|2013-12-07 ||Les Underhill |
|How to submit records to the Virtual Museums (2) |
This slideshow gives the details on how to do submissions to the Virtual Museums.
|2013-11-22 ||Les Underhill |
|These Four Degrees are on the cusp of a lot of milestones |
Magnificent effort Team SABAP2. On the ADU's Facebook page it says: "The citizen scientists who participate in the second bird atlas project, SABAP2, are especially encouraged to visit all 576 pentads in this area annually. It is the four one-degree grid cells centred on Gauteng in which about 30% of South Africa's population lives. There is huge pressure for development, and therefore huge pressure on biodiversity.
"Today, the 2013 project stands at the cusp of a lot of milestones. Perhaps all of them will be surpassed this weekend!
"88.9% of pentads have at least one visit. Six more will get us to beyond 90% coverage, and mean that the percentage not yet visited is below 10%.
"49.5% of pentads have two or more checklists. Three checklists from pentads with only one list will mean that more than half the pentads have at least two visits.
"32.8% of pentads have three or more checklists. Getting a third checklists for three pentads which currently have two checklists will mean that more than one third of pentads have three or more checklists.
"24.7% of pentads have four or more checklists, and are GREEN or darker colours on the this map. Only two pentads with three lists need a fourth checklist to get this figure to 25%. That is an astonishing achievement. Four or more checklists for a quarter of this area in 2013 alone."
The digits inside the pentads on this map are the numbers of checklists for the pentad this year so far. Once the number of checklists gets into double figures, this is represented by a *. The map shows the Four Degrees region, plus two rows of pentads around the edges – it would be nice to get lots of these visited too this year, especially along the southern edge!
|2013-11-09 ||Megan Loftie-Eaton |
|How to submit records to the Virtual Museums |
How to submit records to any of the Virtual Museums of the Animal Demography Unit.
Step 1: Register (or check if you are registered) as an ADU observer at www.adu.org.za/register.php?project=vmus – fill in your email address in the white block on right hand side. One registration works for ALL ADU projects.
Step 2: Once you are registered, you can login to the Virtual Museums website at vmus.adu.org.za, click on the "LOGIN" tab on the left-hand side of your screen and login with your email (the email you registered with) and password. The left-hand side menus grows longer once you have logged in!
Step 3: On the left-hand side of your screen click on "Data Upload", a form appears. It is a two page form. The first page collects the information, and the second page uploads the photos.
Step 4: Fill in the form. All areas marked with * are required fields: Year, Month, Day, Country, Closest Town, Locality, Latitude, Longitude, and the Source of your GPS coordinates. The "Gazetteer" at Part 3 can be used for localities from which you submit records from regularly; ignore it for now. If you do not have the GPS coordinates you can use the Google Map provided and pinpoint the area where you took the photo (i.e. find the general area, zoom in repeatedly, and click to place a marker on the map, trying to be as accurate as possible). If you use the Google Map, the operation of clicking automatically provides the coordinates. After completing the form click on "Save" at the bottom to save this information, and to move onto the second form.
Step 5: Select the project to which you want to submit your photo. Upload your photos (JPEG images no larger than about 1 MB) and click on "Submit" at the very bottom of the form! After your photo(s) have finished uploading to the database, you will receive a confirmation of the submission. You can load up to three photos per record. The form makes provision for three photos at the site described on the first form. (Usually, there is one record per site, so you skip over the provision for records two and three right down to the bottom of the form, and submit it.) Once the record is submitted, confirmation of its arrival is provided by the appearance of a thumbnail version of your photo, and the basic details of your record.
Well done! You've successfully submitted your first record to the Virtual Museum. You are now a qualified citizen scientist and an ambassador for biodiversity! The drill is the same for all the Virtual Museums of the Animal Demography Unit.
|2013-11-09 ||Les Underhill |
|SABAP1 vs SABAP2: the Rock Dove aka Feral Pigeon |
Richard Brooke wrote in the text for the first bird atlas (when Rock Doves were still called Feral Pigeons): "Feral Pigeons are derived from escaped domestic stock first brought from the Netherlands to South Africa in 1652. When escaped birds first become feral is unknown." In 1997, Richard could write: "They are birds of central urban and industrial areas, including harbours." Nowadays, they also are prevalent in the suburbs, and are increasingly becoming common in agricultural areas. For example, they have largely replaced the Speckled Pigeons on most of the dairy farms in the Swartland. The generally upwards and outwards pattern for the Rock Dove is nicely shown on the SABAP1 vs SABAP2 range change map – the predominant colours are GREEN (upwards, higher reporting rate) and BLUE (outwards, new range).
