Coolest Observation You've Found? (observation stories, Part 2!)

:sparkles: Hello all! :sparkles:

Guess the title explains itself, so lets get into it!

Coolest observation? some big group of migrating animals? Really rare insect? your first Observation of the Day? Whatever! :grin:

I don’t happen to have one of my own, but I’m excited to see what you all have found!!! (None of my observations seem “Cool” to me :sweat_smile:)
:sunflower: :sunflower: :sunflower: :bee:
Oh! And I noticed this happening on my previous post, but It’s totally fine to use other people’s observations if you think they’re cool, but please make sure you credit them in your comment!!! :sparkles:

:arrow_forward: And, as always, I’ll take requests for another topic!!

Have a Great day!!!

~Grace :dragon:

(Ps, I know there are probably already Topics for this, I just thought a more recent one would be nice)


Ok, so probably not that cool to most and I’m not some hardcore plant nerd, but here in Dallas, I found a population of Physaria Engelmannii - a seriously scraggly not-much-to-look-at plant - that was previously unknown to the local cognoscenti at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. Someone from BRIT noticed my observation on iNaturalist and emailed me about it and let me know that I’d found something new to them. It was exciting. I’ve definitely photographed more charismatic species, but finding that little population of easily overlooked and forgettable plants was kind of an iNat highlight for me.


My coolest plant observation would have to be this random population of Lenophyllum texanum I found in Mississippi, somewhat far from it’s native range of Southern Texas and Mexico. The population seems to be stable, but slowly growing. Was never intentionally planted, and must have come in on a truck that came to my grandparents to haul watermelons. This is the only explanation I can think of.

As for animals, this observation of a Bald Eagle was the first time I have ever seen a bald eagle in general, not just in the wild. I also think these two observations are pretty cool as well: Lifer green salamander and this barred owl which was the first time I have ever seen a wild owl.

Edit: Here is another plant observation that is cool. A trillium that I recently observed with only two leaves- not three. Unsure of how common this is, but it surprised me in the field.


I had two really exciting observations last week: I was the first iNat user to observe Asaccus barani, a gecko species endemic to southeastern Turkey, first described in 2011. It’s not considered to be endangered, but there aren’t a lot of iNat users in this area… and I’m always happy to see a new gecko! :)
The other one was Acanthodactylus harranensis, a critically endangered lizard first described in 2005. Until recently it was believed to live only in Harran town in Turkey, but lately there have been some reports from Syria. My observation was the 2nd on iNat, the first being from Syria. I have shared it with two herpetology professors from Turkey and they found it very interesting because there had been no reports from that exact area in Syria.
Overall, it’s easy to get “exciting observations” and to be a “top observer” when you live in a region with almost no other iNat users, but it’s a good feeling anyway. I hope that I’m doing at least a small contribution to science.


The coolest observation for me was barred cuckoo dove, a vagrant in HK. I found it during a afternoon hike!

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Coolest things I have seen are 1. rustic bunting in the UK, 2. A family of foxes with two black and two white individuals, 3. Cryptachaea blattea in my garden! (UK)


I think my coolest observations have been those:

This species of the genus Nysson, that is very rarely observed (only three observations on iNat in Germany) and that just walked through our living room:

Then this Oedemera croceicollis. It is only the third time it has been observed in my area (I was talking to a specialist and he told me that). They are in general not very often observed.

And then there are the Marbled Fritillaries, such beautiful butterflies, that are considered critically endangered in Germany, but they seem to like our garden, so I see them quite often. This is just one of quite a few observations of these beauties:

And also pretty cool is this Subalpine Warbler. It’s not a very rare bird, but it’s native to the Mediterranean and I observed it on the Faroe Islands. A bird observer from the Faroes wrote to me because they have to report such rare observations, so I think this is pretty cool.

So I’m not sure if those observations count as “really cool”, but for me they are something special. :-)


Once I found a Black Capped and Mountain Chickadee hybrid! That was before I had iNat though😕


I would say my coolest observation would be the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea). Beautiful bird, and the way I found it was pretty cool too!


Beautiful picture!:heart_eyes:

My coolest this week has to be the Southern Elephant Seal that hauled out at Cape Point recently. As a rule, Southern Elephant Seals are infrequent visitors to our shores and I personally can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen them.

Second in place for this week, on the same day, would be the Grey Rhebok. Although this species doesn’t look like much, they aren’t very common in general (especially compared with other antelopes) and this was in fact my first ever sighting of them!


