Posts from April, 2009

Overrun by Nightjars!

Posted Apr 21st, 2009 at 6:57 pm in Birding, Photography | 2 Comments

Don’t you just hate it when your carport gets overrun with an infestation of nightjars? I know I do.

But this is just what happened when I stepped out to the car this morning. The poor thing had gotten confused and was flying upwards, encountering only the hazy image of the world outside through the fiberglass windows.

Common Poorwill

I knew it wasn’t a Chuck-will’s-widow (they’re insanely large1), but I needed to be certain it wasn’t a Whip-poor-will (a find indeed for west Texas). A quick look in the book (with the bird in hand no less!), and I was satisfied that it was the more expected of the three — Common Poorwill. (Though not my best picture ever.)

Unable to find a box, a frantic search for a suitable transport container ensued. I settled on a T-shirt strategically folded to close the openings. After a short drive through residential streets (forgetting no more than one stop sign), I released it under the bushes at a local cemetery.

Common Poorwill

1 I was once on a pelagic trip 80 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico when we saw a large dark bird flying low over the water’s surface. For a moment we thought it was a shearwater, but it never glided and no one could figure out what it was. When we finally got close enough, it turns out it was a Chuck-will’s-widow.

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eBird Express Version

Posted Apr 12th, 2009 at 10:25 pm in Birding, Technology | Comments Off

The next version of eBird Express is now available on the downloads page. I’ve setup a whole section on the site for eBird Express. You can find it in the navigation.

If You Downloaded Version 1.0

If you’re using the version 1.0 of eBird Express, please read carefully.

I offer a thousand apologies, but this first version cannot be updated properly. You’ll need to first process any remaining checklists for uploading into eBird. Then the installer will remove any existing templates before installing the new version. (It’ll ask you first and won’t proceed without your permission.) You’ll need to view the install instructions again as they have changed.

I assure you that with the new version, updates to eBird Express will be painless. You’ll just download the new version, double click, and that’s it. All of your templates and checklists will now be separate from the eBird Express code so that updates can be delivered as often as needed. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience.

New Features

  • eBird Express is now visible on the ribbon in Excel 2007 or as a custom menu in Excel 2003 and older, but only if you’re working with an eBird Express template or unprocessed checklist.
  • Setting user preferences can now be done through a screen in Excel.
  • You can validate the taxonomy of a checklist against the taxonomy that eBird uses.
  • Supplemental eBird documents are installed into a sub folder inside your Bird Notes directory as handy reference. These include a copy of the current eBird taxonomy, the protocol descriptions, and the state and country codes. These will be replaced as newer versions are released by eBird.

Changes / Improvements

  • The eBird Express code is now totally separated from user templates and documents. This allows for a much easier installation on the part of the user and means that the code can be updated as needed without having to modify or remove user files.
  • Duration can now be manually entered on any checklists where you do not want to calculate the duration from the start and end time.
  • Start time is now required if protocol is anything but casual.
  • Text fields are now checked to ensure they are not too long.
  • The second column of scientific names is no longer hidden to make it clear to users that it exists. It’s given a narrow width to not be obtrusive. You may hide the column yourself in your templates if you prefer.
  • Scientific names are now deleted from the CSV file that you upload into eBird. (They’re still preserved in the local archive file.) The reason is that eBird uses the scientific name regardless of the common name if you upload a CSV file with both. Thus if you added or changed species and accidently left an old scientific name, eBird would ignore the English name and your records would be entered incorrectly.

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