Journal archives for November 2017

18 November, 2017

Nalle Bunny Run 2017-11-18

This morning 15 people joined me on the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run nature preserve in west Austin. 11 of them were a cub scout group with 3 girls, 4 boys, 3 moms, and 1 dad. The kids were between the ages of maybe 7 and 10. The ages of the kids and low bird activity resulted in less serious bird-finding this morning. But we did see a few birds and everyone enjoyed seeing the preserve on a beautiful mild and breezy morning.

Just downhill from the gate we ran into a mixed flock of songbirds that included Chipping Sparrows, Carolina Chickadees, Black-crested Titmice, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a single Pine Warbler (my first of the season) and this female Downy Woodpecker:

Downy Woodpecker

I think most of the kids eventually saw the woodpecker, even though it was a challenging spot for people not used to using binoculars.

On the sandy prairie "beach" area I was excited to find and photograph an unusual dragonfly. It turned out to be a male Turquoise-tipped Darner, an uncommon species in Texas. This was only the second time I've ever seen one, and a first for the preserve. You can see the turquoise color on the underside of the very tip of the abdomen in this photo:

Turquoise-tipped Darner

Another fun bird we found was a beautiful male American Kestrel that perched on top of the large mostly dead cottonwood tree near the houses.

On our way back uphill to the gate, most of the group went straight back to leave a little earlier, but three of us took an additional loop around the western part of the preserve. Soon after we split up I heard the unmistakeable sound of Sandhill Cranes calling to each other in flight! I ran around trying to see them in the sky but I never did. We could hear them moving south over our heads. They were probably riding the cold front that was just starting to arrive. Sandhill Crane was my 170th bird species for the preserve! Keep your ears open for this unique sound right now in central Texas

.Also on this loop trail we found a first-year Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and got to watch a Red-tailed Hawk use the northwest wind to stay stationary in the air:

Red-tailed Hawk

Here's our complete bird list.

Attached are a few observations.

Here are the same photos on Flickr.

Posted on 18 November, 2017 21:06 by mikaelb mikaelb | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

19 November, 2017

eBird Mobile App Updated for iOS to Support Keeping your Tracks

eBird recently updated the iPhone eBird Mobile app to record your path via your phone's GPS. Yesterday I was annoyed when the app was updating while I was leading a group bird walk. But today I gave the new functionality a try. I walked from my house to Lake Creek Trail (my neighborhood hike-and-bike trail where I do most of my birding), birded part of Lake Creek Trail, then walked back to my house via a different route. The app made it pretty easy to make 3 separate checklists out of this trip. And eBird prefers to have multiple checklists for shorter distances (less than 1 Km).

Interestingly, the app still lets you edit the total distance travelled for your traveling checklists because (1), the GPS path might be flawed, and (2), eBird still wants you to only record "the unique distance you covered." See the "Recording Distance" section of the above linked page for a good explanation of this.

Using the new was pretty easy, and you can look at your path at any time. After submitting a checklist from the mobile app, I can still access its path from the app. But I cannot access the path from the eBird website. I assume this will be possible in the future.

I've gotten into the habit of recording my trail with another GPS app when I'm eBirding, Gaia GPS. This app has been working well for me, and I have lots of recorded paths that correspond to eBird checklists. Right now there does not seem to be a way to add any of these old GPS paths to their corresponding old eBird checklists. My phone's battery usage didn't seem to be different than when I use Gaia GPS to record the trail.

Here are the checklists I recorded this morning:

Posted on 19 November, 2017 19:35 by mikaelb mikaelb | 0 comments | Leave a comment