Low-hanging fruit: what are your easiest-peasiest species finding suggestions for list builders?

Whenever I think, gee, I’m going to be running out of new local listers soon, I inevitably stumble upon something obvious that I missed. Or maybe it’s not so obvious, but it’s real easy to find if you know a little bit about it.

It could be a weed on your lawn (if you still have one), or perhaps that strange fuzz in the back of your fridge container. Maybe you just never knew that particularly textured or coloured scummy stuff on the pond had a name. Or that a positive Covid test result could be added to your collection. You see?

How about you? What are some species that fit the easy-peasy category in your area? Something that almost anyone should be able to find easily, quickly, and maybe lead to other, less obvious interest trails. And also, please let us know (roughly) where you are looking geographically so we don’t get any false hopes up.

Thanks for your contributions to this! Cheers.


Plant pathogenic fungi are in many cases host-specific. Depending on which plant you are looking at, that powdery mildew or orange rust may be easily identifiable to species, especially if it infects a common or economically important plant.


Now, lichen are usually incredibly hard to identify, many impossible just from photos alone without tests or microscopy, but the 3-4 most common ones in my area (Germany) are actually really simple, IMO: Xanthoria parietina, Parmelia sulcata, and Physcia adscendens, are everywhere. Either a bit rarer or a bit harder to ID are (IMO) Rusavkia elegans, Protoparmeliopsis muralis (this one is everywhere, but there are very similar species), and a few others.

Also, similar to what @jasonhernandez74 wrote: leafmines!


My favourites are Australian acacias. This is entirely because of this key
Most biological keys are are pretty complex and sometimes involve elements that can only be determined at a microscopic level. The Lucid key is based entirely on macro features - leaves, phyllodes, seed pods, thorns or lack of, colour, bark and geographical distribution. The key provides instructions and clarification at every step. a photo of the foliage and bark along with a location are often enough to confidently ID to species level any of the country’s 1277 species of acacia.


Thanks so much for that info! Exactly what I need, I have about 100 unidentified acacias sitting on my hard drive from my desert expeditions :)


Galls and leafmines. In North America, you can look at the Galls of North America and Leafminers of North America projects to see what little gems are hidden in and on the common plants in your area. I bet that’s true almost anywhere in the world. It was rather satisfying a week or so ago to stand among a clump of shrubby oaks in Arizona and find five or more species of gall wasp galls I’d never seen before.


oh, we have some glorious thistle species here that are large, showy in flower and fruit, and can be easily identified --some as early as rosette, and through death so long as the head is largely intact – so, easy to find at least six months of the year, or longer if the rainy season comes early and nothing breaks the dead stems.

then, of course, there are birds – I’m not much of a bird-watcher, but anyone who pays attention can find an Orvani (black-capped eurasion jay), Dror (sparrow), or Yonah (dove / pigeon). The Palestine Sunbird is easy to find wherever appropriate food plants are found, and kingfishers frequent rivers and wetlands.

If you couldn’t guess from context, I live in Tel Aviv-Yafo, in Israel/Palestine.


Here in South Korea most people live in apartment complexes that often feature small waterways running nearby. These waterways typically have walking paths next to them and the accompanying railing is often a good place to spot jumping spiders (Salticidae), running crab spiders (Philodromidae), stretch spiders (Tetragnithidae), and sometimes crab spiders (Thomisidae), and Joro Spiders (Trichonephila clavata). Some of my favorite jumping spider photos come from individuals I encountered on railings, with this one perhaps the best of the bunch: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12076792

Another one is checking ladybird beetles, as some can look similar when one doesn’t have any experience but are actually separate species. (Of course, the converse of that is thinking you’ve found a new species of ladybird only to find out that it’s just an Asian Ladybird Beetle with a different type of coloration.)

There are plenty of rivers and streams throughout Korea. Birds like ducks, herons, egrets, and grebes are easy to spot but once the spring rolls around it often becomes possible to find a few different species of damselflies, dragonflies, and robber flies along the water’s edge.


Birds and Bugs! They’re both easy to find, fun to watch, and can lead to spotting more species once you start paying attention. Magpies and Chickadees in particular are absolutely everywhere and are really fun to watch do their thing, and usually when you start noticing them, it’s easier to notice the Nuthatches, Downys, and Flickers. For bugs, just flip over any rock or dig through a little mulch and you’re set. I often find all sorts of neat bugs while I’m looking for cool plants too. Canada is pretty good for our abundance of neat native wildlife and plants


If you have a pool or a friend who has a pool, put a piece of wood or foam in the skimmer (we did this because frogs and stuff would get stuck in the pool) and all manner of insects will show up on it that get skimmed of the surface of the water.
For example, here are three days where I exclusively posted stuff from the skimmer and found 26 species (which is a lot considering I tended not to post anything I had already seen)
We do live in the woods though so that probably helped a lot.