Fvorite places to go observing

What are your favorite places to go observing?

Is it just your backyard? or is it a local park?

I personally just like the backyard but sometimes go down to a nearby river.

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33 Hole overlook area at Lake Mead. I need to upload my observations from this morning!

I like going there because it is the perfect mix of hiking and wildlife viewing for me. The area is still home to a lot of shorebirds even though the lake itself is disappearing. This morning I got there very early before the sun was up. I love hearing the sound of the coyotes doing their signature group morning howl as the sun comes up.

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Used to often visit the local Nature Center, especially at night. It was great because it was less than a 10 minute drive from me. Recorded a decent sample of the local moth biodiversity over the course of several years, then they switched the lights out for bulbs that barely attract any moths at all. And even more recently they have half the lights off at night which more or less has put a stop to my periodical visitations for the latter part of the year.

Another place is a little campground down south. I can record plants around the river, creeks, and lake during the day; and set up a bug sheet at night.

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I feel like I get way too many observations from my backyard at times. I do spend the most time there however, so it makes sense. We have a wonderful state park and several great city parks in the area here, but they always feel a little too traveled for me.

I really like exploring the small wooded sections between the neighborhoods in the suburbs here. Checking out what wild we have left before they too become parking lots and housing/office developments. The wood and underbrush is usually thick and full of poison ivy. Not a lot of people go there except kids mostly. I get way more spider observations in these places than when I go to parks with trails.

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I try to go to places that are under-botanized. There are a lot of really isolated areas around me and I find that the most biodiverse areas are those where people don’t go. It’s also really hard to pick a favorite though because of how biodiverse east texas is, but the public lands in the Neches river drainage are really spectacular to me. There’s a lot of habitat in the Davy Crockett and Angelina National forests, as well as the Big Thicket National Preserve that can make it seem like human habitation is on another planet.

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Riparian areas. This is even more true in places where riparian areas are the areas most likely to have tree canopy. And where there is no riparian area, I prefer under tree canopy.

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My backyard, but it’s about 7 acres so good opportunities to spot critters all over the place. However as a spider fan most of my favourite critters happen to be attached to the walls of the house - internal and external :)

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I go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas every chance I get.
Always something interesting to observe and the views never disappoint.

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Honestly I don’t have a favorite place. It’s just wherever I am at the time.

I do like places I have not been before, and places with lots of hidden nooks and crannies though.

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I really want to spend more time exploring Mexico. In the meantime, I settle for New Mexico, which is surprisingly diverse and easily overlooked.

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beaches, I really love beaches, but rocky beaches have a special place in my heart. Dunes, are also nice place to spend all day or even camp. If you are lucky enough, you can find a lot of interesting thing in just one square meter, even, the surf area, where waves leave all kind things from the sea is one of the most cool places to me.

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For plants, within 50 km (30 mi) of home, the closer, the better. After many hours of observing, the least enjoyable thing is a long drive home, even after I switch from shoes to sandals/flip flops while driving.

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I find the desert one of my favorite places. What is especially interesting about it is that at first glance it often doesn’t look as if there is much there but the closer you look, the more you find. And because there is less development in many areas of the desert, there is a surprising amount of diversity and interesting life.

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The forest behind our local Costco (Uijeongbu, South Korea) used to be my favorite place. It’s on the opposite side of a mountain from the National Arboretum of Korea and Gangneung UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. However, earlier this year one of the two trails was blocked off with a large sign saying the trail was now off-limits because someone was expanding their farm. I’ve also found myself feeling irritated when I walk by the pile of office garbage (desk, filing cabinet, wheeled chair) that someone dumped alongside the one trail that’s still open to the public.

Mt. Soyo further north in Dongducheon (South Korea) is also somewhere I enjoy visiting for making iNaturalist observations. Even the railing along the service road and heavily-trafficked main trail can provide some interesting sights like Siler supreus jumping spiders, cuckoo wasps, Inocellia japonica snakeflies, jumping bristletails, and spittlebugs.

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I enjoy nature preserves - it means at least half an hour of driving, unfortunately. Those preserves have someone go through once a year and pull out garlic mustard and other invasives from the forest, or even burn the understory every few years. Same for prairies, they need burning - just mowing makes most of the native plants disappear. If a swamp, cut down all the Phragmites every year or they take over and kill all other plants.

I enjoyed walking the suburbs and city before I was able to identify plants, but now I know that not a single plant seems to be native. Any areas here that are not managed preserves are just Callery Pear and Tree of Heaven stands over a thicket of Honeysuckle and even the pretty flowers along the roads are all foreign Veronica/Stellaria/Lysimachia/Vinca/asters/clovers/mints/… The river banks are all poison yellow with Ficaria verna and all natives are gone. I stopped walking from my apartment a few years ago and just always drive straight to nature preserves which still have native plants.

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Welcome to the Forum @derrell_d

Yeah lots of land is good (I’ve got 10) so there are always good opportunity’s

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It’s really amazing to see places that people have cultivated biodiversity. From pollinator gardens and farms that “work with nature,” to sovereign indigenous lands (i.e. Frog Bay Tribal National Park) seem to have lots of biodiversity. Especially in the tucked-away places, like “hollers” and prairies, a lot of the biodiversity is kept secret and under-the-radar. Species like Panax quinquefolius can’t really sustainably exist on the majority of public land in its range, and density of some species really increase on different land (i.e. groundhogs, snakes, in Tennessee at least). It’s easy to tell the difference between a park or “protected area” managed for recreation, and a place where there are stewards who genuinely care about the existing, dynamic living systems.

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I’m lucky enough to live in an area with globally rare ecosystems, so my favorite places are spots that capitalize on that. The soils here are very sandy, and superficially one who isn’t informed (like me in my early days of being a naturalist) might not be drawn to them because they’re not all that diverse. But, they support a number of species that are both globally and locally rare, and I may be jaded but some of the plants growing in them are the most beautiful around!

The three rare ecosystems are coastal plain ponds, pine barrens, and sandplain grasslands. For coastal plain ponds and pine barrens there are one or two spots within a five minute drive but Myles Standish State Forest and Nickerson State Park are two of my favorites. Though rare habitat, much of Cape Cod is incredibly developed so these spots are great to see these environments in what is close to a natural state. For sandplain grasslands Crane Wildlife Management Area is right near me and is the biggest (and best) in Massachusetts. I’d recommend to anyone visiting the area to visit these three sites.

Edit: felt like I needed to mention Myles Standish State Forest is my favorite of all, it’s huge at over 12,000 acres, you can do pretty much whatever you want, there are many places you never see people, and free to access at any time of year or day. It really is a naturalist’s playground and I feel really lucky have a place like this nearby.

Photos of habitats described:
Pitch pine
Coastal plain ponds
Sandplain grassland

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My favorites have changed over the years and that’s largely based on what’s easiest for me to get to these days. Air travel and long drives just seem less appealing.

As a friend’s dog allegedly tells him when the two go on a nature walk somewhere, “The best walk I’ve ever been on is the one I’m on right now.” I kind of like that dog’s philosophy.

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