[CT Birds] East Rock Park, eBird hotspots, and the CT bird atlas ...

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Thu May 3 08:34:27 EDT 2018

Hi everyone,
Given that the migration floodgates have opened, I know a lot of people will be at East Rock Park over the next few weeks.  If you see evidence of nesting at the park (or anywhere else), please contribute the data to the atlas.  But, please also be aware that East Rock spans two different atlas blocks - with the dividing line cutting east-west through the park mid-way between the Eli Whitney museum and East Rock Road, and extending across the park to just south of the Pardee Rose Garden.  North of this line is block 95B, south of the line is block 95D.  Consequently, if you put records from the entire park into eBird using the East Rock Park hotspot, there is a risk that your data will be attributed to the wrong block.  

The reason for this is that every record on a given checklist is given the location of the checklist marker.  At East Rock, this marker is about half way down Trowbridge Drive, and lies in the southern block (95D).  So, every record entered using that hotspot will be put into 95D.  To keep everything straight, observations of breeding birds from sites north of the line (Eli Whitney Museum, the Mill River area immediately south of the covered bridge, the archery field, Whitney peak, the rose garden, etc. as well as most of Edgerton Park) should be entered using a separate checklist from the rest of the park - you could either use a personal location or the hotspot marker for the Eli Whitney Museum, which has it's own hotspot.
Please be aware that this issue applies to a number of other well known birding sites in the state.  We discuss this general problem using Hammonasset as an example on the atlas web site, here (and I'd urge everyone to take a quick look at this page):http://ctbirdatlas.com/Surveys-Breeding-Season-Block-Visits.htm

Other sites where the same situation applies include Barn Island, Lighthouse Point Park, Great Island, Rocky Neck, Vibert and Newberry Roads at Station 43, various state forests, and no doubt other places I'm not yet aware of.  So, if you are out birding and want to contribute observations to the atlas - and we really hope that you will - please check the interactive map on the web site, so that you know where the block boundaries are.  That map is here:http://ctbirdatlas.com/Maps-Block-map.htm
If you scroll to the bottom of the page, there are also instructions for how you can load the block boundaries into the Google Earth app, so that you can have them on your phone in the field.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that this issue is a real nuisance.  I wish there were an easy fix, but it is a byproduct of the way eBird is set up and there's no solution other than to maintain separate checklits for portions of a birding site that lie in different blocks.  On the other hand, the more precisely eBird checklists are linked to the locations where you go birding the more useful the data will be to all eBird users, so there are benefits that go beyond the atlas.
Many thanks for your contributions to the atlas (and patience with all its quirks!), and I hope everyone sees lots of migrants in the next few days .....

 Chris Elphick @ssts 
Storrs, CT 
elphick at sbcglobal.net

More information about the CTBirds mailing list