09 December 2011

Western, Snowy Owls To End of Nov. 2011

eBird map of reported Snowy Owls to end of November 2011
And here are some links to Flickr photos round and about:



And from this flickr page, you can follow a link to a TV news piece from Washington State.
I really must go for a drive and look around! I have only ever seen them twice - once at Boundart Bay, off in the distance, where it was sitting on a piece of driftwood; and once at Ta Ta Creek - the one Dean and Valerie spotted and kindly reported a couple of years ago. They are beautiful birds, are they not!
Dianne C.

04 December 2011

More than just social networking - BC birding groups on the net

BC bird groups on the net

Here is a list of internet groups devoted to birds in BC.

If your birding interests include help in identification, a bit of regional and / or seasonal listing, a bit of zoogeography, a bit of photography, etc. I recommend you join the appropriate group.

There is still a place for these groups within the realm of internet resources.

Facebook and twitter are great for keeping in touch with the actual people doing the birding, and for being alerted to recent sightings BUT as an archive, these fall short for searchability.

eBird is great for seeing the actual data, if people have entered it, but it is still far under-used and does not put you in touch with the actual observers, also, vetting of confirmation of sightings is not public, and photos are not shared.

These groups, the people contributing to them, and the discussions, data and photos archived in them are invaluable, extremely helpful, and fun to read.

British Columbia Interior bird and nature photos - Google group

British Columbia Interior - Yahoo group

British Columbia - all -Yahoo group

East Kootenay - Yahoo group

West Kootenay - Yahoo group

Vancouver Island - Yahoo group

One beauty of these groups, as opposed to facebook and other social network communication, is that their archives are searchable, and go back many recent years. If you were to attempt a search with a major search engine to try to find out, for example, at what time of year and where exactly have snowy owls been seen in BC the best you may come up with, of data contained in these groups, is a reference on the website "birdingonthenet" which gathers all references from all these lesser sites; whereas, if you go to these groups' webpages you can search their archives directly.

I think, of all the things humans are interested in, that birding, in all its dimensions from backyarders to conservationists, through to listers, benefits the most from the internet and its myriad vehicles and resources: groups, blogs, photosharing, mapping, online databases, fan pages, social networks, and so on.

My two bits

Dianne C.

21 October 2011

Red-tailed Hawk "digi"-scoped, haha

Here is my first ever digiscoping effort. Picked something large that would sit still for awhile. Taken with Sony cyberpshot and Nikon scope. Pretty funny.

Red-tailed hawk. It sat still for a while then hopped down to the right, picked something out of the grass and returned to the pole.

Then the guts started flying and in 25 seconds, with two rips and gulps, whatever it was, was now hawk energy.

28 September 2011

Flipboard screenshot of one of my twitter searches

From Blogger Pictures

Well, it got cropped, I think but ...

I'm liking this "Flipboard" app for mobile tablet, especially for quick browsing of my facebook, twitter, flickr, and google reader pages.

Not only can you see your main page / timeline / photostream / list, but you can access most of the other features of the social media, and in one case, it's better than the original!

Say you marked that you liked a facebook page, never to hear from it again because its posts are not included on your wall. As far as I can tell, your list of pages is buried in a long paragraph format by following the command line Profile > Info > More Pages. Too onerous!

On flipboard, it's included in the list of the drop down menu right in front of your face top centre!

Plus! On twitter, if you have already set up some saved searches, voila! There they are! Same place, top centre dropdown menu.

The flipboard presentation format on a tablet is pretty attractive and fun to browse. So neat.

24 September 2011

eBird Maps Improved

Ooohhh! Ebird maps are getting very cool!

Now you can easily find out exactly where something was seen to help you plan birding trips.

Go to. View and explore data

Make a bar graph for a Regional District (aka County, in eBird) to see all the species and their seasonal occurence by month.

Study the checklist and pick a bird you are interested in then click on the 'Map' button to the right on the name.

A map with rectangles will appear showing grid squares with sightings.

Just zoom in - by double clicking the map. - far enough until the little markers appear. These show where the bird was seen!

For more info, click on the markers to see date and observer.

Very nice.

The above screen shot shows GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in the East Kootenay area. It didn't seem to get updated with the sightings I just entered. Lag or sighting review pending, I suppose.

