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Analysing the return rate

One of the key targets of the Global Shorebird Counts is to attract new birdwatchers to take part in this program but more importantly to keep them in the program. In the last 5 years, we had a large number of unique locations where shorebird counts have been carried out but only a few of them got a good revisiting rate in the following years. Let’s take a quick look at the data to find out how many unique counting locations have had counting activity each year since 2014.

© Kasia & Takashi Someya

In the launch year, 2014, we certainly have not reached as many people as we managed in 2018. The participation activity in the following years has been affected by many unknown factors. It could have been an organizational mistake, lack of interests, misunderstanding coming from the ‘shorebird‘ term or other things.

We listed all the unique counting locations (coordinates) and counted the entries each year since 2014. If a counter revisited the same location in the following year but under different coordinates, we could only treat it as a unique location.

Data shows that only from 4 locations we have data from each year.

  1. Mirador de Aves Costa del Este, Panama – Organised by Audubon Panama

  2. The Rocks Provincial Park, New Brunswick, Canada – Observer: Kerry Lee Morris-Cormier

  3. Johnson’s Mills, New Brunswick, Canada – Observer: Kerry Lee Morris-Cormier and Mark Davidson (2016)

  4. Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, Virginia, U. S. A. James Shelton and Arun Bose and Ellison Orcutt (2016)

Interestingly, not all locations had the same counters in the following years, and it shows the power of the local coordination of an NGO or the local observer who probably asked other birders to cover the site. As an example, Audubon Panama coordinated the counts each year at Mirador de Aves Costa del Este coastal site as we have different counters each year from that location.

Number of consecutive counts at unique locations. The ‘5 counts‘ means the unique location has been covered annually since 2014

As the chart shows above the number of one-off locations increased drastically from 2017 but it is more interesting to see that at how many of these locations counting have been carried out only once and never again. This chart only shows the consecutiveness so a unique location hasn’t been included if one or two missing years broke the consecutiveness in the last 5 years but still had counting effort from 4 or 3 years in total. Obviously, there are so many newly covered/added unique locations in 2018 where counts might (and hopefully) be carried out in 2019 as well.

The number of one-off locations per year.

The number of one-off unique locations compared to the total number of unique locations per year.

The number of unique locations covered in consecutive years.

The chart above might give a false result as there are several unique locations where the consecutiveness was broken by a single year but then counts have been carried out again.

So the challenge is clear for 2019. We need the wonderful 2018 efforts to be repeated and those locations to be included again in the shorebird counts starting next week. For the future of the program, we need to pledge new birdwatchers and shorebird conservationists and that might help to cover new locations as well.

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