Time for a game about birds
Making a list:
When I go out birding I usually make a list of the different species of birds I observe or hear. I also record the number of each species seen and this goes in my database records. On most occasions this has to be an estimate. Rarely do I get the chance to actually count the individual birds unless the number is in single figures where it is relatively easy. The larger the flock, the harder it is to get a reasonable estimate.
My father was very skilled at counting sheep as they moved through a gate from one paddock to another. In this way he could tell in an instant if there were some missing, such as a group of stragglers left over a hill or behind a patch of scrub. He counted by “chunking” into groups of five or ten or twenty. This works quite well with flocks of birds but it is still somewhat of a rough estimate.
On a few occasions I have seen a flock of birds feeding on the ground and done a quick estimate by grouping them like my father would with his sheep. I’ve then gone back over the flock counting more accurately. On most occasions I’ve been surprised that my estimate was as much as 25 or 30% below the actual number. My counting by estimation is almost always in error on the conservative side.
A bird counting game:
I recently found out about a game that’s been devised to test a birder’s ability to count a flying flock of birds. It only takes a few minutes to play and it ranks your ability against everyone else in your country. The last time I played I was ranked 11th in Australia. (Not sure how many had played before me.)
Here is the link:
- Irania Bird Counting Game (SORRY -this link no longer works)