How has your iNaturalist year been and some thoughts to reflect on

Hi gang how is it going Zachary Chapman AKA Galactic_Bug_Man here: 2020 has been a really over the rails bonkers with all the political turmoil and the whole pandemic. However I was wondering how has your year of nature adventure been? What are some of the best things you have seen this year? And how many observations have you guys made?

As of me I have been really busy this year and have almost made 4000 observations for the whole year. To be honest I didn’t think I was going to do this well this year. For lifetime observations I am up to 12,272 in total as of right now. I also have quite the species list of 2,152. It has been a very wonky year but I have managed to find a lot of good in it. I had a lot of time out in nature considering all of the obstacles and what not. Still it is good to get out and just enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

What are some of the places you have been?

For me I have been to Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma and a lot of new places in Texas that I had never been too. I got to see a big Diamondback Rattlesnake, a really neat Toad Bug, I also got to see the Cactus Wren, Aztec Spurt-throat Grasshopper, I also got some other great stuff this year. I would like to know what were some of the crowing achievements of the year for all of you?

I would also like to say even in a time like this is a great thing to have adventure and having time with family. It has been one heck of a year I will tell you that much. It has been a hard year but we are almost in the homestretch. Still I trust that you have made the most out of the year and got some amazing stuff to add to you list on your adventures. Life has thrown us a big curveball and the holidays are coming up and it is more important than ever to hold on to fond memories and just be thankful for all we are given. It maybe hard at times but we must all keep the faith and know that this too shall pass. It has been one heck of a rollercoaster but I wanted to use this as kind of a conversation piece to kind of change the subject and talk about some of the natural triumphs of the year. I have to say with all the BioBlitzes and things I have done this year I have nearly doubled my regular yearly totals. I was also filmed for an episode for the Texas Parks and Wildlife series. Not sure when that is going to air it will be either on TV or YouTube. Still this year has been quite interesting. Let me know some of the fun you have had during this crazy time. Lets look past all the negative and lets celebrate all the wildlife we have spoken out for and let us celebrate nature and the fun and good times we have had in this trying year.

Hope your year ends on a good note.

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It’s been a great year to focus on the natural world. When the weekly community birdwalks were cancelled, I started going out birding every day by myself and learned a lot more about birding than I ever would have following others. I went on weekly distanced masked hikes hunting insects with friends. I spent a lot less time traveling and a lot more time just being outdoors. I took a lot of online naturalist courses that wouldn’t have been available without the pandemic. The situation is what it is…gotta make the most of what we get.

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There’re multiple threads about iNatting in 2020.)

I started an iNaturalist streak at the beginning of December 2019, and have been able to continue it all through 2020 so far, which I am happy about.

I was on the iNat leaderboards for December of last year, 2019, and am also currently on the 2020 year leaderboard for # of observations.

Although City Nature Challenge was not a competition this year, I did come in in second place worldwide in terms of number of observations, which was quite an achievement.

I am always happy when I find a species that is new to me, or one that is new to NYC, and I found quite a lot of those this year, although offhand I cannot say which ones were the most exciting to me. They are all totally thrilling.

Friends of mine did drive me out to some very nice locations. I always get excited when someone takes me to a beach, because I never know what I am going to find, and I just love marine life of all kinds, not just marine mollusks.

My husband and I did not get to California this year, and our usual trip to Nevis, West Indies, was cut from 28 days down to 8 days. We are not totally clear right now whether our Sanibel, Florida trip will go ahead as planned or not. I hope so, because the wildlife there is terrific, and Sanibel is world-famous for its seashells. If we go ahead with the trip, we leave NYC on Dec 3rd for 20 days away.

I have been out on an iNat nature walk almost every day this year, despite Covid, and that is what has kept me sane and enjoying life.

I also wrote (and co-wrote) two pieces for Senior Hiking Magazine – my own piece is very much about using iNat to explore Randall’s Island here in NYC. I am working on finishing up a mollusk paper that is based on iNat observations made by another iNat person who lives in NYC. I wrote and co-wrote two or three short published notes about plants that are new to NYC, and about a marine snail range extension.

So this year has been great really, in a whole lot of ways, thanks to Nature, and thanks to iNaturalist.

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So far, I’ve been unable to add SARS-CoV-2 to my iNat life list, for which I’m grateful. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t find that are best.

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For me, it has been a year of discovering iNat itself. I uploaded a couple of observations of freshwater mollusks in American Canyon Creek – my first use of iNat. Once I got a feel for it, that inspired me to go back through my overseas travel photos and start uploading them.

Then I decided to use iNat as a means of learning Caribbean biota better, since that is where I want to live, once I can. Going through hundreds of pages of observations, IDing the ones I could, and seeing the IDs on the ones I couldn’t, took up a lot of time, but I feel it was worthwhile.

I also took the opportunity to write up and submit two papers from my last period of time in the Caribbean. One, on a day-flying moth, is in press, the other, on butterflies, not yet reviewed.

It has been difficult for me to get interested in what is close by when I keep thinking of my garden waiting for me in the Caribbean, and dreaming of my bucket list taxa that all live in far-off, exotic places. I only took one real trip away from home – to Sequoia National Park, which was one of my few remaining United States bucket list destinations (another is Kirtland’s Warbler habitat). Face masks are hard for me, so I am thankful that they are not required outdoors in California – if they were, I doubt if I would have left the house at all.

This year is for sure one of my crazier ones. Surely - as for most people I guess - covid plays a huge role there as well. However, iNat-related it is for sure my best year so far - I joined in january this year ;-). So yeah, it´s my first year.

I spent a lot of time in the beginning of the year to add older observations. I came to iNat from the angle of nature photography, so there was a lot to add, despite the fact that I had lost most of my pictures at that point due to a harddrive crash and a bad backup-scheme (Backup, kids!). There is still some older pictures I did not add yet, but I am on it.

