Sandy Lake & Environs well represented in iNaturalist Nature Challenge – let’s keep at it!

Screenshot of the City Nature Challenge 2019: HRM project
Stats as reported on May 1, 9:30 a.m.
Click on image to enlarge it
Go to project website

The ‘City Nature Challenge 2019: Halifax Regional Municipality’ project ran over the days April 26-29, 2019 and generated an impressive 6839 observations including (approximately) 839 species by 229 observers.

From the Facebook Page:

Some interesting stats so far (which may change this week):

– we rank in the Top 40 of all competing cities for total observations and species identified
– among latitudinally challenged cities, we rank #1 in observations per capita
– we soundly beat Calgary and Richmond and are the “most biodiverse Canadian city in the competition”
– We rank #1 for lichen observations per capita among all cities

Global winners will be announced on May 6, and we have local prizes to give-away too! Stay tuned, and get those observations into iNaturalist

For Sandy Lake & Environs, there were by my count 149 observations by 7 observers with, very approximately, about 55 different species recorded. Final numbers for observations and species will likely be higher as more may be added up to May 5, as long as pics are dated Apr 26-29. The map of observations (as of May 30) is shown below:

Screen capture from a section of the HRM Map for the Nature Challenge showing locations at Sandy Lake & Environs, Multiple observations at some of points for 149 observations in total on May 1, 2019. 

I am still getting familiar with iNaturalist, but the more I learn about it and use it (contributing records in the process), the more I like it. I was impressed that 7 different observers were out there on the weekend contributing to the Nature Challenge, without anything specifically organized for this particular area.

Barred Owl observed by Sybil7

There were some pretty neat observations, e.g. a barred owl and coyote scat and a pileated woodpecker and many plants, lichens, mushrooms and insects. Many of the IDs (identifications) still need to be confirmed, but there are lots that have already received Research Grade status, meaning the IDs are most likely correct.

I wanted to find out about previous observations for the area recorded on iNaturalist, so I set up a “New Place” which I labelled “Sandy Lake (Bedford, Nova Scotia) & Environs“:

The “Place” includes all of the open (undeveloped) land lying between Gatehouse/Lucasville Road to the west, Highway 101/Old Sackville Road to the North, Highway 102 to the east and Hammonds Plains Road to the south.  Some residential, school and industrial  (the Dairy) properties are included for simplicity in drawing the boundaries.

So now we can view all of iNaturalist observations reported within that area, past, present and future.

Some of the stats: 369 Observations, 138 Species (tentatively) by 27 Observers to date.

And here is what has been reported:

I plan to keep track of new observations and will add any new species records to the list of species for Sandy Lake & Environs (once they receive Research Grade status).

Thanks iNaturalist and Thanks to those 27 Observers, ‘hope and expect to see lots more!

WHAT IS iNaturalist?

The feature that makes iNaturalist especially user friendly and that really opens up nature observations to everyone, regardless of natural history skills, and is fun at the same time, is the “automated species identification computer vision tool”. Take a pic – with your smart phone or regular camera – upload it to iNaturalist (you have to register first), and it will make a guess at the name or identification of the species by comparing that image to all images in its database for which IDs (identification) are known. It offers several guesses, you pick the one that ‘looks best’ and enter it or leave it unidentified. Then members of the iNaturalist community will look at the image and eventually it (iNaturalist) will confirm a correct name – or not, e.g., because the image is poor or doesn’t show enough detail to distinguish it from another species. View Video Observe Nature with iNaturalist

There’s more to it, but ‘best just to try it out.

Be careful, you might get hooked.

From iNaturalist:

iNaturalist is a lot of different things, but at its core,

iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature
It’s also a crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.

However, despite the fact that iNat can be a bit technical and seems scientific, our primary goal in operating iNaturalist is to connect people to nature, and by that we mean getting people to feel that the non-human world has personal significance, and is worth protecting. We have a pretty nerdy way of doing that, of course, but we really believe that recording information about nature in a social context is a tremendous way to understand the awesome depth and breadth of life on Earth. Read More

Also view iNaturalist on Wikipedia


More resources:

iNaturalist How-to Videos on Vimeo

iNaturalist Help Page

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