When observing, do you tend to focus on or favour certain types of organisms?

Speaking personally, I tend to mostly observe birds. This is both because I like birds and because they are visible and easy enough to observe as they are present in most areas.

I tend to observe other types of organisms less because mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are generally shier and tend to stick to more ‘natural’ areas and daily activity, i.e. nighttime (hence, less visible). I tend to observe plants when I am out hiking in natural areas, and tend to pass them over when they are not flowering, although I do try to observe them during bioblitzes. I also ignore cultivated plants.

Are there particular groups that you tend to favour? Or do you try to create a more representative spread of observations that is spread more evenly across the major classifications of life?


I try to notice and photograph most of the organisms that I see, but I only go out of my way to see certain ones, such as moths and birds.


I tend to ignore cultivated plants, trees, and birds, except the hawk that eats the house finches and doves in our yard, we really like that one. I’ve learned to look for the smaller things, like tiny native plants, mosses, insects, spiders, reptiles, and amphibians. There are lots of insects and spiders, even in urban and suburban settings.


I only share my observations of reptiles and amphibians on inat, although I occasionally take pictures of other organisms too if they catch my attention. Sometimes I even consider opening a 2nd account for sharing those, although I’m not sure it’s allowed. My extreme focus on specific kinds of organisms might have to do with my Asperger’s syndrome though - I tend to have quite narrow and strong interests :)


I mostly ignore grasses, trees, and other flowering plants unless it’s something I particularly like. Most of my observations are of insects.


I mostly photo plants because (1) I’m interested in them, (2) they’re wonderfully diverse, and (3) they move slowly enough I can catch up with them. I’ll photo insects, slugs, etc., as they show up. Sometimes I go looking for birds to photo. It’s fun posting lots of different things, I think.


I think we all tend to have some degree of preferences in terms of what we like to make observations of.

I do, in general, try to “create a more representative spread of observations … evenly across the major classifications of life” as best as I can, as if every one of my nature walks was in fact a one-person BioBlitz.

I do admit to taking an awful lot of pics of weeds, arthropods, and mollusks, as well as plant pests and pathogens. However I am delighted when I can also photograph a reptile, mammal other than the Eastern Grey Squirrel, and any other organism that I don’t see every day.

I don’t take very many bird pics because I use my iPhone to make pictures in the field, and because of that, a lot of my bird images just come out as tiny brown blobs.

But I am interested in every kind of organism and they are all good as far as I am concerned.


I definitely favour things that are easier to photograph! Sometimes it depends which camera I have with me. I use a point-and-shoot with a good macro capability, which is great for insects if they let me get close enough. It’s useless with birds. My Canon with a mediocre zoom lens is better for birds, and also good for insects that don’t allow me to get close. So, sometimes my camera of the day defines what I observe. Actually, it defines what I photograph and upload. I try to observe many other things too, but the photo ops are not always easy. Many birds in my area stay high in the conifers, so I may see them move from tree to tree, but there’s no way for me to see what they actually are. I use a light some nights to attract moths, which are a particular interest of mine. I do photograph some plants, but mostly only when they’re flowering because other ones I photograph tend to never get identified. I also enjoy photographing lichens. They stay very still for all their photos. :grin:


I definitely tend to favor fungi, but I don’t think much of it since they tend to be less represented than plants or animals.


I’ve got a silly iNat bias where I tend not to observe things I know cannot/will not be identified.


I tend to focus on spiders if I can. However, my current location (Egypt) is extremly underwhleming in this regard :-/ … only 30 observations, 10 different species for sure. And only 5 are at research grade so far… the latter is unfortunately a common thing with spiders. They are often not easy or impossible to identify on pictures and there are not too many experts for them around.

But I do like to photograph any other animal I come across as well if I can, especially anything arthropod. I usually only photograph plants if they somehow stick out to me. I tend to be a bit blind on my green eye.

As Egypt is so disappointing regarding animal lifeforms, I started to change my strategy. Since some months I have the goal to make it to 300 RG species before I leave (in 4 weeks) and started to focus more on anything, even plants ^^ … and on the way I uploaded a lot of firsts for egypt (ad also some first for iNat) that seem actually pretty common but nobody cares… 9 more species missing now and I think they should already be in my observations, just need somone to identify them for me :-)

I am easily hooked by random goals, probably will stick to it in my next location as well.


