Journal archives for October 2016

08 October, 2016


My dear friends,

NEXT WEEKEND! Big Thicket time! I am so dang excited about this. Most of all, I'm excited to spend time with you all and having the chance to meet many of you for the first time. I'll be bringing some name tags that should include your real name and your iNat name. :)

Truth be told, I've gone back and forth on doing an itinerary with scheduled walks and taxon level time periods or whatever... Instead, I just want everyone to explore. Explore like crazy. Document everything, especially the stuff that you don't know! I'm excited about the plants, of course, but I'm going to challenge myself to be attentive to all of the other stuff. I challenge the same thing for you. If you're a birder, focus some on the fungi. If you're into dragonflies, take some observations of plants. If you're into plants, look for beetles. Let's really expand our naturalist interests, yeah?!?

That being said, I think my main plan is to be at the visitor center in the big thicket (6102 FM 420, Kountze, TX 77625) on Friday, 14 October at 4:30ish or so. I hope you can be there then too. I want this get-together to be mostly about camaraderie. Let's get to know each other. :)

Oh, and yes, make a bazillion observations of new stuff for you too. Right now, the Big Thicket only has 263 observations on iNat. Compare that with other national parks... Golden gate: 10,262; Pinnacles: 3,519; Joshua Tree: 2,868; Death Valley: 2,694; Mount Rainier: 1,342; Yellowstone: 1,010; Big Bend: 1,348... Let's bump up Texas with this event to celebrate the National Park Service initiative! :)

Some folks have been asking me if they can make observations/explore more on Thursday, or during the day Friday, or more on Sunday. YES! Please, oh please, devote some extra time if you're able to explore more. I wish wish wish I could stay for many days, but alas, I'm just going to be able to be there on Friday evening - Sunday noonish.

A few logistical things:

  1. Food. I'm not quite sure what to do about food yet. I'll bring some snacks and finger foods on Friday, and I'm sure I'll pack a few lunches and stuff for the weekend. If you're able to bring some food to share with friends, please do, but feel no obligations. I'm sure that Kountze or surrounding areas will have some fast food joints or grocery stores or something. Eh. I'm not really coming to the Big Thicket for food -- I'm coming more for the friendship and exploration! :)
  2. Lodging. My wife and I are staying at Super 8 in Kountze. I've heard from others that are staying at Relax Inn, Cabins in the Thicket, and even at the next door state park.
  3. T-shirts. I got t-shirt sizes from many of you, but not quite all of you. I'll be bringing down a whole slew of shirts -- hopefully I have your size. If you're able to trade 10 bucks for the shirt, that would be cool. I'll be bringing $400 worth of shirts! They're just standard iNat shirts -- went back and forth on making an event shirt, but I kinda decided to make these just standard -- promoting iNat and us as iNatters.
  4. Safety. Make sure to be safe. :) Bug spray, boots, clothes, etc. Not sure what the weather will be like. I'm almost scared to look. Hopefully it'll be fine, but it may likely be wet. Prepare.
  5. Batteries for cameras. Bring extra. ;)

I do hope you're able to make it. If you're not able to make it, that's totally ok, but I foresee this being a great event of getting to know each other.


Posted on 08 October, 2016 01:08 by sambiology sambiology | 5 comments | Leave a comment

20 October, 2016

I will get back to ID'ing again soon!

Hey friends,

Had a BLAST with lots of great iNaturalist friends at the Big Thicket BioBlitz and I'm just about to go down to Conroe for the Master Naturalist conference, so I haven't been able to devote as much time to ID'ing. Don't fret -- after this weekend I'll get back into the routiene of ID'ing as many of the great observations coming out of TX.

After the bioblitz at the Big Thicket, I'm feeling more inspired than ever to spread the message of nature appreciation and this tool of engagement in iNaturalist. Sooner before later I'll toss some words together on a journal entry.

Stay tuned! :)

Posted on 20 October, 2016 03:30 by sambiology sambiology | 15 comments | Leave a comment

27 October, 2016

Believing in the power of iNaturalist...

I hit my 20,000th observation in the Big Thicket last weekend. For the past 595 days, I've uploaded at least one observation. I've been fortunate to document over 3000 species of living organisms. Most of all, I've enjoyed the heck out of all of this.

Those are just 'braggadocious' numbers, but they've solidified a belief. I truly believe in the power of this tool, iNaturalist. Why?

  1. Exploration. I've explored more and more of the outdoors with iNaturalist than I ever have before. I'm excited to go to a new location, even if it's just a new park not far from where I live, just to see what I can find. Traveling further off is even more exciting -- EVERYTHING feels new!
  2. Broadening scope. In the past, I had been fairly narrowly focused on plants... When I focused so much on plants, I was almost oblivious to the things that weren't plants. With this tool, I notice the entire ecosystem -- and I want to learn all of it.
  3. Knowledge. I've learned a tremendous amount from observing things. To learn the name of something is the first step in appreciating it, and I've so enjoyed learning many new names. It can be frustrating when I can't narrow down the species on an observation, but it's so exciting when there's new things for me to learn about a critter or plant that I share the planet with.
  4. Community. I've been lucky to meet some incredible people on iNaturalist -- and this has led me to meet some of them in person. But even for those that I've only known digitally, I feel a real connection to my fellow naturalists. This is quite powerful -- and heartwarming.
  5. Professional development. In my current job as an urban biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, I focus on outreach, technical guidance, and research. All of these are accomplished with iNaturalist, and I feel as though I'm becoming more and more of a regional expert in the flora and fauna of North Central Texas.
  6. Power to change the world. Ok, so this one is maybe the most optimistic or "pie-in-the-sky," and perhaps I'm just extremely biased and looking at the world with rose-colored glasses, but this sort of tool can change culture and society. If we were to value the world based on the other critters that we share the planet with, I think it would modify the way that we do things. I can only speak for myself... It has modified how I view the world -- I look at an area with hopes of finding biodiversity. A park with a 'wild area' is by far more valuable to me than a park that is fully manicured. I think this can spread to others. In my conversations with my fellow iNatters, I've heard that it has modified the way that they view the outdoors as well.

Those that know me know that I'm crazy about iNaturalist. I'm optimistic about the future of wildlife. iNaturalist is a tool that I use the change the world -- one observation and one identification at a time! :)

Posted on 27 October, 2016 02:31 by sambiology sambiology | 13 comments | Leave a comment