Our amazing progress in the San Diego County Bird Atlas' final breeding season is a good guide to a parallel result in the final winter. Several factors converged to yield our success: preparation ahead of time, multiple overlapping complementary strategies, continuous feedback of results from the field, enabling us to target our effort where needed most, and, above all, the flexibility and dedication of so many of our participants.
Let's apply these principles to our final winter. Ann and I have developed a spreadsheet outlining our progress so far, showing for each square still short of the threshold its status in terms of number of hours, percentage of target number of species, and strategy for coverage, by adopting observers, field assistants, blockbuster weekend, and/or attack squad. We tailor the strategies to the amount of effort likely needed to reach the goal, and usually have at least two strategies for each square still shy of this goal. We are glad to send the spreadsheet to anyone who can use it, as an e-mail attachment if possible, on paper if not.
Each of these strategies plays a key role. If you have adopted a square that has not yet met its winter threshold, we are still counting on you! We are very grateful that our funding from CalTrans and California State Parks, in place before the state's current budget clampdown, enables us to deploy our field assistants to some of the most difficult areas. Our blockbuster weekends are likewise critical--please join us whenever you can, and watch for notices of weekends scheduled as needed later in the winter. And the attack squad plays a key role, plugging the holes and giving us day-by-day flexibility. Please consider signing up!
Quick feedback of results from the field becomes more and more critical as we approach the end of the project. Early on, we distributed 12-column forms to be turned in at the end of the season. This year, do not wait! We need your results as quickly as possible; Ann enters them into our database immediately, and we thereby monitor each square's progress toward its goal. That way, when our attack squad members call us with the question "where shall I go tomorrow?," we can give them the answer that speeds us fastest toward our goal of clearing the threshold in all squares. Use the electronic forms on the museum's website if you can, otherwise mail us a paper form as soon as you complete it. Look for extra paper forms with this issue of Wrenderings.
In the rush, don't neglect your daily field map and plotting locations of any asterisked species--to some users, these will be the most important result of the project.
Finally, your flexibility and dedication are now more important to us than ever. If you clear the threshold in your square, please ask if there's another area where we can use you. If a misfortune prevents you from getting into the field when planned, please let us know as soon as possible. This is a team effort! In fact, the atlas has proven to be far more of a team effort than I imagined at the outset. I thank all of you for coming together to make our project the envy of California, if not the nation.