Embarrassing Favorites

“I’m not like other naturalists”… or are you? Have you ever looked at your species count and been a little embarrassed about any that show up in your top 10 or that you enjoy? Maybe it’s popular or maybe you unknowingly like it?

Mine are:

  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - Beautiful plumage and adorable quacks which sound like someone asked them to do something they didn’t want to and they’re grumbling about it
  • Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) - Very easy-to-appreciate trumpet flower, especially striking when petal edges are lilac-purple

Share some of your embarrassing favorites and why you like them.

Edit: See @benkendrick’s very helpful instructions below here for showing species by most observed.


My top 10 is 8 bees, convergent lady beetle, and a gall forming fruit fly. I suppose I’m embarrassed by the lack of variety, but I do love native bees.


I’m with you on the Mallards. I really like the Donald Ducking when they get all riled up. That’s actually one of my favorite things about black-tailed gnatcatchers too. Some of their calls really remind me of Donald also :)

Desert Cockroach (Arenivaga investigata) · iNaturalist It feels kind of weird to enjoy finding cockroaches, but the desert varieties here can have some really neat facial patterning and are not pests.


I heard myself on video recently talking to/ about a small jumping spider at our community pool, and my cheeks were burning at how ridiculous I sounded. Think over-dramatic teen girl meets newborn puppy, but the teen girl is 34 and the puppy has 8 eyes and 8 legs. At one point I said “this is the cutest jumping spider I’ve ever seen” and my daughter said “you say that every time you see one.” :woozy_face:

Edited to add- it was this one https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/128399061


Our Cape mountain cockroaches are fascinating. I seldom see them now, but they lived in our first garden. They contrive to tilt their body and squeak in indignation if you bother them. The mothers and babies gather together in a kindergarten.


I have three gulls in top ten and enjoy them, all top is made of birds even though I spend most of the year not looking at birds, which is sad.


Two of our top ten most observed species are Skippers and we are embarrassed to say that we still can’t ID them to species on our own :disguised_face:


All of mine are pteridophytes, I’m like the “I like turtles” kid with primitive plants :grin:

My 11th, though, is He-huckleberry (Lyonia ligustrina) because in winter the branches are a warm yellow with buds that look like painted nails. Subtly very beautiful, in my opinion.


The mallard observations baffle me. When I ask about it people say they’re uploaded because they’re so common and easy to get photos of but they’re really not. Hard to get within 200 meters of one unless you’re in the city in a spot where people constantly feed them. I have about 4-5 mallard uploads, but I’ve probably put 5x as much effort into those 4-5 uploads as I have of many plants which don’t move or run away. There’s gotta be some element of mallard obsession. Even if this was all from people in busy parks you’d think a dandelion, spruce, or crow would be easier to get photos of if it were purely a matter of convenience.
My 2 most common personally are Sensitive Fern and Wild Sarsaparilla. 27 uploads a piece. I keep thinking that’s an obscene amount of a specific species so I hold back on them now, but some folks have a thousand uploads of one thing from a handful of locations, 27 in mostly different spots is probably more ideal than I think it is.


How do you review your records by most numerous species to least?

I’m rather frugal in what I upload, even if I just have to take a pic of that Greater Roadrunner posing in front of me or that flock of Sandhill Cranes in a field, both of which are so common and easily photo’d in my area I feel no need to post them. I tend NOT to photo mallards, unless they look like Mexican Duck, or Canada Geese.


This will work mostly on browser, not sure how to get there on mobile:

First go to “Your Observations”. This should show your observation count, species count, identifiers, and “observers”
Then just click “Species”
Should look like this


Thanks. Pond Slider and American Robin are my top two. That IS a bit embarrassing.


I’m a sucker for small and round little type things…

So I was expecting a different variety, but here goes the top ten:

  1. Pacific Sideband at 61
  2. Oregon Forestsnail at 32
  3. Eyelash Cups at 27 (there it is…)
  4. Pacific Banana Slug at 24
  5. Scytinotus longinquus at 24
  6. Milky Slug at 22
  7. Stalked Hairy Fairy Cup at 22
  8. Wolf’s Milk at 21
  9. Fluted Bird’s Nest at 21
  10. Summer Oyster Mushrooms at 20

Not to say that I am embarrassed by them, but I didn’t really think that the snails and slugs would occupy 4 of the 10 top spots.

Note that nothing on here moves too quickly.


Hmmm…. I did not realize I did so many Blue Belly lizards . Even though they are all over all year long here, I guess they are just irresistible to me. :roll_eyes:


I don’t have any embarrassing favourites. Perhaps I should be embarrassed by how many Pacific banana slugs I’ve photographed but I’m not. They are big, bold and a PNW icon.

What does embarrass me a little is the number of species I love that I haven’t made an observation for. How can I not have at least one observation of a great blue heron? In fact if I filter the ‘unobserved species’ list down to my little island there are a huge number of relatively easy observations that I haven’t bothered with. Why?

BTW nobody here should ever be embarrassed by their observations. One of the things I love about iNaturalist is that I’ve never been asked why I bother to photograph moths and other ‘bugs’. I’ve had so many positive interactions that have encouraged me to be a better photographer and keener amateur naturalist.


Feral Pigeons.


I don’t know if I would call it embarrassing, but I definitely have a fondness for a few species. California Bay and Coyote Brush are like old friends to me, and Mallards and White-Crowned Sparrows are just irresistibly cute (and often willing to pose nicely for pics).

Anyway, even the most mundane and common species observations can be more useful than you’d guess. A couple years ago I was helping to work on a study about the association of a fire-follower plant, Whispering Bells, with a very common local shrub (Chamise). It was actually kind of disappointing that although it was probably the most common plant in the park, chamise had relatively few observations. But we made good use of the ones that were there, and added a few hundred more observations later on.


I’m actually quite satisfied with mine. Several of our unique southern California species in here. And NO mallard!


That might indeed depend on where you photograph them…
I have a few mallards as well, because they are usually happily posing for pictures…not just where they are fed. But that might look differently in the US? E.g I realized thath Whophoes***, which are not at all easy to photograph in Germany, are one of the easiest targets in Egypt… they behave like sparrows there. Speaking of sparrow… I mean like the cute little Passer domesticus behaves in Germany… in Southern Africa I got to know them as a bit more shy… it´s pretty interesting actually :-)

As to my top list: I agree that I am not at all embarassed… they are in my top list for a reason and I value each one of my observations.

It´s a bit surprising maybe, that 3 of my top 10 are from Galapagos, where I only spent two weeks of my life… but then again, it´s an amazing place with amazing wildlife I fígure I will never see again.
Another surprise might be that there is only a single spider present in the top list, while 80% of my IDs for others are for spiders and I would identify myself als arachnophil nowadays.
Number one is off by an order of magnitude… it reflects when Corona hit and I was confinded to our backyard in Ecuador for most times of the day… I had a little project going on trying to see, how many different individuals of those frogs I would be able to observe and how many I would be able to observe repeatably. Ah, kind of miss those days now

***EDIT: Lol, I keep the name that way as it is kind of funny… I realized while writing it that it is probably completely butchered… I meant the Hoopoes (Upupa epops)


Actually pretty happy with my Top Ten:

I have to go down to #13 to get something slightly lame - American Robin.