Date: 3/12/18 1:00 am From: Anthony <birds...> Subject: [Tweeters] How to use GPS with your Bird Sightings
I surely hope this helps some of you who have been entertaining the thought of using GPS with your sightings. I personally (and possibly others who have written on my GPS postings) would be grateful.
Now may be the time..wanna give it a try? Then please read on, its demystified below. There are several ways 'with and without' a Smart Phone.
Preface: If you have a smart phone, please read on. If you don't have a Smart Phone you can still do this. Scroll down to the paragraph that starts with "If you don't have a Smart phone" below.
Of course it's of interest to all readers of your special bird sighting to include in your sighting notes (example): "the bird was in the SW corner of the parking lot near the Juniper tree". But what if the user is new to the area or there are a few scattered Juniper trees? GPS coordinates can truly help. Any foot notes in sightings be it on eBird, Tweeters or other forms of web posts such as Flickr are surely great aids to all. But in addition to your description adding the GPS coordinates is yet more icing on the cake. So how does one do this? And when you see that string of GPS gobble-dee goop numbers what do you do with them?
Well, for starters you can go to the Google Play Store (all android users) or if you have an iPhone the App store and search out GPS apps. The one I found for my smart phone (android) is called "GPS Coordinates" by Financept and its free. The ads are minimal and non intrusive. Once you open the app, there are a variety of buttons (9 total) but the one I use the most is called "Copy". Depending on where you are standing, just open the App and push the Copy button. Now the coordinates are grabbed in the phones memory and ready to be pasted into a notes screen, email, text message or if you use eBird, the Comments section of your bird sighting. So let's say you found a Pileated Woodpecker that you wish to share the exact coordinates, once you tag the entry in your choice of the latter or say eBird, hold your finger down in the Comments section then choose "Paste", its literally that simple. The coordinates are now pasted and fairly accurate within a few feet of where you were standing. If you move around to another location for a different species push the Reset button to copy the updated GPS coordinates and repeat. GPS coords are intended to embellish your description. In some cases I enjoy entering the time especially with some species that are creatures of habit. The Townsend's Solitaire on Camano Island I've reported as one example is consistently seen between 3:30 and 4pm - the timeframe can be beneficial for various reasons as I will demonstrate below but also allow you to map your route with greater probability of seeing that special bird. I will state eBird log times can be misleading and commenting on time seen can be rather valuable. Though I may start my log at 2pm if I conclude at 5 and the report shows 3 hours with 5 miles, the interested party truly has no knowledge on the time the species was documented or the location unless its entered. Maybe some don't want to spend 3 hours walking 5 miles on Camano? What if you drove two hours to see that special bird and relied on the report with no time posting during the 3 hour interval of the log? So you get there at 2 take a bathroom break at 4pm (when the bird is usually seen) return and go home without a sighting. Uggh right? Its happened to all of us. I find this time entry of great value for a variety of reasons (and hopefully you do too) and encourage others to include times in the Comments of eBird (or wherever you share your report) should you desire.
Ok so now that you have pasted the GPS coordinates what does one do with them? The recipients can go to maps.google.com as on example. Then on your MAC or PC or Smart Phone simply 'Paste' the GPS coordinates at this web site or by using the Google Maps app. This will show you the exact location. For computer users, while on this maps page, you can click the Satellite button (usually in the lower left) to offer a more realistic view vs. a map drawing. But what if you are out in the field and received an rare ebird report via email or a text on your phone and the rare bird was tagged with GPS coordinates then what? You can install the App "Google Maps" as an example if you don't already have it or other Map software that works with GPS, once its open, copy and paste those coordinates in the Search box by using the same method by pushing your finger in the Search box, then choose Paste when the option appears. The coordinates are now pasted. Now choose the Magnifying Glass on your keyboard (android) or enter/go/etc on Apple phone. Lastly, choose the Directions option / then Start. Google Maps will guide you to the exact location of the bird sighting as you walk to the destination.
If you don't have a Smart phone but still wish to add those GPS coordinates, it's completely do able. Open this web page: maps.google.com. Search for your bird location. Example the corner of Scenic Ave and Maple Grove Road on Camano Island. Once you have found that intersection, right click on that intersection and choose "What's Here". A small popup will occur showing a street address (or approximate address) and the GPS coordinates which will equal: 48.250556, -122.525605. Now, go ahead and click the GPS coordinates "link". This will take you to a second Google Maps page where you can highlight (drag your mouse over the coordinates (48.250556, -122.525605) so they are highlighted, now right click (menu option) on the highlighted area and choose Copy (goes into memory). Now open your email to share with someone, or notepad or eBird log and locate the Comments section of the bird you wish to specify the coordinates, right click and choose Paste. That's it. The coordinates are now entered and ready to be submitted.
Once you do this a few times it should become second nature and can greatly help others in the precise location along with adding time. I find this useful in areas where there are dwellings. A home owner may not want one or more birders standing around or walking around for hours looking for a species especially if you wear binos and no one in the neighborhood has seen you prior. Keeping your stay brief can be advantageous to all parties. Another possible good reason for plotting the time seen in the Comments of eBird as an example.
I do believe some of us already using GPS would enjoy seeing others use this same technology. GPS can be more fun that this as well especially with apps like My Tracks which track your starting point to end point (yes the entire walk is mapped out and animated on Playback). This can be uploaded to another user so they can see your entire walk in Google Earth. This can be most useful in unmapped park trails as an example.
I believe these steps are fairly precise for laptops, desktops and smart phones but if you have a kindle, ipad or otherwise, possibly you already know how to highlight, copy and paste.
I sincerely hope at least some of you find this useful and will take the challenge..happy birding to all.