Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Five Mile Challenge


Like Jesus once did, Flycatcher Jen's blog has arisen from the dead to make the world a better, more Christian place. Well maybe that isn't entirely true, but I Used To Hate Birds is back, and it makes me feel a lot better about things. I was reading one of her new posts the other day and she mentioned an idea that struck a chord with me...she is starting to track birds she has seen within a 5 mile radius of her house in PDX. Her 5 mile list is quite impressive, definitely larger than mine, and features a number of Vague Runts. My 5 mile list, if I were to try to put it together, is not something I would relish in comparison. I just moved to my new place a few months ago, and my old patch (Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland) is not even in my new circle...what horeseshit. I don't even have any hotspots I check regularly in my new 5 miler.  Good places like Ferry Point, Lake Merritt and Arrowhead Marsh are just out of reach...but I do have the Emeryville Marina, the Albany Bulb, and Tilden Park...it could be much, much worse.

But I digress. I am not about to start a 5 mile list...but how about doing a 5 mile Big Day? It's pretty much a lazy Big Day, which sounds extremely appealing. I'm down to bird more locally (I may not have a choice soon!) and it would be cool to actually check out a couple new spots. So, coming this January, Flycatcher Jen, This Machine Nate (in Austin) and myself will challenge one another to see who can bag the highest number of species within 5 miles of where they live in 24 hours. Simple. We are aiming to all do it the same day in order to make it more suspenseful, but rescheduling is allowed if someone is totally rained out.

What does the winner get? Bird books. I need more bird books, and if I win, each loser will buy me one. This is nerdy as fuck, yes, but at what point have I claimed I wasn't a nerd?  The brand new Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America would be an awesome pickup, and something like this would be cool too. Basically, FJ and Nate losing will directly result in me gaining more knowledge and sacred bragging rights, and that's just too good to pass up. Bring it on goddammit!

12 comments:

  1. Bird Island is in your circle?? You've got this one in the bag.

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    1. Need a kayak to get out there unfortunately, it would put a cramp in my big day.

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  2. damn, I like this idea. Are other nerds invited to participate in this competition? And what about dividing your total by county list or something to get a percentage to account for bird-rich Californians?

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    1. I think anyone can do it and modify it (if posted about it, I would link to it), but being on the hook for sacred prizes might just the three of us?

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  3. I wonder what would happen if some Florida birders got involved.

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    1. I would like a census of your local Palm Warbler population please

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    2. I feel like I could see a whole 70 species.

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    1. Pretty much - I hadn't thought about that until now...I guess I need to do more CBCs.

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  5. One of the games we play in Wisconsin is the Local Patch Challenge--we stole the idea from Texas. We noticed "patches" in eBird were far from uniform and some folks were getting bent out of shape about this. So for those that play the game...

    Everyone's patch is a 7.5 mile radius circle (just like a CBC) centered at their house. If you have 2 houses you can have 2 circles. Each participant adds locations within the circle to their eBird Patch, then it's game on.

    The first year we did it I compiled the total number of species and we finished at 310. The only typical resident birds we missed were northern specialists that don't like living near people: Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker and “upland game birds” Gray Partridge and Sharp-tailed Grouse. Our "winning" individual year totals are typically in the 230-250 range.

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