iNat big year day number 195

It’s 195(ish, math is hard) days into 2022, and back in January I set the goal of observation an average of 10 new species a day every day for the entire year. That’s 3650 species, which was about 300 more species than I’d observed in iNat before that date. At first everything was going great, with about 500 species observed the first month. Sweet, this was going to be easy!

By the end of March I was almost to 1000 species, and still hadn’t left the state of California. By the end of April the glut of new species had slowed down, but I had a big research trip coming up in Oregon. I should add hundreds of new species, right? 23 days of near constant rain later, I had indeed added a few hundred species, but not as many as I had hoped. Now it’s mid July and it’s getting hard to add new species. At current count I’m at 2,130, which is an average of 10.9 species per day, but I feel like I’ve observed about 90% of the species that I regularly encounter in my local area.

Regardless of the outcome, this has been an incredible experiment. I’ve rediscovered my naturalist roots, and been exposed to taxa that I’d never have paid attention to otherwise. Galls? Turns out they are often species specific, so easy to ID! Bees are cool, but have you ever taken a close look at the other things in flowers? (Beetles, micro-leps, aphids, hemiptera). I’ve discovered an interest in bee flies (badly in need of revision, apparently). I’ve documented nearly 800 species just in .5 acres of my yard. Nearly 10,000 observations so far, I think I’m hooked, and might try doing this every year!

So, anyone else want to share their stories about doing an iNat big year? Or ID the thousands of things that I’ve been unable to figure out? Any tips on how to meet my goal (besides touring the world)?

21 Likes

My iNat profile, for anyone interested: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&user_id=david99&verifiable=any

How hard have you hit the marine stuff? There’s an awful lot of species there.

2 Likes

Ten new species a day makes my goal of at least 1 observation a day look very unambitious!

3 Likes

Come to New Mexico in summer and you can make a dent. 4,000 species of plants, 1,000 bees, etc.

Galls are a good idea - any creosote or Ceanothus or Ericameria or Quercus in your area?

Don’t overlook grasses (general advice, not an accusation)

2 Likes

I’m totally impressed! I can’t imagine finding 10 new species a day in my local area. Do you have native habitat in your yard?

My goal is to get 1000 species every year and I’m not doing that well this year. Last year I got about 1200 but I also went out of state.

In terms of how to add species, the ocean is definitely good. Marshes are also a good place to find new species. Plants and insects are definitely the way to add new species but I do find that I tend to see the same things over and over. I also find that sometimes I think I have something new and then noticed that I found that species 4 years ago and forgot.

Good luck on your continued success and I look forward to following your progress!

4 Likes

Somewhat similar I guess, I’ve set myself the goal of finding every plant species that’s been recorded in my county - I haven’t put a time limitation on it (and I’ve definitely missed a few that I’ll need to wait til next year to catch again).

But yeah, I’ve definitely had the same experience of it being very easy to pick up loads of new species at first - which actually surprised me a bit, because I thought I already had found most of the common plants.

Now I’m lucky if I can find 1 new one per outing. I finally got today’s just as I was about ready to head home.

3 Likes

I would fail at such goal, at one moment it will push you into observing what you don’t like if you can’t travel, it can be dangerous to make iNat a chore, overworking can lead to burning out and less interest later. Though, maybe California is a place that allows such goals. You’re doing great!

5 Likes

A very impressive and ambitious goal! In 2021 I decided (as an anti-covid measure and because I didn’t know whether I would be able to travel) to find a daily beast. I’m not much into plants. So one new species per day - and if I had 10, that didn’t count. It definitely kept me occupied and I managed! I made a photo book out of it. At the end of October, when there couldn’t be found anything new in my area during the day I started making walks at night through town and recorded moths on lit facades and shop windows. So maybe that’s an option for you, or leaving your porch light on or setting a light trap.
Anyway, good luck for the rest of the year!

Would require a different kind of camera, but going microscopic and observing creatures like Amoebas or other lifeforms in fresh or ocean water?

1 Like

I was going to suggest the microscopic stuff. Also have you looked at leaf miners?

1 Like

I haven’t personally made microscope observations, but have seen them in person. Nearby this elephant seal lookout (taxon: Mirounga) was a small, volunteer run nature center where they projected a sample of seawater under a microscope onto a large screen. Not sure if the rest of message was for @david99?

And not just the obvious like water samples. Try soil samples. Also Psammon.

1 Like

Not only does he have native plants in his yard, but his yard abuts a large open space area so nothing has to travel far to visit his yard.

2 Likes

the issue for me has been a matter of ID skills rather than diversity. There’s easily 1000 species of bees in CA, but I’m only able to ID a few dozen to species, and the rest are hard even for experts to ID from pictures. As for the galls, I’ve recently discovered gallformers.com and been looking for them, but most of the trees are here are non-native, so it’s been harder to find galls on them.

2 Likes

That’s a really interesting idea, I might have to look into that. I image the CV struggles with taxa like that though, right?

1 Like

Is there a good ID resource for leaf miners? I’ve struggled with how to ID them even to order!

You ought to message @ceisman

If you haven’t already been using nets you could get one for aquatic insects to see what’s in the ponds, or a big insect one for swinging through the grass.

Being in California you are in a great place for lichens. I’ve found that parking lot trees that are regularly watered are fabulous. I have found trees in Atlanta, Georgia that remind me of coral reefs there are so many species crowded together. Some can be difficult to identify but I’m sure there are knowledgeable people out there who can help ID a lot. They are in every environment imaginable.

2 Likes