05 de junio de 2024

Jumping spider vision and color -- a MUST WATCH video!!!

OK, so I've always really liked jumping spiders, but after watching this video (30 minutes), I'm going to appreciate them even more.

I HIGHLY suggest the watch:
What Jumping Spiders Teach Us About Color

Thanks to @dirtnkids for the recommendation!

If you do watch this, let me know your thoughts. :)

Publicado el junio 5, 2024 02:02 TARDE por sambiology sambiology | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de mayo de 2024

May, June, and July bioblitzes and gatherings!

I get the question, "How do I find out about these bioblitzes?" I don't really have a good answer except to try to accumulate them and toss them on a journal post... There are folks that keep track of state-wide bioblitzes, but I try to accumulate as many as I can around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. If you know of other events, or want to organize one yourself, let me know! I can totally add it to this list! Some details are to be worked out in the near future, and I'll continually try to update this journal post. Here are ones that I know of:

May 7: bioblitz 3-6 and then blacklighting 8 to 11 PM
Ladd Nature Preserve in Duncanville


May 17-19:
Little L Ranch in Glen Rose with the Texas Master Naturalists


May 25: Pollinator Palooza! 11 AM - 1 PM
Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas


June 7-9:
Caddo Lake State Park and WMA


June 13: Blacklighting 8 to late
Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas


June 14-15: BioBlitz
Purtis Creek State Park in Eustace (sambiology not able to come)

June 15: Blacklighting 8 to late
Oak Point Preserve in Plano


June 21: blacklighting (potluck with Red River Master Naturalists) from 6 to late
Birch Creek Preserve in Lamar County (next to Pat Mayse WMA)

227 Private Road 45220, Powderly, TX

July 6: Blacklighting 8 to late
O.S. Gray Natural Area in Arlington


July 20: Blacklighting 8 to late
Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Garland


July 24: Blacklighting 8 to late
Sheri Capehart Nature Preserve in Arlington


July 26: Blacklighting 8 to late
John Bunker Sands in Seagoville


July 27: Blacklighting 8 to late
Acton Nature Preserve in Acton


July 27: Blacklighting 8 to 11
Heard Museum in McKinney
*fee event - reach out to @butterflies4fun

July 28: Blacklighting 8 to late
Oakland Cemetery in Dallas


Publicado el mayo 10, 2024 01:32 MAÑANA por sambiology sambiology | 42 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de mayo de 2024

Ladd Nature Preserve bioblitz! Tuesday, May 7 -- afternoon and evening!

Hey all,

Sorta short notice here -- Tuesday, May 7th, we'll have an afternoon and evening bioblitz at Ladd Nature Preserve in Duncanville:

BioBlitz at Ladd Nature Preserve, Duncanville
609 W Danieldale Rd, Duncanville, TX 75137
Parking on site (north east on preserve, off of Cedar Hill Road -32.635901, -96.919027)

Afternoon bioblitz from 3 to 6 PM
Evening black-lighting/mothing from 8 to 11 PM
Come and go – stay as long as you'd like!

Utilizing iNaturalist to document all the biodiversity here at the preserve. This information is being actively used to guide the master plan for the preserve.
Urban biologists from San Antonio, Austin, and Houston are coming up to Duncanville to also participate in this bioblitz.

Questions, comments, concerns: sam.kieschnick@tpwd.texas.gov
214 215 5605

Publicado el mayo 1, 2024 03:08 TARDE por sambiology sambiology | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de marzo de 2024

Trip to Middle East! Wow!

From 26 Feb through 9 March, I was soooo incredibly lucky to travel to Saudi Arabia to visit family! My brother-in-law, sister, nephew, and niece have lived in Saudi for the past 7 years or so (brother-in-law is a teacher at a school in Dhahran, an Aramco Camp: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Aramco_Residential_Camp_in_Dhahran). This year, I figured it was time that I visited – best decision EVER! It was an incredible time, and it was full of memorable moments and experiences.

My main purpose for visiting was to spend time with family, but each day, I had the opportunity to engage with some nature – almost ALL of it was new for me too. Here are some recaps of the days of my visit and some of the activities/experiences:

Feb 26 – flight from DFW to Dubai. This was actually what I was most concerned about on this trip – could I survive a 14.5 hour flight?!? Wellll, I was crazy lucky – the Emirates flight was so empty. Each person got their own ROW. Seriously – it was maybe 33% capacity on that flight. I wasn’t able to sleep much, but nonetheless, it was super relaxing. I ended up watching a lot of Planet Earth 3. :)

Feb 27 – landed in Dubai with a 9 hour layover. I had messaged some folks from Dubai beforehand for a place to visit on my layover, and Mushrif Park was a common suggestion. Even greater, I was guided by legendary naturalist @ahmed_almansoori !!! What an amazing experience to get to iNat with a local naturalist. I highly suggest that if you travel anywhere, check out the iNat community in those places – folks may suggest good nature places, or as I was able to experience, someone would even take the time to show me around. Ahmed is super amazing – I had the BEST time ever at Mushrif Park. Then, back to the airport to fly to Dammam to get picked up by sister and nephew. Slept 12 hours that night. :)

Feb 28 – My niece and sister drove me around the camp so I could get my bearings a bit. I would be spending most of my time at the actual Dhahran camp. I was actually quite surprised by how much nature existed in this camp! I was a bit worried that it would all be too manicured/maintained with little wildlife habitat, but there was actually quite a bit here. There is an initiative in Saudi to plant a lot of trees, so much of the camp had plants that were irrigated… And, to be frank, this is the major mechanism of disturbance in this camp – overly irrigating! They use a LOT of water on these desert plants – likely a lot more than they need. Most of the plants they are putting in are native, but whew, they water them like crazy. I’m sure that after they get established, they won’t need water… hopefully. Anyways, I did get to walk around the camp a bit on this date, but mostly it was a day of relaxing.

Feb 29 – Spent time with my nephew and niece today around various places at the camp. There is a ‘duck pond’ that is a bit of walk from their house, and there’s a ‘treated waste water lake’ that’s actually super close to their house. They’d no explored the lake before, so we all explored this together! It was GREAT!!! This was the spot with most of the nature, I think.

March 1 – This day, we went to another Aramco camp at Ras Tanura (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ras_Tanura). This one is closer to the coast, and there’s a beach that we could access. It was lots of fun with the kids to look for some shells and stuff. We also went by a mangrove preserve – not a lot of activity here, but it was still very cool to see this area of preservation. When we got back to the camp, we went back out to the lake! The lake would be the place we’d explore the most during my time. Each time, we’d spot some new stuff. My nephew and niece were really into catching dragonflies with the net, so as I upload stuff, I’ll likely upload a few of the same species multiple times. Apologies if this seems redundant, but I want to give some credit to all of the things in this spot!

March 2 – My niece is really into horses, so we spent time at the horse stables at the camp. We walked around to some other spots around the camp, and in the late afternoon, we went back out to the lake.

March 3 – The kids were at school most of the day, so I kinda went out by myself to explore other parts of the camp. I was hoping to check out all of the natural areas of this camp, and I think I accomplished that by the end of the trip. Anyways, this day I ventured a bit north of the house to the ‘old golf course’ that had been more restored to the natural state. Still lots of irrigated plants, but I spotted a few new things for me. As the kids got home from school, we went to the Central Park to look for more dragonflies.

March 4 – Another day of school for the kids, so again I explored a bit on my own. I also went to the northernmost part of the camp with the jebels ( https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/196009/jebels.htm). These geologic structures are super interesting, and there were several of these that I climbed this day. I was definitely worn out by the afternoon! But, this evening, we decided to do some black-lighting around the lake! It was a bit cooler and windier than I expected, but some neat bugs still showed up.

March 5 – After the kids went to school, my sister and I went on a little trip outside of camp! We drove to “Yellow Lake” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Asfar_Lake). It was about an hour and a half from camp, so my sister and I had some good time to talk. At the actual ‘lake’ we just did some roadside parking and walked a bunch. We never did reach the water, but the walk was quite nice and we spotted some really cool critters that I’d not seen at the camp. We drove back to the camp just in time for the kids to get back from school, so in the afternoon and evening, we explore the lake some more! We blacklighted again this evening, but not too much showed that didn’t show the night before.

March 6 – on this day, I went to another ‘waste water treatment lake’ on the southernmost part of the camp. The water was a bit more… fragrant… here, but there were quite a few more birds in this spot. I spent a few hours here and really enjoyed my time. In the afternoon, I mostly took it easy, but as I was just sitting there enjoying nature, I ended up spotted some really neat little bugs. When the kids got home from school, my sister, niece and I went into Dammam to pick up a few things. After that, we went to the stables for my niece’s horse ride. Then back to the house in the evening! A bit too cold tonight for black-lighting.

March 7 – On this day, my nephew had some stuff going on, so my sister, niece, and I went on a bit of an adventure. We went to Judah’s Thumb (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/judah-thumb). It was SO AMAZING! Definitely more of a desert than I’d seen before. We spotted some really amazing critters and plants here – obviously adapted to extremely dry conditions. This was a really cool day. When we got back to camp, we went back to the nearby lake.

March 8 – My last day in Saudi… Of course, we went to the lake again, caught a lot of dragonflies, and we just had a good time. In the afternoon, we went to Khobar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khobar). This was the last weekend before Ramadan starts, and whew, the town was crazy crowded! Soooo many people! One man with two children came up to us and said “I want my children to meet American!” So, of course, I talked to the kids for a bit – not sure that they understood anything I said, but they were laughing at some of it. We ate at a pretty nice restaurant in Khobar, and they drove me to the airport in Dammam.

March 9 – Ok, this flight was pretty brutal… honestly. It was totally full, and it was an even longer flight (16.5 hours!). But, hey, I survived! Didn’t sleep at all, so as I got back to Fort Worth, I was dragging big time. Rested up and reflecting on my amazing trip! :)

I have a LOT of observations to upload, and I’ve got a lot of work to try to ID them. It may take me a while to get all this done. I also may edit this journal post as I recall some other cool moments. It was really an amazing vacation. I’m supremely lucky to have had this experience – my first trip overseas was definitely a positive one.

Publicado el marzo 12, 2024 12:38 MAÑANA por sambiology sambiology | 20 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de febrero de 2024

New master naturalist classes -- and their projects! Any ID/comment is most welcoming! :)

I'm super lucky to get to work with the Texas Master Naturalist program. And some of the absolute BEST iNatters in Texas are Master Naturalists! There are lots of chapters of this dedicated volunteer group throughout the state. If you're not familiar, here is the website: https://txmn.tamu.edu/

Anyways, there are a couple new classes here in the DFW that have iNaturalist projects just for the new students! Please don't feel obligations, but if you're able to identify or comment on observations (even a little message of "cool critter!" or "great photos!" can be super meaningful), that'd be awesome.

Here's the North Texas Master Naturalist Class of 2024 project page:
And here's the ID page with verified observations included:

Here's the Blackland Prairie Master Naturalist Class of 2024 project page:
And here's the ID page with verified observations included:

I mention a little bit about the 'feedback loop' of ID's here on iNat. No doubt, it takes a bit of energy and time to identify things here on iNaturalist, but that's one of the most beautiful parts of the community -- each ID/comment is a "Welcome to the naturalist community!" sort of message! :)

Publicado el febrero 10, 2024 08:21 TARDE por sambiology sambiology | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de febrero de 2024

Events coming up in DFW -- winter and spring 2024! :)

So, I'm going to start to accumulate a list of the gatherings/bioblitzes/surveys here in DFW. If you know of others, please toss me a message! And I'll try to toss more details on this post as I get them.

Feb 24 - Trinity River Audubon Center macroinvertebrate bioblitz!

March 23 - Bioblitz at Benbrook Lake Richardson Tract Limestone Prairie
Registration here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/npatfortworthchapter/1176993
9 a.m until noon, Old Granbury Rd, Crowley TX 76036

March 30 - Blacklighting at LLELA
7 PM until late - "barn owl ridge" -- enter through back gate at Fish Hatchery Road near LISDOLA. Pass through gate, and go north about 1 mile. Here's the GPS: https://www.google.com/maps/place/33%C2%B003'50.6%22N+96%C2%B056'11.1%22W/@33.064049,-96.9390023,914m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m4!3m3!8m2!3d33.064049!4d-96.936422?entry=ttu

April 6 - Bioblitz with Texas Nature Trackers at Post Oak Preserve in Dallas
1600 Bowers Rd, Seagoville, TX 75159
8 AM - 8 PM -- come and go! (with a welcome at 9 AM at Dallas Environmental Education Center and a wrap-up at 7 PM)

City Nature Challenge - April 26 - 29!
April 26 - 7 PM blacklighting at Mockingbird Nature Park in Midlothian
April 27 - 9 AM at Trinity River Audubon Center
April 27 - 10 AM at Sheri Capehart Nature Preserve in Arlington
April 27 - 10 AM Walsh Ranch Pocket Prairie Bioblitz in Parker County
April 27 - Bioblitz and blacklighting at Frisco Grand Park

There are some other state-wide bioblitzes coming up too -- check out @pfau_tarleton 's journal post:
I'm hoping to go to some of these too!

Publicado el febrero 4, 2024 01:10 MAÑANA por sambiology sambiology | 14 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de enero de 2024

TPWD iNaturalist video -- lucky to be part of the community!

I'm sooooo dang lucky. Lucky in many ways -- lucky to be in relatively good health, lucky to live in an area where there's ample wildlife year around, and lucky to have a job that I love! I'm also super lucky that I'm allowed to utilize iNaturalist both personally and professionally.

Last year, I was part of a little iNaturalist video that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Show put together. Well, it's up on youtube now!

I hope the biggest takeaways from the video are not about me, but about the tool and the community here on iNaturalist. In the midst of a lot of bad news all over the place, this community is a good reminder of hope -- lots of folks engaging with nature around the world. And that's pretty dang cool. :)

Publicado el enero 29, 2024 07:07 TARDE por sambiology sambiology | 23 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de enero de 2024

Observing plants without reproductive structures...

