I have a small waterproof digital camera for use on canoeing trips.
However, the other day I noticed some small rockpool fish which I did not recognise.
Not expecting much of a result, I held the camera under the surface, aimed in the general direction of the fish, and fired off numerous shots.
Of course, I was unable to see the screen, so had no idea how I was doing.
Imagine my surprise to find the pictures were not bad, and a couple were verging on the beautiful!
Multi-coloured rockpool seaweeds waved and flowed like something you might see in a film about the Red Sea coral reefs – and there were my wee fish, weaving among the fronds.
Still I did not recognise the species, but there is a website for just such pictures.
The site is called “iSpot”
Quite simply, anyone can photograph any species of plant, insect, bird, mammal or whatever and load it into iSpot.
Very soon your picture will be identified by some expert in that particular field. My wee rockpool fish were quickly identified as Two Spot Gobies.
These records then find their way onto the National Biodiversity Network database, helping to build a national picture of which species are where.
It is a very simple way for photographers and other non naturalists to assist in wildlife recording, irrespective of their photography skills. Even pictures taken on mobile phones regularly appear.
This is a wonderful way to allow the widespread use of digital cameras by the public to generate many more records of wildlife than was happening before, when only a few experts were sending in records.
I urge you to get your cameras out, find out how to work the macro and telephoto features, and get snapping. Insects in your garden or wild plants along pathsides will do for a start. You never know, you might find a local rarity!