ספטמבר 1, 2019

Just For Fun - iNatters of Tumblr Scavenger Hunt: My List

@kuchipatchis has crafted a little scavenger hunt for members of the iNatters of Tumblr project. Since I now have nothing but time I'm going to give it a shot. This journal post will be where I keep track of my list, updating it as I go along.

The Scavenger Hunt List:

  1. An example of camouflage

  2. A plant growing out from the water

  3. A mushroom

  4. A fish

  5. A pupa

  6. Something fuzzy

  7. Something spiky

  8. Something having a meal

  9. A symbiotic relationship

  10. Something growing on or out of a man-made object

  11. An animal with more than 8 legs

  12. An animal with no legs

  13. Something that lives in a shell

  14. Something yellow and black

  15. Something brown and white

  16. Something purple and green

  17. Something really common in your area

  18. Something not native to your area

  19. A bee native to your area

  20. Something classified as a threatened species

  21. A feather

  22. An animal track

  23. Mating behavior

  24. A plant gall

  25. A leaf mine

Did it! Got them all and in less than a month:

הועלה ב-ספטמבר 1, 2019 04:19 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 23 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

ספטמבר 30, 2018

September Ends

I got out yesterday for a nice hike, nature walk, some naturalizing. I'm still not sure what to call these walks. With the weather changing somewhat precipitously I wanted to grab the opportunity to spend what the forecast indicated would be the last sunny day of my long weekend. As luck would have it, the clouds moved in before I got out. Consequently it was difficult to get decent photos, especially in the woods. Still, it was a nice, rejuvenating outing.

Despite there still being flowers in bloom there wasn't a pollinator to be seen. The temperature was around 50°F/10°C. In the prairie there was a lot of bird activity but that and the occasional pile of coyote scat were the only signs of animal life. Seems I nearly always see something new and interesting on my walks and this time was no exception. It was very quiet out so a rhythmic tapping sound in the prairie caught my ear. A little searching revealed a downy woodpecker hunting on a tall forb's woody stem. Makes sense but I haven't seen that before.

September was kind of a disappointing month here for me. There was so much rain and then when we went north to do some camping there wasn't much to see. Still, even though we came back a day early because of the cold and boredom, I did get some last-of-the-season observations of pollinators, a good, long look at an accommodating ovenbird, and an encounter with a wonderfully-disguised hemlock looper moth caterpillar. I also made some fungus and moss observations I'll work through trying to identify before I post them this winter to combat cabin fever. I've also got dozens of bumble bee observations here I want to add to Bumble Bee Watch, but their system isn't as streamlined as iNat's, in my opinion.

As autumn turns into winter my walks are going to be more for exercise than nature observations so I'll resume listening to podcasts while I'm out. My search for good natural history content hasn't yielded much so I'm open to suggestions.

הועלה ב-ספטמבר 30, 2018 01:51 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 11 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

ספטמבר 13, 2018

Digital Technology's Role in Connecting Children and Adults to Nature and the Outdoors

Report from National Wildlife Federation. Parking link to pdf file here to read later.

Digital Technology's Role in Connecting Children and Adults to Nature and the Outdoors

הועלה ב-ספטמבר 13, 2018 02:30 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מאי 25, 2018

Invasive Species Go Un-Noticed for Two Decades

...well, not by everyone. The article ends with a bang in favor of Natural History knowledge.


הועלה ב-מאי 25, 2018 11:51 לפנה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

יוני 13, 2017

Look Again

Today I had a little excitement. I was glad to finally see a bumble bee just sit still on a leaf so that I could try to get decent images of its back, face, and basitarsi for identification purposes. I was so glad, in fact, that it barely registered that a bumble bee was not behaving in the usual manner. Instead of efficiently moving from flower to flower it was just standing on a leaf of one of my paw-paw trees. I jumped to the conclusion that since it was so hot, maybe bees just needed to sit and hang out for a while on days like this. They're hairy and insulated, after all. That's what enables them to get up at the crack of dawn and get to work on cool spring mornings.

Hours later in another location I saw another bumble bee doing the same thing and I went in with the camera for all the angles I could get once again. It was only later when I was cropping the images and getting a closer look that I thought "Wait a minute. That's an awfully fat foot for a bumble bee. And look at those eyes...and antennae...Well, I'll be. That's a fly."