So, I'm changing. :)

Early on, I would get really bent out of shape when folks would observe a plant on iNaturalist and not include the reproductive structures (flowers/fruits/seeds). I remember doing a copy-paste message that I would put on observations of just the leaves or stems... "Wait until the flower/fruit!" It was probably pretty annoying...

When I worked in the herbarium (Botanical Research Institute of Texas), a plant specimen was only valid if it had those flowers/fruits... Without those, it could not be used in the herbarium as exchange. This was hammered into me big time, and I guess it carried over into my iNat observing and identifying.

Anyways, I'm changing! I no longer get upset if an observation doesn't include reproductive structures, and I too am going to be observing plants without reproductive structures. I'll try to do this infrequently -- I still think that reproductive structures are the best way to observe a plant and get the most accurate ID. But honestly, it may not be all that necessary. Especially with the phenology, it may even be just as valuable to document when a plant is not blooming/fruiting.

Plants are spectacular to observe with iNaturalist -- they stay put, and it's quite simple to get multiple photos of the different parts of the plants. With ALL plant observations, I get AT LEAST two photos. If it's one that I'm not too familiar with, I think getting even more photos of different parts of the plants.

As I visit Saudi Arabia in a month of so, I will likely be observing a lot of plants that lack reproductive structures -- I may not get back to Saudi... ever... but I still do want to try to find as many different organisms as I can. Hopefully some of the vegetative characteristics will be unique enough to narrow down an ID.

So, I'm loosening up a bit when it comes to plant observing -- and that's a good thing! :)

Publicado el enero 19, 2024 07:28 TARDE por sambiology sambiology | 22 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de enero de 2024

Goals for 2024 on iNaturalist...

So, last year, I was super lucky to drive around and visit some of the eastern part of the United States -- several new places for me, and that was great! I observed a lot of new for me species ('lifers'), and overall, just had a great year full of nature!

In 2024, I'm planning a bit of the same -- only this time, a bit more on the western part... at least western part of Texas! I'm planning a road trip to Colorado, perhaps, so that's a bit more west! Then, the trip to Saudi will be filled with new things (soooo excited about this!). Hopefully I'll still be able to get some daily observations and find some time to explore outside every day.

I've had to narrow down my ID'ing to my region... The exponential growth of iNat here in Texas is magnificent, but I've only had the energy to sometimes look at just Dallas/Fort Worth observations... I'll keep doing as many ID's as I can!

One of the new goals that I'm creating for myself is to interact with more folks from around the world here on iNat. The observations of the day and the week are so freaking inspirational (big time thanks for these write-ups, @tiwane!), so I want to engage with more of the global community on iNaturalist!

With the global growth of iNaturalist, the community of iNatters grows along with the observation/species number. I'm planning on corresponding more with folks from around the world -- even with my repetitive message of "woah, cool observation" or "neat-o photo," I think these can be kinda encouraging and welcoming. They're genuine too -- there are soooo many cool observations being made daily here on iNat. And hey, it feels good to know that someone else is enjoying your photos/audio recordings/nature experiences. :)

So, that's my main goal for 2024 here on iNat -- connect more with other iNatters! :)

Publicado el enero 3, 2024 02:34 MAÑANA por sambiology sambiology | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

01 de enero de 2024

My biggest year ever! It's been a good one. :)

What a great 2023!!!

I was incredibly fortunate to get to go outside every day during 2023 -- no doubt, I'm lucky to live in a place and in a position where I can do this. I've kept up with my daily observation streak, (inspired by @jmaughn !) and focused this year on trying to find some species that I'd not seen before. @muir also inspired me to pursue a bit of a 'big year!' I'm frequently inspired by so many here on iNat -- folks I've met and folks I've not yet met!

In 2023, I was able to see and engage with around 4556 unique taxa -- more than I've ever documented before! I was able to take a few road trips, travel to different spots in the US for conferences, and even look closer at some of my frequently visited parks close to home.

Here is my Year in Review:

In 2022, I was able to document 4032 taxa.
In 2021, it was 3818.
In 2020, it was 3626.
In 2019, it was 4012 (this was the year I went to Costa Rica!)
In 2018, it was 2683.
In 2017, it was 3369.
In 2016, it was 2430.
In 2015, it was 2270.
In 2014, it was 976.
In 2013, it was 486...
(all these numbers may change a bit as they're curated or ID'ed or corrected!)

Each year, I've been so dang lucky to explore and engage with nature each year and each day. Also, I'm extremely lucky to be able to use iNaturalist to engage with the community of naturalists! Next year, I'm super excited to travel a bit further than I've ever traveled before (Saudi Arabia!), and I look forward to seeing even more new things!!!

Happy 2024!

Publicado el enero 1, 2024 01:42 MAÑANA por sambiology sambiology | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario