The big question – how many species can I expect to find on my Green Big Year?
The overall list of species for Santa Barbara County that I am working from has 486 entries. Many of these species are rarely seen here, or are only found on the ocean away from the coast, so I am not likely to find them this year. As far as I know the Santa Barbara County Big Year record is held by Wes Fritz, with 357 species. I am unlikely to come anywhere near this milestone.
I have done a little analysis in order to make a prediction about how many species I might find this year. If you recall from our geography lesson about Santa Barbara County (Blog post Day 12), the county can be organized into 4 regions: Coastal (C), Mountain (M), Interior (I), and Cuyama Valley (V).
So far this year I have seen 157 species during my Green Birding outings. I have examined the remaining species on the County list and identified which species I believe I have a chance at seeing. For each of these species, I have assigned a probability of finding: Likely, Possible, or Unlikely. I have also identified the region where each of these species is expected to be found. The results of this exercise show 118 species (beyond the 157 already found), organized as follows:
Region C: Region M:
Likely 57 Likely 4
Possible 28 Possible 3
Unlikely 7 Unlikely 2
Region I: Region V:
Likely 5 Likely 5
Possible 7 Possible 0
Unlikely 0 Unlikely 0
If I assign a probability of finding as: Likely = 90%, Possible = 50%, Unlikely = 10% and apply these percentages to the list of species I think I may find, this results in the following: (# of species to be found, by region)
Region C: 66 species
Region M: 8 species
Region I: 5 species
Region V: 5 species
This gives a total of 84 additional species, which added to the existing 157 species, gives a prediction (guess really) of 241 species. Perhaps I can squeeze out a few more, for a nice round target of 250 species.
One interesting thing to note – if I do not undertake any excursions into regions M, I, or V (which tend to require multi-day efforts), the predicted total is 223 species. Those additional species in regions M, I and V will require a great deal of effort!
Of course there are many factors that will impact the final total. I have tried to be very conservative in selecting which species I have a chance to see. This means I am almost certain to see some species which are not on the list of expected species (I have already seen 6 species this year that I did not originally expect to see). I am hoping these unpredicted “bonus” species will offset some of the misses that will inevitably occur during the year.
This prediction also assumes I remain healthy, motivated, and available (fingers crossed this is the case!). I am planning on being away from the county at times during the year, with any luck this will not detract from my ability to catch up with the species I hope to see.
Only time will tell.