Ιούνιος 01, 2022

Mud Butte Alberta

I was recently working near Monitor Alberta. On the road there was a single blue sign pointing to an area called "Mud Butte". These signs are typical for tourist attractions but I had no idea what to expect. Upon arrival, there was an incredible but relatively small badland section. There's very little information about this site and there was only one iNaturalist observation at the time that made in 2021. This isn't a long post but I thought I would try and entice others to check it out by sharing some of my observations and a drone video of the site I found on YouTube (another visitor that was intrigued by the random sign it appears).

Drone video showing the landscape:

There was quite a variety of flowering plants that quilted the edges of the canyon. Wax-leaf Beardtongue (Penstemon nitidus) stole the show and were a brilliant blue that contrasted the dark and windy skies. The valley hosted lots of Plains Pricklypear (opuntia polycantha), some sitting on top of small hoodoos while others cascaded into sinkholes and eroded soils. I should say that there are no formal pathways and that it's a bit of a scramble every direction. Use caution when walking ANYWHERE as you never know what could happen in terrain like this.

Besides the geology and flowers, my personal highlight was finding a Rock Wren. I had seen one some time ago (~3 years or so), but never heard it sing or was able to capture a photo. As soon as I walked into the valley I heard it calling and knew exactly what it was. It finally showed itself and I captured a few photos...but of course a small stick blocked half of it. I'm not sure I can consider this to be a nemesis bird because of so few experiences but it's not too far off from taking the title.

Anyways, I highly recommend checking this place out if you are in the area! Only about 25km from the Saskatchewan border, you can literally see SK from the top! Also, Keep your eyes peeled for thunderstorms rolling over the plains and clear nights filled with stars.

Instagram Reel I made showing a portion of the landscape:

Posted on Ιούνιος 01, 2022 1009 ΜΜ by wowokayyes wowokayyes | 33 παρατηρήσεις | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Οκτώβριος 11, 2021

PFAR Fish Rescue 2021

On Saturday October 8, I was invited to participate in the Peigan Friends Along the River (P.F.A.R) Fish Rescue 2021. This annual event has been in operation since 1990 and was founded by Harley Bastien.

Just East of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site is an irrigation canal that draws water from the Oldman River. Each Fall, Water levels dramatically recede in the irrigation canal asthe water is released at the end of each irrigation season. Fish that had entered the canal during the irrigation season become trapped. The flume (aka aqueduct) is solid concrete and is a bit of a low point where water pools when the canal is drained. It lies directly above the Oldman River. As water dries up throughout the fall and ice forms in winter, any fish left in the flume are likely to die if not rescued.

PFAR organizes an annual “Fish Rescue” each Fall which requires hundreds of volunteers to move the fish through the nearly 1 Kilometer flume. Fish are slowly directed using nets from one end to the other. People of all ages wait anxiously at one end with nets and buckets to catch the fish. Once the fish were caught, they are hoisted out of the canal and placed in oxygenated holding tanks to be identified, measured, and counted. I was not involved with the identification as I know almost nothing about Fish. Professional biologists and students worked diligently to collect data. The holding tanks are then driven down to the edge of the Oldman River on the Buffalo Rocks Tipi Camp (on the Piikani lands) and released back to the Oldman river.

I was only able to participate in the the first “flush” of the flume and with that single effort, thousands of fish were rescued. A communal lunch was then offered to all participants and was absolutely delicious. Once people were replenished, they head back into the flume for another two more rescues.

In 31 years, more than 275,000 fish have been rescued from the flume.

This entire experience was beautiful. People were so kind, friendly, and eager to assist in any way they could. Professional biologists, amateur fisherman, community members, families, conservation organizations, all worked together harmoniously to rescue the fish. This on-the-ground work was a powerful example of indigenous-led conservation that brought in a diverse range of people and backgrounds under a common goal. Few events have humbled me to such an extent, and left me with a new understanding of community, wildlife, and sense of place.

Thank you to Harley, @niitsitapiwaterprotectors, PFAR, and my friend Kora for inviting me and everyone else to participate in this incredible experience.

