Since using Inaturalist, I have noticed how rare certain things are in my environment! Of course, I knew certain things were rare, but it has been a surprise for me how many things that I would take to be “common” are actually rare to observe.
Here are three examples:
Spiders. I have observed some spiders, but before I joined inaturalist, I remember every walk in the woods as being beset with webs, and big fat orb weaver spiders in between all the trees, and wolf spiders on the ground, and miscellaneous spiders falling down on me every few steps. But even though spiders are still not that rare, they aren’t common, either…I have to go looking for them! I can spend a lot of time outside, and see only signs of spiders, or small spiders, and getting observations of them is difficult.
Fish. I live close to the ocean, and in a place with a lot of fresh water, as well. On an average day, I can go out and get dozens of observations of crustaceans, cnidarians, and mollusks. But over months of travelling to the ocean, I have so far gotten one observation of a fish. A tidepool sculpin. I know that observing fish presents some difficulty, because they usually like open water, not the shore, and that there are probably many fish just out of range of my camera, but it is surprising how hard they are to observe.
Mammals. From our viewpoint, mammals are the default setting for animals… because we are mammals. So it is odd, with a variety of environments around me, I can go weeks without seeing a wild mammal. There aren’t even wild squirrels in my town! Obviously, this changes from place to place, other places have more small rodents, and when I was in Montana, I had several types of megafauna, but mammals are very difficult to observe.
So that is my list. What have been surprisingly absent from your observations? What animals, plants, or other would you have thought was a normal part of your environment…but is very difficult to observe?