But the year 2020 was very busy in terms of exploring nature as well for me. I mean, I spent new years day on Galapagos, what better way to start off an year of nature exploration? iNat gave it definately a new spin. Although I still like to make pretty pictures, I now also take pictures where “pretty” might not be possible or my main goal - my recent additions to iNat from under the surface of the red sea are certainly an example of that. Most are awefully blurry, but I still enjoy them, especially if they add a new species to my life list. I try to read up on the new species I find, so I had a lot to learn this year, which I enjoy a lot.

When I started on iNat, I lived in Ecuador and through much of the initial hard lockdown phase of Covid I explored my backyard in much detail. I miss those times, as I enjoyed that very much. In May I left the continent for my a short visit “home” in germany and now I do live in Egypt and explore nature here. It is surprisingly “molluscy” above sea levels, which I did not expect. But thats what I love about exploring, the surprises you might find along the way.

Today I just cracked my 600th species this year, thanks to a lot of amazing identifiers. Thank you! I appreciate your work so much and everytime you identify a species that is new to me, I try to learn from you and what you know.
https://www.inaturalist.org/stats/2020/ajott

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I lost 15 pounds by walking almost every day and doing lots of squats to take photos. For fun, I tallied up my COVID observations: 2,370 observations and 729 species. I learned to ID three dragonfly species, observed animals behaviors I’d never seen before, saw the flowers of six species of native milkweeds, ate Texas Persimmons and a native passion fruit, saw 19 species of Euphorbiaceae, hunted down a small flowering plant called Obi-Wan Conobea (I did not make that up), discovered plant families I’d never heard of (Polygalaceae, Phyllanthaceae), learned to appreciate sweating in the Central Texas heat, and generally had a great time.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?d1=2020-03-08&place_id=any&subview=table&user_id=jbecky&view=species&verifiable=any

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I think 2020 will be a year which i should forget quickly but the results were less bad as espected…Still 1300 species, far far far more than expected. In my memories i was home all the time https://www.inaturalist.org/stats/2020/ahospers

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Overall I’d say it’s been a very good year for me in terms of natural history observation. My iNat goal for 2019 was to get past 2000 species, which I did, so my goal for 2020 was to get to 2500. It’s a bit harder to add species at this point since I’ve already gotten all the “easy” species in my area and didn’t travel outside my home state of NY at all this year, but between getting into things like mosses and combing through some old travel photos I’ve actually gotten up 2415 and counting, so I think I’ll probably make it. I thought I was going to spend more time on insects, participating in pollinator surveys etc but I turned out not to have time- and a big downside to this pandemic year’s strange routines and anxieties is that “downtime” days for personal pursuits were usually really unproductive.

The bigger challenge is going to be working through my huge backlog of photos from this season! Most of my iNat-photo taking is also my note-taking for work, so I have hundreds of photos per day for probably three out of every five days between March and November. Winter’s slower pace will be a relief.

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I was furloughed for about 4 months but am now back to my Zoo Naturalist Job. I spent most of the summer working on a breeding bird atlas and learning more abut plant, insect and fungi identification. I learned a ton through INAT from the many expert identifiers. With plants and bugs, Ive always had decent knowledge about the big picture but it’s not until the last 3 or 4 years that I have gotten down to the nitty gritty of iding things as close to species as possible. I still make tons of mistakes doing this but this year allowed me to spend a ton of time keying things out and learn much more than I usually can working 40 hours a week. Now that Im back on the job, my duties have changed a lot. Before, I could spend time teaching about bugs, plants , birds on zoo grounds. Now our opportunity to interpret to large groups of guests is very limited and most of stuff we do is virtual. So my ability to explore on the job, has lessened considerably but we are learning a lot about technology and presenting in front of a camera, Overall, I hate to say it, but I enjoyed the freedom of going out and exploring natural areas around my neighborhood every day, then going home and inputing my observations. Got into a groove and it felt a bit like a sabbatical. But it still was stressful not knowing if they were going to bring me back so I am thankful that I have been brought back and have steady work again.

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This was my first year on iNat. I made my account some time ago for personal research but didn’t actually start contributing until May when I got my first camera. Since then I’ve made over 1300 observations and have recorded over 400 species, not counting uploads of old pictures. Not much in comparison to most others here, but I’m still happy. :grinning: Overall, I’ve found iNaturalist to be a really fun excuse to get outdoors, exercise, explore, and practice my photography. It’s been a long time since I’ve found something that really “stuck” in terms of hobbies, but now I’m always so excited to get home and upload my finds.

As for my favorite sightings, that’s really hard. I’d say one that sticks out in my mind was seeing common bottlenose dolphins in the wild for the first time. Not rare but I had no idea they could be found near me and watching them was very fun! Otherwise, probably either the spotted turtle I found recently in my home state or the smooth greensnake which I was very excited about earlier this year.

I didn’t do as much traveling as usual due to the virus, but still made a few fun and safe trips. The biggest one was to Maine, where I explored Acadia with my dad. This is where I saw the smooth greensnake and logged so many new butterflies and birds. I also took two trips with my husband, one to Pennsylvania and another just a few weeks ago to the eastern shore of Maryland. But in between those, I probably explored at least two dozen local parks which have generally been quite fruitful.

I haven’t interacted much with the community so far - this is my first forum post and I’ve yet to participate in an event - but I’ve found those I have chatted with to be very friendly. It really feels like I’ve found “my people” if that makes any sense. I’ve had an obsession for my entire life but never really had an avenue to do anything with it before iNat. Thanks to everyone who contributes and makes this such a great place to be!

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Welcome to the Forum, @rinwolfe :)

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