Those of you that use eBird, please forward this to the proper person.
I joined eBird last night to try to understand a confusing situation.
Are there one or two Spoonbills on the Santa Ana River in southern
California? According to a timeline presented by a poster on Calbirds
on December 14th, there are two but this post retracts the basis for
that information, which can be traced to a potential problem with eBird.
A Roseate Spoonbill was reported in Orange County from Wed. December
5th through Wed. afternoon December 12th, 2007. It was seen in a 5
mile stretch of the Santa Ana River, but mostly centered around the
Tustin Ave overpass area. After the 13th, no reports of a Roseate
Spoonbill in Orange County have been received by the Orange County RBA
or posted on OrangeCountyBirding or shown on eBird.
On Thursday afternoon, December 13th, 2007, a Roseate Spoonbill of the
same age, was seen at the Hidden Valley Reserve, western Riverside
County. This is on the Santa Ana River, about 21 miles (in a straight
line) from the Tustin Ave, Orange County location.
On Friday, the 14th, the Spoonbill was again seen in the morning at
Hidden Valley, and has been shown from there on "eBird Sightings"
until at least the 16th.
A post on Calbirds on the 14th, obviously referencing the Hidden
Valley bird which the poster saw that morning, indicated that "It
looks like the bird roosts here " and that "Note: Felicia Lee reported
to Ebird the presence of a spoonbill here on Dec 8, so apparently this
bird has been around for a while." If this is accurate, then there
were two immature Roseate Spoonbills on the Santa Ana River during the
same time period last week.
Felicia is not on Calbirds, and has asked me to clarify her eBird
information. She saw the Spoonbill on the 8th in Orange County,
California, not in Riverside County. In fact, she has a blog that
detailed the sighting:
This is what must have happened. When Felicia submitted her checklist
of birds seen on 8th December, eBird showed her a number of ways to
enter the data. Felicia picked "Birding Hotspots." If you pick this
option, you are asked to first enter the State you are in, and can
accept the default country of the United States. NO COUNTY IS ASKED
FOR. After you enter the State and (default) Country, eBird then
gives a list of "hotspots" for the state.... most of them probably
defined by the users. THERE ARE NO LINKS FROM THE HOTSPOT NAMES TO A
LOCATION MAP. One "hotspot" is called, "Santa Ana River Upper -IBA"
and that's what Felicia picked. For a person in Orange County, the
area of the Santa Ana River in the northeastern part of the county IS
the Upper Santa Ana River. It took a while to figure out where the
hotspot she choose actually is, by pretending I was going to define a
new hotspot, then with the map of present hotspots shown, I clicked on
each of those in the Santa Ana River area (which crosses 3 Counties),
at high zoom, and found that "Santa Ana River Upper -IBA" plots on the
east side of Hidden Valley Preserve in Riverside County. Rarities on
eBirds, if marked on the submitted checklist, appear in a separate
list (tied to Google), but are only retained for 7 days, so it's not
possible now to see what appeared under her name as a rare sighting,
or the accompanying map link (which would show Hidden Valley), which
is probably how the Dec 14th Calbirds poster found out about Felicia's
presumed Riverside County Spoonbill sighting.
In any case, there is no present information that Riverside County's
Hidden Valley Spoonbill was present at Hidden Valley from December 8th
until December 13th. Felicia Lee did not see the Spoonbill in
Riverside County. If this is a second Roseate Spoonbill, it will have
to be argued from other points of fact.
Dana Point, CA
(for Felicia Lee)