January 16, 2018

Del Rio -- details! iNat gathering and bioblitz at Amistad and Devil's River!

Hey friends,

I finally have an update to the Del Rio gathering! The dates are the same (April 5 - 8), but the location has been now been narrowed down a touch. Here are the details - big time thanks to @gcwarbler for scouting some of these places (oh, and these can change some, but this is the general vicinity):

April 5: explore around Lake Amistad National Recreation Park, black lighting in the evening around this area…

April 6: explore some more around Lake Amistad National Recreation Park, black lighting in the evening around this area…

April 7: explore the Dan A Hughes State Natural Area (normally closed to public, but I've got the ok for us to explore here!) around Devil’s Creek, black lighting in this evening around this area…

April 8: : explore more of the Dan A Hughes State Natural Area and black light somewhere in the vicinity…

I wish I could stay longer, but I’ve got obligations on Monday, April 9, so I have to leave after lunch on April 8 (although, I’m actively trying to get out of this!)...

I think there are some folks that are planning on staying longer and going over to Big Bend either before or after, and they will maybe stop by Seminole Canyon State Park (heard this place is great) or other spots in the vicinity.

Here are some more of the nitty gritty details...

There *WAS* an airport in Del Rio... Alas, the closest airport is a few hours away in San Antonio, probably...

I’ll be staying in Del Rio, at this Quality Inn and Suites. There are quite a few hotels in the area… , all at relatively reasonable prices. There is camping at Lake Amistad as well. Also, there may be some other lodging options. @brentano was mentioning this to me.

Food: I’m not expecting us to do any fine dining during this little venture, so if you are able to bring food, bring it! I’m planning on doing some grocery shopping, and hopefully I’ll get some stuff for a weenie roast or whatever on at least one evening.
NO FACILITIES at some of these places, especially the Dan A Hughes State Natural Area! Read up on how to poo in the woods. Bring lots of water — by this time of year, it may already get a little warm (great for moths!), so we need to prep for this. At the grocery store, we should load up on water and drinks to stay hydrated.

So, comment and let folks know if you’re able to make it, where you’ll be staying, if you’ve got room in the car, etc...

I’m making t-shirts too! If you plan on going, comment what size shirt you want. I’m not making moola off of these shirts, so if you could bring like 10 bucks if you want one, that’d offset the costs. And if you don’t want a shirt, that’s ok too. :)

The point of this trip is to collect data for these areas (Val Verde County doesn’t have too too many data points on iNat), but most of all to connect with other naturalists in real life. Bring collecting gear if you want (nets and stuff), but we’ll only plan on taking digital vouchers on iNat. If push comes to shove, I do have a collections permit for the SNA, but I’d rather us just collect via photos.

I hope you can make it! If you’re not able to, that’s totally ok — there will be others in the future, I promise.

Tagging these folks that have shown interest on this trip — tag others that you think may be interested too. Ideally, this is for some pretty hardcore iNatters. :) Oh, and if you’re not planning on coming and don’t want to get drowned out in notices, you can ‘unfollow’ this post in the settings.
@nathantaylor7583 @kimberlietx @naturemom @connlindajo @greglasley @scottbuckel @itmndeborah @finatic @pileated @james5 @muir @nanofishology @bouteloua @kueda @loarie @tiwane @tadamcochran @alisonnorthup @gyrrlfalcon @amzapp @cosmiccat @mikegras @beschwar @coreyjlange @hydaticus @wildcarrot @susanhewitt @bogslogger @neotomastolemykeys @birdsbatsandbugs @butterflies4fun @aspidoscelis @ptexis @silversea_starsong @psyllidhipster @jaykeller @sea-kangaroo @aztekium @annikaml @anewman @eric_keith @bosqueaaron @cgritz @treegrow @briangooding @joelle @tfandre

Posted on January 16, 2018 03:35 AM by sambiology sambiology | 58 comments | Leave a comment

November 17, 2017

City Nature Challenge, April 27-30, 2018 -- DFW competing with like 75 other cities too!

iNaturalist and real-life friends,

So, there has been a lot of planning going into the next City Nature Challenge. Some of our cameras are still smoking from this past one, but we'll be doing it again in 2018! The dates are in stone: April 27 - 30, 2018. Four intense days where we'll try to document as much as possible throughout the metroplex (anywhere within the 9 counties around Dallas/Fort Worth). Are you ready?!?

