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Thursday 10th January 2013

We are pleased to announce the THIRD Annual Regional Caribbean Waterbird Census (CWC) Count in 2013

The 2013 CWC count will take place from Monday, Jan. 14 to Sunday, February 3rd inclusive. This includes 3 weekends and World Wetlands Day on Feb. 2nd. Please mark your calendars and plan to conduct at least one CWC count of your wetland(s) during this period. If you can carry out 2 or 3 or more counts, that's even better. So if you haven't already planned your counts, marshall your troops and join our efforts!

In Antigua we are hoping to do the following wetlands:
Fitches Creek Swamp
Johnson's Point Pond (near Turner's Beach).
Christian Cove
Any other pond/swamp/wetland area that is accessible. Ideally there should be teams of at least two people per wetland and the teams should visit the wetlands at least twice during the census period. The recommended times for the census will be the 19th and 20th and the 26th and 27th January 2013. All data should be emailed to me, turned into the EAG office or entered into e-bird by the 3rd of February 2013. If there is a wetland or (two) that you would like to survey please let me know by Thursday 10th February. I will supply a map of the area with the points marked, data sheets and clipboards, binoculars (which MUST be returned by the 31st of January 2013). The supply of binoculars is extremely limited so there will only be one per team.

What is the CWC?
The CWC is a region-wide waterbird and wetland monitoring program sponsored by SCSCB. The goal of this program is to learn more about the distribution, status, and abundance of waterbirds in the Caribbean to improve our conservation planning and management of these beautiful birds and their habitats. We organize one region-wide count in the winter where everyone counts at ~ the same time during the middle of winter (when birds are most stationary) to get a "snapshot" of waterbird population numbers and habitat use throughout the Caribbean.

How to Participate
A description of how to do a Basic (Level 1) Count (and downloadable data forms) is available at: http://ebird.org/content/caribbean/news/count-waterbirds-in-the-caribbean-2013-join-our-first-region-wide-count.
If it is possible to do Level 2 Counts (which include measures of detection probability), that's great. Those of you that have attended our CWC Training Workshops should aim for Level 2 counts.

There are many resources available to help you plan your monitoring program and surveys and train counters. The CWC Manual (with protocols and data sheets) are available for download at:  http://conserveonline.org/workspaces/cwc (click on first link under "Available Resources")

You can also download power points that can be used for training purposes (e.g., Bird Identification 101, Wetland Birds of the Caribbean, Levels of Monitoring (including descriptions of protocols), Name That Bird, and many more).

For further help with waterbird ID, especially those challenging shorebirds, visit our Shorebird Gallery at http://www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org/?page_id=1182; and our Caribbean Bird ID Flickr Group at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1604677@N24/

Please be sure to enter your count data in eBird Caribbean (http://ebird.org/content/caribbean). Note that eBird has been revamped recently and it is even easier to use than before. Under "Submit Observations" on the Step 2 "Date and Effort" page, , there is an option to choose "Other" and here you can see the "CWC Point Count" and "CWC Area Search" choices. Choose one of these protocols to enter your waterbird count. Be sure to do your best to count and record ALL species in your count area (including land birds) and record your effort (the amount of time spent counting).

Report from our First Two CWC Counts
Eighteen Caribbean countries participated in the CWC from 2010-2012 (2010 was a pilot year). Participation in the CWC increased each year: the number of sites surveyed increased from 102 in 2010 to 205 in 2012; the number of checklists submitted increased from 112 in 2010 to 360 in 2012. As a consequence of greater effort and geographical coverage, the number of species counted increased from 86 in 2010 to 166 in 2012.

A total of 865 CWC checklists were entered into eBird Caribbean from 2010-2012 while a total of 15,282 checklists were entered during the same time period (this number includes CWC checklists, as well as checklists for non-CWC protocols). A total of 51 persons contributed at least one CWC checklist during 2010-2012 while 1,037 persons contributed checklists (various protocols, including CWC) to eBird Caribbean during the same time period.Five waterbird species of conservation concern were selected for further exploratory mapping of their distribution and abundance. A detailed report, including maps for these species, is available for download from http://conserveonline.org/workspaces/cwc/.

We are thrilled with the participation in the CWC thus far and hope that many more of you will join the census or add wetlands to your counts in 2013!
If you have conducted counts in the past but not yet entered your data into eBird Caribbean, it is not too late - please enter your data!!!

Counts at other Times of the Year
There are very large gaps in our knowledge of migratory waterbirds (including waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh birds, herons, egrets, seabirds, etc.) and the sites they use for migration and wintering. We therefore encourage you to carry out CWC counts at least once during fall and spring migration periods in as many wetland sites as possible. If you can carry out 2 or 3 or more counts, that's even better. It is the best way to gather information at the regional level about what species are migrating to and through the islands and when, their numbers, and the sites they are using - all vitally important information for conservation and management. As more and more people participate and enter their data into eBird, we will eventually be able to do those cool "visualizations" that Jeff Gerbracht and Chris Wood from Cornell Lab of Ornithology have showed us of birds moving en masse through the hemisphere on their southward and northward migrations. More Information!

All are welcome to participate in the CWC! We hope you will join us in this Citizen Science program and contribute to our knowledge of waterbirds and wetlands in the Caribbean, helping us to identify the most important wetlands for waterbirds and conserve them (e.g., as Ramsar sites, protected areas and refuges, etc.). The CWC joins Wetlands International's International Waterbird Census (IWC) program of regional counts around the globe (e.g., Neotropical Waterbird Census, Central American Waterbird Census, Asian Waterbird Census, etc.) and fills an important gap in our knowledge of waterbird population sizes and trends in the Caribbean and Western Hemisphere.

We have a Yahoo group (Carib-Waterbird-Census-Network) especially set up for those participating in the CWC. Let me know if you would like to be added to this group.

Conducting basic counts are fine, but if you can carry out Level 2 counts (point counts or area searches with some measure of detection probability), that's even better. To do this, please review the protocols and manual available for download at: http://conserveonline.org/workspaces/cwc. It's perfectly fine if you are just getting started to spend a year getting to know your site (visit and count birds as often as possible!), training your counters, and refining your protocol (how specifically you will count each site), within the general guidelines.

If you have any questions whatsoever or want us to review your plans, don't hesitate to contact us. Also, if you need help getting started in eBird Caribbean, let us know. Finally, bring a digital camera in the field with you - if you are unsure of the ID of any of the birds you are seeing, don't guess! Send us your photos and we will do our best to help. (send to the CWC Yahoo group and it will be good ID practice for all of us - shorebirds can be challenging to even very skilled birders!!!). Please post your photos also to our Flickr groups to help  us build this reference library!

Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing lots of data entered this winter!

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NAME: Karron James
TEL: +1 (268) 462-6236
FAX: +1 (268) 463 - 7740
EMAIL: eagantigua@gmail.com
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