What have the Orchid Observers team been up to?
It’s been a busy time for Orchid Observers! The project got off to a great start when the website went live on the Zooniverse platform on 23 April and the very first of the season’s field records was uploaded on day one! A week in, and we recorded almost 300 people participating in the online activities and an increasing number of people uploading images from the field.
At the time of writing this blog we now have over 700 registered users on the website who have enthusiastically completed 17,589 classifications, by verifying and transcribing data for our historical specimens and identifying species and flowering stages for 1507 photographic records submitted by participants so far. The field records collected span the country, from Cornwall to Perth in Scotland, and from Pembrokeshire across to Norfolk. So far, for early-purple orchid (Orchis mascula) and green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) approximately 9% of the records are from new/unknown sites (as measured by 2 km square/tetrad); this is valuable information, particularly for green-winged orchid which is considered at risk of extinction in the UK.
Whilst we have not as yet been able to fully compare the Orchid Observers phenology data with our museum records (the relevant, verified, 2015 UK weather data has not been released) we have already been able to see that the median date of this year’s flowering of two species (early-purple and green-winged) is at least 10 days earlier than the museum data (which mainly covers 1830 to 1970). These are early figures only, and the full data set will be analysed later this year.
We are immensely grateful for the time and good will of all our participants – without this effort we would not have been able to collect these data. And we’ve still got the rest of the summer to collect more data for all our 29 species in the survey!
As well as showcasing the project at public events throughout May and June, some of us in the team have also managed to get out to various sites to record and photograph orchids ourselves to add to the fantastic field photo effort of our many participants! We’ve visited sites across the Southeast, and further afield in Dorset, Somerset, Wales and Cumbria