22 September, 2023

10 years on iNaturalist!

I joined iNaturalist on 21 September 2013 -- was introduced to it by Derek Broman @dbroman , then the urban wildlife biologist in Dallas/Fort Worth with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Since then, it's radically changed the way that I go outside and how I engage with nature.

So proud and happy and lucky to be a part of this growing and vibrant community of nature enthusiasts!

Posted on 22 September, 2023 13:22 by sambiology sambiology | 20 comments | Leave a comment

02 August, 2023

Events in DFW this late summer and fall!

I know it's still crazy hot, and it'll maybe be hot for another month or so, but there are some gatherings/events planned already! If you know of others in the DFW area, toss them in the comments.

August 4 - Friday - 8:30 to late - black-lighting at Cedar Hill State Park ($7 park entrance fee):

August 12 - Saturday - 8:30 to late - black-lighting at Broadcast Hills (next to Tandy Hills) in Fort Worth:

August 16 - Wednesday - 3 - 6 PM and then 8 to late - bioblitz and blacklighting at Grand Park in Frisco :

September 1 - Friday - 3-6 and then 8 to late - bioblitz and blacklighting at Ladd Nature Preserve in Duncanville :

September 9 - Saturday - 7 - 11 AM - bioblitz at Dixon Water Foundation's Josey Pavilion north of Decatur:

September 9 - Saturday - 8 to late - blacklighting at LLELA (location TBD):

October 20 - Friday - 8 to late - blacklighting at Natural Springs Park in Anna :

There may be some other events that pop up, and as I hear about them (or see them in the comments), I'll update this journal entry.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns: sam.kieschnick@tpwd.texas.gov or 214 215 5605 or @sambiology!

Posted on 02 August, 2023 15:04 by sambiology sambiology | 27 comments | Leave a comment

22 July, 2023

Charles F. Ladd Nature Preserve! Celebration!

42 acres in Duncanville are being preserved -- this is a wonderful thing!

So, what now? Well, we naturalists need to continue to go out to the land, tell our friends, tell strangers, go out to this place and continue to engage with nature! So far, around 1000 species have been documented (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=178712), but there are countless more out there to engage with.

If you find yourself out there, be sure to bring a little bag for any trash that you see! @mgram55 and many others have dedicated a LOT of time and energy to not just this advocacy for the land, but also the daily trash removal. It's a good thing to help out with this as we can!

I predict more developments coming out of all of this (trails, foundation of a 'friends' group, bioblitzes, other nature events), so I'll be posting updates as I hear them! In the meantime, celebrate this good news!!! :)

Posted on 22 July, 2023 16:21 by sambiology sambiology | 3 comments | Leave a comment

15 July, 2023

My black-light set up!

So, in preparation of National Moth Week, I want to update some folks about my black-lighting set up! Now, I still use some of the equipment from BioQuip (unfortunately, they went out of business), but I've also been using some new gear.

Mercury vapor bulb - super power! So, this does not run on any of my batteries, this only works via an outlet. This mercury vapor I got from BioQuip, so I don't know where you could get one... I put it on a tripod rather than hang it up. It tends to be a bit too powerful, to be honest -- it's kinda painful on my eyes, even when I'm not even looking at it! It brings in LOTS though, so I still use it from time to time.

BioQuip UV lights - these are the circular lights -- I was fortunate enough to purchase 5 of these, and so far, they still work! I wish wish wish I knew where one could still get these, but alas, I can't seem to find them anywhere...
I have a few different batteries to run these-- I have a Yeti 1000X and then two Yeti 200X: https://www.goalzero.com/collections/portable-power-stations
The batteries are a bit pricey, but they are pretty long lasting.

New lights -- so I've found that the relatively cheap UV lights are pretty good! There are a lot of options for these, but the flat black-lights powered by USB have been quite productive:
I think that the main characteristic needed is the spectrum of 385-400nm...
I use portable chargers to run these:
I'll also use some USB extension cords so that I can hang these lights from one of the taller branches:

I did also just purchase a new black-light from https://entoquip.com/... This was fairly pricey, and I've not yet gotten it, so we'll see how it functions!

As for sheets, I use the fairly cheap white bed sheets. The ones that are fairly consistent in thread count/pattern are the most useful, I think. These are usually around 10 bucks.

To hang the sheets, I use a bunch of clothes pins and try to place them on branches/trees/shrubs so they stay put... Now, if there's some wind, that stinks for the photography and for the moths to stay still on the sheets... The more still the conditions, the better!

