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Counting birds

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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2003, 22:07   #1
Karl J
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Question Counting birds

Does anyone know how to count birds accurately ?
A line in this months Birdwatching magazine reads ''Breydon Water ..... Wigeon saw an excellent 14,117....'' And I've seen other similar examples. On the few occasions I've tried counting birds they move and fly about ( ! ) making it impossible to count above about 20 of them.
I did think perhaps some form of estimation could be used, but isn't 14,117 rather an exact figure ?
Surely they aren't all counted individually ?
Anyone ?
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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2003, 22:12   #2
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I only count individually if I can. If there is a mass of them I will count a "block" of them and count how many of these "blocks" are present and it's usually an underestimate to be on the safe side. If they are spread over a larger area then I can easily count each one for an accurate figure.

These seemingly accurate numbers are probably done by a warden or dedicated watcher asked to count a certain species. I would think they will spend a considerable part of the day doing this.
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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2003, 22:20   #3
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I rather doubt that anyone counted each individual bird, but rather counted the number in a small area, and then multipled it by the aproximate total area of birds. Most of us would round the estimated number off, but if you dont then you are likely to come up with a number like this.

As for counting birds in flight I find this impossible. One solution would be to photogaph the birds using a wide angle lens setting and than count the dots on the resulting picture although I've not tried that myself.

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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2003, 22:25   #4
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I've had second thoughts about this as 14117 seems to be a prime number, so it cant be produced through multiplication, some poor bugger must have counted these.

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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2003, 22:36   #5
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I thought of the photo idea too. It would be useful on a seawatch with large movements.
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Old Thursday 3rd April 2003, 06:48   #6
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Turnstiles, as opposed to Turnstones!.
Train them to count themselves and have one come & report in!.

I seldom bother to count above 10. Then its No in blocks x No of Blocks, same with flying birds!.


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Old Friday 4th April 2003, 18:31   #7
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Having had another fruitless go at counting up on Breydon water today I think I'll adapt Alans idea and not bother counting above 10. Beyond that it goes 'several', 'lots' and then 'shedloads'
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Old Saturday 5th April 2003, 08:41   #8
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area=length X width.......i dunno
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Old Saturday 5th April 2003, 09:19   #9
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Paul
14117 = 19 x 743
so a smaller number could have been counted.
(19 & 743 are prime numbers)
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Last edited by Dave Smith : Saturday 5th April 2003 at 09:22.
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