Monday 16 May 2016

Why i-Record wildlife

This week has been a monumental one for many biological recorders, thanks to the new fantastic phone app by the innovative iRecord team (seriously my favourite people right now)...

Links for phone downloads here:

Why am I so excited about this (free) app? Because it effectively cuts down on hours and hours (and cups of coffee and biscuits), spent entering data into excel spreadsheets or online at the desk. Instead, you can input wildlife records swiftly and with ease while out and about, maximising time spent out in the field (hey, you could even lose weight using this app!). It's basically why I chose a hefty Samsung S5 after renewing my phone contract - to be iRecord-ready!!

Entering a biological record

The interface is clean and simple; the fields are editable just by tapping on them, but you can lock any for repeated use. The entire database of UK wildlife (scientific and common names) is pre-loaded, and it draws the locations from the phone GPS, with the added option to just select a point on a map. 

Easy to create, edit or delete whole lists of wildlife records

Most pivotally, it works offline, so all data is automatically saved onto the device, ready for when you escape the 4G-blackspot or regain WiFi. A single tap, and all of your day's wildlife sightings are uploaded to the iRecord database, ready to be verified and feed into national wildlife recording schemes!
  For my work at Gatwick this has arrived in the nick of time, as things go crazy on our two biodiversity sites at the peak of breeding season and ecological surveys are back-to-back.
Great Crested Newt egg on a leaf (photo by Rina Quinlan)

Other recent highlights include Great Crested Newts (Triturus cristatus), returning to breed in Pond 3 after the humane removal of hundreds of fish just last year. A successful ending to this pond project, and no better seal of approval from our newts! Many thanks to all who were involved.

BAM! Record goes in.

Our first male Long-horned Bees (Eucera longicornis) have also emerged last week; quite perfectly timed with the first flowers opening of Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) upon which these bees specifically nectar. Such amazing processes which happen beyond our detection!

Long-horned Bee with Common Vetch flower

BAM! Another record in. 

Gatwick has recently contributed a Buglife case study for this charismatic bee; you can find the publication and read more about our targeted habitat management by clicking here: Long-horned Bee at Gatwick Airport.

Eucera longicornis and a BA plane, Gatwick's North West Zone. 12/05/16

Cuckoo bees, other parasites and predators of solitary bees are also out in force and I'm only just learning about all the different varieties. Now that I'm saving on the data entry time (I <3 you iRecord!), I can finally put the guide to Bees by Steven Falk to good use. I think the lady pictured below is a Painted Nomad (Nomada fucata).. I'm happy to be corrected!

Just to top off a momentous week, we are now up to two male Nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) singing clearly in the North West Zone... and potentially even a third! I'll continue checking the site after evening moth and newt surveys; it would be incredible if they managed to breed here.

On the subject of Nightingales, I was recently shown this link by David Plummer - it's a famous recording of Nightingales signing in a Surrey garden on May 19th 1942. In the background, at about 2 minutes 30 seconds in, 197 Wellington and Lancaster bombers can be heard flying overhead on a raid to Germany. When you think about the violence and destruction these planes were portending, it gives the Nightingale song a rather melancholic edge.

Perhaps not so far from the site where that recording was taken, we unwittingly created a an updated version with a sound backdrop of a modern aerodrome.

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