How to easily upload bat flight records to iNaturalist

The iNaturalist app and website allows anyone to add biological records to a vast database, however it is not easy to upload verifiable bat flight records.

We are only trying to establish the presence of a bat species, so:

The problem

Adding verifiable bat recordings (from an Echo Meter Touch (EMT) or other devices) to iNaturalist is really hard to do manually. It is tailored towards uploads of photos of wildlife, and it works superbly at this.

Suppose you upload an observation that includes either an original wav file or a screenshot of a bat call spectrogram. In that case, you have to manually enter all the metadata, including species, date and time, map location and any notes.

Including the spectrogram screenshot, and truncating the wav file, all this takes about 10 minutes per bat record and is not a practical process if you need to upload dozens of bat records.

A solution

Dr Tom August from the Biological Record Centre has created a website called Bat2iNat to solve this problem of uploading recordings made with an Echo Meter Touch (EMT) to iNaturalist.

This logs into iNaturalist using an ID and allows multiple wav files to be uploaded as a batch. As the batch is processed Bat2iNat extracts the metadata (in GUANO format) from the EMT wav file and processes this to automatically add a new iNaturalist record that includes:

  • Species name (taken from the filename, Bat2iNat does not AutoId species)
  • Date and time
  • GPS location
  • An overview spectrogram of the bat call
  • A zoomed in close up spectrogram of the bat call
  • A version of the original wav file truncated to the bat call section
  • The notes section is populated with:
    • Recorder model and version
    • The number of good quality calls:
    • Av. peak frequency (kHz):
    • Av. max frequency (kHz):
    • Av. min frequency (kHz):
    • Call durations (ms):
    • Recorder settings

During a meeting with Tom, he stressed that Bat2iNat does not save or record iNaturalist login IDs (you have to log in every time) and that the code is open source on GitHub so anyone can verify this.

How to upload using Bat2iNat

Currently, Tom is trailing Bat2iNat so he has only granted access to certain logins. Hence for now we are reusing one SBG account which allows the anonymous uploading of EMT recordings.

What to upload?

How to upload using Bat2iNat

  1. Load the webpage of the app:
  2. It can take a little while to load as the server puts the app to sleep when it’s not being used and waking it up takes about 30 seconds.
  3. Log in with these credentials:
    • Username = sbgupload
    • Password = the name of the county town in Somerset, all in lowercase
  4. Click “I Agree” to the agreement box
  5. Browse to select the wav files with your bat recordings (max size 10MB each)
  6. To prevent duplicates, you can set a distance between independent observations (default 30 meters). If recordings of the same species are closer than this, the latter ones will not be uploaded.
  7. You can add a comment that will be added to the notes field in iNaturalist for all recordings uploaded. This could be things such as “Recorded by “your_username”“, or “Recorded along a mature mixed hedge near the river
  8. Once selected, hit Submit, and the magic happens. The files are uploaded, processed, and if successful, added as observations in iNaturalist.
  9. The list of observations added is shown below the browse box. As the iNaturalist website seems to lag in updating, the easiest way to view the new records is to use the button in Bat2iNat.
  10. You can then check the records in iNaturalist, and edit if required to add any data or notes.


Can Bat2iNat be used to upload recordings from other devices?

Tom has tailored Bat2iNat to suit the Echo Metre Touch device. It is possible that other devices that record sound recordings metadata in the GUANO format may also work. However, they have not been tested yet.

Is it possible to use Bat2iNat on devices without GPS?

Unfortunatly no. Bat2iNat relies on the GPS data being embedded in the recording at the time it is made. Hence devices without GPS, like the Amazon Fire HD8, cannot be used.

Can I upload using my iNaturalist login with Bat2iNat?

Yes. However, Tom will have to enable your login on the Bat2iNat website. Please drop him an email to request access.