The Gilbert 21 Project
Personal Biological Recording Software
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The Gilbert 21 project provides free biological recording software for people who want to record wildlife and use their records to learn about natural history. Read more about the background to the project here, or go to the downloads page to get the software. Read the quick-start guide to get up and running quickly.

The Gilbert 21 Project is my personal effort to deal with the tension that I have felt in the field between two wishes: on the one hand to enjoy the moment and, on the other, to record it. Greenfinch by Stephen Pardue
Greenfinch © Stephen Pardue
Stopping to extract equipment from bag or pocket, take grid references and write everything down has, very often,  diminished my enjoyment of natural history. So much so that on many ocassions I simply haven't bothered to record what I've seen or heard. I know from conversations with other naturalists that many of them feel the same.

And yet I know that taking records is one of the keys to learning about natural history and the records themselves, when combined with those of other naturalists, are of incalculable value in our efforts to conserve wildlife and habitats.

I was talking to another naturalist about this and he mentioned that a friend of his used a dictaphone instead of a notebook in the field. I thought that I would do the same: I would speak my observations into a dictaphone, read the grid reference from a GPS and dictate that too. Then I would play the tapes back later and type it all into a spreadsheet or whatever.

Marsh Marigold by Stephen Pardue
Marsh Marigold © Stephen Pardue

But then I wondered if there might be a dictaphone with a built in GPS that would tag the recordings with their location - that way I would only have to bother with one bit of kit instead of two. I did some research on the internet and I couldn't find one. However, what I did find was a GPS data logger with the ability to record voice tags. I bought one and the Gilbert 21 Project was born.

Buying the device was just the first step. I needed a way to take the data from the files produced by the data logger and convert them to valid biological records as efficiently as possible. The Gilbert 21 program is my solution to that. Once I started developing the software, I wanted to use it for all of my records - not just those that I created with the data logger. For example, I wanted to transfer records from notebooks and those I collected from my moth trap into the same software. In short, I wanted it to fulfil all my personal record collation needs.

This website documents the project and software with the aim of making the latter freely available to anyone that would like to give it a try and to encourage wider consideration of this method of biological recording amongst naturalists and providers of biological recording software.