22 August, 2021

Observation fields to take note of ( s Afr) when uploading observations via Android phone app

  1. Interactions (s Afr) (with empty observation fields)

For some unbeknownst reason, the Android phone app is currently (Aug '21) adding ALL the observation fields of the project Interactions (s Afr) to the database, not only those with URL's. I had this list to fix up (delete empty observations) via the web-based version:

visiting a flower of: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=table&user_id=dryfveer&verifiable=any&field:Visiting%20a%20flower%20of:%20(Interaction)=

Recommendation for the moment is to add interactions via the web-based version until such time as app is functioning properly.

Reason why this is important:


Because searching fields displays them. One thinks one has five dozen observations with the field, but it turns out there are none.
If we write some programmes to filter and present the data, these will interfere with the process.
It would be nice to be able to delete them as curator: but I cannot. Only the one who put them on can.

I have reported the issue to the inaturalist Community Forum to fix up. Will keep you posted.

  1. Habitat (s Afr) with observation field 'Unknown' recorded

During the abovementioned exercise of deleting open fields I noticed that many of my observations to which I have diligently via the app added the project Habitat (s Afr) Fynbos, have not uploaded properly to the web-based version and is showing the Habitat as 'Unknown'

Not straight forward though to find (out of +3000 observations) which ones this is relevant to. After some scratching around, I managed to find the list of 167 observations of mine to which this is relevant:


I took the following steps to draft this list:

  1. I went to an old observation that is still showing 'unknown' (in the web version):

  2. in this observation's page - on the right hand side of screen under 'Observation fields' where it shows Habitat (s Afr) Unknown, clicked on Habitat (s Afr)
  3. In the pop-up screen under 'view' clicked on 'Observations with this field and value'
  4. Clicked on top right 'Filters'
  5. In the pop-up clicked on 'More filters'
  6. In the Person box typed in 'Dryfveer' (dryfveer did not work, is case sensitive) (that is my username)
  7. Clicked on 'Update search' botttom of pop-up
  8. Voila, list of my 167 observations appeared. Now working on adding relevant Habitats to them
Posted on 22 August, 2021 21:10 by dryfveer dryfveer | 3 comments | Leave a comment

19 August, 2021


August 2021. Transformational times.

I draw from one of my favourite authors, Antjie Krog, in the prelude to her work ' A change of tongue' post the breakdown of Apartheid in South Africa, 2003

'Some rules, according to Naom Chomsky, are transformational: that is, they change one structure into another according to such prescribed conventions as moving, inserting, deleting and replacing items. Transformational Grammar has stipulated two levels of syntactic structure: deep structure (an abstract underlying structure that incorporates all the syntactic information required for the interpretation of a given sentence) and surface structure ( a structure that incorporates all the syntactic features of a sentence required to convert the sentence into a spoken or written version). Transformation links deep structure with surface structure.'

Recently I find myself transformed. I walk in the mountain often. I have always deeply appreciated the beauty and magnificence of fynbos, the incredible variety and complexity in amongst dramatic mountain scenery,.. but recently I find this appreciation changed. How can I put it? What used to be a deep appreciation of beauty for the sake of beauty, has transformed into a much deeper appreciation of what makes it tick, how it all fits together, the inner workings of it. Am I feeling myself move from surface structure to deep structure..?

To put it bluntly... I resisted it! Oh how I enjoyed the visual spectacle of a forest of proteas in bloom on the foot of Somerset Sneeukop and elsewhere and did not want it tainted with scientific facts, names and data! I find the same attitude in others (highly educated professionals) resisting learning the scientific name of this or that protea lepidocarpodendrum.. what what what?.. that it is beautiful and magnificent and awe-inspiring, is that not enough?!

Surprisingly not!

And so find myself transformed... and inaturalist and the inaturist community is to blame!!.... the
more I see, the more I am able to see, the more curious I become for what more there is to see, the more I want to see and learn, the more I see and so the cycle continues....

Am I doomed?!

No, transformed.. maybe saved....

Posted on 19 August, 2021 18:39 by dryfveer dryfveer | 3 comments | Leave a comment

12 August, 2021

Accuracy of location measurements (Android phone) and why it is important


When I first started using inaturalist, I did not take the photographs through the inaturalist phone app. I used my (android) phone's camera directly, and then loaded the photos into observations in the phone app, by using the 'choose image' button, which then took me to the 'Gallery' page on my phone, from where I chose images for that observation. When taking the photos, I always made sure the gps function is switched on, so the phone was recording the gps location of each photo, and as such I uploaded them into inaturalist with their locations added, i.e. the pin one sees on the map.

What I did not realize at the time is that in doing it that way (not taking the photos through the app), my phone is not recording the 'accuracy of the measurement' of the gps location of that photograph with the metadata of that photo, it is recording the location, but without recording also the accuracy of the measurement of that location. For that matter, I was not even aware and took for granted that just like any measurement tool used to do any measurement, my phone does not give an 'absolute' gps location, and there will always be an inherent degree of error in the measurement of the location point, that is, the gps location is correct within a range only. This range, or degree of error, e.g. +-2m or +- 5m or whatever is relevant for that photo, is what is referred to as the 'accuracy of the measurement' of the gps location, another word used is 'precision' of measurement.

However, when I take the photo for a specific observation through the inat phone app, using the 'take photo' button, the app has been designed to also record the accuracy of the measurement of the gps location of that photo for that observation. I have noticed that it does it on the the 1st photo of each observation. After taking the 1st photo, I have noticed the app takes a couple of seconds to narrow down this accuracy value. You will see it in the location box: Lat... Long... Acc... It is this 'acc' value I am referring to. So I have learnt to pause until it has it at the narrowest value, before continuing with the 2nd photo of that observation. When one looks at the map, and if this accuracy value is recorded, it shows up as a little circle around the gps location pin.

In actual fact, and important to understand, is that the observation is located not in the centre where the pin is, but somewhere/anywhere inside the circle, measured as accurately as the phone technology is able to do at that point in time. As gps location measurement technology improves in time, the degree of error will certainly reduce, and the circle should become smaller and smaller, but for the moment, the narrowest I have seen my own phone able to do, is around +-2m, but generally +-8m. Sometimes, e.g. when I am in a narrow gorge, it seems lack of line of sight with overhead satellites, or proximity of wifi towers, has the effect that the error is quite large, up to +-160m or more. In such cases, the phone records a gps location pin, but it is not highly accurate, so the circle is larger, how can I put it.. the phone is struggling to 'find itself'.., and can be located anywhere within the circle. Off course, human intervention is possible, so if I can see via the satellite map and identifiable landmarks around me, more accurately than the phone, where the observation is, I can reduce the accuracy manually, more about that a bit further down).

I found an interesting and useful article on the matter describing the technical detail of how phone apps record gps location accuracies: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259190145_On_the_In-Accuracy_of_GPS_Measures_of_Smartphones_A_Study_of_Running_Tracking_Applications

If you have observations without the accuracy recorded, it makes them less useful to the specialists, so really important to add it. Fortunately it can be added manually afterwards. You can find more information in this journal post about how to add accuracy afterwards:

The accuracy data is important for adding species into 'places'. For example Table Mountain National park is a 'place' within inaturalist, with a pre-defined boundary:
https://www.inaturalist.org/places/table-mountain-b285e8cc-a4f7-4646-86a7-c5d52ad2dc77. Zoom into the map at the top of this page, and you will see the boundary defined for this specific 'place'

So to put it simply, if the error of the gps location measurement, i.e. the accuracy circle or a portion of it, falls outside the place boundary, then, because the observation does not lie at the pin itself, but somewhere inside the circle, and a part of the circle lies outside the place boundary, then there is a chance that that observation is in the portion of the circle falling outside the place boundary, and therefor might actually not be inside the place at all. Inaturalist has been set up to then exclude that observation from that place, and if that was the only observation of that specific species, then it will exclude that species from that place.

The same thing happens if no accuracy is recorded. The observation, and potentially the species, is excluded from that place.

You can read more about it here:

Posted on 12 August, 2021 08:19 by dryfveer dryfveer | 4 comments | Leave a comment

06 August, 2021

16 June, 2021

Zoo Ridge 12-13 June 2021

Someone cancelled last minute and I landed an unexpected invite to join some fellow hikers to a weekend to Zoo Ridge, southern Cederberg.

