Mira

Joined: Aug 19, 2017 Last Active: Jul 15, 2019

Quantitative (quick and painless version):

For IDing competency context:

-aspiring amateur naturalist with decent knowledge of birds, flowering plants, smaller amount of lepidoptera, mammals

-minimal formal academic science education, most knowledge gained though interaction with local naturalists and science educators in the field or lecture and consultation with field guides and online expert resources (e.g.: cornell lab of ornithology, bug guide)

General context:

-I'm still adjusting to all of the protocols and features of iNaturalist, meaning: I've made plenty of mistakes especially earlier on, I "agreed" far too much because I misunderstood the function, I make typos especially with AI drop list. Please feel free to correct me, gently.

-I am interested in improving in my capacity to help this community and in becoming a better amateur and am open to kindly-worded feedback or suggestions.

Qualitative (for those with more free time and a bit of a dry sense of humor):

My sincere love for nature study probably began in earnest with my day camp experiences learning to observe, record and enjoy all manner of wildlife at the Bronx Zoo. From Proboscis monkeys to monitors, tapirs and llamas those programs sparked an interest and a respect for scientific research and conservation from a very young age. Also as a child, even though I resided in NYC, we did things like visit the Botanical Gardens, the Museum of Natural History, we took edible/ medicinal plant foraging walks in Prospect park and visited more unbound natural places whether to go apple picking or canoeing on the Delaware. I've always been infatuated with flowers and garden cultivars, especially since i volunteered for a neighborhood plant sale as a child, relishing the whimsy of the common names as much as the fun my tongue found in pronouncing the Latin ones (still does).

As an adult, my nature love lay dormant since I came to believe I was "too stupid to do math and science." I realize now it's probably more that I can't learn mainly from books and lecture if there's a tangible alternative out there. I retain most of what I learn in a hands on manner and struggle to even think about my memories of grueling, dry science textbooks devoid of field observation opportunities. Alas, after moving "upstate" (or downstate depending) i spent much time running around the Shawangunk and Catskill mountains oblivious to the specifics of much of the flora and fauna around me. Once I got into gardening and growing food and fun plants, I started to develop a thirst for more information reminiscent of my childhood zoo days. Later, about 10 years ago, I was introduced to "birding" (little did I know there was this huge community and the activity had its own name) and began to be involved with a local natural history group. I have taken considerable advantage of the opportunity to learn from the many current and former professors, researchers and incredibly talented non-professionals that comprise the group and have learned an incredible amount about many species of many living things. Most importantly, I learned that I'm not too stupid to study nature. I was reintroduced to citizen science through participation in Christmas Bird Counts and big day efforts and now it's something that gives me a real sense of being useful, which I need.

We have a considerable field guide library and over the years I've used them joyfully. Last year, I joked, "I wish there was an 'e-praying mantis'" since I am somewhat of an equal-opportunity amateur (aspiring) naturalist and while ebird is a lovely daily habit, who can I excitedly share my bizarrely large cadre of Chinese mantis friends with? What about this slime mold? The 27 woolly bears I saw? Cue: iNaturalist! Apparently I am not alone in wanting to share and learn and improve.

I live on a one acre parcel that backs up to a maple swamp which is part of a loose chain of local lakes/waterways with partially wooded areas and then intensively gardened areas in the front. I am an avid gardener but my style would offend the sensibilities of anyone who likes extreme manicured situations, mono-culture lawns or basically, most conventional gardeners. I try to aggressively spread natives, remove or control invasives to the best of my ability, be hospitable to herps, reptiles, birds and all manner of insect life. Some would be appalled by my encouragement of what they deem "pests" and by my use of "weeds" as beautiful bedding plants. Don't get me wrong, I also indulge my obsession with plants like peonies and plenty of other less useful plants but I also make sure there are specific areas that suit different wildlife. I have pollen-producing plants in flower from late March until the first freeze, plenty of shrubby cover and berry producers, super seeders like anise hyssop (a favorite of the goldfinches and chipping sparrows) and many many many many plants to choose from for a small space.
My overarching goal when I joined iNaturalist was to find a reasonable way to observe and record everything I possibly can on our parcel so I could have an exhaustive list and hopefully maintain a sense of the rhythms and changes I see. After being here 5 years I see the value in this as I've kept almost daily bird lists and can predict now, almost to the day, when certain migratory species will return or when a certain species will start feeding somewhere specific. It's magical...and yes, I also do anthropomorphize a bit. So, while I'm far too emotional and goofy to be a serious scientist I have an easier time relating to and spending time with life that isn't human and find great pleasure in feeling useful by contributing to the body of science as a citizen scientist. For that I am grateful.

Current obsession: moths

Thanks for reading.

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