But here is a picture courtesy of David Sindholt, birding friend, taken later the same day - 21 Sep 2011

Thanks to Dean N. For the heads-up post on our Yahoo group.


Dianne C.

14 September 2011

Birding Web Resources for EK birders

for The Kestrel, the newsletter of the Rocky Mountain Naturalists
by Dianne Cooper

Looking for stuff on the internet to supplement your curiosity about birding? Wondering how the internet can enhance your field time?  Here are a few digital resources:


One terrific web service automatically searches Twitter for you then spits out a webpage that looks like a newspaper. It is called paper.li

And you don’t need a Twitter account to view these ePapers!
You will see photos, videos, tweets, and headlines with links to blogs and major website articles.

ePapers you may enjoy are:

gathering every tweet containing the tag #birding.

gathering all tweets tagged #bcbirding#bcnature and #birding as well as BC rarities tweeted by Russell Canning via his twitter account: @bcbirdalert. I started and update this ePaper.

But, Twitter is one of those “the more the merrier” resources.


How can a name like that NOT appeal to birders! Indeed, Twitter is being used by birders and birding organizations all over the world to share sightings, their enjoyment of birdie happenings, news, blogs, and photos.
 How it works:
You start an account, then follow others who have similar interests or people you may even know.

POST A TWEET – share small tidbits, links to your photos and blogs, or whatever.

FOLLOW other tweeters and read their tweets on your timeline = the list of yours and their tweets.

SEARCH everyone’s tweets for stuff you are interested in. Search for a keyword, such as ‘kootenay’ or one with a hashtag such as ‘#bcbirding’.

You can do this from your internet-connected desktop, laptop, tablet (iPad, etc.) or if you are really digital, from your mobile phone.
Who to follow:
The BEST things about Twitter are …
There are myriad nature websites out there! Information overload can strike. Twitter to the rescue! You can use it like a headline service.

Maybe you have subscribed to email alerts telling you when a website’s newsletters is updated – your inbox is flooded, perhaps, or their emails are gobbled by your email filtering. But, you want to see what’s new on those websites, it’s so confusing! You try to remember their name, or find the link in the bookmarks of your internet browser, but there are just so many!
Your timeline
If a website or organisation is active and interesting, it will have a Twitter account and post notices of new articles, or other Tweeters will mention a good article.

Once you follow their accounts or those of keen tweeters that forward links (called ‘retweeting’ = ‘RT’) you can simply browse the entries on your twitter page / timeline.
Your lists
Once you really get the hang of Twitter, you can create sets of people you follow – say birders, for example – and create a list.  Selecting a list shows you only the tweets from people on your list.
Search for any topic your heart desires, anytime.

Yahoo groups around us:

Yahoo hosts webpages where you can share your interest in birding by geographic location.

You need a Yahoo account.  If you’ve misplaced your account name and password, just start a new Yahoo account – and ‘write’ the info down somewhere (see Tip below).

East Kootenay 

West Kootenay 

BC Interior




Above links are disabled to stop spambots. Just put 'http://' in front in your web browser

Most good groups require granting of permission to join. Follow the instructions when you sign up.

Store your passwords
Create a Word or Excel file, copy and paste the web addresses into this file – they should automatically become links that you can just click on; your internet browser will open on that webpage.

After you have created this file, right click on its name in your documents and save it as a shortcut on your desktop so it will be handy for when you want to browse your sites.

Bird and Song Identification

What Bird:

An online identification service using your field observations to narrow down the possibilities.
Makers of the iBird series of bird identification applications for mobiles (phones, tablets), this site offers  birders a unique interface to identify a new species or check your id’s. You gotta see it to figure it out, so take a look.  It would be best used if you have taken really detailed field notes or have a very good picture of a bird in your mind.

Nature Instructor:

Browse by species to hear their songs and calls from all over the continent. Quiz yourself.
Run by Environment Canada and others, this site gives you access to a comprehensive set of bird songs, calls and photos.

After listening to bird species’ songs from various parts of the continent, you will realize there is a lot more variation than you thought.

You may have to contact them to set up an account (participants in the Breeding Bird Atlas of British Columbia had their accounts set up for them already, so, if you are registered with the BBA, contact Nature Instructor for your user name and password).