One of the things that my good friend @k8thegr8 got me was magnets! I use these magnets to secure a few sheets on the sides of my vehicle. I then hang up the BioQuip UV lights close to these sheets.

As always, I tend to see the most biodiversity in areas with good wildlife habitat (diversity of plants), and if there is relatively little light pollution.

Posted on 15 July, 2023 02:06 by sambiology sambiology | 5 comments | Leave a comment

22 May, 2023

Events and gatherings in/near DFW in June and July!

So, there are a few more events happening this summer in the DFW metroplex. Here are the ones that I know of. Lots of blacklighting! If you know of others, want to host something, or just want some company on a bioblitz, please comment!

June 17 - Saturday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in Plano

5901 Los Rios Blvd, Plano, TX 75074

June 20 - Tuesday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at Green Acres Memorial Park in Flower Mound - limited parking, message me if you want to attend!

4400 Hide-A-Way Ln, Flower Mound, TX 75022

June 25 - Sunday - 3 to 6 and then 8 to late
BioBlitz and then blacklighting at Ladd Land in Duncanville

1346-1296 Cedar Hill Rd, Duncanville, TX 75137

July 7 - Friday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch (Windmill Gardens area)

3939 Valley View Ln, Farmers Branch, TX 75244

July 22 - Saturday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Garland

1770 Holford Rd, Garland, TX 75044

July 25 - Tuesday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at River Legacy Park in Arlington (Raccoon Run Picnic Area)

Rose-Brown-May Pkwy, Arlington, TX 76006

July 28 - Friday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center in Seagoville

655 Martin Ln, Combine, TX 75159

July 29 - Saturday - 8 to late
Blacklighting at Acton Nature Center

6900 Smokey Hill Ct, Granbury, TX 76049

Another note -- the Texas Parks and Wildlife DFW urban wildlife has an intern this summer (June - August), and we'll be planning some all day bioblitz/surveys in Duncanville at the Ladd Land and in Frisco at Grand Park. These will likely be during the weekday and probably like a 9 AM to 3 PM thing. Stay tuned for details on this.

Posted on 22 May, 2023 20:32 by sambiology sambiology | 39 comments | Leave a comment

10 April, 2023

Events/gatherings coming up this spring around Dallas/Fort Worth! :)

Some fun gatherings and events coming up in DFW!

Sunday, April 23 - 3-6 and then 8 to late (for blacklighting!)

  • BioBlitz/biosurvey at Ladd Natural Area in Duncanville
    Duncanville City Council has been deciding on what to do with this 42 acres along Ten Mile Creek, so the more evidence we can show that it's a refuge for biodiversity and the naturalists that engage with it, the better! I hope you can come!

Tuesday, April 25 - 9 am to noonish

CANCELLED Friday, April 28 - 8 to late

Saturday, April 29 - 3 - 6 and then 8 to late (for blacklighting!)

Monday, May 15 - 3 - 8 pm

  • Pollinator bioblitz at Canyon Creek Wetlands in Richardson
    Super cool site with some really active master naturalist activity, but not a lot of insect observations -- we're planning a bioblitz to focus on the pollinators on this date. It's come and go, so stay as long as you'd like!
    parking spot is at Hilton Garden Inn Dallas/Richardson, 1001 W President George Bush Hwy, Richardson, TX 75080

Tuesday, May 16 - 8 PM to late

If there are other bioblitzes or iNatty stuff going on in DFW, please let me know, and I'll update the above list.

If you have any questions or concerns, let me know: sam.kieschnick@tpwd.texas.gov or 214 215 5605

Posted on 10 April, 2023 01:45 by sambiology sambiology | 26 comments | Leave a comment

16 November, 2022

Insect Appreciation Workshop - Saturday, Dec 3, 9 am - 3 pm! All about bugs. :)

Super excited about a workshop that's coming up in a few weeks... This will be all about the joys of bugs!!! Some really good friends and active iNatters will be presenting on the joys of moths, bees, beetles, dragonflies, and flies! It's going to be in person at North Lake College in Dallas, but it's also going to be available to watch online. Would love to see you in person or online to learn along with me!

(all proceeds go to the North Texas Master Naturalists)

Big thanks to @brentano @kimberlietx @kimberlywalks and @entomike for presenting on insects this day.

Also, MASSIVE thanks to @laurahaynes for doing a super human job of logistical planning.

