If you found yourself dropped into a random location on Earth, would you be able to use clues about the vehicles, vegetation, landscape, buildings, and signs to figure out where in the world you have been placed?
GeoGuessr is an online game that uses Google Street View to provide 5 locations for you to work out where you are, sometimes it’s easy, say being dropped in the centre of a large city with plenty of recognisable landmarks and street names, however being dropped on the Mongolian Altai alpine meadow with no recognisable structures is way more challenging (hint, yurts a good sign that you are in Mongolia). Like Geocaching this game increases your awareness of the ordinary world as you become more conscious of different writing systems on signs around the world, or styles of building, vehicles, dress even road markings sometimes provide a clue and to where you are.
The scoring is different by game but consistently a “perfect” guess is worth 5000 points with descending scores depending on the size of the map and eventually decreasing to 0 for being at the point on Earth’s surface diametrically opposite to the target (antipode). A typical game lasts five rounds, so 25,000 points would constitute a perfect game score.
There are various Modes available,
Daily Challenge – only one go at this allowed per day with 5 rounds, each with a 3-minute limit to get as close to the Landing point as possible. There aren’t any formal rules for the Daily Challenge or GeoGuessr, like Geocaching you set your own rules, to us Googling somehow seems to be cheating and we avoid that.
Explorer mode – Pick a country to play from the map or the list and explore. This is single player mode with unlimited time to explore, medals are awarded for high scores, with the goal of a gold medal for each country available.
Country Streak– this can be played either as a single-player or challenge mode where players can compete against each other. The simple objective in this mode is to guess the country you are in rather than guessing the specific location. There are several options for this where you can restrict movement, panning and/or zooming and if that isn’t enough pressure a time limit can be set as well. Players are challenged to attempt at scoring as many correct guesses as possible in one attempt, the game finishes when the player guesses a country wrong.
Battle Royale – compete with others, where one by one player are eliminated until only the winner remains.
There are many other options such as ‘famous places’, ‘urban worlds’ and even a ‘dumb test’ with ultra-easy maps to explore.
Free vs Paid In 2019 Google increased its prices for using Street View and Google Maps forcing GeoGuessr to limit the free play game. Charges are kept at a minimum with the present cost of pro membership being $1.99 per month or $23.88 per year. Pro members get unlimited maps access to Daily challenge, Pro Leagues where you can set up your own league with your friends. Games are scheduled automatically, and notices sent to your fellow explorers. Also making and sharing your own maps is available at this level.
This is an addictive game in both the limited free and pro versions, it’s a substitute for actually being there and exploring and well worth the subscription fees as a replacement for Geocaching whilst we are ‘locked down’
Sunday 18th April 2021 This week saw our first sighting of an Orange Tip butterfly fluttering along the side of the river. They are one of my favourite butterflies as it indicates the warmer, longer days are here and summer is not far off. Our damp boggy fields are an ideal habitat and support a large colony.
They fly from late March to June depending on weather conditions. This butterfly lives in damp meadows, ditches, woodlands and hedgerows as this is where the caterpillars food plants grow, cuckoo-flower, garlic mustard and many other plants in the mustard family.
Orange Tips are a very common butterfly, the male has the distinctive orange tipped wings which the females lack so they are not so easily recognised and can be mistaken for Small Whites.
The under wings of both sexes have dappled dark green patterns with black scaling this gives excellent camouflage when the butterfly is at rest.
The females lay single barrel-shaped, grooved eggs on the underside of leaves and flowers of the food plant. The eggs take around 14 days to hatch and change from yellow/white when first laid to orange and then grey just before they hatch. The caterpillars are blue-green with small black dots and broad white stripe. It takes about 5 weeks for them to become fully grown when they change into a narrow, curved, green or brownish chrysalis attached by a girdle to a plant stem. Here it hibernates over winter emerging as an adult the following spring.
Although official Geocaching Events are not available just yet, Socially distanced gatherings of up to 30 persons will be permitted from the 26th of April under the latest guidance from the Senedd. As we haven’t met up as a group for quite a while, a CITO is the perfect socially distanced event. A suggestion is that we could combine an unofficial CITO and the “Let’s improve the outdoors – Locationless Cache GC8NEAT” which adds both an Icon and Souvineer to your profile. So with all that in mind how about meeting on 2nd May Saturday Afternoon Near Tescos Caernarfon and hitting some of the hot spots in the vicinity. Please let us know if you are interested, the number will of course be limited to 30.