I'm going to go read up on Batesian mimicry now, grateful for today's educational experience.

הועלה ב-יוני 13, 2017 01:09 לפנה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 2 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 6, 2017

Another Walk in the Park

After an interlude of a bit more wintry weather including some actual snow it has warmed up again. I'm getting antsy for things to come alive out there so I took another stroll to the neighborhood park desperate to find something observable. There wasn't much to be seen, as far as I could tell. Peeling bark off downed trees didn't yield anything interesting; I'd really like to see some invertebrates outside the house for a change. In the end I settled for some trees and fungi. I also got looking at the mosses on and around a north-facing rock face. Knowing I'd have to do some magnification to ID them I pocketed a few specimens. Now I'm in the process of figuring out how to get the best photos I can with the equipment I have so they may not be uploaded any time soon.

The more efficient workflow I mentioned in my previous journal entry paid off and I have officially uploaded my backlog of "historical" observations. There are some others I may or may not list depending on whether I can get a fix on locations for them. I'd especially like to get my Galápagos finches confirmed but that's going to be a bigger undertaking since I'd have to do a lot of correlating of journal entries with the actual photos. Time will tell if actually tackle that project.

הועלה ב-מרץ 6, 2017 07:23 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 6 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 19, 2017

Warmth, Weeds and Workflow

Despite living in a temperate climate all my life I'm just not a winter person. To someone who enjoys nothing more than being outside discovering living things winter is unwelcome down time. Sometimes it feels like it goes on forever but not this year, apparently. We're in the midst of a record-breaking warm spell. Knowing it won't last I've been enjoying being outside more even with the relative dearth of life to observe. Yesterday I went for a long walk in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve in hope of finding a Comma someone had reported seeing the previous day. No luck. The only insect I encountered was a fly that I only managed to get one blurry image of before it flew away.

Today is even warmer so I headed out again, this time to a neighborhood park with Cara Santa Maria in my ears and no particular expectations. I did get to see a few birds flitting around in the trees too far away for an iPhone photo and after spotting a green patch off the trail, I managed to make one observation, Garlic Mustard, a thuggish invasive weed.

Now I'm home again and back chewing through my backlog of observations. I've organized how I do that a little differently and am working more efficiently than before. My goal is to get most if not all of those folders posted and archived before "the season" really kicks in and I start making observations in earnest this year. I'm finding it enjoyable to be looking at images of flowers and insects I won't be seeing again in person for a few months. It also helps to be reviewing/relearning the ones that were new to me. It's a pleasant way to spend the waning winter days, in addition to looking at real estate listings in parts of the world where it never snows. :D

הועלה ב-פברואר 19, 2017 08:40 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | תצפית 1 | 2 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

ינואר 1, 2017

Looking Ahead to 2017 with iNaturalist

Today a new year starts, though I tend to think of that happening over a week ago on the Solstice. Time to think about my iNaturalist goals for the coming year. These are NOT resolutions, more like intentions.

In 2017 I would like to...

  • Take the time to take better photos. I'm not a good photographer by any means, and I know many things can be identified in poor photos, but that's no excuse to be careless. Unless it's a situation where there's no time to do better, I'll aim for multiple, in-focus shots in good light.
  • Include relevant notes in my observations. I do the vast majority of my uploads on a computer so typing in some additional information that might be useful is easy.
  • Learn how to temporarily capture invertebrates for photos, especially for my Urban Home Inventory Project. I suspect there is a lot of diversity of pollinators coming to the gardens. I'd like to document them better without harming them.
  • Get small. I've figured out how to use a loupe with my iPhone to photograph some pretty small organisms. I should really just dive into true macro photography. This should come in handy as I also intend to...
  • Dig around. It didn't occur to me to look around in the abundant leaf litter in the gardens last year until the best season to do that was over. Doubtless there is an abundance of life there and in the soil surface layers to check out. The same goes for the wee aquatic life.
  • Learn how to photograph moths, etc. in the dark.
  • Spend more time looking. I'm sure it's part of the learning curve, but there have been many times I've been frustrated trying to make an ID when a diagnostic characteristic isn't in the image. Taking time to document all the parts of a plant, for example, is more important than I'd realized.
  • Strive for progress, not perfection. I've put a lot of time into trying to identify observations that I can't get to species level. I've still got a sizable backlog of observations from 2016 and years past I'd like to get through before the year gets busy here.
  • Participate in a bioblitz. I unintentionally contributed to the NPS bioblitz last year but would like to experience one "live" with other enthused people in a real location.
  • Do more identifications. I am super, super grateful to the people who have confirmed or identified observations for me and I want to give back. I'm not averse to being wrong in public--I've had a lot of practice--but I don't flatter myself that I know more than I think I do.
  • Read iNat users' journal posts. I'm finding them informative and inspiring and a way to enjoy nature vicariously all over the world.
  • Become more familiar with the iNaturalist website. Right now my Life List says "389 of 441 taxa observed." I'm not sure what that means, and half the reason I just typed it is so I can come back in a year and see how the numbers have changed. But, I sometimes feel like I'm just discovering all the useful and interesting features and functionality here.

