miked's picture

End of year tidying up

End of year tidying up. What to do in these dark days of winter, one thing to do is have a check back at some of the observations you have put on iSpot. Remember when you made the observation, nice walk on sunny day tracking down butterflies or wandering round a dingy forest looking for fungi. See what comments and ID’s other people have made, are there lots of other sightings of your species (check carousel under the observation ID section).

One thing to check by clicking on the ‘edit’ tab of your observation is that you have not got a tick in the ‘hide precise location’ box. This box is mainly there for very rare species or other occasions when you don’t want to give the exact location, perhaps if you are making observations in your garden and you don’t want to let people know where that is. In the vast majority of cases this box probably should be unticked. If it is ticked and you want to un-tick it simply click there again and it will remove the tick. Before 14/10/2010 the default for observations on ispot was to set them all to be ticked as we were being very cautious, however this potentially causes issues when mapping the data and when passing the data on to recording societies. I suspect most people using I spot would want their data to be passed on to these national organisations as accurately as possible and not downgraded to 1km or 10km. For example I would want my local nature reserve to know I spotted a particular species there rather than just say it was found somewhere within 10km, this might allow the reserve to manage the habitat to protect the species. I am the one with the most of these older observations ticked that I now want to un-tick so a few hours of fun going through and sorting them out, wonder if that should be just before or after the queen’s speech.

By the way have you seen http://www.ispot.org.uk/saving_species?nav=no_likely, its on the ispot front page as I write this but not sure how many people actually read those items. Anyway how many new species can you spot in 2012, I saw several ‘new to me’ species last weekend just in a couple of short urban walks and I have photographed about 1900 uk species of wildlife already so if I can still find lots of new ones on a dank dingy day in December then anyone can. The ‘new to me’ ones I found were all lichens and fungi and did not need a microscope or even hand lens to spot them.

Any new year’s resolutions? Visit new places as well as see new species, find areas near home that you can visit several times and map out the different species living there, are there any trees, what sort are they, what lives on them? Perhaps also think about an annual holiday further afield, will there be a chance to spot a bit of wildlife besides just soaking up the sun on the beach. Last time I checked iSpot had observations from 100 countries, if you observe something abroad there may be people on iSpot who can help with identification. But its good to have a go at identifying it yourself first, perhaps there is a local wildlife identification handbook or ranger who knows the species, write the ID down there and then so you don’t forget it. Perhaps the local expert might even like to have a go on iSpot themselves.

Started off the message with tidying up and another aspect of this is to make sure you label your photos otherwise you will forget what and where it is. These days there are many bits of software that make this labelling relatively easy, often you can label lots of images at once. The way I do it is to have a little gps running while I am out and simply connect that to computer when I get back and it automatically puts the location into each of the images. Then you can write the likely ID into the picture file too, it is stored in the EXIF (or IPTC) ‘metadata’ so it stays with the picture and you should not be able to loose it. For belt and braces I also change the filename to be the species name e.g. Amanita_muscaria and move them into a folder of, in this case fungi, then I can see all my Amanita pictures together. Other people arrange their pictures by date or habitat or other methods but whatever way you choose its good to have a definite method so you can actually find the picture again.

What have been your iSpot highlights of the year, have you found anything particularly interesting, finally had something identified that has been puzzling you for years, enjoyed being in contact with other people who like wildlife, felt a sense of satisfaction when helping other people, learned new things. What else is there to add to this list or does it already have too much on.

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Comments

Ray Turner's picture

Thank you

For some reason the default setting of the hide site tick box had escaped my notice until very recently, I have taken your advice and started editing my older observations.

My I also take this opportunity to thank you and the team for all you have done over this past year and offer seasons greetings and whish you all a wonderful New Year.

Ray

Ray

Masked Marvel's picture

Not always wise

For many species I think it is a very good idea to hide the precise location. Certain species can be extremely vulnerable to disturbance and advertising their exact location on the internet can lead to a detrimental increase in disturbance.

For example, I visited a well known site for adders this spring and there were no fewer than ten people out looking for snakes on one occasion. Whilst it was great to see so many interested people they were causing great disturbance and making some of the adders abandon basking at a time of year when it is vital. Some spent hours standing right at the hibernacula causing every snake that emerged to eventually retreat. This is not a sustainable situation and could lead the the abandonment of a major hibernacula.

So I would suggest that before making the precise location known to everyone, please fully consider the consequences. As far as I can determine iSpot records the precise location which can be sent to the record centres etc., and the 'hide location' option just prevents this from being seen publicly (is this the case?).

miked's picture

I would certainly agree with

I would certainly agree with you that it is important to hide precise location in some instances, I have done this for a few of my observations for various different reasons such as the one you suggest, but in the vast majority of cases on iSpot there is no need. I have been through the database and most of the sensitive locations are e.g. a grey squirrel at a particular named national trust property, it has simply been marked as sensitive as that was the default setting or perhaps the user did not realise what the tick box meant.

Masked Marvel's picture

Yes, I think for most species

Yes, I think for most species it's fine. Unfortunately it's usually the most interesting species that need to be hidden...

Ray Turner's picture

Agreed

I agree that some sensitivity is required when giving exact locations. Indeed I’m not saying exactly where my garden is for example (a source of many of my observations), my species can be quite sensitive too.

Mike mentions in his original message to be careful and gives the reasons for this.

Ray

Ray

David Trevan's picture

End of Year Tidying Up

Read all your comments with interest, and will certainly follow up on some which are relevant to me.
Also, in view of all the comments in the Forums about overseas Observations, it's refreshing to
have someone from iSpot actually encourage us to put some on!
I am relatively new to foreign travel, but being mainly a plant enthusiast, have been totally wowed by what I have seen in my limited travels mainly to the Atlantic islands, it has opened my eyes to the wonders of the natural world and being able to see things I had previously known as small specimens in botanic gardens as fully grown plants in the wild. Also I guess one of the most thrilling moments of my life was when I saw a Sperm Whale dive off the Azores last year,and yes I have put the photo on iSpot!

Many thanks, you guys are doing such a good job!

Dave T.

David J Trevan

ophrys's picture

Tidy

I would just like to reiterate what others have said here about how enjoyable iSpot is...really good fun and very instructive, trying to work out IDs and learning from the experts. Huge thanks to those who make it all possible.

Aside from checking back through my observations on iSpot, my own tidying up for 2011 includes identifying pinned flies collected earlier in the year: I have just started going through Empis Dance flies...seven species identified, last night. Still plenty to go! With muscids, dolis and so on, it should just about keep me going up to March, when the new season begins.

As for a wild highlight of the year, no Sperm Whales here (!), but something like finding the tiny hoverfly Triglyphus primus on my local site was pretty good for me!

Thanks again to all behind the scenes on iSpot. Merry Christmas to all.

Ian

PS: If you want to tidy up one more thing, Mike, you could return to this observation and agree with Chiffchaff! ;)

http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/239047

Ian
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miked's picture

OK, just for you ;->

OK, just for you ;->

ophrys's picture

Tidy

Thanks...I can sleep again, now! :)

Ian
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My Flickr photos...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52163027@N02/