10 de julio de 2020

Escaping the news a bit -- venturing off to nature! Also, donate to iNat. :)

So, I was getting a bit overwhelmed and stressed out by all of the news... Lots of suffering and anger and bad news. It sucks. I even heard a new term: doomscrolling... You scroll down on your news feed and get bad news after bad news... We're inundated and saturated with it. :-/

Soooooo, I broke a bit of the rules and social distanced far from home the past few days. I know, I know, I know -- I should stay at home, but I just had to shuffle off and really escape. I headed west! I went to Big Springs State Park, Monahans Sandhills State Park, and then to Balmorhea State Park (well, the outskirts -- it's still closed). It was about a 7 hour drive to the furthest spot, but wow, did I have fun. I black lighted at several spots, and I've got a whole slew of photos to go through. :) I've got lots of ID'ing to do as well! Also, I tend to make lots and lots and lots of stops on the roads. This is mostly just to keep me awake as I drive - I have to pull over and stretch my legs and look at a weed or two.

Anyways, it was nice to clear the mind a bit, but I also thought a lot about the community on iNat and iNat in general. It's amplified my enjoyment of nature big time. I take it with me every time I go outside, and it's opened my eyes so much to the biodiversity all around me. It's just a tool, but it's like a bridge -- connecting me with nature even more. I like it! :)

As with most things these days, I bet it's not immune to the financial hardships of all non-profits. If you've got a few extra bucks, you should think about supporting iNat, especially right now. I've also double checked, and yep, the funds DO go straight to iNat and not some other bucket. :)

Anywho, it was mighty nice to escape to nature for a bit, clear my mind, remember what's important in life, and check out some bugs and plants. :) Hope everyone else is doing that every now and then too!

Ingresado el 10 de julio de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 9 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de julio de 2020

Not so public mothing events in DFW/North Central TX...

Soooo, we had a few mothing events in DFW on the books, and as expected, most are cancelled. There's one left that I know of. It's at Acton Nature Park on Saturday, July 25. It's not really a public event - instead, it's going to just focus more on collecting some data to compare it with the other year's events... If you're coming, we'll maintain social distance and wear masks when necessary.

Also, to celebrate @wildcarrot 's return to TX, I'd like to plan one at LBJ grasslands in August or so. :)

Anyone else know of others?

Also, let me know if you're planning/wanting to come to the Acton Nature Park. :)

Ingresado el 04 de julio de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 12 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de julio de 2020

Publishing new records without voucher specimens?

Curious... I was looking through the relatively recent papers that use iNaturalist data (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/published-papers-that-use-inaturalist-data-wiki/2859), and I'm wondering if anyone has published a paper on a state/county/country record based JUST on iNaturalist observations... I think most publications use physical vouchers as well as photovouchers, but I'm not sure if there's been one with JUST photovouchers. Anyone know?

Traditionally with plants and bugs, I think a physical voucher is usually required for publication... I guess it would depend on the journal, but I'm not finding any papers that use solely photovouchers.

Would love any input! :)

Ingresado el 03 de julio de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 11 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de junio de 2020

Texas Panhandle Gathering -- iNaturalist is a tool of engagement!

We had it on the books for about a year... I was hoping to see folks from all around gathering together in the Texas Panhandle for our annual spring iNat TX gathering/bioblitz. Alas, a global pandemic is a curve ball that I didn't really expect, and the gathering was a bit more 'socially distant' (hugs were officially outlawed!)... Nonetheless, a good group of naturalists gathered at Matador and Gene Howe Wildlife Management Areas and documented a whole slew of organisms. It really was wonderful -- these things make me tremendously happy.

About 17 folks got together on May 29th at Matador WMA. We literally had 28,000 acres to explore, almost just to ourselves! Several folks got there a bit earlier than I did (I arrived at around 3:30) to do some exploring beforehand. That evening, we did some blacklighting close to headquarters area. Lots of stuff showed up to the lights! We also had around 8 stations, so we could stay a bit apart while we mothed. I got to do a little camping as well (which, I need to do this more often...).
We explored Matador again on May 30th -- most of the exploration was solo. This was a bit different than some of the gatherings of the past where we went out as small groups or so. We gathered again at noon at the campsite for some lunch and conversation.
In the evening, we cooked up some hot dogs (tradition, I suppose) and conversed about the afternoon findings. We blacklighted closer to the river this night to see if some different insects would show up.

In the morning, some of us went up to Gene Howe WMA. This was a relatively unexplored spot on iNaturalist, so it'll be nice to see some observations get added here! We 'gathered' at noon and then again in the evening to do some blacklighting close to headquarters. The panhandle has a bit of wind during the day, but it really does die down after sunset. So many cool insects showed up at the blacklights.