A short Reel on Instagram covering all the action:

View the fish I was able to document during the fish rescue:

niitsitapiwaterprotectors #stewardship #owc #oldmanwatershedcouncil #buffalorockstipicamp #cowsandfish #PFAR #oldmanriver #troutunlimited #anglerapproved #albertafishing #albertaangler #browntrout #albertatroutfishing #albertarainbowtrout #abcitsci #stewardshipoftheland #fishalberta #fishconservation

Posted on Οκτώβριος 11, 2021 0436 ΜΜ by wowokayyes wowokayyes | 40 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 24, 2021

GeoTagging Photos using Strava/ All Trails/ GPS and GeoSetter

We all know that mapping out our observations using the iNaturalist map can be tedious when uploading a large number of observations. Last spring, I purchased a Canon 90D so that I could sync the Latitude, Longitude, and Elevation of my phone with my observations (Connected through Bluetooth/Wifi). It worked well for some of my hikes and saved hours of manually locating where I was while taking photos.

Recently, I have had issues using the Canon Connect App and my Canon 90D Camera while out in the field. I have found that if I am using other apps such as eBird, reading emails, or even opening Instagram (@Citizenblitz) that the Canon app Bluetooth connection is lost and requires a few seconds to reconnect. In some cases it does not even reconnect meaning that I might be taking photos with no location associated with them. Besides the issues of connection, using Bluetooth is compromising the battery power of both my phone and camera (~25% reduction in camera and 25-50% in Galaxy S9). I've also been more interested in learning more about my outdoor activities (like birding) as a form of "fitness". So! I have been recording my walks using apps such as Strava and All Trails.

Strava and All Trails are interesting because they record a route or "track" that includes information about speed, elevation gain, and distance travelled. Tracks can be downloaded using the app websites. eBird has a tracking feature that can be set when you begin a Checklist, however, as far as I can see there is no way to download your personal track. Currently, this feature does not exist within iNaturalist.

I decided that if I were going to attempt to make 1000 observations during the upcoming City Nature Challenge I would need to experiment with geotagging my images using these fitness apps. It would also allow me to note where I was and the effort (distance and time) while attempting to blitz the entire city.

There are multiple applications both free and paid that allow for geotagging images. One of the easiest to use is Lightroom Classic in Adobe Creative Cloud. It's simple and you can also edit your images while in the app. The problem is that it's a subscription service and other iNaturalist users may not have the means or desire to pay for it!

Most recently, I have been exploring a free software called GeoSetter and have found it to be super easy to use for geotagging hundreds of photos in a couple minutes. The latitude, longitude, and elevation are all saved to the metadata of the images without compromising the image quality, size, or image locations on your computer.

If you are wondering how all of this works, it's quite simple:
1) Sync the time of your phone with the time settings on your camera.
2) Get outside and use an app (such as Strava, All Trails, etc.) or a handheld GPS device that can create a track. Make sure to begin recording the track before you start taking photos and to stop your recording when you are all done. Any activity including walking, running, biking, driving, canoeing, etc. can be used.
3) When you get home you can visit the app website and download the track in the form of a .GPX file.
4) Using Lightroom or GeoSetter you can instantly sync the time stamp of your photo with the times recorded in the .GPX track file. The locations recorded in the apps have a timestamp that can then be synced to the timestamp of your photo.

After conducting a few tests the past couple weeks this seems to be a great alternative to using the built-in iNaturalist geo-locator when doing a batch upload.

Benefits for geotagging images before uploading to iNaturalist

  • You do not need to have a modern camera with Bluetooth/WIFI capabilities.
  • More Accurate locations for your observations (NOTE: remember the location will be associated where YOU were and NOT necessarily the organism was).
  • Time is saved batch geotagging before you enter lots of observations into iNaturalist. All you will need to do is combine your images, add the species, and flag any that may be "Captive/Cultivated".
  • You'll have some fitness stats on your activity unavailable in apps like iNaturalist or eBird. These stats can be used as reference for travelling checklists in eBird (distance and time (effort)). Carrying a pen and paper will keep your eyes on the birds rather than your phone ;).
  • You will save battery power! Both on your phone and on your camera.
  • Strava and All Trails do not appear to interfere with other apps in use on your phone.
  • The apps are free compared to a GPS attachment for your camera allowing you to keep the money in your pocket and weight down on your camera.

