Neil Gilham

Unido: 20.jul.2013 Última actividad: 22.oct.2019

Nature geek starting from before the second grade. Owner of many field guides. I am fascinated by the natural world and how all the pieces fit together and interact with one another; rock, soil, water, microbes, plant, animal, and air; all connected. Each outing brings something new. My powers of observation have significantly increased. I can’t say that I focus on any one thing but naturally birds are at the top of the list because they're virtually everywhere you look. Dragonflies are among my favorites - marvels of flight and fast-firing synapses. Mosses, mushrooms, and lichens are my challenges. Weedy vacant lots offer more than you’d expect if you look closely.

About Me

Professionally I’m an environmental scientist/geologist involved in assessment, investigation, and cleanup of contaminated lands. My interests and activities are travel, outdoors, hiking, bicycling, skiing, birding, photography, river rafting, beer, history, business, and investing; not necessarily in that order but most that place me in direct contact with nature.

I grew up in southern California. My Dad, a fair naturalist himself, had a series of Golden Guides and provided me kid science books to read. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Wardell, was very much a naturalist and conveyed her love of nature to me and her other students. By fifth grade we had moved to the edges of Los Angeles suburbia where I roamed widely in the Puente Hills. When I’m back there, the smell of coastal sage scrub brings back a wealth of memories. As I got older I hiked extensively in the San Gabriel Mountains and later the Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert. My favorite taxa reflect some of the endemics found there. In college I was initially a forestry major but a trip down into the Grand Canyon flipped me into geology. I've lived in western Washington for about 30 years, within walking distance of the Salish Sea shoreline and backed up to 120 acres of wooded undeveloped park land.

How I Inat

My work involves some travel, mainly western U.S. I take every opportunity during my free time to observe my natural surroundings and record my observations, whether it's just two hours before flight time, an evening walk, or a layover day. Family vacations and day trips usually involve the outdoors immersed in the natural world. Even walking the dog through the neighborhood or wandering around the backyard offer an ever-changing seasonal pageant of life.

I use my smartphone frequently, currently a Samsung Galaxy S8, for most of my plant, fungi, and insect observations. It takes excellent photos, decent macro, and records location. And it's with me all the time.

For purposeful photography, birding, and iNatting, I use a Nikon D3200 with a Tamron 16-300mm lens. It does nice macro and the telephoto gives me a nice standoff position for skittish butterflies or the ability to bring in distant birds.

iNaturalist provides a great tutororial here:

How to Become a Better Identifier

I've learned to identify a great many organisms from working in iNaturalist and have had a lot of identification help from other iNatters and iNat curators. For observations I can't readily identify, I usually go through the list of drop-down suggestions, which are mostly and surprisingly quite accurate and then some not so close, depending on photo quality and background clutter. I look at the photos and maps of each, attempting to narrow the field. I look further at my field guides. In some cases, I can only narrow it to family or if I'm lucky, to genus. Some organisms can never be identified to species level from a photograph.

Field Guides

Some field guides I have on my shelf.

Field Guides for the Pacific Northwest


It's great to participate with people curious and interested in the natural world. I have learned so much here. Thanks all for the identifications. If I misidentify something or you disagree with my identification, it's helpful and appreciated that you add a note. It helps me learn and helps the community at large. I enjoy making identifications, helping others, and connecting with the inaturalist community. If I misidentify an observation of yours, forgive me; I sometimes make an educated WAG. Just add a note to help me and others.

Real organisms, not actors.

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