High Virginia Outdoors covers outdoor recreation,nature,travel,photography and tourism in the central Appalachain region of West Virginia and Virginia.Outdoors in Appalachia-From a Different Perspective.
Have you heard a squeaky-hinge song lately, or seen a flash of rust-tipped feathers under a bright yellow eye? Although occasionally overlooked as “just another blackbird,” Rusty Blackbirds face an unfortunate and remarkable notoriety: this species has endured a decline more severe than that of any other once-common landbird. In 2014, the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, eBird, and many other state, federal, and local partners, launched a three-year Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz that challenged birders to scour the landscape for Rusty Blackbirds during this species’ northward migration. Between 1 March and 15 June 2014, 4750 birders submitted 13,400 checklists containing Rusty Blackbird observations to eBird; during the same time period in 2015, 4885 birders submitted 13,919 checklists containing Rusty Blackbird observations. These first two hugely successful seasons have allowed us to start looking at potential Rusty Blackbird migratory hotspots, habitat use, and potential migratory pathways.
We hope you’ll consider participating in Year 3 – the final year – of the Blitz this spring! It’s easy- bird as you normally do during the Blitz window (1 March through 15 June) and submit your data to eBird using the “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz” observation type. To help you figure out when Rusties might be passing through your area, each region is assigned a set of target dates found here: http://rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz/states-and-dates/ We’re collecting Blitz data from anywhere within our target states and provinces, but this
year, we’d also like birders to revisit Areas of Interest identified from 2014 and 2015 data to assess the consistency of Rusty Blackbird habitat use and migratory timing. Check out our map of Areas of Interest for 2015 at http://rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz/2015-areas-of-interest/
To learn more about Rusty Blackbirds and the Blitz effort, please visit our Migration Blitz website (http://rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz/), or check out our Blitz Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/rustyblackbirdspringblitz).
We hope you’ll join us to Blitz for Blackbirds this spring!
Learn about West Virginia mussels at North Bend State Park, Feb 25
CAIRO, W.Va. – Biologist Janet Clayton with the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) will present an evening program, "Mussels –Why They're Important to West Virginia," at North Bend State Park Feb. 25, 2016. The 6:30 p.m. program will cover the importance of mussels in streams, habitats, threats to survival of species, and survey programs. The program is open to the public without charge.
We can learn about the quality of the water in our rivers and streams by observing the health of the species that live in it. Mussels, an important indicator of water quality, are freshwater versions of marine clams: bivalve mollusks that live in fresh water. The Ohio River system has more than 120 different species of the 225 known species in North America. Fifty-five of these reside in the West Virginia portion.
The program will help attendees understand these unique creatures, identify threatened and endangered mussels, and invite interested volunteers to assist in surveys. The evening is sponsored by the Friends of the Hughes River Watershed Association, WVDNR and North Bend State Park.
To learn more about mussels, visit www.molluskconservation.org/MUSSELS/ or www.wvdnr.gov.
February 12-15 (Friday through Monday) is the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). To participate, just go birding during this timeframe and make sure to enter your checklists in eBird. The GBBC was one of the first demonstrations that the Internet could be used to collect bird checklists and was instrumental in the creation of eBird back in 2002. For 2016, we really want the GBBC weekend to focus on sharing your knowledge with others. Do you have a friend or family member who has always wanted to go birding with you? Someone you should teach to use eBird? Someone you think you could turn on to birds and share your sense of wonder with? Make the GBBC the weekend where you pick up the phone and invite him or her along.
If everyone who uses eBird was able to create one new eBirder this weekend, we could double the amount of data in eBird!
Below are some thoughts about this weekend, what it is becoming, and how to get involved. Take someone birding
Here at eBird and at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we fundamentally believe that birds can save the world. A love of birds connects humanity with the natural world in a way that is all too hard to find in modern society. Even for city-dwellers, parks and green spaces hold birds that remind us about the natural world and keep us connected to it. Migratory birds link the continents and their movements flow across borders in ways that highlight how interconnected the world is. Only by connecting with the natural world, understanding that our actions here may have implications half a world away, and caring about the outcomes, will humanity become better stewards of our planet.
Everyone who enters records in eBird and has become a part of the eBird Enterprise on any level had a moment or person who inspired them to take an interest in birds. The GBBC weekend provides that moment and you can be that person for someone new. If we each got one new person involved with birdwatching each year, the ranks of bird lovers and nature lovers in the world would grow exponentially. Join the global team!