I want to make sure that you all know the dates, go ahead and pencil it into the calendar. This time, we'll try our best to have more opportunities to gather, and we'll be having at least one "ID party" after the event to go through observations. This last time, that didn't really happen, and too many observations just rested at "unknown." Again, any and all observations made within the DFW area will count -- check out the area and the observations from the last city nature challenge: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2017-dallas-fort-worth

Also, I want you all to know just how often I use the information from the past City Nature Challenge. I emailed the results to many city councils, park boards, city mayors, and city managers throughout the metroplex. They know that not only is there biodiversity in the urban environment, but there are folks that actively want to seek it out. This sort of thing influences policy! If urban planners figure out that we care about nature, they will actively devote spots for natural habitat.

Let's show them again this upcoming year just how biodiversity exists here and how many folks care about it! :)

Competition will be intense this year... like crazy intense. So far about 75 cities around the world have shown interest in participating. Texas will have 7 urban areas playing along: Amarillo, Austin, DFW, El Paso, Houston, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio. Lots of partners on board already. Soooo, it will be a major challenge to maintain our lead like last year!

Also, just FYI, more guidelines will be drawn up on the kinds of observations we'll be using and how the competition will be evaluated. Stay tuned -- more details coming up.

Make sure to put it on your calendars! Tell your friends too! :)

Tagging many folks in DFW:
@taogirl @cgritz @kimberlietx @annikaml @bob777 @naturenut @walkingstick2 @wildcarrot @suz @tfandre @denver @andyk @itmndeborah @mchlfx @charley @brentano @zooga1961 @tadamcochran @butterflies4fun @dfwuw @jblinde @cwd912nb @kalamurphyking @daniel112 @atassin @galactic_bug_man @rmorgan @squaylei2000 @melindawpajak @aguilita @rehb @alchemist2000 @mustardlypig @fiddleman @cameralenswrangler @catenatus @gaberlunzi @mertmack1 @griff @genebem @lkholt @taharms48 @jwn7882 @oddfitz @picklepastures @phlank @cindylcobb5 @brenledbetter @spqnancy @sy25805 @nativefishnic @lulubelle @drtifflipsett @chuckd @katelyn3 @andrewbrinker @juliayl @miscelaineous @lpenn @briang @donaldhapp @lbullington24 @karinsaucedo @nerdywithnature @taosit @ryan3 @jillnugent @brennan3909 @aynhart @birdsbatsandbugs @postoak @sarahg @mnbrewer @danimal @ntc @sara39 @spteng @wilddallas @kimberlywalks @fratto @rmarusak @sammyjames @missypelican @diatomwu @littlebitt_of_nature @karen115 @wlhwildlife @jaquiring @amynature @apcorboy @laurastracke @flowerfreak @lseman @cosmiccat @betsymarsh @allopatry @lovebirder @valt @abigailmm @k8thegr8 @justjenny7 @cmoret @naturemom @gregfw @eangler @magatr0n @joshmols @caseyp @schylerbrown @elisewalkerolc @bogslogger @troutlily57 @stephaniehughes @chuckwilliamson @marcie12h @txstack @cdroz105 @perkpenn @dagmar @sandrahorton @juliethibodeaux

Posted on November 17, 2017 04:42 PM by sambiology sambiology | 52 comments | Leave a comment

November 07, 2017

Too many notifications? Dashboard filling up? Be sure to check your account settings!

Just an FYI...

