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Life List Expansion by Best Area (1 Viewer)

rar

Member
There is probably a simple solution to this question, but I've been struggling with it for years. My life list is on ebird, and I can click Target birds and enter a country (Costa Rica, i.e.) in order to see how many birds are in that country that I need for my life list. But I can't figure out how to use the list of unseen birds (200+) in order to discover what area/hot spot in Costa Rica I should visit to find the most of my needed species. I could go through the list and click on the map for each needed species and then determine in what part of the country the most species are found, but that would require hours. There are 16 pages for the 200 species, many with less than 1% chance of being seen. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I should mention that I don't have a cell phone, so aps would be of no use. Thanks in advance for any help.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I do this quite a bit for species targeting. There's not a slam dunk strategy / single tool. I generally do self organized trips without guides. As such, figuring out sites, how to get to them, the lay of the land, what to expect where, and the best sites for the hard birds all kind of goes hand in hand. I generally will break it down to even province level within a country a lot of time when doing the needs lists, and then I'll use the hotspot explorer to get an idea of the names and locations of the hotspots, then I'll manually go through all the species and see what look like the hard birds and for the hard birds, what look like the good spots. It's a lot of work but you end up having an idea of what you're heading into.

The alternative is send a needs list to a guide and have them cook you up an itinerary, I guess.

Keep in mind that a bird that is on 1% of all Costa Rica checklists might still be an easy tick at the correct site - it's just that there might only be one or a small handful of infrequently visited sites for that bird. There are only a handful of possible ticks for me in CR and the most common is "only" on .6% of lists. Of those, however, two are easy if I were to go to the correct locations - Cabanis's Ground-Sparrow and Nicaraguan Grackle. Two more are very gettable if I were to go to Cocos Islands. After that come Tiny Hawk, Yellow-breasted Crake, Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon. A two week trip to CR targeting those three species could easily still come up blank. After that it's a handful of vagrants... so you really need to go through the list and understand which are the widespread birds, which are birds that you need to target, and where to best target them.

What you're asking for, I agree would be awesome. Something like a per-hotspot needs list. Then from that they could make a tool that would show you the hotspots within a region or country that have the most "needed" birds for you. I'd use the shit out of that :)
 

rar

Member
pbjosh, Thanks for taking the time to figure out what I was asking. You summed it up perfectly when you said "What you're asking for, I agree would be awesome. Something like a per-hotspot needs list. Then from that they could make a tool that would show you the hotspots within a region or country that have the most "needed" birds for you." I'm surprised somebody who programs computers hasn't come up with this idea.

When I started heading to Central and South America for birds in 2006, there were so many lifers that I didn't stress by trying for the harder species. I'm an independent birder as well, and there were so many other things to pay attention to that I skipped making target lists. I don't hire guides, so I wouldn't feel right in asking them to come up with a list (not that I don't appreciate them; I just can't afford them). I also don't rent cars, mainly because the fine print says the insurance coverage is not valid if you are not on paved surfaces. I usually take a bus for long distances and hire a local taxi driver to take me to sites and wait. Do you have other ideas to share?
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I might be a bit more obsessive - I drove a camper from California to Patagonia and birded the whole way, including camping at sites for hard birds until I got them.

I personally wouldn't worry about car rental concerns, just go with rental vs driver depending on what's easier/cheaper where you are.

cloudbirders.com is your friend as well for trip reports. Particularly for sensitive species and rare species, eBird won't give you all the info you need - independent trip reports are great.
 

rar

Member
Wow, I thought I was adventuresome when I drove from Ohio to Ciudad Valles, Mexico, in my minivan, camping as well. Good for you. About car rental, another reason I don't rent is that I like to stay at a place for 3-4 days, so I don't really need a car then. And if you don't rent one at the airport, most birding sites don't rent cars; so I can't rent one for just a one-day trip. Ah, the problems. I'd really like to drive all the way down from home, but haven't quite worked up the courage yet.
 

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