Journal archives for April 2019

06 April, 2019

Plan your days for the Challenge

Bear in mind that you can make observations anywhere -- trees and weeds on your block, bugs and spiders in your building, pigeons anywhere. Your little neighborhood park has hundreds, actually thousands, of organisms just waiting to be photographed.

Remember that you can, and should, photograph multiple examples of the same species -- this dandelion, that other dandelion, and the one next to it. Plus that one over there, and that one too. You don't necessarily have to aim to find as many species as possible, although that is a plus, if you happen to be good at that kind of thing.

Don't concern yourself about whether or not you know what something is. The ID is not important right now. Just take good clear photographs and move on to the next organism -- the IDs can be added later. If you photograph trees, do try to show the overall shape, the bark, the twigs and leaves, if any are out yet.

Please though, when you photograph anything that is not wild, do remember to mark it as Cultivated, aka Not Wild.

Also bear in mind that we are just as interested in saltwater and freshwater species as we are in terrestrial species. And we care about lichens and fungi as much as we do about birds and wildflowers. It's all good.

Happy hunting everyone -- this year let's all try to push NYC up into the top five cities worldwide, and let's try to make sure that Manhattan wins the Battle of the Boroughs!

Posted on 06 April, 2019 00:04 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comments | Leave a comment

15 April, 2019

Want to meet up during the City Nature Challenge?

On all four days of the City Nature Challenge, starting in the morning on Friday 26th April, I will be doing a great deal of observing, all over the Upper East Side and adjoining areas. If anyone would like to meet up rather than make their own observations by themselves, please contact me.

Beginners are welcome!


Posted on 15 April, 2019 11:19 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

17 April, 2019

Preparing for the City Nature Challenge

Anyone reading this who lives in, or visits, NYC, and who would like some more detailed pointers for what to do, and how to do it, during the days of the worldwide City Nature Challenge (CNC), please feel free to contact me.

There are, conveniently, two weekdays and two weekend days we can use for CNC, so there is time available when anyone can make observations, no matter how busy they are.

  1. Photograph anything and everything that is alive, except for pets, zoo animals, indoor plants and people.
  2. Any plant that was originally planted by people is OK to record, but please make sure to mark it "captive/cultivated" or "not wild".
  3. In order to rack up good numbers, please do photograph multiple different examples of the common species, as many as you can. Every pigeon counts. Every dandelion counts. 100 pigeons and 100 dandelions makes 200 observations!
  4. Street trees are fine to record, although they are "not wild". But as with most trees, so we can ID them properly, please try to take shots of the overall shape of the tree, the bark, a twig to show if the buds are opposite or alternate, and a leaf, a flower and/or fruit if those are present. But if you can't do most of that, just do the best you can. Sometimes one image is enough to ID a tree when it is a very distinctive species, like a Ginkgo.
  5. You can photograph things out the window when you are in motion in a taxi or a bus or a private car -- see the four images here, all shot from a moving taxi. You can also photograph living things out of the window where you live or work. You can find plenty of things to photograph as you walk down a street, including small weeds in cracks in the sidewalk, in tree pits, and in planters. If you have the app open, it only takes a second to take a photo and then hit "Save". Don't forget the basement of your building, which may be home to some insects or spiders.
  6. Perhaps most important of all -- it does not matter if you have no idea what something is. You can mark it "plant" , "bird" or "insect", or simply Save it with no ID at all! That is fine. It still counts as an observation, and the chances are that someone else will ID it for you.

Good luck to everyone, and have fun!


Posted on 17 April, 2019 20:55 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 4 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

Manhattan City Nature Challenge events -- maybe more to come!

Here are the (currently listed) events for Manhattan, but probably there are more to come.

FRIDAY April 26......................................................................

Carl Schurz Park -- City Nature Challenge -- Part 1
Date: Friday, April 26th, 2019
Time: 9a-12p
Hosts: "iNat Power User" Susan Hewitt
Location: Carl Schurz Park, meet at East End Ave at 86th Street.
Description: Have fun and help this park record its nature. Make as many observations in this gorgeous park as you can! Please mark planted things "captive" or "not wild". Also look for weeds, birds, bugs, fungi, lichens; it's all good!
RSVP: None needed -- but you can ask @susanhewitt for more details if you like.