We have relaunched the 9 Usual Suspects website today, with an improved look, easier to use and the Russian hackers locked out! It will still be primarily for Geocaching but will include anything that catches our collective attention, so if you have anything to contribute please let us know. e.g. the favourite cache series that has been started, what’s your favourite and why? Also, there is an improved diary section, if you want an event added give us a shout.
Every year there is much media attention when the Glaslyn Ospreys return to the same nest site, it heralds the start of spring, although this year they have bought some snow with them. You can monitor them in close up on the next via the live stream which is hosted on the Glaslyn Osprey website or here if that link isn’t working
Three Ospreys have returned to the Glaslyn Valley so far this year.
25th March saw Mrs G return for her 18th season.
29th March Aran join Mrs G for his 7th season.
31st March Aeron arrives a chick hatched in 2017 recognised by his Blue Z2 ring.
Mrs G was first discovered breeding at the Glaslyn nest in 2004. As she is not rung her age and previous history are not known. From her plumage and the time of year she first appeared it is thought that she was about 3 years old making her around 21 years old. To date, she has successfully raised 41 chicks, and has at least 100 grand-chicks and four great grand-chicks. Her first mate was Ochre 11 (1998) and together they raised 26 chicks. He failed to return in 2015, which was when she attracted her current mate, Aran. They have raised 15 chicks together so far.
Aran arrived at Glaslyn end of April 2015 again without a ring his previous history is unknown. From his plumage and his behaviour, it is thought he was 2 or 3 years old. His name comes from the mountain Yr Aran as this was the direction he was first spotted.
Ospreys return from North Africa around the end of March and usually in the second half of April the female lays two or three eggs at 1-3day intervals. The eggs are incubated for 37 days per egg with each egg hatching a few days apart, surprisingly there is little aggression and dominance shown by the older chick. Like most birds of prey, ospreys divide the nesting duties clearly between the pair. The female does most of the incubating, brooding and direct feeding of the young. She guards them throughout the nestling period, but will share the hunting at later stages when the chicks are larger. The male, on the other hand, is the major provider of fish for the female and young. After fledging at c. 53 days, both parents provide food for the young, which stay close to the nest for a further two months. The beginning of September sees them leave North Wales on their long migration journey to North Africa. Many juvenile birds die before they reach maturity at three years old. Those that reach breeding age can expect to live on average about eight years. The oldest known wild osprey was 32 years old.
The site is managed by Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife a local community interest company who took over the stewardship from the RSPB in 2013. The success of the Glaslyn Ospreys and other wildlife projects are entirely reliant upon the kind donations of their visitors and supporters.
After years of quite breaking fragile phones whilst Geocaching, when it was time to renew my ageing iPhone I took a look at the market place. One other thing that had bugged me over the years is having to charge a phone daily and if GPS is used heavily having to cart a powerpack to top up the battery, I’m operating system agnostic so wasn’t too bothered the Android iOs ‘wars’. There was one phone brand that leapt out at me which was Doogee’ a Chinese phone brand that is focused on rugged designs. Doogee is part of KVD International Group Limited headquartered in Shenzhen, China, since 2013, which is a long time in the small player mobile-phone world. The phone has a military hardware styling and claims to meet military standards for ruggedness which I don’t doubt. The 10000mAh battery lasts about a week between charges and with heavy GPS use about 3 days and as a bonus can reverse wireless charge other phones to share the power. For positioning, it can utilise GPS, GPS-A, GLONASS & BeiDou and lock times are impressive, with surprising accuracy. It’s tough, heavy and reliable, but it’s not all roses, being a Chinese phone there’s little or no support if anything goes wrong so my tip is to buy off Amazon and use a credit card to have even any hope of warranty.
My verdict On paper, the S88 Pro is astounding value. Plenty of CPU power, long battery life and fully-featured GPS, bulletproof construction but it is too big to fit in a normal-sized pocket and very heavy. Not my daily driver but, for long Geocaching adventures, it’s ideal.
The 9 Usual Suspects have been around since 2014, we are a group of Geocaching friends based in North West Wales of diverse ages and abilities. Our primary purpose is to get together, place caches, hold events, leave our environment in a better state than we found it and most importantly have fun. On average we hold about 20 events a year from monthly Nosh ‘n’ Natters, several Cache in Trash Outs (CITOs) a year and hosting the Geocaching Souvenir moments.