Super excited as I have never been there before, I made sure I took 2 powerbanks to ensure I have adequate power for making the most of the trip in terms of observations in this unexplored area.

Being keen on photographing fynbos, I felt a bit disappointed as we drove into the farm in the dark on Friday evening. The veld looked more Karoo-like, scattered with small shrubs, but several restio bushes along the gravel road gave me hope.. We arrived and set up camp and the magnificence of the milky way overhead settled any further reservations I may have had, the starlight was so dense and bright, one struggled to distinguish even the southern cross and scorpio.

Early the next morning in bright sunshine, we headed out towards the 'ridge' and soon soon along the way I met my first ever protea glabra (didnt know her name at that moment), but bowed to her beauty and brilliance, she looked like the cederberg-version of protea nitida, similar flower shape, but with soft warm brownish outer 'bracts', is that what they are called? and a more stringy growth pattern, to be expected in this harsh environment.

The morning unfolded amongst strange rock formations and clambering rock faces, I was surprised at the large 'dung' middens of supposedly klipspringer, dassie and rock hare of whom you saw no over signs, scat of caracal, holes of aardvark, two owls flying off, plentitude of miniscule oxalis scattered close to the ground, fountainreeds!, and even some kind of buchu,, lichens on the rocks everywhere ..it felt like sacriledge to even step on them lightly .. and then, as some of the group were exploring some rock crevaces below, in a tiny rock cleavage right next to my feet... the find of the weekend! it looked like an ancient bonsai plant, the 'trunk' crooked and about 5cm long, stalks with spiky short green leaves, harsh, but with large plump soft creamy-white tubular flowers that melted me in the instant I set eyes upon them. I later discovered it is aptly called bedrock heath, erica maximilliani, but in that moment, names did not matter. I excitedly snapped and snapped away to record this miracle and beauty from every angle, and low and behold found at least another 3 or 4 more of them all in similar locations, rooting seemingly directly into rock!

The weekend flowed from one observation to the next, I fell behind the group and had to run along several times to catch up (there are no paths) so as to not get lost, but caught many snapshots of this seemingly forgotten treasure of a place, the veld abounding with signs of life everywhere, the ancient rocks and formations and arches mindblowing and providing the perfect backdrop to an ecosystem that seems to have existed even before time itself.

Posted on 16 June, 2021 15:33 by dryfveer dryfveer | 148 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

06 June, 2021

Kogelberg June 2021

I've hiked Kogelberg 24 km circular route a couple of times before, but never with an inaturalist mindset.

I am a keen hiker in the western cape mountains, absolutely in love with fynbos, but really, a novice as far as plants goes. My professional training and expertise is in a different field.

With that said, I enthusiastically joined ispot, the predecessor mid 201x, uploading fynbos pics in my free time. I didnt enjoy the human interactions and stopped.

Then late 2019/early 2020 became aware that the platform had changed to inaturalist and now available on phone app . I joined and in Oct 2020 started adding historic observations, and also new observations from all my rendevouz' in the cape mountains. What an uplifting and educational experience it has been!

So that brings me to this past weekend's hike in Kogelberg Nature Reserve. 2.5 y since the fire, the veld is recovering and with my new knowledge and awareness, a real wonder! Baboon, rock agama and was it a Klipspringer's spoor.. all returned.. protea cynaroides, every 5 to 10m?! pink and pale yellow ones in full bloom and plenty plenty 'youngsters' getting ready to flower, probably summer 2022.

then finer detail... swamp daisies, tiny tiny erica cyranthoides? 'baby' leucadendrons, tritoniopsis, skyscraper heath, oxalis, sundew, etc etc etc abounding! Protea lepidocarpodendrum, tree pincushions, serruria, was it fasciflora?, mimetes, rooiels, yellowwood.. a true miracle of nature to witness all of this in one single day

how special. such bliss..

may I just add... a year ago I could distinguish more or less between king protea and disa uniflora, erica, blushing bride and pincushion..the range is expanding and I am enjoying every minute!

Posted on 06 June, 2021 15:25 by dryfveer dryfveer | 27 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment