And the answer is...

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 7 March 2011 17:02

Well, this became quite interesting. As I'm borrowing Jo's Mac, I decided to count the Starlings in Photoshop so you can see just how many there are in the photo. My estimate was 2000 in the field, I was not  confident with this so as I approached the flock, I got my camera out ready so I could capture them as they flew against the sky. In fact, there are 3630 Starlings in the above photo!!! More Starlings than I have seen species and the biggest flock I have come across during these farm surveys!

20 people submitted an estimate ranging from 700 to 9576 (Jo and Sarah, twelvety and three were not included in the analysis but thanks ever so much for your input).  Only 7/20 came via the blog though, most were posted on Twitter and Facebook. The mean of the estimates was 2903 and the median was 2206. This meant that only 5 people over estimated while 15 people under estimated. The closest was Tom Burns at 4000 (out by a mere 370 Starlings). Nice one Tom!

Under-estimating large flocks is definitely something more people do than not and I am aware that I do it too so it's good to carry out an exercise like this to recalibrate my estimates.  I find with birds in flocks over 2-300 that photography is the best way forward.

2 Response to "And the answer is..."

Tom Kenyon Burns Says:

Awesome! Thats something to brag about to the Low Weald Team today!

Anonymous Says:

Wow! There is always more than it looks to the eye. Great little challenge for us Graeme, thanks!


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