Inatting at your school / workplace

As a student living in the middle of the residental area, it is not very easy to keep visiting a natural environment every day for Inat. Therefore I had been giving up to make observations except of weekends when I can spend a lot of time to do it, and it was stressing me for considerable amount as I am a nature addict (probably most of us here are).

Especially at the highschool I go, I could not do anything related to nature which just made me very depressed, tired and sleepy every afterschool. Moreover, the co-curricular activities which I could access to the garden were cancelled due to Covid.
So, I recently came up with an idea of doing a bioblitz by myself just within school’s property, where only a few tens of trees are planted but no chemicals are used to kill weeds and bugs.
I have just started this week, and so far more than 90% of the insect/weed species were invasive.

However, I found it very worthy because not many people can monitor occurences of native/introduced organisms regularly in such nature-lacking urban place. Secondly, it has been a good oppotunity for me to increase my observed species with high rate of invasives which are yet to establish in NZ’s native environment where I used to most often explore.
At my school, I am assuming to find approximately 200 species of invertebrates (naked-eye visible) which most are introduced from Australia, Europe and America. Majority of these appeared to be living in the soil, on planted vegetation and on walls of buildings.

Some projects like City nature challange are similar to this, however they are slightly different as they covers a relatively large area in a short range of time.

I know there are many students/teachers or workers working at somewhere far from natural environment on Inat and I would like to hear stories of what can be found interesting in such areas, e.g. seasonal change of species, uncommon invasive species associated with foreign plants, and also some curious Homo sapiens individuals coming to ask you what you are doing!

25 Likes

It doesn’t take a large area to study nature. A “game” we made to play in idle moments (started with my Brownie Girl Scouts) between activities or when boredom strikes, called “One Square Foot”. Everything that is in the square is noted. We wrote a list, and drew pictures and would look things up. Depending on where you chose to place your one foot square, you could be busy for a very long time!

14 Likes

i find that upon a first visit, nearly anywhere is interesting and has something notable to observe. It gets more challenging as you’re in a place for a long time. you will occasionally find new things, but i do think it gets hard to not be really repetitive especially if you want a lot of observations over time. I do think one intriguing option is to plant native plants and see what inverts you can attract.

14 Likes

I am glad you brought up this topic. I have been iNatting at work for almost 3 years and it has been a wonderful thing. I am most interested in plants, and like you, I found a lot of invasives, but now I know those particular invasive plants very well. I also discovered that there are several very small native plants that were only seen because I was looking so closely. A few of them are not previously recorded in my county! It was a joy to look for them in early Spring and recognize them from their tiny new growth. Because some areas were sandy and dry, and others were moist and loamy, I was able to observe the difference in which species grew there. I also observed a good number of insects that I had never seen before. Because I did this for three years, I was able to learn which insects are very seasonal in their life cycle and I began to eagerly look for “the first one” each year. Also, I began to notice birds more, and one time I found a leopard frog in a shallow ditch. Finally, because of so much repetition I got the confidence to identify these organisms for other people. There is a lot to be gained from repeatedly looking in the same limited area. Enjoy!

16 Likes

yeah this is another good idea i forgot to mention. Documenting, for instance, the first flowering time of a species every year or the first appearance of an insect can really be helpful in documenting the effects of climate change on species. Climate change affects urban areas as much as anywhere, and often has even more dramatic impacts in urban areas than elsewhere because of more localized climate effects such as the heat island effect.

9 Likes

Quick question: I use the phone app, should this be in the comments?

1 Like

on your observations? It actually says in the observation data which app if any the observation was recorded with. Near the bottom of the observation page:

1 Like

I think my question was too quick!
That’s not what my app looks like on my phone. When I post an observation from my iPhone, will you pick up the note of “ first one I’ve seen this year.” in the comment section?
I most often use Fieldguide staging, I find it easier.

