iNaturalist & Photos from Kakwa Provincial Park

iNaturalist & Photos from Kakwa Provincial Park

by Bev Ramey

These dark days of November and December have been a productive time to spend at my computer, posting plant photos onto the iNaturalist BC Parks website. The photos are from our summer weeks spent in Kakwa Provincial Park over the past eight years. My husband, Bill, has posted butterfly and other insect photos, as well as bird photos, with more yet to come. The iNaturalist website encourages all to post your nature photos. Two “Project” areas that may interest you are: BC Provincial Parks and Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. 

View more photos for Kakwa that Bill and I have posted, from the direct link to Kakwa Provincial Park.

Kakwa Provincial Park is located in east central BC. ‘Central’ as the 54th parallel runs through this park and ‘east’ as Kakwa is situated in the Rocky Mountains. Kakwa straddles the height of land of the Rockies, which here forms the continental divide between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. The eastern boundary of Kakwa abuts the border with Alberta which is a straight line northwards along the 120th line of longitude. For the photos that we have posted, you will see in the location details that the location of many of the photos shows as Peace River (with drainage flowing to the Kakwa, Smoky and Peace Rivers) while other locations show as Fraser-Fort George (with drainage flowing to the McGregor and Fraser Rivers).   

I learned about the iNaturalist-BC Parks project at the BC Nature FGM hosted by Burke Mountain Naturalists in 2019, where John Reynolds (SFU professor and Chair of COSEWIC) spoke about iNaturalist. This was followed by a field trip that he and his PhD student, Debora Obrist, led to Golden Ears Provincial Park where they showed how to use iNaturalist in the field to post photos of your nature sightings from your smart phone. He also explained how to post digital photos to iNaturalist from any laptop or desktop computer, which he recommends because it is a faster process, allowing several photos to be uploaded at once. The BC Parks project of iNaturalist was set up a couple of years ago by SFU (John Reynolds) and UVic (Brian Starzomski), in partnership with BC Parks and the BC Parks Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the Pacific Wildlife Foundation and the Sitka Foundation. 

To view photos of any BC Provincial Park, click this link, iNaturalist-BC Parks Website, where you will see BC’s Provincial Parks as bar graphs according to the number of observations posted. To find a specific park, at the top of the page click on ‘Community’, then ‘Projects’, then type the name of the park in the search bar. 

If you are interested in Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, a similar ‘Project’ has recently been set up for these parks; follow the same steps to the search bar and type in the name of the Regional Park you are interested in.

If you would like to post some of your photos, there are instructions on the iNaturalist website (click the ‘More’ at the top of the website’s home page to reach video tutorials and guides) and sign up on the righthand side to log in and begin entering your photos. When you upload your photos with a location, it will automatically show up in the correct “Project”, plus under other search categories, such as type of wildlife. 

One of my questions had been how much detail to provide for the location of a photo. Fortunately, you can choose whatever range of accuracy you would like, from only a few metres to several kilometres. For the plant photos that I uploaded, I’ve chosen about a 200 metre location radius so as not to be too precise, but still accurate enough to show the habitat if one wants to look closely at terrain on Google Earth Pro.

Another very informative tutorial on how to upload your photos on iNaturalist is provided in the recent presentation that John Reynolds gave to the Burke Mountain Naturalists. See the YouTube video Community Science & iNaturalist.

John’s presentation describes how the iNaturalist website, within just a few seconds, will suggest an identity. That is an amazingly quick process when you upload a photo. Of course you can override that computer-generated ID if you do not agree, by typing in the ID.  

Once a photo is uploaded, other viewers will confirm or make corrections for identification. With two confirmations, your photo will become “Research Grade” and this shows as the small ‘RG’ label on the top left of the photo. The photos posted are linked in to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) to provide a publicly viewable record of nature.

To see the hundreds of photos from Kakwa that we have posted, click on Kakwa Provincial Park and then either click ‘Observations’ at the top or simply click the ‘View All’ on the right hand side. The photos show in the most recent order of posting, so insects (but not butterflies), then birds and then below the butterflies. 

Only the first couple of hundred photos that we have posted show on that page, so if you would like to view my plant photos, here is a different route to open. Back at the top of the webpage for Kakwa, click ‘Observers’ that shows on the right side. On the ‘Observers’ page, click my name, then when that page opens, at the top click ‘Observations’. Click at the top left, ‘Grid’, to open a small-sized photo of each plant. To open additional pages of photos, click at the bottom for further pages. Click on any one of the photos to enlarge the photo and see more information.

A challenge in providing photos is to show the relevant features needed for identification. For example, for plants, you may need photos of the leaves as well as the flowers/seed heads. If you are uploading from your laptop or desktop, you can ‘Combine’ several photos of the same observation into one ‘observation’.  That way people will be able to see more features to help with identification. I hope you enjoy these photos and that my description will encourage you to upload your photos.

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