City Nature Challenge 2021: Winnipeg's Journal

November 30, 2020

What is there to see in Winnipeg in April anyway....



The first City Nature Challenge was definitely a competition to see which city could pile up the most identified organisms in the permitted time. Since the two cities involved were close in location, their opportunities to see things were pretty comparable - bragging rights went to the city with more enthusiasm and patience to observe in very similar habitats. As a global event, the playing field is no longer so level. Sometimes people in more northern latitudes feel that there is no chance for a northern event to 'win.'

CNC events frequently invite those new to iNat to make an occasion of learning to use the software to record their experience of the natural world. The existing iNat community is challenged to support new users so that they will continue to upload observations long after the event is over. Events allow diverse organizations to work together to bring forward their own institutional goals--whether to increase the data pool for their region or promote engagement with nature. These are the real gains - to both increase the number of users adding data, and create a community of support for all users from scientists to school children.

As the calendar year draws towards a close, it is traditional to reflect back on the past year - and 2020 has certainly has lots to reflect on. As it has in the past, iNat has made pages for users to look at their year statistics - to see yours just put your user name in the place where mine is in the url below...

https://inaturalist.ca/stats/2020/marykrieger



December still offers opportunities to add observations - both things you see now - and things you observed earlier but did not get around to uploading. You can add identifications to others observations - check the links below for inspiration and some strategies. Use the like button when you find an observation that strikes a chord with you - whether it is your own or one uploaded by another user.

Thanks for all the wonderful observations so far and looking forward to many more in the future.

  • iNaturalist.org blog an interview with the person who currently has the highest number of species observed in iNat .
  • Vimeo iNat tutorials made by the California Academy of Sciences to help to improve your use of iNat

Posted on November 30, 2020 03:29 by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 21, 2020

The Christmas Bird Count - more than a century of citizen science


I am sure that birders in Vancouver Island are hoping that the Common Pochard will hang around long enough to be included in the local Christmas Bird Count.

Since 1900, North American birdwatchers have been contributing counts of local bird populations made in December to the Audubon society. The first count was held in 25 locations with 27 observers and recorded about 18,500 individuals of 89 species. Two Canadian locations participated: Scotch Lake, York County, New Brunswick and Toronto, Ontario.

In Winnipeg, the first Christmas bird count on record was held on December 20, 1925. Fourteen species were identified in the 24-km count circle centred on the intersection of Portage Avenue and St James St. More recently, the Christmas Bird Count has been organized by Nature Manitoba. Last year, the Winnipeg count was completed by 104 observers who found 40 species. I was curious to see how the results of the last count stacked up against with the INat observations uploaded so far for birds seen in December in the area we have chosen for the CNC21. Remember that if you are always welcome to upload images of any of the birds 'missing' or underrepresented in iNat, no matter when they were taken.

Common name 120 Wpg CBC iNat Dec Division 1
Canada Goose 31 1
Mallard 198 1
Ring-necked Duck 1 -
Common Goldeneye 1 -
Gray Partridge 105 2
Bald Eagle 5 2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 5544 1
Great Horned Owl 6 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker 4 -
Downy Woodpecker 178 9
Hairy Woodpecker 141 4
Black-backed Woodpecker 1 -
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 4 1
Pileated Woodpecker 11 5
Merlin 4 -
Northern Shrike 6 1
Blue Jay 98 1
Black-billed Magpie 83 -
American Crow 236 -
Common Raven 352 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1387 10
Red-breasted Nuthatch 12 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 414 9
Brown Creeper 2 2
American Robin 1 1
European Starling 190 -
Bohemian Waxwing 62 -
Fox Sparrow 1 -
Dark-eyed Junco 24 -
White-throated Sparrow 13 3
Song Sparrow 2 1
Northern Cardinal 3 -
Common Grackle 1 -
Pine Grosbeak (count week) -
House Finch 208 -
Purple Finch 2 -
Red Crossbill 2 1
Common Redpoll 1 -
Pine Siskin 3 -
American Goldfinch 17 -
House Sparrow 4068 1
House x Eurasian Tree Sparrow (hybrid) 1 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Eastern Screech-Owl - 1
Gyrfalcon - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - 2
Townsend's Solitaire - 1
Varied Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 1
total observations 13,423 78
total species 42 34

At the moment, the 121th Christmas Bird Count is still going forward - the same but different. As Birds Canada reiterates "If you choose not to participate this year, Birds Canada and our US partner, National Audubon Society, fully support your decision."

More reading

Posted on November 21, 2020 17:52 by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 14, 2020

Nature in Winnipeg's Public Spaces

iNaturalist use is steadily growing in Canada - we recently surpassed 4 million observations! The iNaturalist collection project, Winnipeg Parks and Open Spaces shows us that just over 5,000 of those observations were found in parks and public open spaces in Winnipeg. Up to now, 951 species have been reported by 411 observers.

The three most frequently reported organisms are all waterfowl - Canada Goose (92), Mallard (77) and Wood Duck (60) - a testimony to the importance of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers to the natural habitat of Winnipeg.




As COVID-19 continues to limit our ability to move freely, it is refreshing to find nature in places that are close at hand. If you cannot get out into a local park, it might be time to check back through your files and field notes to see what observations from the past can be added to fill out the story of Winnipeg's urban green spaces.

More reading:

Posted on November 14, 2020 20:05 by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 07, 2020

The importance of fun

The first set of CNC 2021 organizer meetings took place in the last week of October 2020. These meetings help to get both new organizers and those who have years of experience all on the same page no matter where they are located.

