1. Lake monitors can post online and avoid keeping paper records. Pictures and video can also be displayed on the map.
2. Information can be shared in real time, allowing the Monitor and Coordinator to view updates as they occur and not have to wait till season’s end, or longer, for the field report to be mailed to Loonwatch, copied, then mailed out to me.
3. Posting directly to a map (rather than on a paper report form) saves confusion on where an event or disturbance occurred, or exactly where nesting takes place. Also, previous seasons’ nest sites and reports are all on one map, available through a dropdown box so the lake’s entire history is immediately available. This eliminates going through past files of lake reports to compare yearly nesting results. Contact information is also readily available and updated.
4. Finally, less paper used is an environmental plus, and saving postage is appreciated by all concerned. And money saved means more for other loon stuff (buoys, rafts, signs, etc…).
However, using and editing a Google Map requires that each Collaborator has a Gmail account (easy to set up). Once you have this, the rest is easily achieved by following a few guidelines.
As Area Coordinator, I usually create the map, then send it to you, the Lake Monitor, or Loon Ranger. Once you receive it in your inbox:
1. Click the map link in your email message.
2. Click “Save to My Places” just above the “Edit” box.
3. Click “My Places”.
4. Click on the lake name that appears in the list at left.
5. Click “Edit” to add or change data.
6. Click “Save” or, if Google has already saved your data, this will read “Saved”.
7. Click “Done”.
At this point, the map is updated to show your latest changes. You don’t have to send it back to me. When I click on the map in my account, your edited version will appear.
A few notes on how to edit and add data:
Once in “Edit” mode, click on the blue placemark balloon on top-left. Carry this down to the map and click where the balloon is to be placed. If you click the wrong place, don’t worry, you can drag it around anytime while in “Edit” mode. Once you place it, a dropdown box will appear. If you’re filling in data for the first time that season, title the box for that year, such as “2013 Report” and place the balloon where the current year’s nest site is. If you’re adding data, just click the balloon either on the map, or in the left-hand column and add to the data you’ve already entered. Note: any marker placed on the map also places a marker in the left-hand column. Clicking on either will bring up the text box.
Also, once your text box is displayed, you can click on the balloon at the top-right of the box and select from the different color balloons or choose a different icon. For instance, I use the anchor icon to mark the lake’s boat launch sites. As far as I know, the dialog box will hold an almost unlimited amount of text. (Let me know if you find otherwise!)
Clicking “Rich Text” in the text box, you can even add a picture or video to the box. Just remember to click “Save” and “Done” when you’re finished.
Anytime you want to add information to your Google Map, just go to your Gmail account and sign in. In the black bar at top, click Maps. On the new page, click “My Places” near the top-left and a list of your maps will appear. Click on the lake you want to edit and add information as you please. That’s it. If you find I’ve left anything out, or have questions on any part of editing a Google Map, don’t hesitate to ask. I hope you’ve found this helpful.