All About Birds

Online field guide searchable by species name.
Figure out the species you are looking for by entering your guess in the search box, then browsing the species accounts and similar species until you narrow it down.  Browse a species’ sounds from the Macaulay Library of bird songs; photos, videos, id tips, range, etc. Run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which also does eBird, Project Feeder Watch, and much more.

User-contributed Web Compilations:


Share and compile your own sightings from anywhere in the world.

With an account, you can see your life lists, your geographical lists by Major Region, Country, State/Province or County (Regional Districts of British Columbia), or a list of every place you have seen one species.

Without an account, you can still browse lists, bar graphs, and maps generated from all contributors’ sightings.

Thailand eBird hotspots
Finding ‘hotspots’ to visit

Hotspots are good birding locations suggested by eBirders and accepted by eBird to make data entry quicker.

If you are going on a birding trip to a new place you can use this trick to find hotspots:

pretend you are going to submit observations  then use the ‘Find it on a Map’ feature to browse a map for the names and locations in the region you are interested in.

Internet Bird Collection

Contribute to a user-based field guide and browse it.
Sponsored by Handbook of the Birds of the World (http://www.lynxeds.com)

Comprehensive Websites

For a ginormous amount of serious bird info, like if you are planning an international birding trip; or have a lot of time to bird by armchair you can go to:

Look up a bird species anywhere in the world, in multiple languages and get all kinds of info and news.
Run by Bird Studies Canada, Birdlife International and Denis Lepage – who also does all the web stuff for the Breeding Bird Atlases.

Birding On The Net

Digital compliation of all links, archives, and anything to do with birds, everywhere.
News, anything posted by anybody on yahoo groups, aka ‘litserves’.
Run by J. Siler of Network Solutions, in Drums Pennsylvania.

13 September 2011

Early September Northern Idaho Foray

Made a foray into Northern Idaho last weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find that an eBird hotspot was indeed hot! Thank you to whomever recommended this road.

Here is the link to the eBird data for this site: http://bit.ly/q63p5g

Sunnyside Road east of Sandpoint, is a pleasant jaunt through farms, past sloughs, then finally one is afforded glimpses of Lake Pend Oreille.

One highlight was learning the towhee-like vocalization of the Warbling Vireo as confirmed by iBird Explorer PRO. There were dozens of them in the bushes.

Another highlight was a large flock (100 plus) of Cedar Waxwing - we don't see large flocks of these very often; seems they flock up a bit further south from my usual haunts.

The few saskatoon bushes with fruit were well-tended by the hungry TOWHEES, GOLDFINCHES, and SPARROWS.

We also went to Kootenai NWR west of Bonner's Ferry. Here is the eBird link for that hotspot: http://bit.ly/nF7zm6

A local charity bike ride distracted us a bit but we managed to tally both YELLOWLEGS, a hen RING-NECKED PHEASANT with 6 young and, something new for me, a praying mantis in the wild.

While entering my eBird data, I was surprised to find they consider EARED GREBE a rarity in Northern Idaho. I saw one at McArthur Lake. They are not what I would call unusual here in the East Kootenay Trench. But a quick peek at its range map on allaboutbirds.com does show a big blank spot for them in N. Idaho. Wow. Seems strange.

Beautiful fall weather. Hope to go there again someday.

Here's wishing you a poke in the eye!
Dianne C.

29 August 2011

Grasshopper karma

I saved a grasshopper this morning. I found it in my kitchen sink when I went to fill the kettle for my morning coffee. I nabbed it with a piece of paper towel, but when I went to shake it off outside, it wouldn't let go. So I just put the paper towel down on the deck railing and hoped the hopper would eventually hop off down onto the grass below because if it DIDN'T, I knew it might come to the attention of one of my two cats, which would it eat.

A few minutes later I looked outside to see the torkie nibbling away. Oh dear! Well at least that was a more useful fate than the hopper I squished last week because it pause right where I put foot down when stepping out the back door.

27 March 2011

Invitation to Atlas

Looking for a place to atlas?
Come on over to Southeastern BC! Have I got a trip for you!

Panoramino photo share pic (Thx JRS)

If you have a truck and camper and are up for some back country roads, let me recommend the Whiteswan to Bull River route (and vicinity).

There are 19 priority 1 squares on this route, and MOST of the point counts are on the main roads.

Mid June or later would be best for the road conditions