iNaturalist and QGIS

Mar 15, 2024 | QGIS

I am probably the worst for being able to properly name “things”. There are big trees and little trees. There are the annoying bugs and the not so annoying bugs. There are ducks, birds, bigger birds, and the birds that hang out at my bird feeder.

As much time as I have spent on the earth and out in the woods, I should be able to name more things or at least be able to tell more about my surroundings. A while back I volunteered for half a day to help a “bio blitz”……and what was I doing there besides “Oh look a big Tree?”. I was attempting to get everyone using INaturalist. What is Inaturalist? Well all my Hippie friends had been using it in plant identification. It’s free. It’s fun. They told me “You can use this to run a bio blitz”. Take pics of plants and get suggestions for what you’re looking at. Citizen Science at it’s best.

So I walked out woefully unprepared with this new thing I had discovered to record plants and animals and make a map. It was a resounding failure. No one wanted to use it but everyone was walking around spouting off genus and species into the void.

A tree with Bees – AKA Eastern Redbud

So I’ve been playing around with it and taking pics of plants and trees and using it’s magic to identify those plants and trees. What have I learned? More than I knew. I still suck at Biology. I’m better at Rocks. I’m still better at making maps BUT….I do love patterns.

You can download data from INaturalist. It’s a CSV file filled with a lot of good information. Pick a location that’s not terribly large and grab your download. Of course my favorite program – QGIS – can open that CSV. So what cool things do I see now?

Walking Trails. Bike Trails. The places people are hanging out at the Park. Places – like my neighborhood – that don’t have a lot of reported sightings of plants and animals. The above image is from a local park and people don’t leave the walking trail that much to make observations. Of course if you went off trail there’s a good chance you’ll get hit in a head with a Frisbee.

This may be my year of learning more about brown bugs and small bugs and the really big trees I’ve been walking around for most of my existence. Join me – there’s a whole world of flying bugs and itchy plants to explore.

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