Journal archives for June 2020

June 03, 2020

Texas Panhandle Gathering -- iNaturalist is a tool of engagement!

We had it on the books for about a year... I was hoping to see folks from all around gathering together in the Texas Panhandle for our annual spring iNat TX gathering/bioblitz. Alas, a global pandemic is a curve ball that I didn't really expect, and the gathering was a bit more 'socially distant' (hugs were officially outlawed!)... Nonetheless, a good group of naturalists gathered at Matador and Gene Howe Wildlife Management Areas and documented a whole slew of organisms. It really was wonderful -- these things make me tremendously happy.

About 17 folks got together on May 29th at Matador WMA. We literally had 28,000 acres to explore, almost just to ourselves! Several folks got there a bit earlier than I did (I arrived at around 3:30) to do some exploring beforehand. That evening, we did some blacklighting close to headquarters area. Lots of stuff showed up to the lights! We also had around 8 stations, so we could stay a bit apart while we mothed. I got to do a little camping as well (which, I need to do this more often...).
We explored Matador again on May 30th -- most of the exploration was solo. This was a bit different than some of the gatherings of the past where we went out as small groups or so. We gathered again at noon at the campsite for some lunch and conversation.
In the evening, we cooked up some hot dogs (tradition, I suppose) and conversed about the afternoon findings. We blacklighted closer to the river this night to see if some different insects would show up.

In the morning, some of us went up to Gene Howe WMA. This was a relatively unexplored spot on iNaturalist, so it'll be nice to see some observations get added here! We 'gathered' at noon and then again in the evening to do some blacklighting close to headquarters. The panhandle has a bit of wind during the day, but it really does die down after sunset. So many cool insects showed up at the blacklights.

I hope that one of the big products that this trip accomplishes is some digital vouchers for the biodiversity at these spots. I hope that others recognize that these wildlife management areas are refuges for countless species -- the management practices there provide just the habitat that all of these organisms need. Through this bioblitz/gathering, we'll help with the ever growing species guide to the specific areas. We've got loads to still upload, but it's impressive so far:
Species at Matador WMA
Species at Gene Howe WMA
Hopefully we'll all get our observations up in a few weeks... hint hint. ;)

Throughout this whole time, I so enjoyed engaging with both nature and with my fellow naturalists. I think that's exactly what iNaturalist does to us. We learn more about nature, we seek it out, we document it, find new stuff, etc... but we also engage with each other. Sometimes, as in this case, it was a physical engagement with each other (except at a little bit of a distance), but it also happens online when we see what nature others see. That's a wonderful thing, and man, does it make me happy. :) We greatly missed those of you that weren't able to join us, but please know that you were there in spirit!

Next early spring, let's think about west TX!!! :) We had some fun discussion about Elephant Mountain WMA and Big Bend Ranch State Park, and there are some really nice Nature Conservancy spots there too. If we do West TX, we'd probably gather around mid April (dates TBD, of course).

iNaturalist is a tool of engagement! :)

Posted on June 03, 2020 22:04 by sambiology sambiology | 14 comments | Leave a comment