If you get LOTS and lots of notifications on your observations or on observations you id, you can modify your account setting so that you don't get notified of ID agreements.

Just go to your profile page, click on "Edit account settings & profile" (located under your profile icon, if you've selected one). Then, scroll down a bit to "activity settings." There you can select or deselect these:

Notify me of mentions (e.g. @username)
Notify me about confirming identifications (Receive notifications about identifications that match your own. If you opt out of this you will only receive notifications about identifications of taxa that don't match the taxon in your own identification exactly.)

Just fyi! :)

Also, I can't emphasize enough just how important ID's are -- even agreeing ones. After talking to folks that get ID's on their observations, it's a big deal to them! Seriously -- even the 7 agreeing ID's of a northern cardinal, it's valuable to the observer -- that's positive feedback that encourages them to go back out and observe more. That's a good thing!

So, please continue to add in ID's where you can. It matters. :)

Posted on November 07, 2017 09:10 PM by sambiology sambiology | 8 comments | Leave a comment

October 25, 2017

Rockwall -- another bioblitz! This time at a larger park with more habitats... November 4th, Harry Myers Park.

Several folks showed up for the September 15 survey at a new nature park in Rockwall (https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/sambiology/11047-future-nature-preserve-in-rockwall-help-needed-for-a-biosurvey), and we're continuing a mission to document as many species in Rockwall county as we possible can! :)

On November 4th from 9:00 am until noon or so, we'll go to Harry Myers Park to document stuff. It will hopefully draw a few people from the public too -- I'll give a presentation on how to use iNaturalist to whomever shows up, and we may guide a few folks on how to make some observations.

Not too much has been documented from the park so far:

It's a pretty nice park -- about 60 acres with several recreational spots, but LOTS of nature-y spots too... There are a few ponds, some forested areas, a restored prairie, and a nice creek. Here's the location:
http://playrockwall.com/harry-myers-park/ (815 East Washington, Rockwall, Texas 75087)

Why are we doing this? We want to show people that diversity exists here and that land management decisions need to address wildlife and habitat. The only way to do this is with empirical evidence of the presence of biodiversity -- in this case, we'll use iNat observations to show how many species are in this area. Park board, city council, and other decision makers in Rockwall are watching this. Hopefully you'll join me! :)

Tagging these folks that have been to local bioblitzes before -- feel free to tag others that you think may be interested too:
@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 @interlibrarylowe @katelyn3 @spqnancy @kimberlywalks @naturemom @shutterpug @spteng
Again, no obligations to join, but it should be some fun! :) Let me know if you have any questions or concerns too.

Posted on October 25, 2017 09:15 PM by sambiology sambiology | 11 comments | Leave a comment

October 12, 2017

Lewisville Lake on Saturday -- 10AM! Dragonfly hunting...

So, a small group of us are going to LLELA on Saturday! We're looking for this damselfly in particular (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/8286492)... Buuuut, as it usually goes, we'll likely find lots of other stuff. :)

I know that a few folks are coming: @briang @elizrose @galactic_bug_man @brentano ... @mchlfx -- will you be there?!?

Here is where we'll meet at 10 AM:

If you're able to come, come! :)

Posted on October 12, 2017 03:14 PM by sambiology sambiology | 9 comments | Leave a comment

October 06, 2017

iNat legends! They are real people. :)

If you want to read about some of my favorite iNat people, @greglasley and @gcwarbler , take a glance at this article published last month in TPWD magazine:


A few folks may want to see this: @muir @briang @brentano @carrieseltzer @jaykeller @finatic @silversea_starsong @eric_keith @charley @connlindajo @wildcarrot @cullen @dfwuw @itmndeborah @kueda @kimberlietx @loarie @tiwane @mchlfx @maractwin @nanofishology @thenehan @tadamcochran @suz @robberfly
It's an enjoyable read!

Posted on October 06, 2017 08:42 PM by sambiology sambiology | 18 comments | Leave a comment

September 25, 2017

Put it in your calendar! April 5 - 8 in Del Rio, Texas...

