Please join us in congratulating David Brown of Montoursville, PA, winner of the September 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our September winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 30 complete checklists containing one or more flyover codes in September. David’s name was drawn randomly from the 70(!) eBirders who achieved the September challenge threshold. David will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked David to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – read on for more!
My name is David Brown and I am from a small borough called Montoursville in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA. I first had an interest in birds around three years ago when I purchased a camera after graduating from college and shortly after that I was introduced to eBird. Birding quickly became my main hobby and I am particularly focused on promoting an appreciation for birds in the local area. The forested mountains of north-central Pennsylvania are well known for great hunting and world-class trout streams, yet the birding community is relatively small so I am always trying to introduce more people to the hobby. I am vice president of the Lycoming Audubon Society giving me the opportunity to regularly lead bird walks and write articles about birds for the local newspaper.
My mom, dad, and brother have also become birders. When birding as a family I am the photographer and my brother Bobby is the designated “data engineer” in charge of keeping the eBird checklist, sharing it, and this past month, adding the flyover codes.
I enjoy finding new local hotspots. This year a few of us have been focusing on a hotspot in my town called Mill Street, which is located along Loyalsock Creek as it empties into the West Branch Susquehanna River. By birding it often we have found a number of very rare county species and it is currently the twelfth place hotspot in Pennsylvania for number of species this year. This fall a group of us started hawk watching at a local overlook along Route 15 near South Williamsport and we have discovered that not only is it a convenient and comfortable spot, but the raptor numbers are good too. eBird provides us a platform to easily record and track progress at local birding hotspots in a way that keeps us excited and wanting to bird them more often.
I find myself using some part of eBird every day. I use the eBird iPhone app to keep my checklists while in the field. I enjoy looking at the bar charts for hotspots and entering checklists during weeks that have no data and trying to add new species. They are also helpful when scheduling bird walks. The “Target Species” tool is simply addicting because there is always something to go out and find. The email alerts make it easy to quickly learn of birds that I may want to chase. Those features along with the “Top 100” are what motivate me to get out birding every day.
Birding is a great hobby for exercising, socializing, being in nature, and overall just having a great time with friends, and eBird has made it more efficient so more time is spent watching birds and less is spent having to manage lists.