I hope that one of the big products that this trip accomplishes is some digital vouchers for the biodiversity at these spots. I hope that others recognize that these wildlife management areas are refuges for countless species -- the management practices there provide just the habitat that all of these organisms need. Through this bioblitz/gathering, we'll help with the ever growing species guide to the specific areas. We've got loads to still upload, but it's impressive so far:
Species at Matador WMA
Species at Gene Howe WMA
Hopefully we'll all get our observations up in a few weeks... hint hint. ;)

Throughout this whole time, I so enjoyed engaging with both nature and with my fellow naturalists. I think that's exactly what iNaturalist does to us. We learn more about nature, we seek it out, we document it, find new stuff, etc... but we also engage with each other. Sometimes, as in this case, it was a physical engagement with each other (except at a little bit of a distance), but it also happens online when we see what nature others see. That's a wonderful thing, and man, does it make me happy. :) We greatly missed those of you that weren't able to join us, but please know that you were there in spirit!

Next early spring, let's think about west TX!!! :) We had some fun discussion about Elephant Mountain WMA and Big Bend Ranch State Park, and there are some really nice Nature Conservancy spots there too. If we do West TX, we'd probably gather around mid April (dates TBD, of course).

iNaturalist is a tool of engagement! :)

Ingresado el 03 de junio de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 14 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de mayo de 2020

TX Panhandle BioBlitz - Socially distant gathering -- is that an oxymoron?

Hey folks,

So, it'll be a much smaller 'gathering' this upcoming weekend at the two WMA's. Aaaaaand, it looks like the weather may be a bit rainy. Shucks. No worries -- we'll still find a way to observe some nature. :)

Do me a favor -- save my phone #'s - personal (Verizon): 817 771 8793, and work (AT&T) 214 215 5605. May not have ANY reception there

Most of the weekend we'll play it by ear on exact locations to meet up and where to blacklight or explore.

Fortunately @oddfitz knows every square inch of Matador WMA, so he can point out some nice areas to explore too.

I'll be able to be at Matador WMA at around 4 or 5 PM on Friday, but if you get there earlier, that's ok. The headquarters spot is where we can 'gather' -- although, please keep in mind that I'm going to try to keep some distance from everyone. It's just a good practice... Apologies for the lack of handshakes or hugs this time around. :(

Here's the location:

The tentative game plan is to stay at Matador on Friday and Saturday, and then head up north to Gene Howe on Sunday and Monday. Two nights of blacklighting at Matador and one night of blacklighting at Gene Howe.

A few things to bring -- water, food, perhaps some bug spray, umbrella (if everyone brings umbrellas, then perhaps it will reduce the % of rain -- that's how weather works), lots and lots of camera batteries. Oh, bring some cleaning stuff too -- to wash hands frequently.

I'm planning on camping at both locations too. My stench will likely keep others at least 6 feet away from me too. Win win! :)

I hope that a product from this 'gathering' is a good digital record of the biodiversity at these WMA's. WMA's are refuges for so many different critters and plants -- let's show that on iNat! :)

Ingresado el 24 de mayo de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 39 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de abril de 2020

Engaging social media with the city nature challenge and iNaturalist!

Hey all!

Hope you are all doing well and that you/your families are stay healthy and safe during this unprecedented time. I wanted to ask a huge favor of you, as I know you are some most enthusiastic iNat users out there.

Since this year’s City Nature Challenge is no longer a challenge, our efforts have focused to engage users with their immediate surroundings: outside their front doors, in their yard, or anywhere nature is found which they can safely and responsibly explore while complying with social distancing and stay-at-home orders where they live. It’s also a great opportunity for us to fill some data gaps!

That is why we need YOUR help! The TPWD Conservation Outreach Team is asking for me to reach out to some of our most engaged iNaturalist users in TX and ask them to share their City Nature Challenge experience.

Here are a few asks during and/or leading up to the City Nature Challenge (April 24-27):

  • Post a photo/video on Facebook, Instagram, and/or FB/IG stories
  • This post should be about how you are engaging with nature close to home during this CNC. You can answer some of the following questions:
    o What are some of your favorite things to observe in your neighborhood?
    o What are some species you never would have thought you’d find there?
    o Where are some of your favorite local places to go? Why?
    o Why do you think neighborhood nature is relevant for all community members?
    o How has neighborhood/backyard nature helped you or your family deal with COVID?

  • Use hashtag #yardchallenge; you can also use hashtags #CityNatureChallenge and/or #CNC2020
  • Tag the Texas Nature Trackers Program in your post:
    o Facebook/Instagram handle: @texasnaturetrackers

  • Tag 3-5 other friends and challenge them to post about their neighborhood nature/CNC experience!
  • Feel free to post once, or more than once!

We hope this engagement campaign will encourage others across the state and globe to get out and find what’s been hiding right under their nose all along!

