Journal archives for August 2017

August 02, 2017

Future nature preserve in Rockwall – help needed for a biosurvey!

Fellow iNatters,

I was told some pretty exciting news. There is a piece of land (25.26 acres) in Rockwall that is being donated to the city. What will this land be used for? A nature preserve! Exciting stuff.

Rockwall Parks and Recreation has asked me to conduct a little biosurvey of the organisms in this area (baseline study of what's there now). Want to join me?

The date for the biosurvey is on Friday, September 15th. If you need a doctor’s note to get out of school/work, let me know and I can write you a prescription for nature. :)

The land looks like a mix of woody areas, open pocket prairies, a creek and a pond, so there should be some different stuff there! Here is the location:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/32%C2%B057'12.6%22N+96%C2%B028'14.2%22W/@32.9535463,-96.4721573,450m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d32.95349!4d-96.470618
It’s just south of West Quail Run and east of Parker cemetery (where we will likely meet and park) in Rockwall, TX. It's a bit of a drive for some folks, probably, but I think it'll be a worthy drive!

If you’re interested in coming, let me know, and I can give you some more details. It’ll be on Friday, September 15 from the morning until… well, until you want to leave. :) Tagging a few folks, but let me know if you can think of others:
@taogirl @cgritz @kimberlietx @bob777 @annikaml @aguilita @tfandre @suz @naturenut @denver @wildcarrot @andyk @mchlfx @itmndeborah @zooga1961 @charley @dfwuw @butterflies4fun @tadamcochran @brentano @jblinde @atassin @kalamurphyking @walkingstick2 @squaylei2000 @rmorgan @daniel112 @rehb @galactic_bug_man @fiddleman @gaberlunzi @mertmack1 @phlank @oddfitz @brenledbetter @cwd912nb @lulubelle @cameralenswrangler @briang @jwn7882 @diatomwu @k8thegr8 @cosmiccat @nickmdal @jessicabeckham @interlibrarylowe

As always, no obligations to join, but I'd definitely welcome some extra eyes and cameras to document what we see!

Posted on August 02, 2017 19:17 by sambiology sambiology | 61 comments | Leave a comment

August 12, 2017

ID's... ID'ing... An hour on iNat is an hour well spent. :)

“It is hoped that the student will regard the identification of a bird as but the first introduction which will lead to a growing intimacy. There is a keener pleasure as well as greater scientific value in knowing a few birds well than in habitually striving for long lists and seeking rarities and doubtful records.”
From Wyman & Burnell (1925) introduction in "Field Book of Birds of the Southwestern United States"

This was posted on Facebook by John Karges @johnkarges a while back, and I must admit, it has me thinking a lot about iNaturalist. I’ve been chewing on that quote for a bit…

Ever since I was introduced to iNat about 4 years ago (thanks to Derek Broman @dbroman and Cullen Hanks @cullen ), my eyes have been opened more to local biodiversity than ever before. For the past few years, every day I’ve gone out to make some iNat observations (inspired by James Maughn @jmaughn ). I get great pleasure from this – I’m daily reminded of the things that we share this planet with – the critters and plants that are just waiting to be appreciated.

I also get great joy when I see something new! "Travel is taxonomically broadening" (something I regularly quote from Chuck Sexton @gcwarbler ), and when I go off to a new place, I see LOTS of new things. My ‘life list’ grows and grows with each trip, even if the trip is like an hour drive away. What joy I get from this – seeing that new bug that I’d never seen before! After posting it on iNat and learning its name (usually with great guidance from the ID’ing community), it’s like I’ve gained a new friend – silly, I know. If I’m lucky to see the same critter again, I greet it with a “hey! I remember you!” (even though I may not always remember its name right away…)

Another thing that provides me with tremendous joy is identifying observations for others. Sure, I probably do this a bit more than I should (ask my wife!), and my ID’s may not be adding much (yes, I do agree with a northern cardinal that already has 10 agrees!), but I’ve also found something out by doing this. People like it when you give them guidance to an ID. I’ve interacted with these folks in ‘real life,’ and they do enjoy it when you ID or agree with an ID. It welcomes the observer and shows him/her that we saw what they posted. We appreciate that they documented that organism, and we validate what they spent time to upload by giving it an ID. Overkill, perhaps, but as I get to meet the observer in real life, he/she appreciates it.

As I ID things for others, I get not just joy, but I feel more knowledgeable about the flora and fauna. I am the first to admit that I’ve been wrong thousands of times… There are many ID’s that I’ve given that are dreadfully WAY off. It’s ok to be wrong. As I add more and more ID’s, I become more comfortable with the names of the plants and animals in a place. This is a cool feeling.

An hour spent ID’ing on iNat is time well spent – I really believe this. I encourage everyone to spend some time looking through what others see, giving guidance on ID’s, even agreeing with agreed upon ID’s! A lot of folks already do this -- they devote lots of time to this, and I'm extremely grateful for their time on my observations as well as the others on iNat.

How do you do ID’s? I like to filter the identify screen – I usually focus on TX stuff, although I want to spend more time on the surrounding states. I search for verifiable observations (I un-click the ‘needs ID’) from TX: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?quality_grade=any&place_id=18

I’ve got a few field guides next to the desk, the Flora of North Central TX is always nearby, and I use bugguide advanced search a lot: http://bugguide.net/adv_search/bgsearch.php

The species guides for specific regions on iNaturalist are getting better and better. For instance, the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) in DFW is pretty extensive: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=57484&subview=grid&taxon_id=47157&view=species

Using those filters on the observation screen narrows down the search a bit.

With each and every observation and documentation, iNaturalist becomes more and more useful. As most people realize, I’m quite bonkers about this tool – and it feels good to use it. :)

Would love to hear how you spend time on iNat too. Hopefully you enjoy it and feel like it is a worthy use of time as I do.

Posted on August 12, 2017 03:02 by sambiology sambiology | 11 comments | Leave a comment