###What I want to do
I want to explore whether or not Public Lab maps can be used to document wildlife. the Helikite has been described as a tool for wildlife investigation, both by the product site and by the biological contractors for Prince William Sound RCAC. There's also an interest in mapping heat signatures of wildlife from the Park Service.
It seems as though this method is achievable with public lab methods, so i wanted to document that here to explain the logic so that people could pick it apart.
Remember this Great Egret from the first Barataria trip? This is a similar kind of thing. But we'd like to be able to look into the marsh from the boat. Other companies have developed their own photographic methods for federal biological survey contracts.
(this is not the snowy egret I saw, this is another picture of a great egret taken on another day, as a representation of what I saw in binoculars while we were balloon mapping)
###My attempt and results
One Snowy Egret was sighted along the bank of the Canal. The time of this sighting was noted, and our location (via GPS) and what appears to be the bird (leftmost in the main photo here) was later identified in the photograph.
For Plant identification in aerial photography, one develops a description of the element (plant species or wetland type) called a "Characterization." My Snowy Egret characterization is "White, Oval, Small, with ancilllary information -->Sited from boat during the photograph, 2014."
Based on that Characterization, there are six Egrets of some kind in this image.
###Questions and next steps
How could I be incorrect? Well, it seems like I could be misidentifying birds for trash. there are many white, oval, small objects in the wrack line. Are these trash items that have the same characterization as egrets?
Should I only count egrets if there are small, white, ovals on the shoreline, as in my original sighting? Then the number is 2.
This is about 5 acres of marsh in this photo. Is that kind of heron density unusual? I think not, but i'm unsure.
Are there behavioral characteristics that would encourage the egrets to follow the wrack line? (dead prey in the wrack?) Are there behavioral characteristics that would contradict this interpretation? -- if egrets are known to stay more than 1000m from one another, would my assessment of "6" contradict that knowledge?
This should be discussed with bird researchers in the public lab community
###Why I'm interested
This can expand the potential for what can be mapped with public lab aerial photography; I can also use this to explain to the public what kinds of monitoring are proposed for the BP response, and what the limitations are.