City Nature Challenge: Observation Quest
Date: Friday, April 26, 2019
Time: 10a-12p
Host: @datha
Location: Verdi Square, meet at 73rd and Amsterdam
Description: Join fellow iNaturalists at Verdi Square. Get a chance to meet our top observer from last year's NYC CNC - @datha!
RSVP: none needed

SATURDAY APRIL 27..........................................................

City Nature Challenge on Randall's Island
Date: Saturday, April 27, 2019
Time: 10a-1p
Host: Randall's Island Park Alliance
Location: Meet at the north end of Icahn Stadium (10 Central Rd, Randall’s Island, NY 10035)
Description: Join naturalists on Randall’s Island as we comb through this 430-acre landmark park documenting plant and animal species. We’ll cover restored natural areas, vibrant horticultural gardens, fields, forests, and more. All of our observations will help NYC in competing against cities from around the world and perhaps best of all, help us better understand the unique biodiversity of Randall’s Island and NYC as a whole. For those who are interested, we will seine in the Harlem River from 1-3pm looking for marine organisms both along the beach and in the water.
RSVP:None needed.

Lower East Side Ecology Center Meet Up at East River Park
Date: Saturday, April 27, 2019
Time: 10a-2p
Host: Lower East Side Ecology Center
Location: Meet at the Fire Boat House (the brick building located inside East River Park at Grand St)
Description:Join fellow iNaturalists and members of the Lower East Side Ecology center for an exploration of East River Park. Get a chance to meet our top species finder from last year's NYC CNC - @craghorne!
RSVP: None needed.

Washington Square Park Spring Flowers
Date: Saturday, April 27, 2019
Time: 11a-1p
Host: WSP Eco Projects
Location: Meet at the Thompson St. entrance to Washington Square Park
Description:Open flowers are a sure sign of spring. Help us record what spring looks like in Washington Square Park. Photograph the trees and other plants in bloom in the park. Contact hello@wspecoprojects with any questions.
RSVP:None needed.

City Nature Challenge: Biodiversity Blitz
Date: Saturday, April 27, 2019
Time: 11a-12:30p
Host: Urban Park Rangers
Location: Dana Discovery Center, north end of Central Park
Description: Join the Urban Park Rangers for a walk through the North Woods and nearby areas of Central Park.
RSVP: None needed. For more info:

SUNDAY April 28..........................................................

John Jay Park -- City Nature Challenge
Date: Sunday, April 28th, 2019
Time: 9a-11a
Host: "iNat Power User" Susan Hewitt
Location: Starting at John Jay Park, Between 77th and 78th Streets, east of York Ave. Meet at the 77th Street entrance on Cherokee Place. We will walk around the edge and over onto the Esplanade.
Description:Have fun! Surprise yourself with how much you can find at the edges of this small park, and on the Esplanade near here. (Please mark any planted things "cultivated" or "not wild".)
RSVP: None needed -- but you can ask @susanhewitt for more details if you like.

City Nature Challenge: Biodiversity Blitz
Date: Sunday, April 28, 2019
Time: 11a-12:30p
Host: Urban Park Rangers
Location: Inwood Hill Park, meet at Payson Center (Dyckman St and Henshaw St)
Description: Join the Urban Park Rangers for a exploration of Inwood Hill Park.
RSVP:None needed. For more info:

MONDAY April 29..............................................................

Carl Schurz Park -- City Nature Challenge -- Part 2
Date: Monday, April 29th, 2019
Time: 9a-12p
Hosts: "Power iNat User" Susan Hewitt
Location: Carl Schurz Park, meet at East End Ave at 86th Street.
Description: Have fun and help record nature for this park. Create as many observations in this very pretty park as you can! (Mark planted things "captive" or "not wild".) Let's try to look for all the organisms (both large and small) that we missed the first time around!
RSVP: None needed -- but you can ask @susanhewitt for more details if you like, or get her phone number in case you run late.

Upper East Side Streets -- City Nature Challenge
Date: Monday, April 29th, 2019
Time: 3p-5p
Host: Susan Hewitt "Power iNat User"
Location: 77th Street at 1st Avenue
Description: Discover just how much nature you can find on the streets of Manhattan. (Please mark planted things "captive" or "not wild".)
RSVP: None needed -- but you can ask @susanhewitt for more details if you like -- and ask for her phone number if you might run late.