When I started this post, I kept thinking of things I'd like to do that are only tangentially related to iNat. I'll write a separate post to cover those at a later date.

הועלה ב-ינואר 1, 2017 03:30 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | תגובה 1 | הוספת תגובה

דצמבר 11, 2016

Looking Back at Six Months on iNaturalist

It's been six months almost to the day that I joined the iNaturalist herd and I've got to say it's been one of the best things that happened in 2016 for me. I had intended to sit down this weekend and finally, really start working through identifying and posting some of the many mushroom observations I collected on our September camping trip, but it seems like an overwhelming task at the moment. So, instead I'm going to procrastinate a little longer while I sit and watch the snow fall and share some of the things I've learned via iNat over the last half year. (I think the journal function here is intended for other purpose, but I've never been one to follow rules exactly.)

I've learned that the organisms around my own home are worth observation. Before I discovered iNaturalist I had a vague desire to start cataloging them but hadn't tackled exactly how I would do that. Now, without much effort I've managed to identify fifty-six different species in my Urban Home Inventory project. Next year I intend to make more of an effort to raise that number. Before iNat I'd listed nearly fifty bird species alone but, unfortunately don't have photos of most of them.

I've learned that the number of users in my area is on the rise. When I started using iNat there were hardly any other observations in the nature preserve where I regularly go for walks. Just this summer many more observations were added. I enjoy looking at what people are finding around here and who is making observations. It's cool to see some big names in iNat have come through my little flyover town, including @dpom and I saw that @kueda had been exploring the cemetery near my house.

I've learned that, as with most things, the more I learn the more I find how little I know. I'm OK with that. One big thing as far as iNat is concerned is now difficult it is to identify some species just from photographs. (See above re: mushroom procrastination.) I've gone down some interesting and educational rabbit holes chasing after flies, mushrooms, flowers and snails. And moths! Who knew there were so many moths!

I've learned that there may not be such a thing as too many field guides. I've used my iNat activities to rationalize buying a few more books and my wish list on Amazon keeps growing. I'm also building a library of bookmarks in my browser for helpful identification resources. It's been great finding and using various keys online. I'm always open to suggestions for helpful online resources for any taxa I might encounter so if you know of any especially good ones, I would love to hear about them.

I've learned there are a lot of unexplored (by me) natural areas close to home. Much as I'd rather be traveling to a more tropical locale (see above re: snow) there are plenty of places within an easy drive from home I can visit. I'm putting together a list of locations to check out as soon as spring looks like it's arriving--which isn't any time soon so I guess I'll make another pot of tea and tackle those mushroom observations now.

הועלה ב-דצמבר 11, 2016 02:57 אחה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 2 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

יוני 10, 2016

The Enthusiasm of the Newly Converted

I just discovered iNaturalist this week and it seems tailor-made for my interests. I love being outdoors and I love living things. My appreciation for nature deepens when I can put names to things and learn about them. When I go camping, it's always with a box of field guides among the rest of the equipment and supplies so backpacking is out, even with all the great mobile apps available now. For some years I've been photographing the natural wonders that catch my eye with the notion that some day I'll work on identifying them and I've made a little progress. iNaturalist has inspired me to dig into those archives from as recent as last week to several years ago and see what I can identify to share. The thought that these observations might actually be useful to someone some day makes me happy. I appreciate all the ID confirmations the experts have shared with my observations and I look forward to getting to know some of the other nature geeks out there.

הועלה ב-יוני 10, 2016 02:59 לפנה"צ על ידי driftlessroots driftlessroots | 5 תגובות | הוספת תגובה