1 Like

I have a lot of fun observing things wherever I go. In my yard, at school, while waiting for the bus, there’s always something to find. I’m lucky that my college campus has quite a bit of natural area which makes it more interesting, but I can usually find plenty of interesting things at more boring schools in hedgerows, weeds in the lawn, lichens and plant parasites on trees, etc. There is a high school near me which has a science teacher who’s really into native plants, so the school grounds keep getting even better every year.

5 Likes

I just wanted to point out that basements can turn out to be good places to find several species of arthropods, especially if the basement or subbasement is not kept scrupulously clean and maybe is a little bit damp too.

5 Likes

Beleive me u are not only one who is high school student and a nature lover, because it sucks imagine u are doing birding and your mom says go and study. My school is a jungle but camera are not allowed, so when we go to ground I not only am excited to play but a little disappointed that I can’t photograph that rare butterfly lol.

4 Likes

I suppose Urban iNatting really is an opportunistic activity. At the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was quarantining, my inatting consisted of leaving the porch lights on and the windows open to see what creatures fly in. The combination of a limited access to wilder habitats plus many days of staying at home made me focus more on those small insects, and many of them actually have quite beautiful colors and patterns. Sometimes if I want to leave my lab for a while I would head to a small vegetable garden in campus to do some iNatting. And a number of years back I would occasionally visit my alma mater at night, and head directly to the lights to photograph the moths and other insects that get attracted there.

4 Likes

I’m currently trying to maximize observations/species for my college campus. It’s fairly well-represented on iNat, including by many users who are specialized in specific taxa (esp. mycologists), but I have found a surprising amount of diversity that was previously overlooked. The highest percentage of new species has been among leafminers, gall-formers, and host-specific fungi, which has made looking at ornamental/invasive plants a lot more interesting. As far as seasonal changes go, I tend to change focus as follows (in California):

Winter: fungi, salamanders, protozoans,
Spring: migratory birds, bud galls, flowering plants, reptiles, butterflies, fish, inverts
Summer: leafminers, inverts, reptiles, ticks, grasses
Fall: leaf galls, butterflies, migratory birds
Year-long: isopods, mollusks

6 Likes

It shows up in the “description” area, if you put it in the field called “Notes…” (below the “What did you see”).

You can also enter comment on your observation after it has uploaded

1 Like

Got it! Thanks! Guess it’s been awhile since I’ve posted from the app (I usually use Fieldguide). Oh please hurry spring!

2 Likes

I thought that I must go away from urban area to make observations and there’s no sense in doing it in my city, but now I see I was wrong.

7 Likes

As in all things, you get out of it according to your effort and your interest. Many people may not want to keep documenting the same handful of common species, and that’s ok. Other people don’t mind at all, and that’s ok too. I fall somewhere in the middle. I work in various locations throughout a pretty big region, but in an industrial/utility setting. I usually go walking for lunch, and keep an eye out for things to snap photos of. Most of the time it’s the same urbanized, invasive stuff over and over again, but all data can be useful. I’m also interested in urban ecology, so that helps. Keep on doing what you’re doing so long as it keeps you interested.

7 Likes

While I am reasonably close to preserves and forests, I have made many observations in my yard and subdivision. We have lots of flowers and I was amazed at how many invertebrates they attract: several types of bees, flys, bottles, etc. Plus many different bird species come to our feeders.

3 Likes

Thankfully I don’t live in or even very close to a big city, but my current job doesn’t see me interacting much with nature either. I work indoors and at night so I often don’t even start until about 7 PM most days.

I’m able to work with that though since the bright lights in the parking lot attract insects at night and some of them can be pretty interesting. I love to observe a few when I have a minute to spare. I’ve even had a few sneaky ones end up inside the building and give me a nice surprise!

3 Likes

I don’t think you need a bioblitz for that as you want it to be long activity, a regular project that allows adding old observations would fit more as if somebody else also have photos from there they can upload them and be added to your project.

1 Like