Feral birds usually breed on the ledges of buildings. Richard noted: “In a few places they have returned to nesting on cliffs, the ancestral site.” If you see Rock Doves breeding anywhere other than on buildings, please write it up as a short note for the ejournal Ornithological Observations. There are only six pictures of Rock Doves in the BirdPix Virtual Museum. One of them, taken in the food plaza at UCT is shown here! It is Record 4108 in the BirdPix Virtual Museum. We would like to see photos not only of the "wild type" Rock Dove, with the irridescent green and purple neck and generally grey underparts, but also of the black, brown and white hybrids, which have clearly derived from birds which more recently became feral. Upload the records to the Virtual Museum at vmus.adu.org.za. Help with uploading records is provided here.
The Rock Dove is native to Mediterranean Sea region and eastward to India. There are introductions to all continents, except Antartica.
Richard's final observation, in his atlas text, dealt with the health of urban populations of Rock Doves: "While there is no interest in the conservation of the Feral Pigeon, it is noticeable that in urban flocks there are many deformed and sickly birds. This is probably due to urban scavenging not always producing a nutritionally balanced diet, or to the effects of pollution."
|2013-11-06 ||Dieter Oschadleus |
|Development of Southern Masked Weaver chick |
On 2 Oct 2009 I ringed 2 Southern Masked Weaver nestlings in a colony of bamboos in Elfindale, Cape Town (same colony photographed in different years, see here). The older chick, ring BE58110, has been recaptured 3 times during normal mist-netting. In its first year, the bird had partial breeding plumage. From its second year it obtains full breeding plumage, as shown in its fourth year below. Read more about the ringing of the weaver chicks here and about earlier results here.
|2013-11-02 ||Les Underhill |
|Five million records in the SABAP2 database |
We got to five million records with nine hours of October to spare. Brilliant work, Atlaser Henk Nel, who submitted the five millionth SABAP2 record. And awesome work, every member of Team SABAP2 who submitted the 4999999 records that were essential to getting the 5000000th.
The background colour on the SABAP2 website has been changed to purple to celebrate.
|2013-11-02 ||Les Underhill |
|SABAP2 strides ahead in October |
This report covers SABAP2's October. A total of 1722 checklists was submitted during the month, a big step up on the 1412 checklists which were submitted during September. 109349 records were added to the database, compared with 67854 in September. 64 pentads got their first checklist, way below the exceptional September total of 175, the result of the Kuruman Atlas Bash! My target is for an average of 50 checklists per day, or 1550 for 31-day month like October. So my target was exceeded by 11%, and that is amazing. In September we reached 94% of target. Like this Hadeda striding across the road, SABAP2 strode ahead in October.
A massive project milestone was reached on the last day of October: five million full protocol records. Together with the incidental records and the records from SABAP1, the ADU bird database totals 12.7 million records, one of the largest in the world. The massive database enables really quite fine detail to be analysed and appraised. It is a huge and living and growing monument to all the citizen scientists who have participated in the two projects.
The 4DY (Four Degrees Yellow) challenge has two aims: to get every one of the 576 pentads in the four degree cells centred on Gauteng visited at least once this year, so that the whole area is YELLOW or darker on the coverage map; to get an average of six lists per pentad, 3456 checklists (=6×576) in total for the year. At the end of October, 86% of the pentads had been visited bring the total to 494 out of 576, with 27 added during the month. The total number of checklists during October was 341 (a shade ahead of the 338 in September). The total number of checklists ought to have been 2880 at the end of October, and we were on 2777. The backlog is down to 103, compared with 156 a month ago! But that is within reach. 343 checklists in each of November and December will get us to the target.
The SpringMAP project is at the three-quarter mark. During November lots of individual birds are still arriving on migration and numbers are building up. Please continue to make a special effort to atlas your favourite pentads regularly during November. Regular atlasing will help us complete the picture of the overall timing of arrival of the migrants in our region this spring, 2013.
SABAP2013 passed the 25% mark during October. The minimum target for the year is 30%. At this stage last year we were 1% ahead of where we are now, and reached 30% on 29 December. But at this stage last year, 485 people had done checklists in the year; this year it is 572. We have more checklists and more records this year than last year too.
The second phase of the butterfly atlas, one of SABAP2’s sister projects, had its elaunch during September. The project is called LepiMAP, and has a Facebook page. LepiMAP covers both butterflies and moths, together known as the Lepidoptera. Records are based on photographs, and we encourage all atlasers to take the cameras into the field with them, and go LepiMAPping. Atlasers can access the upload function in the Virtual Museum website (vmus.adu.org.za) using the same email/password combination as they use to logon to the SABAP2 website.
