Naturalists, what do you do all winter?

That might be my winter project as well, sorting out the now 4 To of mostly disorganised RAW files. If I don’t get sidetracked by my quest for wintering birds I might even try to go back through my better-looking photos and upload them on the Instagram account I haven’t touched since the week I created it.

To be more realistic, I’ll probably try to finally take photos of my bathroom spiders (they’re fairly shy) or Fulica atra trying to walk on ice.

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Since I posted this in August I’ve seen a fair number of these birds and I thought it would be interesting to do an update.

  • Lapland Longspur (Sep 8)
  • Peregrine Falcon (Sep 8)
  • Great White-fronted Goose (Sep 8)
  • Red-throated Loon (Oct 5)
  • Northern Shrike (Oct 14)
  • Rusty Blackbird (Oct 29)
  • American Goshawk (Nov 3)
  • Snow Bunting (Dec 15)

I’m hoping to see American Tree Sparrow, Pine Grosbeak, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Gyrfalcon, and Snow Bunting before spring.

Edit: Added the Snow Bunting


I start exploring the insects and spiders that call indoors home! Both temporary visitors like stinkbugs and ladybugs, and more permanent residents like house centipedes. If you know where to look you can find bugs anywhere!


Since my employer – strangely – is not on board with the idea of hibernating until spring, and since the weather has been what might best be described as rather damp, I’ve been catching up on going through my photos that didn’t get uploaded during the first round for one reason or another.

It has been proving surprisingly fruitful – I’ve added about 30 new species since the beginning of November just from existing photos. Often these were photos I hadn’t uploaded because I assumed they weren’t identifiable, or I thought they were something I had already seen before. So it is definitely worthwhile taking another look at some of those supposedly ordinary and uninteresting organisms.

I’ve been processing some of my audio material, too, which can be quite exciting, since most of the time I have absolutely no idea what I heard beyond “Aves” or possibly “Passeriformes”. So far it seems to be a tossup between cool new-to-me species and yet another Parus major vocalization that I failed to recognize.

Last winter, a representative sample of the local Platanus bark revealed an impressive variety of small overwintering arthropods – but no sycamore lace bugs. I’ll keep looking, though I suspect my failure to find any may mean that they haven’t reached my city yet; we’re just about at the edge of the range recorded on iNat/GBIF.

I am finding it rather a relief that the local flood of bee observations has slowed to a trickle – leaving a bit more leisure to go through and do something besides triage-style correction of CV-inspired errors.

If I get ambitious, I might sit down and work on learning a few more of the local Asteraceae and Brassicaceae, or relearning Vicia and Rumex. If I get really ambitious, I might try to start to make sense of non-aculeate hymenopterans, but so far I’ve found this a rather overwhelming task with few resources designed for the needs of photo-based ID.


Good time to rescue any native perennials you can find in the construction zone. If transplanted right before the rains they should have a good chance at survival.


I curate… both my iNat data and my moth collection. Do identifications. I put a lot of my iNat data into spreadsheets to try and assemble some useful data for the projects I’m part of. I also use specimens to confirm the ID’s of some of the moths I posted during the summer. There is always a lot of “different” work to do in the winter, but it is almost all at the desk and I do miss the outdoors (the bad part of the northeast US is birds migrate, plants all die back, and insects are mostly MIA). I have not gotten the point of hiking in the cold for a few lichens or nuts.

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I’m new here but I’ve had a lot of fun reading this thread. I love that you are an avid birder and I hope that your interest will lead to a life in something closely related, maybe ornithology or conservation biology. We need people like you! I live in central Alaska where we now (early December) have less than 4 hours of daylight. I’m watching the birds at our feeder: black-capped and boreal chickadees, gray jays, and just this week, redpolls. Also, the occasional pine grosbeaks, downy and hairy woodpeckers. We have ravens every day visiting our small team of sled dogs. I walk in the woods several times a week – we live at the very edge of town at the wilderness interface – so I also spend a fair amount of time trying to identify wildlife tracks in the snow, an activity that you might also enjoy. Last week I found a set of marten tracks, which I’ve rarely seen. And finally, I fill my nights whenever possible with aurora photography. You may live far enough north to see the aurora at least occasionally, especially this winter which is close to the peak of the current solar cycle. Good luck with your bird viewing and IDs!


In the winter I do Christmas Bird Counts (two of them), look for lichens, sometimes mosses, perhaps a few bugs (not very many – maybe ten to twenty species of arthropods can be seen in the winter where I am). When its colder (below -10C) I will put the camera away and snowshoe or cross-country ski just to get outside.

I may increase my identifications for others, but I still have a paltry 5:1 ratio of observations to identifications.


Play with some Lego?

At least, that sounds like a fun idea:


One of the nice things about living in Denver is that there is a lot of good birding, even in the winter, and I’ve got a number of species that I’d like to try and photograph. Owls are so much easier to see when trees are bare, for instance. Looking for ID-able critter tracks, too; lots of animals around here either don’t hibernate, or wake up for a bit during warm spells.

And if it’s snowing too hard (or way too cold), there’s always that backlog thing. :laughing:


Winter days are often a great time to take a walk in the woods or along a shoreline. The trails and beaches are uncrowded and quiet, except for the natural sounds of wind, birds, and waves. The sun shines on the trunks or trees, such as oaks in a deciduous forest, illuminating patterns of the bark and lichens. If there is snow on the ground, the sounds are muffled, invoking memories of days long past, when school was cancelled, offering us the gift of our early experiences of unstructured, unsupervised time spent just enjoying the environment around us.


@Quercitron, that is both beautiful and evocative. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


My goal is to try and get my insects pinned because I fell behind a little. That being said my city hasn’t gotten an inch or more of snow in over 3 years and we’re roughly halfway through the winter I’m not sure it’s going to be lower than 45-50 all winter. Its probably fine

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There was that evocative poem …

The clock was nearing 3 PM on the wall of my second grade classroom, and outside it was about to start snowing. At 3, the bell would ring to free us all to scatter into the world outside. The teacher pulled out a book of poetry, and read to us Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. That was perhaps the time of my first realization that there might be others who felt like myself about the landscape, with its weather, hills, woods, trees, creatures, and rocks.

Soon after the final line, “And miles to go before I sleep.”, the bell rang, and I walked home past woods and houses as the first flakes were beginning to fall. I did have time to stop by some woods along the way. And with my being luckier than Robert Frost, there were no haunting thoughts about promises to keep.


My current winter woes: here in central Germany it feels like it has been raining since early November.

I suppose this is nothing unusual to those of you in wet climates like the Pacific Northwest, but this permanent rain is not something I’m accustomed to and I’m finding it quite trying. My usual subjects this time of year are springtails and other tiny arthropods, and when the sun only seems to appear for a brief window of time during the already very short days, it’s difficult to get enough natural light for macro photography. I have an artificial light I can use, but it’s a fiddly set-up and I’m not completely convinced that it makes much difference.

I went out today to visit an underpass by the river which is one of my favorite spots for finding winter-active arthropods. Instead I found this:

Sigh. I visited the pond and went looking for waterbirds instead.


At least you have grass! And probably mosses and lichens. Maybe it was a mean joke. In the Nordics, the ground has been covered in snow for two months already, and it won’t be until April when new plants will slowly start popping out. Seeing green is already feeling alien.

You could try using a closeup adapter and for your phone and a bright torch to look for some interesting details. Maybe ants and spiders are still active in this weather? The closeup lenses for my phone are also useful when looking at rocks. Some have pretty small features that you rarely would notice otherwise.

On my to-do list is to go and listen for any birds that might still be around. I’m by no means a bird expert, and most of them have flown south anyway, but recording audio is a skill of its own. I’ve been bribing tits and crows with small pieces of bread so that I can take a bit better pictures. My recordings, though, are still not particularly good.

Another thing for me is to go through my old photos and see if there are any suitable for submission. Of course, many are not suitable because they haven’t been taken with observation in mind.

Good luck :)


Identify and map trees with marcescent leaves, such as oaks, and argue about which of the oak specimens are hybrids. ;)

Post Oak (Quercus stellata)

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I try to maintain a balance of both observing and identifying, and I usually take this time to focus on the latter. Either that or just taking a break for a while. I try not to burn myself out.


Right now I am photographing lichens for this January lichen project:

However, we need help with identifying the lichens. There don’t seem to be a lot of lichen identifiers and I have taken photos of what I think are lichens but don’t know what kind.

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Well, I couldn’t help much, but I am familiar with the sidewalk firedot.