Bugs are cool. :)

Posted on 16 November, 2022 18:22 by sambiology sambiology | 6 comments | Leave a comment

25 September, 2022

October gatherings in/around DFW!

Just wanted to toss up a tiny journal post about some of the upcoming gatherings/bioblitzes around DFW. I don't have all of the details on these (yet), but as I get them, I'll update this journal post!

October 8: black-lighting at LLELA in Lewisville
October 15: black-lighting at Harry Myers Park, Rockwall (details below)
October 29: bioblitz at Coyote Loop Trail in Burleson

Mark your calendars! :)

Posted on 25 September, 2022 02:22 by sambiology sambiology | 25 comments | Leave a comment

04 July, 2022

Why do I make observations?

So, I'm approaching 100k observations (yay factors of 10!), and I had a wonderful conversation with a friend about why we make observations. Well, if you're curious, here are some reasons that I make iNat observations (in no order):

Filling up the map -- I love seeing a map getting covered with dots/evidence. It could be a geographic dot or a temporal dot -- a place or a time. I tend to observe pretty much everything! I try to get plants with their reproductive structures (flowers/fruits), but there are some that I've bent those rules. When I go to a park or a location that I've not been before, I really enjoy putting some observations on the map and on the calendar for that location. iNaturalist has made traveling a LOT more fun too!

Making iNaturalist better -- I like to think that my observations help in making iNaturalist better. I try to make relatively good photos (albeit, not great!), but each photo and observation may help with the visual algorithm. iNaturalist is learning as we all do -- it's not perfect yet, but it's getting better!

Observing associate species -- no organism lives alone in the ecosystem, so I think it's important to document as many associated species as possible. If someone were to ask, "what was this beetle feeding upon?" then I may be able to address that question with alllll of the other observations made that day or in that area.

Addressing future questions -- when I make an observation, it may help with some question that someone in the future has. I'm trying to answer questions that have yet to be asked! Perhaps it can be a taxonomic or distribution question, perhaps a morphological difference... Maybe it's a land management question -- measuring the differences in the biota after a certain type of management.

Learning the names of the species -- iNaturalist is the epitome of a learning tool. I've learned an inordinate amount from using iNaturalist, and not just from one taxonomic group but so many! In the past, I used to be narrowly focused on plants, but with iNaturalist, I've opened my eyes up to all of the other layers of the ecosystem. With the repetition of observations, those names become more and more familiar.

Every day I engage with nature -- I was inspired by @jmaughn to make daily observations. Well, I've kept up with it for over 7 years (starting in 10 May 2015). This may seem silly, but I think it's important to recognize that every day we engage with nature. There have been a few days that I initially don't want to go outside, but when I actually do go, I so enjoy it!

I like it -- it really makes me happy to make observations. There's just something about it that makes me happy to be alive when I'm out engaging with nature. I'm so lucky to share the planet with all of these various species that I get to see. Through iNaturalist, I don't just engage with nature, but I actively engage with the community of naturalists around the whole world. I see the observations that others make around the world, and I'm lucky to share the planet with all of those species (and the observers) as well!

Paraphrased quote: "It may not have survival value, but it gives value to survival." ~C.S. Lewis

Posted on 04 July, 2022 19:49 by sambiology sambiology | 9 comments | Leave a comment

28 June, 2022

Mothing in July! Events in/around DFW.

I love July mothing. Sure, it's crazy hot and dry usually, but the bugs (of all kinds!) sure do show up at the lights! We've got a few events to celebrate national moth week too (https://nationalmothweek.org/).

Here are the black-lighting/mothing events that I know of in/around the Dallas/Fort Worth area in July. If you know of others, let me know!

All of these are from 8 to late -- I'll usually come an hour or so before to set up.

July 1 - Cedar Hill State Park ($7 park access fee)

July 23 - Spring Creek Preserve in Garland (if you're able to carpool, great -- expect a crowd here!) https://springcreekforest.org/

July 25 - River Legacy Park in Arlington https://www.arlingtontx.gov/news/my_arlington_t_x/news_stories/moth_night_2022

July 29 - John Bunker Sands in Seagoville ($10 fee, or free if you bring some mothing gear!!!) https://www.wetlandcenter.com/events_list.html

July 30 - Acton Nature Center, east of Granbury https://actonnaturecenter.org/programs-and-projects/

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know! And, feel free to toss me a text: 214 215 5605

Posted on 28 June, 2022 15:24 by sambiology sambiology | 31 comments | Leave a comment