## summer review

Yesterday a friend and I were comparing summers. She catered weddings, and spent her days at country clubs in an apron, trying not to knock over elaborate cakes. I spent my days hiking through the woods with a GPS and a notebook, my pants tucked into my socks to keep the hoards of ticks from crawling up my legs. I learned to identify birds, trees and understory. I entered in data and learned how to analyze it using Distance programming. What more could I have asked for?

## Assuming we can hear them….

I just came across these notes I took and never got around to blogging on – so here’s some more information on analysis from a couple weeks back:

## Fitting boxes into curves

Is it really almost August? It seems so strange to be finishing up research for the summer. We just completed the last of our veg-work last week, and are now working on entering data. I’ve also spent the past few weeks learning how to use Distance, a program which determines the density and size of a population based on detection probability. Our method of point-count sampling has allowed us to generate a relative abundance index, with which we can estimate trends in bird abundance based on detection probability. The program can also be used to account for covariates by examining the effects of different factors, such as habitat type, wind speed, and time of day, on detection probability.

## Birding Update

The past month of field work has been crazy busy! Most days started at 5:20 in the morning, when I’d set out with the team to conduct birding point counts at local parks. Some days were exhausting, and required wading through swamps and climbing through walls of laurel in order to reach a randomly-selected point on the GPS. Other days included more welcome discoveries, like a field of blackberry bushes or a den of playful fox cubs. Now that we’ve finished up the birding surveys, I have been helping out the veg-crew with their work, and will soon start cleaning up and analyzing the bird data.

## Summer Birding

Hello all! I’m a rising junior, and I’m going to be spending the summer studying variations in bird diversity along an urbanization gradient. I’ve spent the past few weeks taking early-season point counts, which requires waking up at sunrise and bushwhacking through the woods to a randomly-selected point, then recording all the species seen or heard in three ten minute sessions. The past few days have been pretty overwhelming. Just differentiating calls from the chorus of chips and whistles and trills is hard enough, but then having to recognize the calls and estimate distances to them gets pretty confusing. As soon as I think I’ve got one species’ call down, I hear a new variation of it, or another species comes along that sounds nearly identical. It’s definitely been a long learning process, but each day I recognize more species, and the point counts get a little bit easier. I look forward to the day that it all fits together, and I no longer confuse the ovenbird for a Carolina wren or label any high-pitched squeak as a goldfinch.