The Virtual Museums had a great month in October. 3229 records were uploaded, across the spectrum of Virtual Museum projects. This is the third best month for the Virtual Museum. Please explore the taxa that are currently covered.
|2013-11-01 ||Megan Loftie-Eaton |
|FROG FRIDAY is here! |
FROG FRIDAY is here!! Featuring the Dwarf Grass Frog (Ptychadena taenioscelis) - the Dwarf Grass Frog is a small to medium sized frog with long legs and a pointed snout. The dorsum is brown with darker squarish markings. There are raised parallel ridges on the dorsum, and two of the ridges extend between the eyes onto the snout.
The Dwarf Grass Frog is distributed from Angola, northern Namibia (Caprivi), southeastern Zaire and Tanzania, southward through northern Botswana and Zambia to northern Mozambique. Within this range the distribution is reported to be patchy.
This frog has been listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN. You can submit your frog photos to FrogMAP (http://vmus.adu.org.za/) and help to contribute valuable distribution data!
~ Megan Loftie-Eaton
|2013-10-30 ||Megan Loftie-Eaton |
|Sappi Tree Tuesday – Tree Wisteria |
Happy Sappi TREE TUESDAY! The Tree Wisteria Bolusanthus speciosus is certainly one of the most spectacular of our indigenous trees when in flower. The drooping, blue-mauve, fragrant, pea-like flowers hang from the branches in bunches, often covering the whole tree. Flowering time is from August to January (spring and early summer). Flowers are followed by papery, brown fruit pods, that hang from the branches in clusters. Animals, including monkeys, gemsbok, giraffe and common duiker eat the pods and leaves of this tree.
The Tree Wisteria is widespread in wooded grasslands in southern Africa, from Angola and Zambia south to KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa.
Reference: SCHMIDT, E., LOTTER, M. & McCLELAND, W. 2002. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Redhotmoondog Communications & Jacana, Johannesburg.
|2013-10-22 ||Dieter Oschadleus |
|Weaver Wednesday: Northern Masked Weaver |
The Northern Masked Weaver Ploceus taeniopterus is a typical 'masked weaver'. The male in breeding plumage is distinguished from other masked weavers by a combination of the brown eye and the black mask that extends as far as the breast. The female has a dark eye and yellow supercilium - the upperparts are browner and the bill is darker than in the female Vitelline Masked Weaver P. vitellinus. The juvenile is similar to the juvenile Lesser Masked Weaver P. intermedius but the former has a grey eye and slightly thicker bill.
The Northern Masked Weaver is abundant in Sudan and South Sudan from Khartoum south along the Rahad River and the White Nile. It also occurs in south-west Ethiopia, north-east DRCongo on the Upper Uele River, and western Kenya at Lakes Baringo and Bogoria (see red on map right). The population in Darfur, western Sudan, was separated as a subspecies but specimens fall within the general range of plumage variation of the species, and it is thus treated as monotypic.
The Northern Masked Weaver inhabits tall grassland with acacia trees, along larger rivers and swamps. Outside the breeding season it forages in flocks and forms large roosts in marshes, away from its nesting areas. Its diet is mainly seeds, including those of cultivated sorghum and millet. It also feeds on snail shells, and insects including beetles and cockroaches. Nestlings are initially fed with insects. In parts of Sudan, flocks of thousands of Northern Masked Weavers and Ruppell's Weavers P. galbula cause extensive damage to crops.
The Northern Masked Weaver is polygynous and colonial. Colonies may be small with less than 10 nests, or large with more than 30 nests. The nest is oval, with the entrance below and no tunnel. The outer shell is woven of strips of grass. A thick inner layer consists of broad grass strips, and a ceiling of grass heads is added. The nest lining, most probably added by the female, is a layer of grass strips with some plant or papyrus down. The nest is supported by vertical stems of reeds, long grass, papyrus stalks, or shrubs.
There are 2-3 eggs in a clutch. The eggs are highly variable and may be green or brown, and plain or spotted with brown and red-brown markings. The female incubates the eggs and feeds the chicks. The last-hatched chick in a clutch often dies of starvation. Intraspecific brood parasitism is common in some populations; in addition to laying her own clutch, the female lays some eggs in the nests of other females.
The Northern Masked Weaver has no PHOWN records (see PHOWN summary) and many are needed to study the variation in colony size in this species. Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.
PHOWN summary Previous Wedn: Madagascar Fody Full weaver species list