I’m sure most birders that use eBird have received some version of this email:
“I am a regional data reviewer for eBird. My goal is to keep up with data submissions and try to ensure the accuracy of reports of rare and unusual species, as well as unusually high counts of common species. Can you please provide additional details on the following observation? It is unusual either because it is a species that does not normally occur in this region on this date, or the count you’ve reported is above expected levels of occurrence.”
Normally this means that I have screwed up and identified a bird incorrectly and, after sending photos I get a follow up email that begins ” This is actually a(n) …..”
Yesterday I reported a sighting of a Merlin and this morning I got the above email. I sent a picture of the bird I had reported and tonight I receeved this:
“Merlin is pretty rare in the Texas panhandle in August. In fact this may be the earliest date on record. Excellent job of recording an amazing species. I have CC’ed A** H** as he may be interested in the observation for NAB reporting.”
You would not believe how excited I was. This (not the reporting, but the level of excitement) makes me an official Bird Nerd.
Here’s the Merlin. It as female of the prairie race I believe. I saw it at the Playa Lake north of Panhandle, Texas
This Playa Lake has been dry most of the summer, but last spring,after some heavy rains, it had a bit or water in it and I recorded a late season sighting of a couple of Sandhill Cranes, which prompted a similar series of emails from the regional reviewer. The Sandhill sighting was accurate also, but not a record. These are the only times I’ve been right (out of 5 or 6) when reporting a rare or unusual bird. I’ve learned to stick with the listed birds for the most part.
This is an unusual playa because the highway (State Highway 207) runs through the middle of it. The west side only gets run off from natural rainstorms, but he east side is runoff from a couple of nearby irrigated corn fields. The birds don’t seem to care; there is usually an amazing variety there when there is water. As a matter of fact, there are more species there now than I have been able to count at Lake Meredith, a large lake near my home, about 20 miles northwest of this playa.
There were also dozens of White-faced Ibis
and Blue-winged Teal, some Northern Pintail females, a few Northern Shovelers, a Greater Yellowlegs, and a couple of Swainson’s Hawks that I unfortunately couldn’t get any good photos of. They insisted on staying between me and the sun.
Check out the galleries for high resolution versions of these and other birds.