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The Henriksen Family

Explore nature. Take photos. Help science.

News Article Date: 
Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Calling all nature-lovers, scientists and budding photographers!

Join one of the world's top "QuestaGame" players Cameron Rodda at Lake Pertobe on Saturday November 30 at 1pm for an introduction to this fun form of citizen science.
 
QuestaGame tasks you with finding and taking photos of wild animals, birds and plants. You then upload those photos via the QuestaGame mobile app or website and score points. The rarer the find, the more points you get!
 
You can choose to make your photos available in places like the CSIRO's Atlas of Living Australia and help professional scientists working in the field.
 
Who knows what you'll find? New species have even been discovered by QuestaGame players!
 
It’s a fun game for families that combines fresh air, photography and an appreciation of our natural environment.
 
The Wild Warrnambool BioQuest is a challenge within QuestaGame to better understand Warrnambool's biodiversity.
 
It's free to play and there are plenty of great prizes up for grabs.
 
All you need is a camera, whether that's the camera on your iPad or the latest release from Nikon.
 
 
If you're keen to come along on the guided walk with Cameron, learn the ropes of QuestaGame and pick up some expert tips please RSVP to green [at] warrnambool [dot] vic [dot] gov [dot] au. The group will meet at Lake Pertobe near the northernmost carpark (the first carpark on the right heading down Pertobe Road from Merri Street).

The Henriksens are hooked

Sarah Henriksen and her children Ella, 7, and Connor, 5, are currently winning the Wild Warrnambool BioQuest with more than 46,000 points.
 
They enjoy spotting birds in their backyard as well as searching for creatures and plants of all varieties whenever they are out and about.
 
“It quickly became an obsession,” Sarah said.
 
“Since moving out to Woodford about 12 months ago, having such a diversity of birds out there meant that I started to pay more attention where I hadn’t before.
 
“It’s a bit of a mindfulness exercise too. You’re just in the moment. You stop and forget about everything else and you’re just trying to get a photo of a bird you’ve seen.
 
“I’m always trying to find different places to go. 
 
“We went down near Shelly Beach and explored the tracks around there. I didn’t even know that existed until I saw it on Google Maps. We’ve been out to Lake Gillear as well and we’d never really been our there either.”
 
Sarah said that playing QuestaGame has had a positive impact on the way her children perceive nature.
 
“They notice more things around them and point them out to me,” she said. 
 
“If they see something when we’re driving they say ‘pull over mum so we can get a photo’.
 
“It’s great to see them taking note of the world around them and learning in the process.”
 
Ella said her favourite bird that she’s taken a photo of so far has been an Eastern Rosella “because of its beautiful colours.”
 

Learn from Nomad Cam

 
Cameron Rodda, one of the top 50 QuestaGame players in the world, will run a QuestaGame session in Warrnambool on November 30 at 1pm.
 
He’ll be leading a walk around Lake Pertobe looking for wild plants, birds and insects while offering plenty of advice for new players.
 
Playing under the name “NomadCam”, Cameron has been an avid QuestaGamer for about two years.
 
He said that he’d always enjoyed spending time outdoors, and now his habit of taking photos on nature walks is helping science.
 
“I've always had an interest in the outdoors and find being out in the bush a great place to relax and unwind,” he said.
 
“On my walks I would find little creatures and plants that sparked my curiosity so I would take a few pictures.
 
“I read a news story about a new species of spider being discovered using citizen science and an app called QuestaGame. I thought this would be better than stockpiling photos on my hard drive, rarely to be looked at.
 
“I find it rewarding sharing the photos I take, collecting data, learning about the different species and contributing to the biodiversity databases.”
 
Cameron has achieved his rank as one of QuestaGame’s most successful players with no more than an inquisitive mind and his mobile phone. 
 
He recommends that players don’t get too caught up on what type of camera they are using and focus more on enjoying the game.
 
“I've found that it doesn't matter too much what you use to take photos, it's more about understanding the limitations of your camera and playing to its strengths in order to maximise the quality of the photo,” he said.
 
“I have found that the manual camera settings give the best images, especially regarding the focus.”
 
While he is yet to replicate the QuestaGamer in the news story that originally drew him to the game, he has had several remarkable discoveries.
 
“No new species yet, but I've had a few IDs come back as possibly undescribed species or as one expert put it ‘I've never seen one like that before,’” he said.
 
“It comes down to collecting the information and making the data available for scientists to describe the species and map the distribution.”
 

Cam’s top tips

Be curious and give yourself the time to be curious.
 
Don't be afraid to take lots of pictures, different angles, different zoom levels, then choose the best ones to upload.
 
Experiment with the manual settings on your camera/phone. You'll usually be able to take sharper pictures.
 
Try and give a description to your sighting such as a size estimate or descriptor of the different parts which can help to get a good ID and earn you bonus gold in the game.
 
All sightings are important and significant no matter how big, small, rare or common.
 
Don't forget to be safe and have fun!

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