    If you are interested in trying this out, Here is a link to a document I made that walks you through the entire process of using Strava and All Trails to track your outings, obtain the .GPX track file, and geotagging your images before uploading to iNaturalist


    I am working on a YouTube tutorial for this process and hope to have it done next week!

    Please share any comments or questions you may have.



Posted on Απρίλιος 24, 2021 0518 ΜΜ by wowokayyes wowokayyes | 5σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 01, 2021

Naturally Yours: Blitz #1

What crossovers can be made between art and the use of iNaturalist? Are there any specific iNaturalist projects with an artistic focus? This video slideshow is a go at merging concepts of citizen science and art. Below is the description added to the YouTube video.

Citizen Blitz

A slideshow of what an avid iNaturalist user sees while walking in the park. This collection of photos was made while walking a loop between Evergreen Community and Fish Creek Provincial Park (Shannon Terrace) in Calgary, Alberta. The walk was ~4 kilometers and took 2.5 hours with a few breaks waiting for some birds to come into view. All of the images are unedited and in the original sequence they were shot. This is every single photo taken on that day (March 31, 2021).

Creating a slideshow of an entire set of photos came from the idea that nature photography isn't easy and a lot of mistakes are often made. After shooting hundreds of photos, you might only get a handful of ones you want to share with the world. The idea of making mistakes is uncomfortable but this slideshow aims to overcome the fear of amateurism.

Some of the photos were accidently taken when my binoculars pressed the shutter button while walking. Others are intentional with me experimenting with f-stops, shutter speed, and aperture on my Canon 90D. Let me know if there are any particular ones you appreciate!

The music is some guitar recordings made with loop pedals and recorded on a smartphone. There is also a a CP train recording recorded in downtown Calgary that is layered throughout the video. If the sound doesn't work for you, mute the video and put on your own tracks!

All of the flora and fauna photos I take are shared to iNaturalist.ca. Even when the photos are unclear. I aim to continuously collect and provide data about the living world that may advance biodiversity conservation and research. Additionally, iNaturalist has become a passion of mine simply because it gets me outside exploring. If you are into taking photos and have an appreciation for nature, I know you will enjoy it too.

iNaturalist Account: https://inaturalist.ca/people/785779
​Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/citizenblitz/

Posted on Απρίλιος 01, 2021 0705 ΜΜ by wowokayyes wowokayyes | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιανουάριος 24, 2019

City Nature Challenge 2019: Calgary

Hello iNaturalists!

My name is Matt and I am organizing the City Nature Challenge 2019 event for Calgary. The event is a global competition with over 140 cities worldwide competing to document as much urban nature as possible. This year the event will run from April 26 - April 29. The competition is a friendly event put on by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. I am currently reaching out to nature enthusiasts in hopes that we can organize a few events over the course of the competition week.

The competition has three categories for cities to compete: 1) the most field observations made during the competition, the most diverse account of species, and the most participants. This year we will be using the iNaturalist app to record our observations because of its accessibility for people to participate.
There are two parts to the competition: 5 days of observations and 5 more days to identify everything posted.

My intention for the event is simply to foster stewardship among citizens for urban nature and this event seems like an ideal opportunity to promote that.

The events I hope to organize would essentially be a series Bioblitz events throughout the city with each nature group responsible for an activity to help engage citizens. These might include birding groups, botanical walks, fishing tours, outdoor meetups, or even photography courses.

Many of you are active users of iNaturalist or eBird in Calgary so I thought I would reach out to you first (. If you think you would be interested in helping me to promote, organize or simply just participate, please feel free to contact me.

You can learn more about the competition here below:

Competition information: http://citynaturechallenge.org/
Project page: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2019-calgary-alberta


Matt Wallace
BSc Geography Honours


Posted on Ιανουάριος 24, 2019 0828 ΜΜ by wowokayyes wowokayyes | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο