we couldn’t find space there. We enjoyed excellent food, service and ambiance at The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub.

Sunday we headed back to WA and Biscuit Ridge where we targeted Green-tailed towhee on a day when it was flat out cold and windy. We battled through the elements and most of us got at least fleeting looks at a GTTO. We got to hear it sing along with at least one more farther down a slippery, wet, rocky hillside. Just after seeing this some of us got on an adult Northern Goshawk as it flew up the valley. After briefly considering a try for Great-gray owl in WA where it has been seen on Jasper Mountain Rd, we decided to stop shivering and head for lower ground. checklist

Millet Pond, near the mouth of the Walla Walla River, has had Glossy Ibis recently, and so we headed there to explore, warm up, and seek Blue-winged teal, Yellow-headed blackbird, Black-crowned Heron, and a good afternoon of birding. We got all of this in spades (except only Donna saw the YHBL). We had good numbers of Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, two GWTE, Lots of AWPE, a nearly invisible Wilson’s snipe, and after a long walk and good exploring by Donna LaCasse we got on a flock of 6 White-faced ibis near the back of the wetlands. Other good birds were Eastern Kingbird and Bullock’s oriole. checklist with photos

Many of us extended the day with a trip to the Tyson Blood Ponds hoping for a White-rumped sandpiper seen there the prior day, but neither our group nor prior birders relocated one. It was a cool place, with lots of Black-necked stilts, a few ducks, and Greater yellowlegs and Spotted sandpiper. Checklist

We spent our last night in Yakima after dinner in Pasco. The last day we headed for Oak Creek Canyon where it seemed like Lewis’s woodpeckers were everywhere
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and Rock wrens were singing from several of the basalt columns.
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We added good looks at one of several MacGilvery’s warblers we heard, and tried for looks at drumming Downy woodpeckers and Red-naped sapsuckers. checklist

I’ll let another of the group finish the report of the day about the stop at Bethel Ridge as I left early to drive home to help out participants with a family emergency. (use the comments to discuss the last stop)

Rolan, we wish you had been able to be with us, and remember you with fondness. RIP.

I also wrote daily posts on my personal birding notes readers are welcome to see. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Here are a few more of Pat’s nice photos.
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Banded Swainson's

Banded Swainson’s

04

ABC Goes Cruising: Pelagic Trip LA to Vancouver

ABC Pelagic Cruise

15 birders gathered at the LA World Cruise Center to board the Ruby Princess departing at 4 PM on May 3rd. For many of us it was a first cruise experience and with lifers in our dreams we set sail from LA headed north to Victoria and then Vancouver.
Day one we were all excited as we left port and were hoping for some near shore SoCal specialties like Black-vented shearwater and Scripp’s murrelet. Neither happened but we did discover how physically challenging it is to stand on the ship railing scanning with our spotting scopes for distant birds. We made it until dark, but were grateful for darkness as an excuse to call it a day. We did manage both Ashy and Leach’s storm petrel, Black-footed albatross, Sooty ad Pink-footed shearwaters, Elegant and Caspian terns, Western and California gulls, and Cassin’s aucklet. Many of us were in rooms near the front of the boat on the 9th floor, and birding is from the bow on the 7th floor deck, so getting to our rooms from the birding area was a relatively short walk.
Day 2 we were up early, meeting at the bow at 6 AM and many of us opening the 15th floor buffet breakfast room at 5 AM. The breakfast was fine. We also had dinner late at this area on the first night. Day 2 started very birdy for about the first hour, with large numbers of Leach’s storm-petrel, Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters, and Brian Pendleton spotted a Laysan’s albatross cross the bow just before the rest of us arrived. For the next 4 hours we struggled to find many birds. We took a lunch break a little after noon, and as Ken, Bruce and I finished eating Kathryn Cooper told us about the birders having Cook’s Petrel being sighted. We rushed back to the bow area, and on arrival a Murphy’s petrel was being seen, and we all relocated it and got good looks, but no Cook’s seen initially. Throughout the afternoon we had fairly steady bird activity, with good numbers of Cook’s petrel seen well by all, another Murphy’s giving close views, but the highlight was a close fly by of a Hawaiian Petrel. We were able to see the all dark above markings, the black cap, and the heavier stronger flight pattern of this bird.
About 2:30 I mentioned to Ken that it was past time I get my life Laysan’s albatross, as we were getting good numbers of Black-footed. Not five minutes later I spotted a Laysan’s fly so close to the bow that I had to lean over the railing to get a good look. It flew right by us with everyone getting great looks. By 5 PM we were all exhausted, sore from standing, cold, and called it a day.
I slept well but many ABCers were kept awake by loud sounds form the ship. It turns out that winds were so strong that the ship had to stop for a while in the night. The reason is not certain, but one possible explanation was that “stabilizers” had to be extended due to the high winds. Whatever the reason for the noises, the captain changed course to run much closer to shore, approximately 35-40 miles off shore, not the expected 100. Winds were reported on the ship’s TV as 40-63 knots with 11 foot seas and this seemed to match the feel on the deck.

