The Streak

Today marks the one year anniversary of a consecutive observation days “streak” I started on December 19th, 2019. I had been looking for something that would help me fight my iNat winter blues, the time of the year when observing wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains becomes challenging, as it seems to be hibernating, waiting for rain to arrive. What I was missing above all was observing insects, after an excellent spring and summer especially for butterflies and bees that made every outing so interesting and rewarding.

Inspired by https://www.inaturalist.org/blog/29540-year-in-review-2019, and @jmaughn’s amazing streak of to date 2,823 consecutive observation days (starting in 2013), this was the personal challenge I was looking for, to help me hang in there and dig deep: Lichens, fungi, mosses, galls, the earliest flower buds… Observations while waiting for an appointment, while shopping… Stopping to take pictures of roadkill… Adding sound recordings, feathers and tracks/signs to my tools …

When Covid-19 arrived, and our lives radically changed more or less from one day to the next, keeping the streak going helped me fight so much more than winter blues. Forcing myself out of the house to observe wildlife on roadsides (when the trails and beaches were closed), in my backyard and immediate neighborhood, no matter how depressed, scared, tired, stressed or angry I felt, became my daily sanity routine. And connecting to the iNat community made me miss friends, family, and travel so much less.

I think iNatters are mostly quite rational people, interested or immersed in science, in reality, both feet on the ground. iNatters tend to be interested in research, in evidence. In a year full of conspiracy theories, political agendas, denials, in a year where one plus one didn’t add up to two for about half of the United States, iNat was my home, my sanctuary.

I participated in a few Socially Distant Bioblitzes (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/socially-distant-bioblitz-series) and my first team competition (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/california-wild-women), made new friends, and saw so much wildlife that it often featured in my dreams.

The bulk of my 8,490 observations to date is from that year of streaking: 6,119, on average around 500 per month, with 1,355 species observed, in a really limited radius of no more than 10-20 miles around my house, with the exception of one memorable excursion to Long Beach (60 miles) and a handful of trips to Oxnard (40 miles). Mostly I went to the same (safe, unpopulated) places over and over and over again, saw organisms come and go, followed the progress of breeding birds, of bees and their underground nest sites, of plants from flower bud to fruit…

My plan is to keep the streak going for a bit longer, possibly much longer, depending on so many things that may or may not happen. Who can really make plans right now?

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I wanted to add a few highlights of the year, as curated / faved by fellow iNatters:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2019-12-19&order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=any&popular&subview=grid&user_id=andreacala&verifiable=any

I faved these: https://www.inaturalist.org/faves/andreacala

Posted by andreacala andreacala, December 19, 2020 16:42

Comments

This was very moving to read, Andrea. I'm touched that my weird, compulsive behavior has somehow inspired anyone. Hang in there.

Posted by jmaughn about 1 year ago (Flag)

You are a gifted writer, Andrea. You have expressed so many sentiments I have had about iNat, Covid, keeping sane, and the importance of being in nature. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more outings and some other great finds with you again soon.

Posted by scubabruin about 1 year ago (Flag)

@jmaughn, @scubabruin, thank you both! James, Laura (@scubabruin) is a fellow streaker, with 443 consecutive days, and counting. I don't know who or what got Laura started to make daily observations... Laura, what was it?

Posted by andreacala about 1 year ago (Flag)

I don't recall the exact person/post, but I first heard about the #dailyiNat idea in a forum topic last year. I'm somewhat competitive by nature, so this seemed like a fun goal to work toward...one year of daily iNat observations. I'm past that, but now as you mention, it has become so much a part of my daily routine, I can't and don't want to stop.

Posted by scubabruin about 1 year ago (Flag)

Great summary of what all of us iNatters have felt!

Posted by jim_carretta about 1 year ago (Flag)

Thank you so much for posting this! I agree with @scubabruin about how perfectly you've expressed what so many of us feel. There is something comforting in knowing that while we are all geographically and socially separate, at that same time, we are part of a wonderful network of supportive people who simultaneously might also be documenting a fly on some seaweed, a shell, an inconspicuous mushroom, or other easily overlooked sign of life. I wish you all the luck in the coming year on continuing your streak!

Posted by rjadams55 about 1 year ago (Flag)

Andrea, you've taken the strewn Joker cards and turned them into a unique game of solitaire and community bingo with prized for all. I'm so grateful to be in the bingo group.

Posted by redrovertracy about 1 year ago (Flag)

Thank you Jim, R.J., and Tracy. You all are "in my bingo group," but Tracy, have you been playing a little bit too much online poker lately?

Posted by andreacala about 1 year ago (Flag)

LOL. I just returned from SLO yesterday afternoon. Enough poker...back to community bingo!

Posted by redrovertracy about 1 year ago (Flag)

Im late to this but, I had a year of inatting as well at the end of 2020. It was a challenge, but it got me to look at so much more than just birds or mammals.

Posted by chrisleearm 12 months ago (Flag)

Congrats Chris to 397 consecutive days... and counting. Great you keep it going!

Posted by andreacala 12 months ago (Flag)

Is there a way to check and see how long one’s streak it without looking at the calendar?

Posted by chrisleearm 12 months ago (Flag)

https://mapsandapps.github.io/inat-streak/, then put in your user name.

Posted by andreacala 12 months ago (Flag)

Thanks

Posted by chrisleearm 12 months ago (Flag)

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