Team eBird thinks of the GBBC as the Great Global Bird Count. Now in its fourth year as a global effort, let’s see what a global team of birders can do. eBird is now a massive effort to document bird populations around the world over time, but GBBC represents a chance to take a global 4-day snapshot. Everyone who submits a checklist this weekend will be part of the global effort.
How many birds can we find? There are 10,473 species in the world and eBird has recorded almost 98% of them (read more). The 2013 GBBC recorded 4258 species (40.7%), 2014 tallied 4296 (40.7%), and 2015 recorded 5090 (48.6%). Can eBirders and GBBC participants team up in 2016 to find more than 5237 species—50% of the world’s species—in one long weekend?
How many checklists will be submitted? Within eBird and the GBBC, the most important measure of success is the checklist. Each checklist represents a snapshot in time and space, and each is valuable. The 2015 effort collected 147,265 checklists in a single weekend–despite *really* cold weather–a new record. How many will we collect this year?
How many countries will collect data? eBird has data from every country in the world, but many countries have only a few submissions. But we know birdwatchers are birding in every part of the world every day. The peak has been 135 countries in 2014. How many countries will contribute this year?
New and thriving eBird communities have continued to emerge this year. Log in to the GBBC site and open the location explorer on GBBC weekend to type in the Portugal, Turkey, Brasil, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Kuwait, Portugal, Honduras, Guadeloupe, Argentina, Australia, or Sri Lanka.
How will your area fare? eBird has powerful new ways to explore location-based information. Just go to Explore Data and click the new “Explore Location” feature. Check out the stats for your country, state, province, or county, and drill down deeper to explore an individual park, refuge, preserve, or other hotspot. Rally your friends to make the best showing you can in the area you live!
Get your friends involved!
To improve on last year’s results, we really need is to get more people involved. Do you have a birding friend in another country? Get in touch, and ask her or him to join the Great (Global) Backyard Bird Count, and see if they can add a unique country or find a unique species. Perhaps you’ve gone on a birding trip internationally. This is a great excuse to get in touch with your guide and encourage him or her to take part. This is a great way to introduce your friends to eBird and hopefully get them hooked! Add photos
Our most exciting new feature is the ability to add photos and audio right in your checklist. If you get nice photos on the GBBC weekend, or anytime you contribute to eBird, be sure to share those on your eBird checklist. This is of course especially important to help document rare birds that you may find. See this article for how to upload your rich media. Get eBird Mobile
If you have a smartphone and haven’t done it yet, download eBird Mobile and get going on in-the-field data entry this weekend. eBird Mobile makes it vastly easier to keep up with your submissions and help us document all birds everywhere all the time! How to follow the GBBC stats this weekend
In order to see how well our global team is doing this weekend, we invite you to check out the GBBC home page. Although tailored for the GBBC, this page has most of the same functionality as eBird. You can submit data here or in your favorite eBird portal—it all goes to the same place. Your My eBird stats will be the same here as they would be anywhere in eBird. The key difference is the Explore Data page. The output here is tailored for the GBBC, so you can see the following:
Location pages for GBBC 2016 – This is the most exciting new feature. Enter any location and see the species list, birding activity, recent visits and other information restricted to the count period. Be sure to use eBird to explore this for other periods as well!
Hotspot pages for GBBC 2016 – Access hotspot pages from your county or state page (example for Michigan). Scroll down the right side to see the list of Top Hotspots and then click the “More hotspots…” link at the bottom. This list can be sorted by most activity or least activity, depending on if you want to find top spots or places where your observations are most needed. Click any hotspot name to see the Hotspot page and that site’s activity during the 2016 GBBC. Make sure your favorite spots have a good showing this coming weekend!
Range Maps for GBBC 2016 – See where and how often each species is found around the world. Zoom in and click on the points to see individual records.
Top 100 for GBBC 2016 – Check out the region-by-region contributions of individuals in terms of both number of checklists and number of species reported.
Yard/Patch for GBBC 2016 – If you have registered a yard or patch, you can track your stats and compare to others for the GBBC weekend only. If you have a patch or yard in eBird already, it should carry over as soon as you enter data from there for the GBBC. Just click “yard totals” or “patch totals” here.
Any one of these outputs can be posted as a link. Drum up support in your local birding community by posting these statistics on your blog, Facebook page, listserv, or your favorite social media of choice. If you want to compare results, we encourage you to use ebird.org to explore February 2016 patterns and compare them to February 2015 patterns.
