Thursday, January 12, 2012

Housekeeping: About the New Gadget, and On Commenting

First, on leaving comments on this blog. Please do! But if you leave a comment, be aware that it will not appear immediately - I have the comments on filter to make sure no whackos leave inappropriate material. Thus far, nothing like that has happened.

You may have noticed the new feature on the right side of the blog, right under the Twitter feed: a "gadget" displaying bird sightings from Cape May County and nearby. This cool gadget was created using code developed by Zachary DeBruine, who was recently featured as the eBirder of the month. Here's what it does:

The left hand "sightings" tab displays all birds reported to eBird in the last 7 days in Cape May County and nearby. Use the scroll bar in the gadget to go through them (on an iPhone, the whole list is displayed).

What I did (with help - thanks BC!) is create a circle wide enough to encompass the whole county plus most of the "good stuff" in Cumberland, i.e. places like Heislerville and Turkey Point, and punched the lat/long of the center of the circle, with its radius (35 km) into Zach's gadget.

The center tab, Rarities, displays all the rare birds reported anywhere in NJ in the last 7 days. The right hand tab displays the same birds as the left hand tab. The idea would have been to create a filter for the left hand tab so on that you wouldn't have to scroll past Canada Goose and starling to find more interesting species, but that apparently isn't possible right now. It also isn't possible to re-order the birds, for example taxonomically.

With those two pitfalls, it's still a pretty cool gadget for the south Jersey birder, because you can scroll through to find sightings of interest, and then, if you hit the little green arrow pointing right of the sighting, you'll get a map of where the bird was seen along with who saw it (and if you click on the map, it will open a new tab with a larger map). Click on the sightings tab to return to the species list.

One other note: the gadget does not update instantly as new checklists are entered into eBird. I'm actually not sure how fast it does update, but it seems to at least within a day.


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