Friends, mark your calendars. April 5 - 8 (roughly -- maybe longer, if folks want) around Del Rio, Texas -- bioblitz/gathering!

I'm still working on the details, but after talking to some folks, it looks like April 5 - 8 is going to be the target time... Hopefully we get some winter rains that will cause the plants to bloom and bugs to come out. :)

Looking at a few places around Del Rio that we *may* go:
Amistad National Recreational Area: https://www.nps.gov/amis/index.htm
Devils River State Natural Area: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/devils-river
Seminole Canyon State Park: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/seminole-canyon
Kickapoo Cavern State Park: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/kickapoo-cavern

Again, I'm still working on details of stuff, but mark your calendar if you think you might be interested in gathering with some fellow iNatters for camaraderie and seeing lots of cool things.

Posted on September 25, 2017 03:15 AM by sambiology sambiology | 42 comments | Leave a comment

September 17, 2017

How iNaturalist can guide land management...

Areas with biodiversity are healthier than those without.

It's one of those 'no-duh' statements that we all use as naturalists, but what's one way that we can measure biodiversity? Well, let's document the species!

I was joined with about 20 naturalists in a new nature preserve in Rockwall - Pettinger Preserve. In about 4 hours, we documented at least 200 species (so far). Check out the stuff we spotted:

We're compiling the nice species list of the place as well:

So what? What does it mean? Well, this is another example of how useful iNaturalist is in guiding management. The land now belongs to the City of Rockwall, and they'll be using this data to create trails, avoid certain areas with sensitive habitats, target the removal of invasive species, and restore certain habitats that are good for birds, mammals, and all other organisms.

Thanks to my fellow data collectors:
@tfandre @wildcarrot @dfwuw @brentano @fiddleman @cameralenswrangler @bogslogger @connlindajo @jasmineotto @donnadorman @jwn7882 @spqnancy @daniel112 @butterflies4fun @txstack @cwd912nb @bosqueaaron @elizrose @aguilita @jblinde Hope I didn't leave out anyone!

If you're willing to, please help us ID some of the observations taken in Rockwall County. This is part of a much larger project to document ALL species in Rockwall!

I use iNat for lots of reasons... here's another reason that you should too! Your observations help guide management decisions. :)

Posted on September 17, 2017 08:08 PM by sambiology sambiology | 3 comments | Leave a comment

September 09, 2017

Southeast Arizona... iNaturalist is a community!

I was mighty lucky to attend the Southeast Arizona iNat-athon on 20-26 August.

I was yet again reminded of what iNaturalist is... It's so much more than just a database or an app... It's a community. I met many fellow iNatters for the first time in person, although, truth be told, it seems like I'd already known them for quite a while!

Lots of folks were pretty hardcore observers -- most of the trip, we were documenting EVERYTHING. No creature was safe from our cameras! I tried to document as much as I could, although my photos are not nearly as good as the other folks that attended... I think something was off on my vibration reduction of my camera -- or maybe it was just my overwhelming excitement of seeing so many new things!

The entire trip was really phenomenal – I’ve been reliving the experiences as I go through my pictures of the bugs and plants. I’m going to be using the Southeast Arizona species that have already been documented on iNat to help me with some ID’s, but most of these things are new for me – if I’ve goofed on an ID, please let me know!

Also, here are the other observations from folks during the trip – far better photos than mine and can likely provide more information to aid with an ID:
BJ, Jay, James, Chris, Matt, Katja, Alan, Nathan, Matthew, Ken-ichi, Jason, Scott, Don

I hope I’m not leaving anyone out, and I’m sure that folks are still uploading observations, so the above links will change as people upload stuff.

Next year, Mexico! *fingers crossed!

Posted on September 09, 2017 02:26 AM by sambiology sambiology | 6 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 AM by sambiology sambiology | 11 comments | Leave a comment