February 17, 2018

iNat Goals 2018


2017 was the first year that I started using iNat seriously. Previously I merely uploaded my observations from years past (mostly birds and moths, and whatever else that popped up in my Flickr account). In 2018 I'm setting some goals for myself.

1) Photograph 50 more bird species that I haven't before. This seems very doable according to my eBird list of species that I need to photograph:


I have a lot of common species that I have neglected to upload photos to eBird, these may appear in my iNat lifelist somewhere but I think there is considerable overlap of "photo lifers" that I need between the two lists. For instance, I just added Dark-eyed Junco and White-breasted Nuthatch photos.

2) 100 new insect species!
I think this is quite feasible since this year I will be starting off the season with the correct camera equipment instead of getting it towards the tail-end of the season like last year. If I can manage to get in a moth night or two I can definitely manage this goal. However, my current apartment is not conducive to mothing.

3) 25 new trees
My Sibley's Guide to Trees has been collecting dust and this seems like an easy avenue to grab up some species. I can even pinpoint particular stands of trees from Massachusetts observations to find the species to tick off my list. And I feel like I should just know trees better.

4) City Nature Challenge -Boston
I am volunteering with Cambridge Puppet /Earthwatch Institute for the CNC this year. I'll be acting as a "Roving Naturalist" and engaging the public who come to participate. I'll be helping them with the iNaturalist app and giving bird walks/bug hunts which should be fun.

In addition, I hope to go out on my own and focus on insects for the challenge. I feel like Boston is very well covered in terms of the birding community and the neotropical migrants won't be in full swing up here until a week or two after the challenge anyway. So by focusing on less sought-after taxa I hope to bring up Boston's species total.

Here's to a great 2018!

Posted on February 17, 2018 20:10 by mmulqueen mmulqueen | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 09, 2017

Quick stop at the Beach

Happy Indigenous People's Day!
I had the day off so I decided to try my luck at Winthrop Beach to see if any shorebirds were sticking around in the rain. As I arrived, the fog was so thick that I couldn't see "The Five Sisters" (five large jetty pylons close to shore). Great...

I ambled down to the shoreline, the cries of hundreds of gulls coming through the fog. I stumbled upon a White-rumped Sandpiper in the wrack. The usual suspects were about, along with a few dozen Bonaparte's Gulls as well.

White-rumped Sandpiper

The rain cleared up a bit soon, the fog dissipated, and I met up with some other birders. There was quite a good amount of shorebirds to work through and a few gems stuck out: one Pectoral Sandpiper and some American Golden-plovers. Overall, I turned up three new birds for my Suffolk County, MA list!

Pectoral Sandpiper

American Golden-plover

Eight American Oystercatchers were flagged by eBird's filters. I also "lifered" a Common Whelk!

eBird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39787284

Posted on October 09, 2017 18:24 by mmulqueen mmulqueen | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 26, 2017

Blue Hills Reservation

We decided to check out a new spot for us that is relatively close by: the Blue Hills Reservation. This state park is huge with many trails that rise up to give a view out over the surrounding area and nearby Boston.

It was a hot day for a late September hike with temperatures reaching 80F+. Only later did I find out that the Blue Hills is host to one of Massachusett's only Timber Rattle Snake populations! Unfortunately, we did not stumble into any snakes on our hike even with our resident snake-finder Anna (of fur-de-lance fame!) We did, however, spot a tiny toad.

The Blue Hills are also home to a threatened species of beetle: Cincindela rufiventris hentzii or the Eastern Red-bellied Tiger Beetle

Eastern Red-bellied Tiger Beetle

North American Toads

This species is listed in Massachusetts and restricted to rocky granite outcroppings around Boston. We found this one exactly where one would be expected. I had some fun getting these shots of this ferocious hunter.

This is definitely a spot to come back to explore more. We plan on completing the Skyline Trail next time.

Posted on September 26, 2017 21:32 by mmulqueen mmulqueen | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 22, 2017

Wachusett Mountain

Building on the momentum of the previous weekend's biking/hiking excursions, Anna and I went for a hike up Wachusett Mountain to see what we could see. Despite some ominous clouds on the way over in the morning it turned out to be a beautiful day. The hawk-watchers up at the tower would be pleased indeed. A board in the visitor center displayed the stats that in the past few days thousands of Broad-winged Hawks have kettled over the mountain.

We took the shortest path up to the summit to start the day. The forest was still wet from the rain the night before and it was very humid out. This made for ideal conditions for the stars of the day: the Red-spotted Newts! They seemed to be everywhere. We pointed them out to fellow hikers when we could.
Red Eft

Various other damp-lovers were about:

We hung around the tower for long enough to see a Merlin and a Kestrel zoom by. Later we would see a Peregrine Falcon stoop down ferociously on a idling Turkey Vulture. Quite the show!

Some insects were about including a Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Winter Firefly, many Hickory Tussock Moths, and a Swift Feather-legged Fly:

On the way out, Anna found a neat little Earth-boring Scarab Beetle on the Bicentennial Trail:

Many oak galls were around. Looking through BugGuide and seeing the vast number of gall wasp species was an eye-opening experience. I have to keep an eye out for more of these strange and wonderful creatures. All in all, a good little excursion.

Posted on September 22, 2017 18:38 by mmulqueen mmulqueen | 12 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment