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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.