Most importantly, we are stressing that all participants strictly adhere to federal, state, and local public health guidelines as they are updated in real time in response to COVID-19. Please do what you can to make sure you adhere to these guidelines during the event.

Let me know if you’re interested in helping out with this. Can’t wait to see what we all find this year!

Ingresado el 22 de abril de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 22 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de abril de 2020

Backyard mothing facebook live video... Sunday, April 26: 8:30 - 9:30 pm

Just as an FYI: Next week I’ll be doing some “backyard mothing” – it’ll be a facebook live video with the TPWD DFW page https://www.facebook.com/DFWUrbanWildlife/
Sunday, April 26, 8:30 - 9:30 PM

I'll talk about how to attract moths with lights, why moths are important in the ecosystem, and I will try to ID a few things that show up!

Also, I'll go through a step-by-step process on how I upload a moth observation to iNaturalist -- taking the photos, editing/cropping, and uploading through the website.

Fingers crossed that a few bugs show up! :-D

Ingresado el 18 de abril de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de abril de 2020

Emotions during COVID19 - and my iNat activity...

"Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on."
~Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Someone sent me that quote, and I thought, "Oh, that's a nice quote" but then I really thought about it more and more and more and more, especially right now. I guess that's the nice thing about quotes -- we are allowed to interpret them however we want to. :)

To me, this quote is so appropriate for what we're going through right now. I will admit, I only know a few people that have COVID19 currently, but my parents are at high risk, and many folks that I know and deeply care about are high risk as well. It's a creepy amount of time that I've been thinking about other folks right now too! Each time I go outside, not only am I looking at the critters and plants, but I'm thinking about the people that have given me guidance on the ID's...or for whatever reason, I just think about these folks...

I'm extremely fortunate to be able to still go outside right now. Of course, I'm staying crazy careful -- I avoid touching anything that other people touch, I'm wearing a little fabric face mask, I go to places where others aren't, and I wash my hands like I've got OCD. So, I'm taking all of the precautions, I think. Yet it's spring, my absolute favorite time of year. The bugs are out, the birds are singing, and every single weed has a bloom on it. For my mental, emotional health and sanity, I just have to be outside. I bring iNat with me each time too -- to share observations with others, but also just to explore. With iNat, I can travel vicariously through other naturalists' observations, and some travel with me too.

I guess that's the kicker -- when I'm out exploring, by myself, I actually bring a lot of naturalists with me. I'm physical distancing, but also figuratively walking alongside lots of folks. And that's a good feeling. :)

Going back to the Mary Oliver quote, this time of quarantine, social fear and anxiety, has reminded me of my place on the planet. I'm here but for a nanosecond geologically, and I'm so freaking lucky to even glimpse at the fellow residents of the ecosystem. To learn their names is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

Anywho, hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy, washing hands, and if you're able to, going outside just a little to look for a bug or two. :)

Ingresado el 04 de abril de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 21 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de marzo de 2020

Narrowing down ID's -- Spring-time boost of observations!

So, spring is pretty much here in Dallas/Fort Worth, and the number of observations is growing along with the plants! Despite the quarantine and 'shelter in place' orders, folks are still going outside to get observations. This is a great thing -- getting outside and enjoying nature is crucial to our health, I think. I still try to do it every day!

In the past few months, I've been trying to identify observations from the "Cross Timbers and Blackland Prairies Ecoregion in Texas":


But now, I'm going to start to just focus on the DFW metroplex with ID's:

I wish I had some time and energy to focus on specific taxa, but instead I've decided to focus on an area and all taxa. Nonetheless, please tag me if you'd like for me to look at an observation outside of DFW! :)

Here's the ID page for DFW observations:

Also, since lots of folks have been mothing lately, here are the top 500 species documented in DFW:

Keep on observing! :)

Ingresado el 26 de marzo de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de marzo de 2020

Discouraging public... "Remove the wildlife!"

Lately, it seems like I've had a lot of requests for presentations on dealing with 'nuisance' species... Coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, opossums... It's actually a bit of a bummer.

A few weeks ago I gave the most difficult presentation I've ever had to do to an angry group of homeowners that wanted nearby coyotes trapped and removed. I tried my best to stick to the message... Don't feed the wildlife, control trash, and hazing techniques... Alas, these folks didn't want to hear any of it.

Outside of that presentation, there's just been an influx of calls and emails about 'nuisance' species. Not gonna lie -- it's discouraging.

So, I'm curious how other naturalist/nature enthusiasts respond to the "let's get rid of it!" response... I guess I'm just fishing for some novel or convincing lines that you use when talking about the importance/value/appreciation of wildlife.

Oh, and iNat is where I go to get encouraged again. :)

Ingresado el 10 de marzo de 2020 por sambiology sambiology | 20 comentarios | Deja un comentario