FAQ - Observations

Q: Do planted/captive organisms (excluding pets) count?
• The focus of the challenge is on wild and natural organisms, including aliens. Any observations made in gardens (= planted or captive) must be marked accordingly. These do count: separate tallies are kept of wild, planted and total observations.

Q: Do the insects in my garden count to the totals?
• Most definitely. As do the plants and other animals that they are feeding on or associated with. So do animals and fungi in your house: the ants, moths and other visitors also count. Please record them all. If you know that your garden or street trees are planted, please mark them as such.

Q: What kind of photos make a good observation?
• It is important though to take several pictures of different features from different angles, with some close-ups of features, such as heads, legs, wings, and bodies of animals, and flowers, bracts, leaves and stems of plants, and views of the gills or undersides of fungi. This will help considerably with making an accurate identification.

Q: I would like to photograph small things. How do I get good photographs?
• It helps to zoom in. Enlarge the image on your screen before taking the photograph. If you desire, you can use a magnifying glass in front of your smartphone lens. One can also buy magnifying accessories at many smartphone stores, that clip onto your phone and can make minute ants look huge. if you can get hold of one and focus on our really small life, it would be really cool!

Q: I hope to do a 20Nm day trip to sea (weather permitting). Will the data be included within the City?
• Strictly we are using a 2Nm buffer to the city: so about 25km out to sea. If you plan a more serious pelagic trip, tell us and we will request an adjustment to our boundaries to include. any Pelagic trips targeting marine birds, fish and mammals during the City Nature Challenge.

Q: By when must observations made during the 4 days be uploaded?
• After the four days (30 April – 03 May 2021) there are a few days grace (until 9 May) to upload. However, we do need to identify the organisms, so upload as soon as is possible please.

Q: Can several people take pictures of the same plant? Will it be useful if they did, or rather a waste of time?
• It will add to the total observations, but not the total number of species observed. It is better if they don’t. Rather send the team or bioblitzers to find other plants. Of course, it will happen that several observers may photograph the same species on your excursion. If they are more than a few hundred metres away then the distribution information is useful. If they are less, then it is still useful information. But please discourage an entire class photographing the same bush. Inevitably it will happen that a really special plant/ goggo/ bird/ etc. is found. And everyone wants to record it to add to their life list. These things happen, and should not be discouraged. Not only will everyone want to photograph it, but some will want to come back and photograph it again. That is also OK, as it contributes to the phenology data - growth, flowering, fruiting, even flowering times during the day (or night): they data are always useful.

Q: If I photograph a plant and then see another of the same species nearby, should I photograph it? How far away should these be to qualify as different observations? (1m, or 5m, or 20m,..?)
• If you are going to photograph each species every 1m, then after 5 hours you will have crawled 50m and be exhausted. A rule of thumb is to think population-wise: try and get every population. So for some trees it will be 5km away. For some rare post-fire herbs, every 50m should be adequate. If it is rare, record every clump. if it is common, select a few places along your route.

Q: If I photograph a plant non-indigenous to our area (i.e. planted), how should this be labelled? A thumbs-down to "Organism is wild"?
• Yes, this is the correct thing to do. On the app, just click not wild. Note that if it is a special plant and you want confirmation of the ID, it might be wise to hold back marking it as planted until you get confirmation of the ID, because observations marked "not wild" go out of the "Needs ID" queue. For the CNC, this does not matter as one ID is enough for our purposes.
• Don’t confuse "not wild" with "not indigenous": lots of alien and near-alien species are very wild! Not wild is for those plants that you know were planted, and those animals still captive. Escaped plants and weeds are “wild”.

Q: How does the counting work? If I see a chameleon, sunbird, skink, whatever each of the 4 days in my own garden and post an observation thereof each day. How would that count/work? Or for that matter an ibis on the side walk each day!
• That would strictly be cheating. The same chameleon (or even another) in your garden over a few days should count as one observation. But those in your aunt's, or niece's gardens would count as different observations. Similarly, if you saw the Ibis in a different block or park or suburb, then those are definitely different observations and should be posted.
• Within a nature reserve a few hundred meters would suffice: unless you were monitoring "clumps", in which case each clump would be acceptable. Use your discretion - distances to a new observation will be much smaller for a millipede than an eagle.

Q: Hidden localities! How will we record species listed as threatened on the Red List or susceptible to being poached e.g. cycads. If iNat obscures these, then they won’t show up and count to the city, and that will put us at a considerable disadvantage? What should we do?
• iNaturalist automatically obscures species that are sensitive. There is no need to obscure any species manually as a rule.

• Obscured species will be included in the City, province and country totals, but they won’t show up in the City’s Nature Reserve Projects to help protect them.

Q: How do I add descriptions to support my observation?
I would maybe add something on how to add a “note” - many people may want to make a comment and it should be explained how to do it.

Posted by suvarna suvarna, March 01, 2021 14:31

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