We all have different ideas on what makes a favourite cache, for some, it is the type of cache, others it is the location, the hide, the adventure entailed in signing the logbook, the cache container or a combination of all. In this series of occasional posts, we ask different cachers to list their noteworthy or all-time favourite caches along with the reason why. – To add your favourite contact the Admin [@] 9ususalsuspects.uk (remove brackets)
April 2021 – Ann@Birdbrook’s favourite caches
GC4WEDK 147 Snooker Challenge D5/T4 Challenge Cache UK I like a good challenge and this is certainly one. For this cache all you have to do is find 36 caches in a day, simple, well it’s not quite that easy. Basically, you are playing geocaching snooker, different types of cache count as the different coloured balls as in snooker and you have to score a maximum break of 147! See the cache page for the rules. The idea for this cache is “borrowed” from Just-Us-Two, the original cache being GC4NYHP. Disappointedly we failed this challenge on our first attempt, too many DNF’s and too long spent looking for parking spots resulted in us running out of time. Having learnt from our mistakes we planned our next attempt like a military operation – even having a dry run to check parking spots. We had a great sense of achievement in signing the logbook of the well-hidden nano.
GC1TG4P Intertidal Footprints D5/T3.5 Earthcache UK I am not a big fan of earthcaches but this one is very special. Coastal erosion at Formby has revealed the sub-fossil footprints of humans, animals and birds preserved in laminated silt exposures. Due to constant erosion and shifting sand, the coordinates are for the general area. We had tried twice unsuccessfully to find this earthcache so signed up for The National Trust Guided walk. Our guide was excellent, answered all our questions and took us to an area about 500m away from the published coordinates where we immediately found human footprints. At the first location, we found Human, Oyster Catcher and what was probably Aurochs footprints. The best discovery of the day was a trail of footprints left by an adult with a child’s set of prints running alongside. They looked so perfect that they could have been made that morning. At the second location a bit further south, we found Crane and Red Deer, here the laminated deposit was a completely different colour. The guided walk is highly recommended for this one, cost about £5.00 – worth every penny!
GCKCJV Ghost Village (Wiltshire) D5/T1.5 Virtual UK This is one of those places I would never have known about, let alone visited if it had not been for geocaching. The virtual cache is found in Imber, Salisbury Plain, a village taken over by the army in 1943 as a training ground. Originally the residents were told that they would be allowed to return after the war but this was never permitted. As the village finds itself in the centre of a military range danger area it is only open to the public at certain times of the year and with very strict access rules. The whole experience is very surreal, the drive across Salisbury Plain with its abandoned tanks to the perfectly preserved church and graveyard.
GC6K8BF Ogof Clogwyn D5/T5 Letterbox UK I have not found many letterbox caches mainly because there are very few in our local area. While planning a trip to find the oldest cache in Wales this letterbox caught my attention initially because of its type but also it being a D5/T5. I’m not that good with confined spaces but after studying the cache page and a bit of general research on the internet there didn’t appear to be any tight squeezes or anything too difficult. Ogof Clogwyn is rated as a beginners cave therefore it has plenty of space and head room. This cave really has the WOW factor. The walls are lined with amazing rock formed shelves, so, as with any cave/mine, hard hats are a must. I’m surprised there is not an Earthcache here. The hardest bit was getting into the cave as there was a lot of water tumbling out of the entrance which is quite high. Once in, armed with a laminated copy of the excellent instructions it was easy to find the route to the cache. To be honest it would be very hard to get lost. Be prepared to get wet! Oh and the water is very, very cold. This is one of those caches that you wish you could give more than one favourite point too. As the cache pages says ‘its simply a pretty cave in a pretty spot”.
GCM7R6 Northside Pub Crawl D2.5/T1.5 Virtual & GCJJVZ Southside Pub Crawl D3.5/T1 Virtual Ireland If you are in Dublin and love pubs these two caches are a must. All answers to the clues are on the outside of the buildings but the inside of the pubs are worth a look and you really should sample the quality of their Guinness. These two caches are great to do in a group, we had a fantastic weekend of drinking and caching around the City, only realising a little too much Guinness had been consumed when it came to working out the final calculations! Also after visiting the 20th pub the terrain rating maybe a little on the light side……..
GC3D4F9 Arte de Portas Abertas D2.5/T1 Multi Portugal Madeira I usually avoid Multi Caches especially if they have lots of stages, they always seem a lot of work for very little. This cache guides you through an area that is best described as an outdoor art gallery. A near derelict street of Funchal was brought back to life by The Art of Open Doors project. Local artists were commissioned, each artist being allocated a space/door to express themselves, with their imagination and a few low-cost resources, the street was transformed. As the tourists began to visit they were quickly followed by shops, cafes and bars. The area is now thriving with very little evidence of its past. The final cache is not great but the artwork makes up for this.