Reflections on 2023 and Goals for 2024

2023 was my first full year on iNaturalist (I joined in summer of '22), and what a year it has been! One of my original goals was to maintain an observation streak for the entire year (160 ended up being the longest-- broken by a day of air travel). This is a goal I want to carry on into 2024, hopefully with more success. Specifically, I've challenged myself to make at least one "bug" (arthropod, slug, snail, or worm) and one plant observation every day. My observations skewed heavily vertebrate this last year, which isn't very surprising, but I'd like to do better moving forward. Another 2023 goal was to be more proactive about looking for arthropods, but unfortunately I started out the year with some health issues that made it difficult to do more physical things like bend down and lift up anything heavier than a twig. Thanks to a concussion, there were a number of days (a few weeks, really) when I wasn't even able to look at things too intensely. If watching birds at the feeder was too much, you'd better believe I wasn't going to be squinting after beetles and flies. I tried making up for it later in the year, and even started a project for one of my favorite wildlife hotspots: Bugs and Slugs of Fernhill Wetlands.

On the identification side of things, I aimed to give 5,000 IDs in 2023. I stopped keeping track early on and just trusted that if I used the site whenever and however fit with my schedule, the numbers would all work out. Sure enough it came out to 7,931 identifications! Mostly birds, which, I know, isn't the taxon most in need of identifiers. In my defense, a large number of those bird IDs are to label domestic-variety animals as such, rather than their wild counterparts (i.e. "Rock Pigeon"-->"Feral Pigeon, "Red Jungle Fowl"-->"Domestic Chicken", etc). I would like to become more familiar with other organisms however, inside and outside of my little geographic bubble. In particular, I find the flora and fauna of Australia to be fascinating, and sometimes there is enough overlap in introduced species that I can confidently identify something to family. Worldwide, I would like to continue identifying domestic animals (with a focus on poultry; eventually I would love to become an expert on domestic mallard and chicken breeds). I know wild organisms are the primary focus of iNaturalist as a whole, and they are almost exclusively what I post for my own observations; but for many people, especially new users, their first notable encounters with non-human organisms are going to be the animals they see on a class trip to the zoo, or a pretty flower in a neighbor's garden. Of course I'll still be identifying wild/non-domesticated organisms as well (especially all those pesky "unknowns" out there), but there aren't any specific taxa I've chosen to focus on for 2024. I treated myself to a bevy of field guides for my birthday, ranging in topic from birds nests to beetles to fungi to mammal signs.

iNaturalist's personal Year in Review feature highlights a user's observations with the most comments and faves. While I think that my "top" observation (with a whopping TWO WHOLE FAVES lol) is just fine and dandy, here are some of my favorites from 2023:

Invertebrates

This Calligrapher Beetle, the first (and only) observation for this species in the county
A Hollyhock Weevil, another county first
A Golden Dung Fly on the hunt
This striking Bristle Fly
March Flies in the mood
A distinctive, yet puzzling Mayfly
Another county first with this charming Planthopper
Baby Wheel Bug
Yet another puzzler, this time a…Wasp…?
A delightful little Sun Moth
This very cooperative Pacific Forktail
A gorgeous Snakefly

Vertebrates

A covert Duck
This album cover image
A Rufous Hummingbird sizing up his metallic rival
Virginia Rail infant
This Summer Tanager dining on wasps
My best flight shot of a Swallow
A Warbler in the andromeda
This Junco bathed with such vigor, he almost capsized
A crisp, spring Towhee
Audio of a European Starling imitating at least 5 other species
An unexpected lifer in the heart of St. Louis
Tender moments between a young Nutria and its parent
The thicc-est Ground Squirrel
This Lizard, surveying his kingdom
A Flat-shell Turtle

Plants, Fungi, and ???

Lichen under the microscope
The biggest Amanitas I’ve ever seen!
A surprise Orchid in a clearcut
This funky, round Microbe

Posted on 03 January, 2024 01:35 by inkadillo inkadillo

Comments

Wishing you good health and lots of log lifting in 2024!

Posted by veltkamp 5 months ago

@veltkamp Thank you!

Posted by inkadillo 5 months ago

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