Nature & Wildlife

 - Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies - 2022-04-15
Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) - Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies

Species Identification and Logs

During our park visits, we maintain a journal where we document names of every observed and identified species, animals and flowers alike. This journal allows us to compile a comprehensive database of information regarding seasons and locations where different species can be found, serving us as a valuable reference for planning future photo sessions or video recordings.

Last changed on 2024-03-01

Species Identification

To successfully identify species, we utilize a combination of our expertise and convenient mobile applications like Merlin ID or PlantNet. When encountering species that are challenging to identify on the spot, we capture photos for further analysis back at our office. In certain instances, we leverage online communities such as iNaturalist or BugGuide, where we share photos and seek confirmation or correction of our identifications from fellow naturalists.

Our primary method of species identification relies on visual cues. However, we do make exceptions for a few species that have distinct and well-defined calls, such as the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans), or Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). In these cases, we consider auditory cues reliable enough for species identification.

During our park visits, we adhere to a policy of not registering a species multiple times in our journal. This is due to the inherent impossibility of accurately preventing the registration of the same individual multiple times. Consequently, our collected data does not provide the necessary information for assessing population sizes. Our focus is primarily on documenting species diversity and notable observations rather than attempting quantitative analysis of population numbers.

Park Visit Journal

Each time we visit a park, we document a few meta data points to provide additional context to our observations. These include:

After the metadata section, we write down the names of every species we observe and identify during our park visit. Additionally, we maintain a distinct section at the end of the journal dedicated to recording and preserving observations of intriguing animal behaviors that we encounter.

The park visit journal is a Markdown file that we edit on a mobile phone using Obsidian. We make use of a shared Obsidian vault, which eliminates the need to transfer journals between devices. This implementation of Obsidian allows us to access and process collected data from our desktop computer back in the office effortlessly. A convenient and efficient workflow for processing the journals.

Data Processing and Publishing

The park visit journal data is extended with EXIF data extracted from published photos and videos. To streamline the analysis process, a Python script is employed. This script combines the different data sources, removes duplications based on date, location, and species, and subsequently calculates aggregated data points by species, location, and season.

We only publish data pertaining to parks that we visit frequently and only of those species that we have observed and identified on at least five different park visits. This approach allows us to focus on more reliable and robust data, providing a higher level of confidence in the species sightings and contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of different park's biodiversity.

For examples see:

Collected information about parks and species are published in