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After the Stilbaai Bird Club’s special push during the Autumn Attack, it is a good time to report on the progress with atlasing in Hessequa in 2016. We set three goals for 2016:
• Atlas each of the 77 pentads in Hessequa at least once
• Push the total cards for two quarter degree squares (3421AB and 3421AD) from dark green to light blue (7 to 11 cards)
• Get a better distribution of cards throughout the year by atlasing pentads in “empty” months only
The first picture shows the effect of the 118 cards submitted for 2016 up to 7 May. About 40 of these were done by visitors, mainly in the tourist and popular birding areas of Stilbaai/Jongensfontein, Gouritsmond/Voelvlei, Witsand/Port Beaufort and Grootvadersbos. Members of the Stilbaai Bird Club had the pleasure of covering the rest of the area and becoming even more familiar with the wonderful diversity that Hessequa has to offer.
The difference between the second picture (situation on 1 January 2016) and the third picture (situation on 7 May) is an indication of our progress in terms of turning the two quarter degree squares light blue.
Our Autumn Attack was concluded with a talk on the identification of local raptors attended by 24 members, followed by a very enjoyable braai.
The primary information need in deciding conservation priorities is up-to-date distribution maps. That is the primary goal of the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2). Gosh, Team SABAP2, there is no holding you back in contributing the crucial data on which these maps are built. September broke all the data collection records. The daily submission rate of full protocol checklists was 77.3 (the previous record was in August, with 72.1). The number of checklists submitted in September was 2320 (compared with August, 2236; and remember that September is handicapped by being a day short!! This year it was further handicapped by awful weather over much of the country during the first weekend of the month!!!).
In the “Four Degrees” region centred on Gauteng, coverage reached 85% of the 576 pentads. The number of pentads visited increased by 17, from 473 to 490. That leaves 86 pentads left to be visited in the remaining three months of the year. Some targeted atlasing is going to be needed to achieve this. Jerome Ainsley is helping to lead the process. There is another challenge on the go in this region too, getting the entire Four Degrees to BLUE on the coverage map, that is 11 checklists per pentad since the start of the project. Today, 1 October, only 173 checklists are needed to achieve this. 52 pentads are on 10 checklists, and only need one more BirdMAPper visit to turn them BLUE.
October is the key month for the arrival of the migrants from Eurasia. Please try to atlas your favourite and most accessible pentad several times, so that we have good solid documentation of the arrival of the migrants this spring, and the pattern of build up. Please keep going on this till the end of the year!
If you are able to travel to atlas, please treat all pentads with 0, 1, 2 or 3 checklists as top priorities. The paradigm to which we are working is that four checklists form the foundation of coverage for a pentad. After that we build the skyscraper of coverage. During the course of September, we reached the point at which 30% of the pentads of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland had four or more checklists. We have a long, long way to go. Our mantra: “Make it GREEN in 20fifteen.”
Thank you, Team SABAP2
The power of Citizen Science is that we are able to collect data on scales otherwise unimaginable. During October SABAP2 reached an awesome six million records. This data, collected by atlasers, is conservation critical. The distribution maps we are generating show exactly where species actually occur, rather than where they are thought to occur, or even where the models produced by statisticians predicts them to occur.
Team SABAP2 continues to beaver away at unprecedented levels. The number of checklists submitted in October was a record 2213. Next best was the previous month, September, with 1879. Then to find the third best month you need to go all the back to November 2010, with 1833 checklists. To put the increase in perspective, the average from January to August this year was 1534 checklists per month and 1447 for the whole of last year. October was festival month for SABAP2!
November has started with a bang! Checklists continue to pour in. On the first three days of November, in spite of a bout of loadshedding, the rate of checklist submission continues at the October rate of 71 checklists per day.
There are three challenges on the go, and it is as well to review them with two months to. Top performer has been the Greater Gauteng challenge. We have already exceeded our target of 3456 checklists for the region. We should reset our aim higher, and go for 125% of target, 4320 checklists.
There are now only 82 pentads out of the 576 without a checklist. We have statistical analysis in view for which gaps in data is a showstopper. So we would be hugely grateful if the Greater Gauteng section of Team SABAP2 pulled out all the stops and got to every pentad this year. Second priority is to get a second checklist for the 194 pentads with only one checklist made in 2014.
The Greater Kruger National Park challenge has, at this stage, visited 349 different pentads in the region, just one short of the target of 350. 89% of the target of 1250 checklists has been made. No problems here.
The Western Cape is falling behind the clock. The targets here were set as reaching the same data volumes as in 2013. 84% of 2014 is behind us. 83% of the target of 700 pentads have had at least one visit. 82% of the target of 2500 checklists have been made, so 452 remain. So this is a gentle plea to atlasers in the Western Cape to roll up their sleeves and get this year’s contribution to SABAP2 up to 2013 levels! There is still time to get back on track.
During November, the arrival of Palearctic migrants continues. Let us continue to atlas as diligently this month as we did last month!
Thank you all for your amazing dedication and commitment to SABAP2.
Six million records in the SABAP2 database. Team SABAP2, you have got from five million to six million in two days less than a year. The previous millions have all taken about 13 months (apart from the first, which took two years!).
We are steadily building not only the start-of-the-21st-century distribution maps, but we are also getting enough data on an annual basis to start thinking about mapping changes in bird distribution continuously. No one, nowhere, has come close to achieving this!
Well done, Team SABAP2. Seven million, here we come.