Posted on 17 April, 2019 22:08 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 1 comment | Leave a comment

21 April, 2019

City Nature Challenge 2019, Carl Schurz Park

If anyone is interested in recording organisms (plants, insects, birds, fungi, etc) in Carl Schurz Park during the four days of the worldwide iNaturalist "City Nature Challenge 2019", Friday April 26th through Monday 29th, I am running two events that I am hoping some people will attend. One is on Friday morning and one on Monday morning -- both are 9 am to 12 noon, meeting at East End Ave and 86th Street, and fanning out from there.

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know by typing @susanhewitt anywhere on iNaturalist. Of course you don't need to be at an "event" in order to make observations -- feel free to go there yourself anytime, and record anything you like for iNaturalist.

Any observation that you make in NYC during those four days will help increase NYC's overall total, and will hopefully propel the city into the top five of cities worldwide.


Posted on 21 April, 2019 13:30 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 6 comments | Leave a comment

27 April, 2019

Doing great at the end of the first day!

We racked up well over 2,000 observations today, despite it being cold, rainy and foggy, and there were even some thunderstorms.

Well done Manhattan!

Tomorrow there will be no rain, and some sun even, with a high about 58º. A little bit windy. We should do well tomorrow!

I am going to be on Randall's Island. I look forward to seeing a bunch of saltmarsh plants and snails and hopefully a bunch of cool marine and estuarine species in the afternoon.

Go Manhattan, go!

Posted on 27 April, 2019 01:02 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

City Nature Challenge 2019, a nice day

Today is Saturday, and it is mostly sunny, if a bit cool. Wrap up a little, and please get out there with your cell phone. Open up the iNaturalist app, and make as many photo observations as you can in our beautiful park, at its spring best right now.

Every observation you make through iNaturalist today, tomorrow, and Monday, will count towards the overall total for New York City in this global nature event.

Thanks everyone.

Posted on 27 April, 2019 12:26 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

28 April, 2019

Excellent work folks!

We are now on to the third day of the City Nature Challenge, and we are really doing well. Great work Manhattan people. Today it is a bit overcast and the possibility of showers, not very warm, but no heavy rain at all in the forecast, more like a bit of drizzle. So it is good to get out there and try to rack up as many observations as possible.

Even if you can only walk up your block, or find a small patch of grass somewhere in your area, there will be plenty of observations to make. It doesn't matter if they are common things -- it is all good data points. And you don't have to know what anything is -- just record it anyway.

Best wishes to all, and thanks. Keep going!

Posted on 28 April, 2019 12:47 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

29 April, 2019

All day till midnight today is good for observations!

Today is a better day weather-wise: there will be no rain, and it will be warmer, with a high of 58º. It is sunny this morning, although supposedly it will cloud over at some point during the day.

Please make as many observations as you can today, the last day for City Nature Challenge observations. If you are working, snap some pics on your way to work, or during your lunch hour, or on your way home. Pigeons are almost always available, and so are street trees. Weeds sprout in the most unlikely places. Check the basement for spiders.

Good luck everyone. We have a whole entire week after this in which we can catch up on uploading observations, and everyone will be helping with putting IDs on things. :)

Posted on 29 April, 2019 11:00 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

30 April, 2019


Well done everyone. We did really great racking up the observations this year, especially considering that although it was warmer than the CNC last year, it was still pretty chilly, and some days were rainy. NYC is quite far north, and nature here is still in the process of waking up from its winter sleep.

Now, over the next seven days, we can upload any observations that we have not yet uploaded, and also work on getting as much as possible identified, which will increase our species total.

Anyone who has some degree of specialized knowledge in one phylum, or class, or any other taxon, please try to check other folk's identifications.

Everyone try to make sure that your observations have at least some kind of ID on them. Even "plant", "bird", "insect", "mollusk" is helpful, because it brings that observation to the attention of someone who specializes in that group.

Actually, if you have an unidentified mollusk observation, you can call me over -- @susanhewitt -- and I will probably be able to ID it. :)

Posted on 30 April, 2019 13:08 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment