Nature Nerds and Smart Phones?
Some Great Apps to Enhance Your Outdoor Experience.
Here at Eagle Point Blue Rapids Parks Council, we have a firm belief that getting outside into nature is good for your physical and mental well-being! However, There are many electronic obstacles that stand in way of enjoying the great outdoors and we worry about you, readers! That’s what nature nerds do! Are you getting enough fresh air? When’s the last time you heard a boreal chickadee sing? Have you hugged a tree this week? Ever?
Today I’m going to turn the tables and take the side of smart phones for a change! I know! Crazy! But I looked up the statistics and realized that over 25,000,000 Canadians own a smart phone and we’re not likely to give them up any time soon. If you can’t beat them, join them, but let’s do it with some great nature apps.
So go enjoy your smart phone…in the OUTDOORS!
Apps for Bird Watchers
Get outside and learn the names and habits of our feathered friends. Spring is a great time to start! Many birds will be returning to the area from the south or the coast in the next few weeks.
Free! This app allows you to enter your own bird sightings and share that information with other bird watchers in your region. Unfortunately, in order to enter the sighting, you have to know the name of the bird, so you need your bird identification manual or you can go online to eBird’s website for lots of bird watching information, songs, photos, etc.
iBird Pro Guide to Birds
This is a great app for bird identification and includes detailed descriptions, photographs and songs. The downside is the $20.99 cost. But if you normally carry around a field guide, this is a good alternative. Your kids will get a kick out of the bird sounds, too. My favourite is Wilson’s Snipe.
Star Gazing Apps
The weather will warm up and we should be spending more evenings outside under the stars! These apps give you the names of those twinkling mysteries.
Free! When Night Sky came out, it was the coolest app ever and it was pricey! You hold it up to the sky and it provides a simulation of the sky with labels on the stars, planets, etc. Graphics help you visualize the constellations. My Nightsky app doesn’t work anymore.
Star Walk 2
$3.99 – Star Walk is similar to Night Sky. There’s music, graphics of the constellations to help you visualize better, and you can see what stars, planets are below the horizon line. Its very user friendly and if you turn on notifications, it will let you know if there’s a meteor shower, eclipse, etc.
Free (lite), $6.99 (basic), $20.99 (pro) The forest floor tells a lot of stories through tracks. This little reference guide is a quick and easy way to find out who has been on the trail ahead of you. There are lots of photographs, detailed descriptions, size info and links.
Aurora Borealis Watchers
Never sleep through another great Northern Lights show again!
My Aurora Forecast & Alerts
Free! This app uses push notifications to send you alerts when the Northern Lights are anticipated to be visible in your area. Highly rated for Canadian users but at the time of writing, only available on iOS).
Northern Lights – Free – Real time notifications in your area with the chance of seeing the northern lights shown as a probability (in %).
Want to go exploring new trails, but you don’t like getting lost? There’s an app for that, too!
Many of the trails throughout Alberta and North America on available on apps these days.
Free – this is a great app that includes over 60,000 interactive Canadian and US hiking trails, including hiker reviews, topographic maps, difficulty of trail, etc.
Free – Great source of interactive maps for mountain biking, includes trail condition, popularity, topographics, covers 80 countries
Free for Basic, $19.99 US for member, $39.99 US for Premium. This navigation app includes topographic maps, satellite images, roads, elevation, pacing and more.
There are many great apps to help enrich your outdoor experience. These are a few that I have tried and enjoy. I hope you can make use of some of them in the great outdoors this year. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and we’ll see you on the trails at Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks System, where adventure awaits!