And make sure to check in with the eBird Live Submissions Map this weekend. This is awesome enough now, but we know it will really get hot this weekend. The hottest times to watch this map are likely to be 4-9pm (Eastern Standard Time or GMT -5) on Sunday and Monday; our best hour is usually 5pm (EST) on Sunday night when a 3000+ checklists are usually submitted. Please enjoy this year’s GBBC and thanks for your role on the global eBird team!
Sandhill Cranes by by Georgia Wilson, Florida, the 2014 photo contest winner. Watch for the first migrating Sandhill Cranes to move north in the Great Plains of the United States during the GBBC.
Connect with eBird — Enter Your Email Address to Subscribe to our Email Newsletter
The latest news about eBird, birding, ornithology, and conservation delivered to your inbox.
Representatives from the recreational fishing community recently met for their second in-person meeting to plan strategies for addressing current and future Gulf of Mexico red snapper management challenges. The two-day meeting, facilitated by Florida State University’s FCRC Consensus Center, produced consensus positions on two timely issues facing federal fishery managers – regional management and the potential creation of a private recreational advisory panel. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the body charged with developing fishery management plans for the region’s federal waters, met January 25-28, in Orange Beach, Ala. At its meeting, the Council deferred action on both regional management and the potential creation of a private recreational advisory panel. ASA supported these decisions.
Profiting From the Gulf Red Snapper Catch Share System
Gulf of Mexico red snapper received a high degree of media attention recently when AL.com released an article published as part of an investigative series on the commercial catch share system for Gulf red snapper. In it, the author reveals the high profits that a relatively small number of commercial catch shareholders gain from selling shares of this public resource that they were gifted by the federal government
Keep Florida Fishing Acts to Block No-Fishing Zones
Our Florida Reefs (OFR), a community-based planning process in southeast Florida, recently released draft recommendations which include 28 marine protected areas from Stuart Inlet to Key Biscayne that would prohibit recreational fishing. In addition, OFR recommends the nomination of the entire area as a National Marine Sanctuary. OFR is currently seeking public input. Keep Florida Fishing, ASA’s Florida-based advocacy initiative, has been coordinating a response to remove these recommendations from OFR’s final proposal by mobilizing the fishing community and coordinating a public awareness campaign.
think that this is the month that we start paying for December? I don’t know;
it may be March and April. I do know that I am going to take advantage of all
the tolerable days we get. I need fish heads for the tomatoes. I imagine there will
be plenty of time to accumulate them; since we most likely will not be setting
out warm weather crops until June. I don’t know what lies ahead. I just wake up
every morning and go from there. No need to worry about it. Just go with the
hope that the backroads remain passable during the rest of the winter. Catching
a few fish is not worth the risk of becoming stranded somewhere out in the
boonies. One must rationalize and use a little bit of common sense. The rewards
usually are nowhere worth the risk involved. Hypothermia is scary. I’ve felt
the first stages a few times. Think first before trudging on.
have a really good trout season looming on the horizon. I understand that 6 or
so streams have been removed from the stocking schedule. I believe that they
were all monthly allotted trout streams. Those fish will be distributed to
other streams on the stocking schedule. More is always better. The warm fall
and early winter also allowed the fish in the hatcheries to feed and grow more
than during a normal year. Therefore we should have more fish and bigger,
healthier fish. We can only hope that the stars line up.
trout fishing can be very good; as long as snow-melt isn’t running into the
streams. I have found that if snow run-off is flowing out of every hollow;
fishing is pointless. Cold weather fishing really isn’t bad if you do not
venture far from the vehicle. I really do not think one should venture away
during frigid weather any farther than you can get back to a heat source if you
would go for an unexpected swim. Run it through your mind as to how tough you
think you are; then divide that by four. That should be about right. You do not
have much time. Think first; live longer.
to drive to Marlinton about every day for work. I always left early if the
weather was tolerable. I would stop on the upper-Tygart and catch two or three
trout. I would leave when I couldn’t feel my fingers and stop on Knapps Creek
and catch a couple more. That system worked pretty well for about three years.
I enjoyed it, too. I had my freezer fish by the time the temperatures started
warming and my catch & release fly-fishing time kicked in.
I do not
anticipate the ice-fishermen being happy this winter. They are normally out
there as of the time I am writing this. Not this season. It doesn’t bother me
one little bit; I went ice-fishing once and only once. But, I do know many
people enjoy doing so. I hope they don’t get too ambitious when we finally get
a cold snap. Think twice and stay safe. Some like to ski, some like to fish and
some even like to blow snow. Maybe everyone can be happy for once.