Our first blockbuster weekend of breeding season 2000, on 29 and 30 April, tackled the southern Anza-Borrego Desert, apparently the area most deeply affected by the past two years' lack of rain. We saw a lot of migrants, but breeding activity was tough to find. Numbers of several resident species were clearly less than in the past two years, and Phainopeplas had already departed many squares. Still, we confirmed the nesting of 13 species, including LeConte's Thrasher--John Hargrove and Ginger Rebstock found a pair with their fledgling near Dos Cabezas (R29). The most unusual nonbreeding species was the Great Egret that Fred Belinsky, Mike Mathos, and I saw circling over the waterless Canyon Sin Nombre (P29).
Because of a last-minute change in the schedule of the museum's expedition to Guadalupe Island, I had to cancel the weekend covering the Oak Grove/Chihuahua Valley region, unfortunately. Next year there should be no such conflict in the middle of the breeding season and we can revisit the area then.
Claude Edwards arranged access to the Vista Irrigation District's lands around Lake Henshaw for 17, 18, 24, and 25 June, enabling us to stage the equivalent of two blockbuster weekends in this area. Since the VID requires a list of persons entering its lands in advance, by the time you read this, the roster of participants in these events will already have been closed. Thanks very much to Claude for his success in negotiating our access to this critical area.
We're certain that everyone who attended our Spring WingDing had a great time, because there was something for everyone, with the possible exception of a place to park! About 150 participants found those rare Sunday afternoon parking places in Balboa Park on March 26th and gathered in the beautiful new theater of the Museum of Photographic Arts for a presentation on Golden Eagles. David Bittner, of the Wildlife Research Institute, treated us to his fantastic slides and stimulating narrative on the history and current status of these birds in San Diego County. Winter threshold clearers were applauded and awarded the coveted bird atlas hat, designed by participant Fred Belinsky. After the program, it was a short walk over to the Natural History Museum for a look at the "Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park" exhibit and some delicious refreshments provided by The French Gourmet of Pacific Beach. And as a special added treat, the Museum's beloved Covey had prepared an amazing 23 different types of desserts which atlasers loaded on their plates.
Thanks to the Road Crew (Barbara Anderson, Kathy Estey, Dorothy Green, Cheryl Mann and Joan Roberts) for distributing the cool hats and assisting with check-in, to Jill Jones Mason and Heath Fox of MOPA for allowing us to use their facility, to MaryLynn Mack, Betsy Olsen and the 28 members of the Covey who prepared and served the delicious desserts, and to Ronnie Schneider, Director of Special Events at the Natural History Museum, for her invaluable assistance. And a special thanks to Caltrans, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the U. S. Forest Service for their financial support.
The Fall WingDing is already planned! We'll have another informal outdoor event, this time a picnic in the Laguna Mountains at the Red-tailed Roost, a facility of the U. S. Forest Service. Kirsten Winter will help host this event, scheduled for Saturday 16 September. So once again, please mark your calendars NOW and join us in the mountains! More details in the fall issue of Wrenderings.
Birds of the World: A Checklist
by museum trustee James F. Clements is now available, in the museum's bookstore as well as from the publisher and distributors. This 867-page book lists subspecies as well as species of birds worldwide, with a brief outline of their distribution. It incorporates much recent research on birds' relationships (reflected in their ranking as species or subspecies) and current status. The sheer magnitude of the contribution of birds to biodiversity worldwide has never looked so impressive. Check it out!
Thanks to our Supporters
We would be terribly remiss if we didn't recognize the organizations and agencies that have made and continue to make our atlas effort possible. Here is a roster of these key supporters, without which we never could have come as far as we have already.
California Department of Transportation
Among other things, they have made possible the publication of Wrenderings, our semiannual "wingdings," and the recognition gifts for threshold clearers, provided salary support for project assistant Ann Klovstad and project manager Phil Unitt, enabled us to deploy field assistants covering squares not adopted by our volunteers, and produced the color habitat maps.
We also thank the board of trustees of the San Diego Natural History Museum, for funding our new computer as part of its upgrading the museum's information technology.
An individual supporter we are delighted to thank is participant Michael G. Mathos. Mike provided the funding allowing the museum to buy ArcView version 3.2, the computer-mapping software. This GIS (geographic information system) is the latest version of the program we have been using for the last couple of years, a more versatile version that will enable us to analyze our data in more sophisticated ways. It will allow us to import files with other types of environmental data, such as elevation, rainfall, temperature, vegetation, and fire history, and to weigh the contributions of these variables in accounting for the distributions we actually observe. Thanks, Mike, for enabling us to take the next big step forward in getting the full return on our effort toward the atlas.