Journal archives for November 2019

03 November, 2019

Scientific Names First

Wow! Just changed my settings to show scientific name first, and am amazed by the psychological change for me.

  1. I actually knew more of these names than I thought I would.
    2, It challenges me to learn more.

  2. I bet it helps me to learn faster.
Posted on 03 November, 2019 16:28 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Some thoughts on iNaturalist Big Days

As a birder, I have been familiar with Big Day culture. But with iNaturalist, there are so many variables - it is a whole different field of play. Having been both a Big Day aficionado and an umpire (when part of the American Birding Association's Rules and Ethics committee), I have come up with these preliminary features for a number of Big Days and the ways to measure them.

This was my biggest day, I think, with 213 observations, on the first day of 2019's City Nature Challenge. I can do better!

So the variables for measuring a Big Day include
TOTAL Verifiable Entries
TOTAL Verifiable Entries that earn Research Grade
TOTAL Verifiable Entries with substantive comment by observer and/or identifiers
TOTAL Species seen (with differentiated rules for different taxa; specifically, those taxa where getting an entry to family or genus level is itself a triumph).
TOTAL number of the Thirteen Categories represented (see my journal entry )

Big Days could maximize habitats, or seek to get the most out of one or two. I drew up this (likely incomplete) list of generalized habitat types:

  1. Salt water
  2. Fresh water
  3. Riparian
  4. Beach/Reef
  5. Swamp
  6. Grassland
  7. Shrubby (Chaparral)
  8. Mixed woodland
  9. Conifer forest
  10. Tropical forest
  11. Montane woods
  12. Montane talus
  13. Desert
  14. Agricultural
  15. Urban/Suburban
  16. Unique to your area (e.g. Karoo, kipuku)

I would think that before running the Big Day, another cool thing to do would be to check the species totals for the geographic umbrella zone (e.g. San Mateo County, Western Cape, O’ahu) to set a baseline. Adding species to the county or state list is a major accomplishment in most areas that have power users willing to undertake a Big Day, so that is a valid statistic to maintain, too.

So with these factors in play (and yes, I like such baseball statistics as Wins-above-replacement), we could construct a matrix of ways to conduct and score competitive (or self-competitive) Big Days.

I also would like to see a "Green" version wherein one seeks the highest number of entries/species with shortest distance traveled.

Anyway, I'd be interested in further thoughts.

Posted on 03 November, 2019 23:21 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 2 comments | Leave a comment

12 November, 2019

Sam McDonald Special Second Bio-Blitz: February 15 (rain date February 16)

Dear Friends -

On March 2, 2019, we did a Bio-blitz at Sam McDonald County Park. We were dodging raindrops and muddy roads much of the day, but still gained a respectable total (and lots of fungus!). However, the conditions precluded getting to the more distant parts of the park, where there is greater habitat diversity. So we are going to try again with a special planned type of blitz.

What makes this Blitz different is that we will start at 8:00 am and give everyone freedom to go to the targeted areas of the park. This will necessitate a preliminary hike of about one mile no matter where you start (and you can be blitzing along the way, of course, since we will use the same boundaries as on the March 2019 blitz). Once you have arrived at an "uncovered" location (not well-represented in the previous Blitz), you can stay as long as you want, provided you are back to the parking lot by closing time. There will be no formal "wrap-up" session, though there will likely be a convivial dinner meeting.

The trails in question are

  1. Ridge Fire Road (from about 1/3 of a mile up from the gate off of Pescadero Road at trail#6 to trail #26; easy parking at large pullout just west of the gate on the south side of the road)
  2. Towne Fire Road (from about trail marker 20 to trail marker 33)
  3. All of the East Brook Trail (from trail marker 28 to a tad south of trail marker 32)
  4. West Brook Trail (from trail marker 27 for about .75 of a mile south)
  5. Heritage Grove Trail south from 21 to 30/31
  6. For those averse to uphill walking, the bulk of the Heritage Grove Trail from trail marker 14 to 25 is uncovered, especially in the middle sections. One could start at either the main parking lot or the Heritage Grove Parking on Alpine Road (limited, dirt lot that is often muddy)

Here is the project link for the March 2019 blitz:

For those of you not familiar with the African-American history of this park, check it out!

DAY: Saturday February 15, 2020 (rain date Sunday February 16, 2020)
TIME: 8:00 am start; running all the daylight hours; come when you can, leave when you like
PLACE: Meeting at Sam McDonald main parking lot
CONTACT: Jennifer Rycenga (

Let me know if you are interested in attending. I am hoping to garner talented iNat-ters of all types!


Posted on 12 November, 2019 06:26 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 15 comments | Leave a comment

28 November, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

I give thanks for the universe, and its infinite levels of detail and surprise.
I give thanks for those people, my friends who designed, implemented, and now sustain iNaturalist.
I give thanks for the communities I participate in across my county, my continent, and the world through iNaturalist.
I give thanks for lichens and pseudoscorpions and slime molds and liverworts and stem galls and random Diptera that have made life so much more intriguing for me, filled with so much more beauty than I had ever thought to imagine

Posted on 28 November, 2019 16:14 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 observation | 4 comments | Leave a comment