Animal & Flower Tracking
While visiting parks, we register in a log every identified species, animals or flowers. We don't record precise geo-location. Instead, we associate date and ID with the park where it happened. The data is used to learn about which species can be seen when and where. A valuable source to plan our next photo session or video recording.
Purpose of Tracking
With collecting date and location of each species identified in the field, we learn more about seasonal appearances of different species. Information we use to plan our next photo session and video recordings. After some years of collecting data, we have now a good understanding when and where a species of interest can be seen.
The data isn't useful though to learn about fauna and flora diversity or density in parks or getting insight about changes in diversity and density overtime due to effects of global warming, urbanization or nature protection efforts.
The data's use is limited because of the difficulty to spot and identify certain species, the challenge of quantitative data collection, the irregularity of our park visit schedule, limited to weekend days with pleasant weather conditions, and the difficulty not counting the same individual multiple times during a park visit.
Methods and Tools
For identification of a species we rely on our experience and apps like Merlin ID or PlantNet. If we aren't able to identify a species with high certainty in the field, we take photos used back at the office to identify the species with the help of online communities like iNaturalist or BugGuide.
We tested the use of binoculars in the field to get a better view of the species for identification. It turned out to be redundant as we usually carry a 400mm lens mounted and easily can take a photo and enlarge the subject on screen.
We write down date, location and ID of a species in an Apple's Notes.app document. Back in office the observations and notes are entered into the database.
Overtime, we tested different approaches to store data into the database online, in the field. They work fine as long as we have data connection. Unfortunately, this connection isn't guaranteed even in parks near Montreal. Hence, taking notes offline is necessary. We tested pencil and paper approach but we ended up writing down the observations in an Apple's Notes.app document.
Data Collection, Analysis and Publication
We record date, location and species ID. We only record a species once during a visit in a park. Optionally, we keep notes about special behavior observed or other information we consider noteworthy about the observation. In 2022, we started to keep records of weather conditions in the park and start and end of the park visit.
We extend collected data sets with EXIF data of our published and our published video clips. A python script combines these different data sources, drops duplications (date, location, species) and then determines sums data pints by species, location and season.
We don't publish all data. We publish only data about parks which we visit frequently (at least once / season) and only of species we have seen on at least 5 different park visits.