Best ways to handle lots of observations for a BioBlitz

I’m hoping folks can help me with ideas for handling lots of observations. I’m getting ready to participate in a BioBlitz at the end of April and I want to get out there and really do a good job!

But I have a slow Internet connection so it can be challenging to upload a lot of observations into iNaturalist.

Here is what I usually do and how I process my observations.

Any ideas or suggestions and new methods are very much appreciated.


  • I upload my photos from my camera to my computer and sort through them.

  • I identify the photos I want to upload and save them out as JPGs in a dated folder.

  • I grab all the photos in the folder and drag them to the UPLOAD screen on iNaturalist.

    • THen I go get a cup of coffee or something…
  • This is where it gets super time-consuming… I go through the observations and …

    • Select any observations that need to be combined and combine them.
    • Click on the location and then wait while google earth loads. If I select a saved location it’s marginally faster, but still super slow.
      • Do folks use an app or method to get GPS coordinates and write those down so they don’t have to wait for google earth and mouse around to find the right spot? (This really takes a lot of time for me because of our slow connection.)
        ** Do you just type in coordinates from handwritten notes?**
  • Once I get the locations set, then I go back and enter species information.

    • A lot of times, I’m unsure of species so I figure if iNat has the location, then it may make some good suggestions. But this is another case where it takes a lot of time.
    • I also need to work on being more careful as I’ve been known to try to speed things up and type in the wrong species even for things I know. Sometimes I don’t look carefully enough at which observation I’m editing. Sigh.
  • Then when that’s completed, I click on the submit all observations button (often I have to click on it several times for it to start processing).

Then I just walk away because it often takes an hour or more to finish uploading the photos…

Is that pretty much what everyone does or are there faster ways to go about this?

Are there any processing tips to deal with more than a dozen or so observations?


My method is very similar. Only differences:

  • I have a GPS device on my camera
  • I upload in batches of about 10 observations

My internet is pretty slow too (maybe not as slow as yours). I would suggest doing smaller batches of uploads. I’ve had mine lock up before and I lost all the work I had already done so smaller batches would also reduce the risk of losing too much at a time.


If you have the ability to plug an ethernet cable from your router to your computer, I find that helps greatly with uploading. My wifi must be crummy.

While I am out hiking I track my GPS location with Alltrails (or you can choose any other free phone app for this, there are a few options) and then I sync the resulting gpx file with the images using a free program called Geosetter. That way they all end up geotagged and I don’t have to fiddle with the locations during upload.


I generally upload in batches of 20-40 photos.

See this tutorial, it’s the method I use to quickly get GPS data.

You can also pin locations in the web uploader:

If nothing that the CV suggests looks good, or if I know the ID is tricky, I’ll just ID it at a high level (Insects, Dicots, etc) and upload it.


I’ll share my own experience with this, both for you and for anyone else who might have struggled with location tracking. I mainly used my phone to track location, and for a while I mostly observed through phone photos, so the images were geotagged automatically; but I often got photos tagged with wildly inaccurate locations, and when making a hundred observations or more in a day I could never remember where any individual organism was. It was very frustrating, and I didn’t understand why my phone’s location tracking was so inaccurate.

Cursory online searches will explain that your phone actually doesn’t “properly” use the GPS system for location, and instead uses a combination of cell towers, wifi networks, occasional GPS pings, etc. to establish location at a lower battery cost, and lots of people will say this is even more accurate than using GPS. I’ve found that to be completely untrue (except maybe if you’re inside a building). Outside of areas that are full of streets and homes and businesses, even just going into even medium-sized urban parks, my phone’s default location detection would often fling my apparent location (and the geotags of any photos I took) several kilometers away, sometimes into other municipalities or across large bodies of water.

I deal with this by running a phone app called GPS Logger. It overrides the phone’s inaccurate default location tracking by regularly checking GPS coordinates directly (there’s a battery cost to this, but I’ve found it to be minimal). Any photos taken from my phone are now tagged with GPS coordinates, so they’re far more accurate. And I recently bought a stand-alone camera; GPS Logger it lets me export a log of my coordinates over time, and I use a program called Exiftool to compare the time photos were taken with my GPS coordinates at that moment to geotag the photos accurately (there’s an explainer here). It takes me less than a minute to accurately tag hundreds of photos that way.


I personally take all the pictures first and then process them afterwards at once, ie. selecting the appropriate photos and then bulk uploading. Number of observations can also be reduced if bioblitz participants are not uploading cultivated plants and zoo animals etc.

If you really want to make a lot of observations and do it quickly and easily, I would recommend you consider downloading the iNaturalist app, and making most if not all of your observations via the app using your cellphone and the cell phone camera.


Are you able to access a location with fast internet, either near home, or near the location of the bio-blitz? Libraries are great, but any commercial building with public Wi-Fi would work (McDonalds, etc.).


you’re loading relatively large image files. iNat resizes photos to no bigger than 2048px on the longest edge. the photo in your latest observation appears to have been loaded as something like 8000px on the longest edge. so that’s potentially loading a file that’s 16x bigger than it needs to be.

you can export smaller versions of the photos (or batch resize them), and the upload the smaller photos, and that should save you a lot of bandwidth and time uploading on a limited connection.

see this thread for a little bit of discussion on this topic:


For trying to get a lot of observations I use a combo of my phone and a DSLR with along lens (100-400). I feel like it took a long time for me to figure out what works best for me but I’m happy to share my experience.

Definitely don’t use the app in the field unless you are making audio recordings. It’s slow and will kill your batteries if you are making a lot of posts over a long period of time. Simply, use your phone camera and go nuts taking photos. Try and create a rhythm where you take a series of photos that make sense for you (ex. Plant: flowers, leaves, stems, and then something for scale). This rhythm is important for me so I know that all of the photos I took of this one plant belong to the same post. The next plant is the same, and etc. I don’t always know what I’m seeing and simply can’t remember otherwise.

When you get home, plug your phone into your computer and dump all of the photos into a drive. Then go to the iNat website and batch upload 100 images at a time (merging and sorting them as you go). IF you had your location history on, it will auto-populate the location. More than 100 images and I find it’s really slow and it could time out.

Then, there’s the long lens I also carry. Before I go out each time, I ensure my camera time, time zone, and date all match my phone. I record a track using Strava or GaiaGPS. I take photos along my route and then geotag my photos using a couple different apps (geosetter (RIP), BaseCamp (free), and/or Lightroom (not free)). I take my photos at the highest quality I can but export them at a smaller size to upload to iNat. The phone acts as my macro and wide-angle and the camera is my opportunity to catch things flying or a distance.

A couple other tricks that will help if you are just going for shear number of observations: Set a pace for yourself where you aim to get 100 observations per hour (or something). You can even do mini-challenges like 10 observations on your lunch break.

And of course, you can’t make observations while driving so you want something that will keep you on the ground. Walk, run, or bike. Then just try and mix up your habitats along the way so you can get more species and diversity!

Anyways, that’s kind of how I operate. I still can’t understand how some people get 1000 in one day without uploading photos of all the same individuals within a small area. I mean like three separate dandelions in the same sidewalk crack! lol The best I’ve ever had I think was around 700 observations and it was like a 12-13 hour day walking around (~25 km).


Please follow thru with lots of IDs. There are a few kind and dedicated people still methodically clearing the residue from CNC22.
And CNC21.


I use Geotag Photos Pro, and I’m happy with it. App on your phone records GPS (remember to click ‘start’ before you go!) then you download the equivalent program onto your computer. Select the folder of photos you want to geotag and it matches your location by the time on the photo. (Make sure the clocks on your camera and phone are in Sync!) Takes seconds.


I also upload in batches of maybe 10-15 observations in one go. Those observations will be from the same spot more or less.

I will pin the rough location for one trip, so the pinned location will be found fast via drop-down-selection (when I am done uploading everything, I deleted the pin). Then I will adjust the location for the current batch (e.g. a certain meadow). That is pretty fast.

I usually process my photos before (e.g. cropping) and will name them ideally with a certain ID if I know it… the uploading system then usually graps this ID as ID suggestion, which makes the uploading process a bit faster for me… however, this times goes into the processing of the photos of course and is just shifted.


One short-term solution for increasing upload speed: When camping or traveling to places with poor internet connection, I’ll purchase unlimited data for my cell phone for that time period, then use my phone as a wifi hotspot for uploading iNat observations from my laptop. Doing this allows both faster upload times for photos, and allows Google Earth to load quickly. (Assuming decent cell phone service.) Don’t know if this would work for you, but thought I’d mention it.

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Thank you to everyone for suggestions: I’m glad I started this thread in advance of the BioBlitz as there is a lot for me to research and try. (I was going to do individual thank yous but everyone had such good information, so thank you ALL!)

I will definitely try to keep up with also doing identifications for others. I’ve tried to keep that at a 1 to 1 ratio at least but I’ve fallen short, mostly because my identification skills aren’t that great. I’m hesitant about identifying a lot of species, even birds I know, as it’s easy to miss an important characteristic.

Anyway, I’ll definitely look into the various GPS marking methods as that will really help. And doing smaller uploads, e.g. 10 observations at a time, would also help, I’m sure (as long as I keep track of what I’ve uploaded and what I haven’t…)

I’m fascinated by the various methods of accomplishing this and various workflows–that information alone is worth it because it lets me think about alternatives and changes I can make in my own workflow.

Thanks again!

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Regarding GPS locations: Remember that you don’t need a precise location for each photo. In a small park I’ll use one central latilong, with a big enough “accuracy” that all the locations are within that circle. Doesn’t help with the uploading time, but does save a little prep time.


I use Geotag Photos Pro 2 as well. Previously, I used the Nikon SnapBridge app which ate up camera batteries like crazy, was not overly accurate, and would randomly disconnect from the phone leaving many photos not geotagged. Geotag Photos Pro 2 cost about 20 bucks (if I remember correctly), and it was money well spent.

The most important thing if you are going to try to use the iNat phone app, is to TURN OFF the automatic upload!

I upload my observations when I am on the bus or in the taxi coming home again after having been out. Or maybe I upload once I am home and the phone can use my wifi to upload my observations. The next morning I check all the obs I have uploaded to see if I want to refine any of the IDs or add more info to the observation.


I checked into GPS apps for my phone and found one that can save a GPX file. I’ve been testing it out and if I load the GPX file into Lightroom (which I use to process/save out my photos) it geotags the photos for me.

This is such a super time saver! It cuts my time in half so that suggestion alone has been totally worth it!

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to everyone who contributed to this thread. There are so many good ideas.

I’ve also been playing with the iNaturalist app and doing some observations that way (often moths since I don’t have a flash for my camera but my phone works fine in that situation). I had never thought about turning off auto-uploads but that is also helpful when out in the field…

So this has been super helpful. I hope others who are struggling with slow Internet connections or other issues like that can also glean something useful from this thread.

This community is so amazing in its willingness to help others…