Journal archives for August 2018

August 13, 2018

Is There Any Value In Old Records?

I recently acquired a nice slide scanner (Nikon CoolScan V) and have gotten busy organizing my thousands of old 35 mm slides to begin the arduous task of digitizing them. But to what end? For purposes of iNaturalist, is there any value in confirming that, in fact, a Northern Cardinal occurred in west Texas in May 1970,
or that a Stellar’s Jay visited my campsite in the Sierra Nevada in the summer of 1971,
or that a common species like Long-billed Curlew was present at a well-known migratory stopover site like Upper Newport Bay that Fall,

Frankly, with the equipment I had at the time (Minolta SRT-101 with 135mm telephoto) and my inexperience at photography, these are pretty crappy images of unsurprising subjects. Unless I get voted down, I will continue to scan and upload more natural history images from the past 40+ years of my outdoor life. Trust me, the images do get better in subsequent years, but I have to ask: Are these isolated old records of any value to any type of biological/ecological question?

Perhaps a few flowering dates or flight dates of butterflies will be of interest from an historical standpoint. I will have some uncommon and rare stuff to upload—for example, watch soon for some images of Blackpoll and Blackburnian Warbler that showed up in my yard in Southern California in the early 1970s. Those records, particularly the bird records, will have some value for documentation even though they have already been accepted and published in journals like American Birds, etc.

I don’t expect there will ever be masses of film and slide images uploaded from the pre-digital era. There certainly has been some accumulation of such efforts (e.g. from my pals @greglasley and @upupamartin, among others) but I have to wonder out loud if this is nothing more than a vanity exercise to put up earlier and earlier observations for the iNat database.

I face a long task ahead to do all this slide scanning (not to mention getting all my family photos digitized!) so I’ll work on this chore now and then as I’m inspired to do so and can find time inbetween real-time, present-day observations. Don’t be surprised to see me jumping around with observations from 2018 interspersed with blurry images from decades past.

And rest assured, my equipment and my skill level does improve (slightly) over time.


Posted on August 13, 2018 07:51 PM by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 5 comments | Leave a comment

August 16, 2018

Tragic, Heart-breaking Coincidence

On August 15, I began uploading several images from Upper Trabuco Canyon in Orange County, CA. This task had long been on my “Do List”, just waiting for a good slide scanner which only recently arrived. Trabuco Canyon had been a favorite hiking destination of mine since childhood. In April-June 1974, as I was finishing my undergrad degree at U.C. Irvine, I visited Upper Trabuco Canyon several times, discovering many interesting plants, butterflies, and birds,
culminating in the documentation of nesting Spotted Owls on literally my last days in California before moving to Texas.

Fast forward to present day. I had heard in the news about the “Holy Fire” (which started at the mouth of Holy Jim Canyon, a tributary to Trabuco), but assumed it was confined to its namesake canyon. Now I find that on August 6, the first day of that fire and barely a week before I started my uploads, the Holy Fire actually burned through all of Upper Trabuco Canyon, precisely the area where my images from 44 years ago were obtained. I haven’t heard of a habitat damage assessment yet, but I fear for the health (and existence) of the groves of old-growth Bigcone Douglas-Fir that were a key feature on some of the higher slopes in that area.
I’ll be eager to hear more after they get that fire finally under control.

The fire was set by an arsonist; he has been arrested. I certainly understand (better than most observers) that fire is a natural part of Southern California ecosystems, but this was anything but “natural”. That person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but if convicted, I can think of no punishment that would be too severe, given the long-term ecological devastation he may have perpetrated. Time will tell. It won’t heal my soul.


Posted on August 16, 2018 11:28 PM by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 comments | Leave a comment

Gracias al apoyo de:

¿Quiere apoyarnos? Pregúntenos cómo escribiendo a