Please join us in congratulating Tom Nolan of Delran, NJ, winner of the September 2018 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Tom’s name was drawn randomly from 2,390 eBirders who submitted at least 15 eligible eBird checklists from a single location in September. Tom will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular for his eBirding efforts. Here’s Tom’s birding story:
I was a causal birder in the 1990’s and remained that way until I joined eBird in 2007. My original reason for joining was to have a safe place to keep my life list (I was constantly having to redo the list from memory every time I misplaced my latest bird guide). A few years after I began keeping my lists on eBird, I noticed a request on the web page from a researcher wanting regular lists from a constant site. I responded to the request saying I could produce a list from my yard every month, however this rapidly evolved into a daily list! With this dramatic increase in watching birds came a rapid increase in my ability to identify the various species I was seeing: in September 2010 I reported 23 species from my yard and this increased steadily over the years to 34 species in September 2017 (this year it was only 29 species, but I attribute that to climate change and not a failing memory). Here are a couple of my favorite checklists from this past September: https://ebird.org/nj/view/checklist/S48652436, https://ebird.org/nj/view/checklist/S48676223.
With my increased utilization of eBird as a place to keep my trip lists, I gradually began to use other parts of the site. I have found by following the lists of local birders I get a better feeling for what is being seen in my area and I learn to identify the birds that are being found before going out on a birding trip. More than once I have met a birder in the field and recognized their name as someone who has been posting on eBird! The maps of recent sightings of individual species is particularly helpful when I think I have identified an uncommon bird. I want to thank the team that keeps eBird running and keep up the good work!