Local organizers were asked to share their individual goals for their 2021 iteration of the City Nature challenge in the meeting chat . When Susan Ansell hoped that "people will enjoy feeling part of a global activity and have fun (everyone needs more fun!)", Lila Higgins (@lhiggins), one of the meeting facilitators immediately reiterated with enthusiasm, "and that is explicitly one of the goals of the global nature challenge... to have fun".

The observer experience is central to iNaturalist - what happens to a person when they pay attention to living organisms other than themselves.

However, despite the fact that iNat can be a bit technical and seems scientific, our primary goal in operating iNaturalist is to connect people to nature...https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/what+is+it

Here are some responses Has iNat Changed Your Behavior? from a few years ago.

"Photography of the natural world has remained about the same (it varies year to year), but what to do with the photos has changed a great deal. ... iNaturalist has made a huge difference in identification of species photographed. I used to scour the internet for good sources of species ids, pester others for bird, butterfly, and plants ids. That has changed remarkably - fellow iNatters now help with ids, and the online species info on iNat has also helped.... I don't feel as lost or overwhelmed in learning the names of fauna and flora. And this knowledge is reinforced when helping others on iNat with ids."

"..I'm often in the office doing mapping and data entry. One of my coworkers found a neat moth in the stairwell to our parking structure, so I started looking for moths there. One day I found 15 different kinds! I've got 106 species of Lepidoptera on my life list now after two years watching the stairwell, and probably over half are from that stairwell. 50 or so species in a stairwell? I'm an ecologist, but when it comes to moths I am a clear amateur.. "

"... Before iNaturalist, most of my photos were of landscapes. Now and then I took a photo of a flower or a bear. ...When I discovered iNaturalist, I was amazed to find a ready-made database for my observations. Not only that, but iNat provided a community where I could find support that has encouraged me to grow and to focus on projects that seem to me worthwhile. Instead of finding new cross country routes in and near Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP, I now spend most of my time studying the flora of the John Muir Wilderness west of Courtright and Wishon Reservoirs and east of Kings Canyon National Park."

"iNat [h]as [re-]awakened my love for bugs and being out in nature! As a child I was constantly outside searching for bugs and other creatures. My mom would be terrified every time I’d come home with a shoebox of new friends! I even made a bug hospital complete with tiny handmade hospital beds. I know, not very helpful, but at the time I thought I was doing something amazing. ... that need to explore faded away as I became older... iNat has helped bring back that side of myself. I don’t just look at a plant and see a plant. I get close enough to see what could be crawling on that plant, and I want to know everything about it.... I’m finding that I’m so much more aware of the life that’s surrounding me....."

"I now find myself in friendly conversations with fishermen and asking if I can look in their buckets and questions about their catch. They usually seem pretty fired up to explain what they're doing to someone armed with a camera rather than a fishing pole. "

Whatever your interest in iNaturalist, I hope that you will find nature a source of continuing fascination and that it brings you and yours much fun now and in the future.

Posted on November 07, 2020 16:14 by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 31, 2020

What is a bioblitz?

During a bioblitz, participants strive to gather evidence of as many living species as possible found in a particular place over a short period of time. Many people are encouraged to observe combining the efforts of both experts and novices to provide a 'snapshot' of the biodiversity of the area being studied.

The event that first used the word 'bioblitz' to describe itself was held in Washington, D.C.'s Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in 1996. Organizers were surprised to find more than 900 species present even though the area is surrounded by residential and industrial areas.

A Bioblitz offers opportunities for people with varying expertise to work together on a common goal. Observers bring local knowledge of the plants and animals that live there. Taxon experts confirm field identifications. Scientists understand the impact of the bioblitz data on the ecosystems studied. Combining these different spheres of knowledge can lead to the documentation of unexpected habitats or rare species during events.

Early bioblitzes were generally less than a day long and focused on small defined areas. Event organizers remained at the site for the duration of the event to collect the data. Participants could compare and celebrate observations as they occurred. Competition might be encouraged by observer teams and leader boards, increasing the engagement of the participants in the outcome of the event. Additional activities were organized to bolster the skills of people who might be new to observations.

The success of the local bioblitz and the exploding access to digital photography led to organizations to hold bioblitzs that span multiple locations for much longer durations. These events depend on electronic platforms like iNaturalist to gather observations.

Participating in a bioblitz, whether it is a single day local event or part of a larger initiative, continues to be a fun and exciting way for people to learn about biodiversity in their immediate surroundings.

More Reading
Canadian Wildlife Federation: Bioblitz https://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore/bioblitz/
National Geographic: Bioblitz https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/bioblitz/
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens 2016 Bioblitz https://inaturalist.ca/projects/2016-national-parks-bioblitz-kenilworth

Posted on October 31, 2020 16:08 by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 27, 2020

What is the City Nature Challenge?

Four days dedicated to documenting all the living organisms that live with us in cities around the world.

This citizen science event started in 2016 as a rivalry between two cities: Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each year since more cities have joined in the fun with the 2020 event drawing participation from 244 communities around the globe.

Now that we are living with the Covid virus, the City Nature Challenge may look a little different than it did when it first started, but the core purpose is unchanged. Collect as many observations of animals and plants as we can, add the data to the project and collaborate to identify what we have found.

We will not be organizing any public gathering events for the 2021 Winnipeg bioblitz. This simplifies things in some ways - but makes it more difficult for people new to iNaturalist or to bioblitzes to feel part of the process. Feel free to reach out in the comments or message @marykrieger with questions, comments, ideas and concerns.

Looking forward to a very interesting and surprising weekend in April 2021!

Further reading:

Posted on October 27, 2020 21:40 by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Archives