Monitoring gardens and spreading the message

50 fungi is impressive! I’m sure you have many more flies and micro-wasps to find :slightly_smiling_face:

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One thing I’m doing next weekend to encourage more suburban observers is to give talks at our local libraries about Seek (for the younger kids) and iNat (for the older kids and adults.) Part of the talk is a how-to session indoors and part is a walk to a nearby park to make observations and learn about cultivated vs wild. I’ve done the outdoor part with our city Parks Dept also.

I’m definitely using the iNat or iNot concept in the iNat talk and I plan to focus on the small things when we’re at the park, like invertebrates and fungi.

Our new property is mainly covered in invasive grasses and mustards but I have enjoyed finding the natives among the weeds and someday my yard will be a pollinator oasis.


We now have an official flood watch. I had to take a detour coming home today, because part of a state route had been washed out (of course, if someone had installed a beaver deceiver when the water level started rising a month or two ago, there might be no need for a detour today, but whatever…).

Yes, you may have some of our water.


Your home page states that the web site will be photo heavy, yet that page has drawings and graphics and only one photo and this is of a plant tag. Your home page also has lots of white space on either side. It looks like you are waiting for advertising to go there in the future. Or, that white space could be used for actual photos. If you want to make your website engaging, it probably should start with the home page. I’m not a web designer or PR person so this is just my opinion and others might not share it.

I will pass that along to George, thanks. He does most of the web design.

So impressed by these numbers you people are getting. I need to get outside more :grimacing:


Your website looks fine to me. Single column on my laptop - device responsive - no white space. A substantial chunk of your readers will anyway be restricted to a single column view on cellphones.

This one?

I need to get smarter about 1) taking better photos, 2) where to look in my yard for life, and 3) when to go outside to have better odds of seeing life. (Sigh.)

This thread is so much fun to read, thank you all!

I have had a balcony for the first time in my life for about 3 years now. (I have never had a garden.)

I don’t have an iNaturalist project to collect all the species that I found there. And I have very basic knowledge of Nature. But I do enjoy observing what moves on my balcony. In the first year I even tracked what plants showed up without my help. (I considered these wild, even though I water my plants.)

Besides the great joy of watching Nature take over my balcony season by season, and uploading every wild thing (including aphids!), I noticed some patterns too.

A year or two ago I saw a couple of different butterfly species. It is now July and I haven’t seen a single butterfly yet. Do the butterflies come later? Is the weather not right yet? Or is it something else? I wonder.

I planted 16 organic seedbombs in pots, totaling 48 different species, wondering what bugs will be attracted. And what a joy to see so many new species this year! And many of these flowers are just so gorgeous :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Reading this thread, I also realized there is a mold on one of the plants. I will upload it too!


I do! and I have been trying to do it more, lol. Time I spend really varies, because I am so busy, but I will do about 15 minutes in the garden per day, sometimes more, sometimes less. The amount of diversity in such a small space really is amazing, I have been seeing so many bugs and amphibians especially!

A few ways, I have a website about quails, reptiles, wildlife, and that sort of stuff, so I do have a page on how to make your yard more welcoming for wildlife, ( and so far it seems to be reaching the followers I have on the hosting platform, lol. Like @fffffffff said, making a project is a great way to find other like-minded people.

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Wow, I need to look at your lifelist, this is a lot!

1,150 insect species now on the yard list, thanks to 300+ nocturnal insects this year. I meant to write a blog post at 1,000 and got distracted by life. So I am succeeding at the monitoring part and currently failing to spread the message beyond iNat. Thanks for sharing your story!


I pretty much do the same. I have about 200 bonsai (only half are actually bonsai, the rest are just pre-bonsai material) so I often get to take pictures of whatever happens to be on them when I do my watering routine.


I feel like a bit of a cheater here. I don’t really have a “garden” anymore. I’ve let the exotics from the previous owner’s garden die of natural causes. The rest of the five hectares is mostly young forest having been logged over years (30 to 50 maybe?) ago.

I keep meaning to do a weekend bioblitz on the property but so far I’ve neglected to do so. I have been making a concerted effort to document the moths and other creatures that are attracted to my security light though. I think I’m on about year three of trying to take a daily photo of each species that show up.

Spreading the message is more challenging even though I live on an island with many self-professed nature lovers. Many locals are avid gardeners since by Canadian standards we have a very moderate climate. While most are willing to accept bees and butterflies as ‘good’, convincing gardeners that moths, wasps, beetles, etc. also have their place is a tough sell.


Re: spreading the message

I’ve been helping a colleague identify her photos of the bees (plus a few hoverflies) that have been visiting her balcony plants. I also used the opportunity to give her a “bees, wasps, and ants” field guide that I had purchased before discovering that I wanted something a bit more comprehensive. And I mentioned iNat, so I feel that I have done my bit proselytizing potential new converts for the week.

Balcony solidarity! Happy to have others in this thread who are determined to make the most of their small spaces. It is amazing how much shows up given time and a few plants.

One of these nights I need to make a point of going out and seeing what nocturnal visitors are out and about. If nothing else, I’m sure this is a good way to increase my species count :)

So far my nighttime documentation has been limited to a couple of expeditions to find orb web architects who refuse to make a daytime appearance for identification purposes, and occasional midnight moth-chasing to remove wildly flapping individuals who had been attracted by the bedroom lights and strayed inside. (Proper screen doors aren’t really usual here, so I’ve been a bit reluctant to engage in any deliberate light attraction out of a concern that I’ll end up with a swarm of unwanted indoor guests.)

Birds do indeed pose all sorts of difficulties for boundary-drawing. I’ve actually been struggling with a bit of a dilemma here. So far I’ve only been counting organisms that directly interact with my balcony space, which I’m considering to be the space enclosed by the building on two sides, extending upwards as far as the top of the wall or thereabouts. In practice, this generally means birds that actually land on the railing or planters, which includes most of the species that frequent the vicinity.

But there are a few cases where I am torn: watching – and hearing – the swifts wheel about between the buildings on summer days, often coming within arm’s reach of my balcony, their presence feels quite palpable, even if they technically may have never entered the airspace. Or the red kite the other day, flying quite low in circles over the building – a majestic creature, but at such times one is aware of the danger such an appearance would represent if one happened to be a small pet out enjoying the sun on the balcony rather than a human.


If I can identify them from my property, I count the birds. That’s how Wilson’s snipe arrived on my yard list.

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Ooh! Bonsai! That is a lot you have too.

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Passed the 1,000 mark of observations uploaded from the UV lamp/white sheet setup in my driveway that I started using this year to enhance viewing of nocturnal wildlife. Now, I’m only a few more sightings from 1,200 insect species on my property! I was out of town for 10 days in early July, so I’m trying to catch up on lost time :slightly_smiling_face:


Isn’t he cute? Meet Heriades rubicola. This is not a new balcony species to report per se, but a successful documentation after many many tries to adequately photograph these hectic little bees.

Last year I had a volunteer Erigeron in one of my planters, which I initially let grow because I wasn’t sure what it was, and then left because it was being visited by a swarm of tiny Heriades bees who had taken up residence in the ends of my bamboo trellis. They’re great fun to watch – they are Asteraceae specialists who collect pollen on the underside of the abdomen by rapidly tapping it up and down on the flower. They never stay still for very long, and here is where the challenge began.

After a while, I began to have a suspicion that there was more than one species of these little bees flying about. Some of them had dark eyes, and some of them had greenish leopard-patterned eyes. So I began taking more photos, trying to get capture the features necessary for distinguishing the three possible candidates here in Germany. (At some point, going through my photos, I realized that at least one of them wasn’t in fact Heriades at all, but the cuckoo bee for which Heriades is the host.)

But my cell phone just wasn’t up to the task of getting photos with the required details. So I waited out the winter and then, armed with a new camera and macro lens, set out with the firm resolve to get better photos once they reappeared in July.

What’s exciting here is that this species wasn’t recorded for Germany until 2017, when it was found in Berlin and in Saxony-Anhalt in the region near where I live. So it isn’t merely of personal interest (another species to add to my balcony count) but is also an additional bit of documentation that helps trace how species are changing their ranges due to climate change/globalization.


Very cute! The big bees like western honeybee and bumblebees are really cool, but the tiny ones are also so fascinating