I tend to be all over the map. My preferences have evolved over time. When I started being interested in nature I was into astronomy (I saw the great aurora March 14th, 1989). Then it was birds starting in 2003, which I only used binos. In 2006 I got into dragonflies, with an excellent insect net and chest waders. I started into plants around 2011. Every year I add new field guides and attempt to find more. About 2013 I started photographing stuff on the side with my GPS. In 2018, I got into iNaturalist, uploaded my old photos and kicked it up a notch, with a better camera but minus the GPS.

Today I still do birds, but mostly just in May or on the occasional bird bash. A bird bash is a tradition for the Nipissing Naturalist where you go out anyway within an 80 km radius of North Bay, Ontario and see what birds you can see in no more than a 24 hour period on a specific weekend of the month. You report the species you see and the coordinator reports back what others have seen. Also I am going to start participating in the third Breeding Bird Atlas for Ontario. I don’t usually photograph the birds.

Sometimes I like targeted outings and sometimes I like to find whatever I can find. In the off seasons, I go for lichens, mosses, Christmas Bird Counts, etc. or go for rare birds if they are reported and are within a half hour driving radius (e.g. the White-winged Dove in 2012, a twitch that was a mere five minute drive).

Next year I hope to get into fishes, grasses and perhaps set up a moth trap so I don’t have to stay up late.


It’s not a specific group of organisms, but I tend to look extremely closely at … everything. It’s hard to convey the number of times that I haven’t had luck finding anything new to photograph, only to squat down, stare at the ground, and find some tiny organism I can’t fathom.

For example, I’d wager you can find a more-or-less undescribed species of springtail in every square foot of earth you encounter; it’s absurd. Also, I have a special place in my heart (hopefully not literally) for the nondescript fungi that grow on fallen leaves, twigs, and just about anything else, really. Probably comes as no surprise that I’m not usually the first choice for a hiking companion :P. I’ll spend hours poring over literature trying to identify things like this:

Or this:

At the same time, if I see a flash of color in the trees, my heart will start beating quickly and I’ll try to efficiently and quietly switch over to my telephoto lens to catch a tanager, bunting, or bird of prey. Sometimes my eyes are switching so quickly between the close ground and the tall tree canopy that I can’t get my vision to focus.

There are certainly times when I go into the forest with a type of organism I’d like to find (at the moment that’s largely composed of leafminers and galls), but I always end up finding something I never expected.


I tend to ignore gastropods, grasses and most fungi, though I’ve taken more as of recent. Mammals don’t appear as much as reptiles and amphibians so my mammal list is quite small comparatively. Birds if the chance offers itself.

I really like tagging milkweeds and epiphytic ferns, as well as members of the Araceae family. Insects are also at the top of my search list.

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I tend to focus on plants the most, but recently I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for insects and other invertebrates while I’m out botanizing.

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I would like to photograph more insects, but given our climate they are not all that visible. So I default to birds, which I at least can see (most times)! I keep meaning to set up a light trap, but while the mind is willing, the body is weak! Plus, it doesn’t get dark here until after 2200, by which time I am asleep.

I try to photograph whatever animals I come across, although I specifically keep an eye out for invertebrates because I love them. As such, my observations are rather skewed in favour of arthropods, due to their large and varied population (e.g. my most observed animal is the Variable Ladybird, C. inaequalis, because I see them most days, and while I group similar ones together in a single observation, there are several distinct morphs that each get their own obs if I encounter them on the same day).

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I do tend to focus on things that will stay still for half a minute, please. So a lot of plants. Need to look at more fungi, but they are so hard to identify, I find.


I have a habit of many years of photographing animals, birds, and interesting plants. Now that I’m on iNaturalist, all those photos are serving a purpose. But I notice that many of my plant observations are orphans - no one provides an ID, so they remain casual. It seems botanists (pro or amateurs like me) are not well represented the iNaturalist community. Also, I have plant photos I never posted because I suspect or know they are cultivated.

I’m not a plant person, but I believe there are many in iNat who are. The backlog within a given taxon can sometimes be daunting, so those of us who work to eliminate a backlog are often playing catch up, especially with the non ‘sexy’ taxon. As an example, I looked at the eagle category for Canada, and there are 56 pages of unidentified observations. For Noctuid moths, there are over 1,000.
So don’t be disheartened - your observations are still important. There is just a paucity of people who like to identify!!!