For me, it was finding Washington States third ever record of a Prairie Warbler back in November of 2020. The crazy lost bird was just flying about in a stand of alders, and I only saw it for about 5 minutes before it disappeared and was never relocated.


If I had to narrow my uploads down to the coolest observation, I’d guess it’d be the time I saw a northern cottonmouth eating a rat. This was at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. There are trails where you can see deer, many birds, amphibians, among other native crosstimbers animals. Here is the snake:

This cottonmouth was very slowly and deliberately swallowing the meal over a long period of time. I did not stay too long, to give the snake privacy to enjoy their meal. I feel bad for the rat, but paradoxically happy that the snake was probably full for a month. What makes dangerous animals so fascinating? Be safe everyone, and always respect the wildlife. :)

Earlier, that same day, I saw and uploaded a picture of a barred owl. August 5th last year was a good day to see animals!


I don’t have much that’s really remarkable, though I still enjoy uploading every new find. :grinning:

The most impressive one by stats is this Spotted-legged Meadow Grasshopper. My photo is currently the default for the species and there’s only two observations on all of iNat. (Curiously, the other observation was literal feet away but almost exactly a year prior.)

My favorite since I starting using iNat was this Spotted Turtle. They’re such amazing reptiles and I’d never seen a wild one clearly before. I managed to capture a single shot before it slipped into the water. Getting to see a protected or threatened species in the wild is very humbling.

But the encounter I think about the most is this Eastern Hognose Snake . They’re one of my favorite native species and I was so lucky to see such a beautiful one display before it slithered off into cover. Someone who worked at the park got in touch with me when I first posted it elsewhere to ask if they could show their own chief naturalist.

It’s been less than a year since I started using the site, so I hope to have even more cool things to share in the future!


My coolest is absolutely a 3-ft long alligator in the middle of Ohio State University’s campus! Note that this is far outside alligator range, so it was likely someone’s escaped pet. I was a teaching assistant for a class and was looking for aquatic insect samples for the student to practice their identifications on, and I nearly stepped on the thing.

I was SO excited to find a scorpionfly, too! They aren’t rare, but I think they’re really neat. I got this on in-hand was able to take some cool pictures of the male stinger-like appendage (they’re completely harmless).

And this Tippecanoe Darter is state-listed as threatened. I found it in my net while doing some volunteer surveying and had no idea what it was until someone more knowledgeable than me about fishes chimed in.


One of my coolest observation from last Summer was these very small eggs on little threads on my screen door. I watched them for a week until they hatched.
I learned that they were green lacewings.
That was when I first saw them.
That was them a week later.


Awesome about the gator, but I’m guessing it wasn’t escaped, but someone impulse bought one and they realized it would grow too big, or it wasn’t eating… I wish people did more research before getting a pet!

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I’m sure you are correct!

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This thread is a lot of fun. Wildlife is amazing, I’m so often overwhelmed with the coolness. Here are few picks:

I was so amazed by this leaf-footed bug, so metal yet so beautiful. Just saw a flash of red flying in front and then finally saw it. Apparently undescribed though cannot confirm that myself.

I never believed I would see wild red pandas and certainly not so close. The first time the bus driver just stopped, opened the door and the whole bus got off and took photos and the red panda quickly disappeared into the undergrowth. Everyone back on the bus. Ten minutes later the same happened (this was just a bus to get from A to B, not for sightseeing or wildlife spotting!). Then the next morning my brother and I got up early and walked the mountain and there was just a single red panda chilling in the tree top eating berries completely unbothered. Very unreal!

I couldn’t stop thinking about this cool slightly snake-looking caterpillar (disgusted my partner out, made me wash my hands even though I had been a good distance away from it!) and this colourful, spiky caterpillar has stuck in my mind.


Of the ones I have posted to iNat, this Clystea rubripectis has got to be the coolest. Transparent wings, metallic blue body – would you have guessed it’s a moth?

Of the ones I didn’t post to iNat, I remember driving up the Mamquam River in British Columbia, on New Year’s weekend, and saw my first-ever wild bobcat. Pretty sure it was the “coastal red” subspecies.

That is cool. I have a collection of pictures of vanilla-leaf Achlys triphylla (or deer’s foot Achlys californica, depending on whose taxonomy you accept), with abnormal numbers of leaves. I have not posted them because I am contemplating using them in a publication.