Oct 282009
Coal Creek Canyon Elk

Coal Creek Canyon Elk

I’ve been working too much recently, a confluence of events but the results (hopefully worthwhile) will be announced shortly. Still, one result … a tired/unfocused brain (way too prone to wildwalking in Twitter-land) and an antsy body. With a big snow storm (foot or more) expected to hitting the next day or so, I needed to get out and #playoutdoors. The goal of “go see the Elk” came to mind, a wildlife goal, time to go wildobs’ing…

I grabbed my binoculars, camera (not taken her out enough) and iphone and set off to the bottom of the Canyon. There is a winter warning for an approaching snow storm, and I know the Elk like to move down into the flatlands (down from the rugged foothills) when storms approach. I wanted to find them.

As I approached the the place I hike I stumbled upon a mule deer foraging openly on bushes, then a red-tailed hawk sitting high on a tree above. (I’ll post photos of both later.) I wandered out into the hidden valley and found it such a wonderfully warm/calm fall day I really couldn’t help but to sit and just enjoy. Gosh, yes … fall is my favorite season in Colorado.

Black-capped chickadee (they always look so sharp and dapper) and magpies kept me company, although one small wasp didn’t seem to want me there. Hmm, quite a few wasps and other bugs about on this warm day … I wonder if (and then how) they’ll survive this coming snow.

No Elk to be seen in the hidden valley (I didn’t expect them there, too ‘claustrophobic’ for daytime) nor on the plains (I did there.) After a few minutes sitting a movement caught my eye up the hill. A herd 50 or more strong was coming over the railroad tracks, slowly making their way to the plains. I’d gotten ahead of myself (or at least the Elk) and was there before them. So, I returned to where I’d started (the closest point to them) and savored the scene.

I stopped to photograph a fluffy caterpillar [have an id for m? please comment] (how late in the year is s/he?) and that moment delayed me just enough to reach a fence line just in time to enjoy a northern harrier doing it’s ‘circuits and bumps’ over the field. Gosh, I was getting far more than I’d hoped for, a simple yet wonderful wildobs’ing trip.

It might not have been the most energetic or adventurous trip out, but it sure recharged my wildlife batteries. Yum!

Oct 222009

‘Tagging’ the act of putting keywords onto something is such a strange sounding/feeling task, but one we are increasingly used to with blogs, sites like Flickr, and here at WildObs. Tagging is flexible in that there is no set way to tag something, you get to chose. In that power is some complexity.

Tagging an encounter allows you to group a number of (perhaps otherwise unrelated) encounters together. It is best to try to tag encounters as you record them, while the encounter memory is vivid/fresh in your mind.

Here are some ideas on how you could implement tags:

Some folks say “keep a short list of tags you use frequently/consistently” and “avoid adding the first 20 things that come to your mind” and adding to that others say “it is better to combine a lot of simple tags than dream up complicated ones”. I would add … try to avoid putting the location or date/time or species name (although latin is always fun :-) into tags since those are already captured in the wildobs system.
The good news is that there is no right or wrong on how to tag. You chose what is right for you.
Want some inspiration? Check out the wildobs community ‘tag cloud’, or remember we have Tag Help when entering an encounter.
How do you tag your encounters? Please share in the comments section.
One final note: WildObs Observer users can (e.g. when they go on a trip) set default tags such as “ys2009″ for their Yellowstone 2009 Trip. All encounters recorded until that is changed will bear that tag.
Default Tags setting

Default Tags setting

Oct 112009
Lookup wildlife species.

Lookup wildlife species.

Perhaps you are on a road trip out west and want to know if you are seeing a Wolf or a Coyote, a Moose or an Elk, a Goat or a Sheep. Or, conversely you are east of the Rocky Mountains coast and want to know what that glorious red bird is when the locals tell you it is a Cardinal?

Cannot quite remember the name of that bird, but know it is some ‘hummer’ thing, or some ‘blue’ thing? Or, you just want to be able to reference species on demand.

WildObs Lookup make these species and many more available to you on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Perform a lookup of a full or partial name to get a list of all WildObs species that match, including any WildObs known aliases (e.g. cougar for mountain lion.)

See Also

WildObs Lookup also tells you a list of “see also” species, if you lookup a Wolf it’ll suggest you “see also” a Coyote.

Observer Photographs

WildObs Lookup also allows you to view WildObs observer images (perhaps your own, or from others) for the species allowing you to get a variety of different samples to make a more positive identification.

Available in the iPhone App Store

WildObs Lookup is available in the iPhone App Store.

Oct 072009

The list-based species selector (with birds, mammal, etc.) was intended to simplify lookup, and speed things up when focus ought be spent on the critter ahead. Unfortunately as the lists have each grown with new species, and the number of custom lists (such as favorites, recent, local) remains low, there are still times when lookups are hard. As such a “work in progress” feature was added to WildObs Observer 1.4 to allow a lookup based upon a few characters typed.

Note: This feature is also incredibly useful for when looking up (say) a “goldfinch” but WildObs has it listed as either an “American Goldfinch” or an “European Goldfinch”, neither under “G”.

Go to the standard iPhone Settings app to access “Observer” settings. Scroll down to the bottom for this one:

How to turn on work-in-progress features...

How to turn on work-in-progress features...

Then, next time you start WildObs Observer you’ll notice a “search icon” on the toolbar:

Notice the search icon on the toolbar...

Notice the search icon on the toolbar...

Pressing the search (or filter) icon will allow you to reduce the number of items in a list with jsut a few characters typed.

Search/Filter into a species list with a few characters...

Search/Filter into a species list with a few characters...

There are a few things to work out with this mechanism (including does it move across lists, e.g. if selecting ‘gold’ when on birds and move to mammals does it reset of remain) but it is available. Please do provide us with feedback on how this works for you.

P.S. Also, even without this new “work in progress” feature there already is species search in the species tab:

Species search exist also.

Species search exist also.