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)
  • Northern Goshawk (Nov 3)

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


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!

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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.

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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.