Maggie iSpots Glen Finglas
Maggie McCallum volunteers at our Glen Finglas Gateway Visitor Centre; she’s one of a group of volunteers who are the friendly face of the Woodland Trust to visitors to this spectacularly beautiful site. Glen Finglas has a high number of visitors from overseas, and so the volunteers answer queries on everything from camping opportunities and onward travel to the west coast as well as queries about our Glen Finglas woodlands.
Another feather in Maggie’s bow is that she takes part in iSpot, and she has written a piece about it and this to share with you all. Her article contains some of her beautiful photos taken at Glen Finglas.
Volunteering and iSpot – What?
Yes, “What?”, I hear you say…. Many (or even most) of you will know about iSpot – if that’s you, then move on and enjoy the next item here on Whittle! But if you are wondering how the iSpot website can help inspire volunteers, then read on….
iSpot (https://www.ispotnature.org) is run by the OU and is aimed at helping anyone identify anything in nature. One way, maybe the main way, to use iSpot is to post a photo of a species you have observed and either suggest an ID yourself and wait for confirmation, or leave the ID blank and wait for help to come along from within the lovely iSpot community. iSpot users include people knowledgeable about fungi, plants, birds, insects and so on, and these kind folks roam the posts offering IDs and comments, as well as, usually, posting observations themselves.
There are things called ‘projects’ in iSpot. Individual iSpotters who start a project – a collection of observations – have editorship of that collection, but whenever anyone posts an observation that fits the project/collection criteria, it is added in. So, if you want to collect observations from an area, the project would be drawn up on a geographic basis, eg all observations in Pentland Hills Regional Park. (That does involve drawing a map, but the tools are all there for you, and you can always just make a rectangle or oval that more or less covers your chosen area.) But a project can be about a particular species, say, all UK posts of fallow deer or kestrels.
So why am I bothering to write this? In 2016 I started an iSpot project for/of the Great Trossachs Forest which includes the wonderful WT Glen Finglas estate. The aim was to collect together the iSpot observations that are made there on an ongoing basis, following its designation as a National Nature Reserve in 2015. The mosaic of habitats being restored as the ‘forest in the making’ becomes established is a great setting in which to enjoy nature. For me, it’s quite often the small things, like the unobtrusive thyme leaved speedwell or a pair of butterflies in the sunshine. Many people observe a great deal in the NNR and don’t record their sightings happy to have seen and maybe photographed one of nature’s wonders. Learning is one of the joys of our biodiversity and getting help with identifying something fascinating is a great way to make the learning stick! Looking over my own observations since I joined iSpot I can see I made some pretty major errors – and continue to make them! Thankfully, iSpotters are friendly and supportive.
Have a look at the Great Trossachs Forest observations at https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/uk-and-ireland/view/project/774290/the-great-trossachs-forest-nnr I recently had to re-start the project since the map somehow or other disappeared, but all the observations remain, about 94 (use the ‘Observations Map’ tab).
Maybe there is already a project for your Woodland Trust site – you could try searching in iSpot, you don’t need to join to look for and at observations. Since being out and about can inspire us to be more observant, why not find out what others have observed in your special place?
Thanks so very much to Maggie for sharing this and for all the amazing contributions she makes as a volunteer at Glen Finglas!