Friday, 18 September 2009

Recording a nature diary electronically


I moved to writing my nature diary on the computer a year ago. I started using Evernote, for a series of reasons (a recent entry above). It is free, accessible from many platforms and it also has the ability to synchronise notes and you always have an updated back-up copy on the web. Importantly, it is fully searchable and you can put photos or websites in it, in this respect it is quite flexible. The main problem with it, for the use I give it, is that I cannot export the notes in other format than text, and even then, the note creation date does not appear in the text file. I have partially avoided this by writing the date on each note, but is a bit of an extra effort. I also would like it to have a system in which I can do a search for a species and then be able to export the search as a tab-delimited text which I can import into Excel, say, in order to submit my records to various recording societies. Also, I wish I could draw on the notes! I love the feeling when going through my old notebooks looking for something (when did I see the first butterfly this year?) that is missing in the electronic form, devoid of little drawings and sketches - a bird carrying a stick, a sunbathing butterfly, a bee - which give it personality and conveys a sense of the moment. I'd love to hear if anybody records electronically and what software they use.

A sketch on a sunbathing Red Admiral on a fig leaf (14th September 2006).

2 comments:

norwegica said...

I use a small field notebook but when back at home, at least for recording purposes, I fill out pre-printed paper data sheets/forms for each field trip. These are created in Word. Besides the location and date, these contain columns for species, sex, voucher specimen info (if taken) and further notes (flower visitation/habitat info etc). Once identifications are completed, these are then transferred into a spreadsheet ready to be sent to recording schemes/county recorders at the end of the year. These spreadsheets are then eventually imported into an Access database. I've tried using Mapmate, but its not flexible enough for my liking (though I still use it sometimes to create distribution maps). Eventually I'll probably start using Recorder6.. eventually..

I have old notebooks/sketchbooks from years gone by, and they're certainly more nostalgic! I keep meaning to try the online note taking programs but haven't got around to it yet.

urbanextension said...

I use Frostbow Collection Manager 3 for my recording. I can export from this and add photos to it. It's not perfect, but it's cheap and easy to use. Then I keep my blog for my more "field notebook" type comments/stories.