This may have been a part of the reason we had lots of Common murres, only a few Parakeet auklets, and those were tough to see, and only 2 Murphy’s petrels. There were very large numbers of Sooty shearwaters but relatively few Pink-footed. We did get a Laysan Albatross near the end of the day for an Oregon sighting. After dinner Ken and I joined Brian Pendleton, John Anderson (Olympia addition to our trip) and Brian Sullivan and his 4 person contingent for a last 30 minutes of birding after we entered Washington waters. Unfortunately it was not at all birdy, with just 2 Cassin’s aucklets and four Phalaropes. Fortunately I was able to ID one of them at a Red phalarope because it was nearly fully in alternate plumage and red below.
We were all disappointed that when the sun rose on Day 4 we were already well into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and so there was no chance for deep water birds in WA. Still it was a really nice morning to socialize with both each other and the other birders on the boat. The level of both talent and great personalities out with us was truly extraordinary.
Some of us used our half day in Victoria to chase a reported Red-throated Pipit (not found) at Panama Flats where we did see two breeding plumage Pacific Golden Plovers, and to see the Sky Larks still hanging on near the Victoria Airport.
We all got back on board in time to go to sleep, get up early and arrive at Vancouver at 7:30 AM.
Starting with Brian Sullivan the leader of 4 outstanding non-millennial birders the talent around us was truly extraordinaty. Brian was truly an expert pelagic birder and was generous with both his time and giving away copies of his new book, Offshore Wildlife ID Guide: West Coast, Check it out. It is a must have for non-experts in any aspect of offshore bird, mammal, fish or turtles. The link is to Amazon where you can buy it. 
Dorian Anderson of the Biking Big Year notoriety kept us smiling with his stories and was a strong addition to the birding expertise in addition. He is planning a book about his year on the bike. It sounds like a book club book, maybe next year.
A local young man, Christian Hagenlocher, is doing a big year who was always sharing his new 90mm Swarovski scope and helping get us onto birds. He was both another expert to help us spot birds, and a joy to have around. He is doing this big year on a shoestring budget, and would appreciate any help we can give. Check out his web site The Birding Project where you can follow his adventure, and if you like contribute to his cause.
Another young expert on the ship was Chris West. Chris was a leader Kay and I first met at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival where we enjoyed his birding esxpertise, gentle manner, and hi general nature expertise in butterflys, dragonflys, and plants. He leads trips for Naturescape Tours based in Minnesota, though he is from Wisconsin. You can follow Chris on Facebook at Chris W Birder.
Another terrific young birder was Andy, but I don’t have contact info about him.
Overall I am pleased that ABCers were able to get a group together for the trip and that we all arrived in Vancouver safely and that most of us got on the Pterodromas and the Laysan’s albatross as well as the Storm petrels and learned what Cruise pelagic birding is all about. Notes to self and advice to others: Don’t underestimate how cold it can be on the deck of the ship, and expect long periods of tedium interspersed with exciting birds.