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Richard Kaskan, November eBirder of the Month

Richard on Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Dec 2010

Please join us in congratulating Richard Kaskan of Bonita Springs, Florida, winner of the November 2016 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our November winner was drawn from eBirders who submitted at least 15 eligible eBird checklists in November that contained 1+ photos or audio recordings. Richard’s name was drawn randomly from the 748 eBirders who achieved the November challenge threshold. Richard will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Richard to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – read on for more.

I’ve been a birder since I was nine years old, compiling my first list on 9 February 1964 when I lived in Audubon, PA, of all places. I grew up birding in upstate NY only an hour south of Cornell, and I used to visit the Lab from time to time, mostly in the ’60s and ’70s. I haven’t been back to the Lab in many years, but I have great memories of the place and of birding Tompkins County in general, so I maintain a membership. 

LeConte's Sparrow, Pace Bend County Park, TX, Feburary 2005

Le Conte’s Sparrow, Pace Bend County Park, TX. Photo by Richard Kaskan/Macaulay Library.

I moved some of my paper records to Avisys years ago and used it happily for quite a while, but I migrated to eBird a few years ago and I love it (Team eBird note: learn how to import Avisys to eBird here). I’m out in the field essentially every day and never fail to record things in eBird, where I can see at a glance everything I’ve observed. I think my eBird records are cleaner than my old paper and Avisys records, as there are other eyes looking at them. In fact, in the process of migrating my records I was able to correct a number of errors that I had never noticed before.

As a mostly solitary birder I’m chiefly interested in my own records, but lately I’ve enjoyed getting eBird notifications of interesting things being seen in my area. These are especially valuable to me as I am a relatively new resident of Florida and still learning the territory. I am an unapologetic lister and particularly interested in my county lists, which eBird lets me see easily (Team eBird note: view Richard’s Florida county lists here).

Black-and-White Warbler, Corkscrew Swamp, FL, November 2007

Black-and-White Warbler, Corkscrew Swamp, FL. Photo by Richard Kaskan/Macaulay Library.

In 2014 I did a sort of “big year” of birds seen while I was walking from my house, which at that time was in Shoreham in eastern Long Island, NY. I tracked the progress of my year with eBird, ending up with 174 species seen traveling on foot from my front door, even though I moved to Florida in December, making it more of a “big 11 months.”

eBird has also been a great help to me when traveling – it is easy to read about what has been seen lately, and the “Target Species” function is a great aid to understanding what I am most likely to find in places I’ve never been.  

Oh, and the “Occurrence Maps” are fascinating – science and works of art at the same time.

Pied-billed Grebe, Bird Rookery Swamp, FL, November 2016

Pied-billed Grebe, Bird Rookery Swamp, FL. Photo by Richard Kaskan/Macaulay Library.

Here are two of my November checklists from favorite spots of mine here in southwest Florida: one from Bird Rookery Swamp in Collier County and one from Harns Marsh in Lee County.