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Diary of a Field Assistant - Week 8

By Taylor Wildlife, Jun 12 2017 09:00AM

It may seem from these weekly entries that life with Taylor Wildlife is all fun and games with no hard graft, so i'm here to set the record straight, and give you a short overview of the sort of office work which is completed on a daily basis. Firstly, i'll introduce QGIS, an open source geographical information system. This allows the survey team to accurately plot routes walked when surveying and to pinpoint as precisely as possible the location, number, and activity of each bird, mammal or incidental sighting. Once mastered, the programme is a logical, concise and extremely effective way to visualise and analyse our field-work recordings. The other half of our daily data entry involves old-fashioned pen and paper work, transcribing our messy, torn, and soggy field maps over to a clean copy using a neat and steady hand. These paper sheets often show more information than is held in QGIS, which means if records need to be checked the information is there. Birds are recorded using 2-letter BTO codes along with symbols showing their activity. For example, whilst surveying I am likely to flush a pair of red grouse, who will take off while giving their distinctive nasal alarm call. This would be recorded on paper as 2xRG, with a double underline denoting alarm calling and an arrow indicating the direction of flight. Recording flight direction helps to reduce the liklihood of double-recording. Combined, the data recording and transcribing techniques provide clarity and easy analysis for the comprehensive end-of-season reports which are produced from this data.

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