Bird Atlas Tips February 2010
Dear Loudoun County Atlasers,
Despite the cold temperatures, love is in the air for several of our raptor species. The Barred and Great Owls are now within safe dates and the Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Wren will enter into safe dates at the end of the month. This is a great time to re-familiarize yourself with the atlasevidence codes and set goals for the upcoming year. For example, what species do you still need to find from your target list? What species do you want to upgrade to a probable or confirmed breeding code?
In the upcoming months, we will be making a few minor changes to the data collection and entry process to allow us to better meet our atlas objectives (see pg. 2 of Atlas Handbook for a refresher of our objectives). I’ll notify you of the updates as they are ready.
1. Please send me a confirmation (via email or phone) that you will continue atlasing your assigned block in 2010. There are several blocks still in need of coverage so consider taking ownership of an additional block. A current list of block assignments is attached to this email.
2. All paper field cards and Special Survey forms from the first atlas year should be mailed to me by April 1st.
Atlas Training Session
The training session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9th from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Rust Library in Leesburg. The training will provide an opportunity to meet other atlasers and become familiar with atlasing and data entry. Please let me know if you plan to attend and consider passing this information along to others that may be interested in helping with the atlas.
Special Area Update
The Dulles Wetlands Mitigation Project was recently added as our eighth Special Area. Remember to use a new field card when surveying this Special Area to prevent mix-ups when entering your data.
Atlas Verification Form Updates
1. I’ve updated the Atlas Verification form so information can now be typed directly into the document. The updated version is posted on the atlas website. This format should be conducive to saving and submiting the verification forms via email. Of course, you are still welcome to print the form, write in the information, and mail it to me.
2. Verification Forms are required only when confirmed (not probable or possible) breeding evidence is documented for Species of Special Interest in Category C (see pg. 7-8 of Atlas Handbook for details). The warning flag that appears in the database for Category C species now reads “No verification form required UNLESS evidence of breeding observed in the confirmed category.” Hopefully this will clear up any confusion.
3. Our partners at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center are continuing to work on creating a new feature for the online database that will provide a status of “Documentation Received” or “Documentation Required.” This new feature should hopefully be ready for the upcoming breeding season.
4. A spreadsheet of the special interest species documented in 2009 is attached to this email in case anyone is interested. Please note there may be additional species or sightings that haven’t been entered into the database yet.
37 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 1,160 hours in the field documenting 12,580 sightings. You have recorded 191 species, with 91 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 28 blocks.
Your Atlasing Tips
Did you learn something the hard way while atlasing this first year? If so, please send me your lessons learned/atlasing tips and I’ll pass them along for the group’s benefit. Questions, concerns, and comments are also welcome. Thanks for your help with this exciting and challenging project!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator