One of the funnest parts of doing for walk in the wilderness is finding something new. This can often be unexpected, especially in places where you’ve visited for years. I frequent Marita Payne Pond often and I’m constantly surprised by what I find.
What are your examples of unexpected observations?
To start off, there was a Herring Gull I saw at a parking lot mall. I’ve been going there for years and have only ever seen Ring-bills. It really stood out!
Do these count as unexpected?
Finding the first (ever?) New Mexico record of a wasp in my front yard
Some aerial yellow jackets nesting underground
Honorable mention: my lifer fork-tailed flycatcher was in south Austin (Texas) while I was in high school
This orthopteran that let me photograph it with a ruler next to it, twice! Thought it would not be there for one photo, let alone two.
I saw this European Common Frog https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/132198122 in a fountain on the grounds of a hotel/function room in the Hillingdon area of London in August. I was expecting to see wildlife on the actual river, but while I saw some interesting waterfowl, I only saw this one frog, in a manmade fountain.
Last summer, caught a stoat under my car… and the summer before, a porcupine next to my car… fingers crossed this upcoming summer I’ll find a black bear under there :P.
Come to Boulders beach, and check for penguins, before you drive away. (Hasn’t happened to me, but the warning is there for our embattled penguins)
I actually did go once, when I was just a few years old. Hope to visit again someday!
I somehow managed to photograph this flightless wasp without seeing it. Still not sure how that happened.
Found an Oxybelus wasp in the dairy section of the local grocery store:
Picked it up carefully and got some photos as it warmed up before flying away.
Came across an American bullfrog sitting in front of the entrance to an apartment building:
They’re an invasive species here (South Korea) and that has been the only time I’ve seen one in town.
Spotted two locally endangered Yellow-throated Martens hiking along a path I’ve often used before:
Happened the day before my birthday and it’s been the only time I’ve seen a mustelid in the wild, so a very neat encounter for me.
We were in Duluth last summer and one of the biggest dragonflies I had ever seen flew right up to me and landed right on my arm https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/127537269
Under the sun visor in our car we found a bicolored sallow moth on the ceiling. It was in surprisingly good shape for being smashed against the fabric a few times (yes it was dead, although it certainly didn’t look like it) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/139472753
The park near my house that I visit often usually has the normal mallards and geese, but every once and a while we’ll see something that we don’t see all that often. We’ve seen teals and several grebe species there, and just this last weekend we saw a coot there for the first time.
I’ve got a wandering gull too! This Bonaparte’s Gull, encountered at a local park which usually has Ring-Bills so it was an awesome surprise!
This poor juvenile pelican, that probably got blown in from a storm earlier on in the day.
And of course, lest I forget… the infamous park Lettuce, which my mother and I still talk about because it was just the funniest thing seeing it where it was.
The latest was seeing scolopendra in a hotel lobby.
My biggest surprise is still my “parking lot spiranthes” growing behind our favorite Italian restaurant: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/132074437
The rest of this suburb is just green-lawn-of-death so it is quite unusual that one of the more rare native orchids would have chosen this spot in a shopping mall parking lot - but it’s always a good excuse during summer why we have to go to this restaurant more often to check on the flowers
This marmot was reported from a high school campus in Albuquerque, where it really shouldn’t be since they are a montane species that get no closer than about 60 miles from the city. I was doubtful of the ID until I actually saw it.
When I was still at university for my PhD, and I finally found a certain awesome nature documenting platform, I decided to document as many wild organisms on the university grounds as possible (‘grounds’ meaning actually roof tops and animals trapped indoors, almost no open green space) - and with some help, we managed to document way more than 500 species, until the Biology department had to move to a newly constructed, sterile building and the old one with all its urban wilderness and sort of gloomy charm is currently pulled down
Anyways - back to the topic: There were several unexpected findings, but picking up the ‘ruler approach’ by @vreinkymov there was one very cooperative individuum - and additionally an unexpected finding as that species is normally short-winged and flightless: The (sometimes not so) Common Grasshopper
At another occasion, there were hundreds and hundreds of small Lasioglossum bees swarming on the university terrace, and when a bee expert wanted to know the approximate size, I sent him this photo
Oh my gosh! That last shot! XDDDD
Just scrolling through the project observations, I really like this bird: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/75812559
Yes, especially as it was seen during the CNC. Not by me, unfortunately
This number does not surprise me at all.
99% of my observations are from my own very small home and the wild spaces that pass as a “garden” (I do not touch them and haven’t planted a thing, it all gets dropped there) and so far that is over 400 species.
On the other hand I was surprised one fine day by this friend, who possibly was looking for a coffee klatsch.