Päiväkirja-arkisto kohteelle lokakuu 2019

21. lokakuuta 2019

TCAH Houston Arboretum Field Trip

My four TCAH students and I went to a (delayed due to weather) field trip to Houston Arboretum Nature Park today. Two of them grumbled all the way there about not wanting to go, one had just gotten his braces taken off early morning (so was very happy), and the other one is always glad to be outdoors.

The school crowd split into three groups: elementary, middle, and high school. I went with the elementary school kids and parents because my kids are all old enough now to not want to have anything to do with Mom. It's okay. I prefer the younger kids anyway.

Two families (a mom, a dad, and four girls) in my group were great at finding stuff to look at, real nature addicts!. I showed them all how to use iNaturalist, so they were keen to see if they could stump the naturalist. At the end of our walk, they were logging all the species for me.

At one point off the trail, a ribbon snake was in chase of a leopard frog, who were both headed right for us. My job was to calmly get everyone to stop walking long enough to not get entangled in what was an unfolding food web. The parents were the only ones who couldn't stand still ('Eeek! Snake!), and so the snake went one way after meeting our feet, the frog another. Everyone was content when it was all over ... except the snake who didn't get to eat. Sadly, no photos.

Those kids ... they found so much great stuff for me! Not only were they the ultimate butterfly and mushroom hunters, but when they pointed and asked me 'what bird is that?' I lifted the 600mm to shoot the Pileated woodpecker only to find someone else entirely: Red-headed juveniles. WHOOP! Sighting of the day for sure.

I logged the sighting on eBird when I got home as I wasn't there to count birds. https://ebird.org/checklist/S60824091

The Gulf fritillaries were everywhere, mating and laying eggs. We brought one 4th instar caterpillar to add to Squishy's habitat (what we call our 1st instar) so that we can have a chrysalis for my 4th grade students.

Lähetetty 21. lokakuuta 2019 21:24 käyttäjältä dirtnkids dirtnkids | 16 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Newbie iPhone Tips: Photographing Plants

It is my pleasure to be using iNaturalist to learn about animal, plant, and fungi species. Though I joined a few years back, I only began using it in earnest earlier this year, specifically to help me learn more from those who really know their species.

No matter what genus you may be observing, there is likely someone on iNat who knows a quite a bit about the species within that genus, perhaps a PhD whose research was on that very subject, or someone in your area is very family with what grows there. Having trouble with Croton? No problem! Distinctions between Carpenter bees? Several people. My point is, when you use iNaturalist to learn, you must first give the experts what they need in order to help you better.

Using the iNat app and iPhone camera, here are a few tips that will help get your plant observation to 'research grade.'


  1. Shoot the macro first: flower or leaf. No matter which iPhone you are using, pinch your zoom to only 1/3 of the capacity which gets the best focus without sacrificing clarity. (For the 6S which I use, I bring the slider to just between 'photo' and 'video'.) This photo will be the default. If it isn't you can change that before you submit it to iNat by tapping on the box beneath the photo (that says 'Default').

TIP! If you're having trouble getting the subject full frame in focus, don't worry. Pull up the snapped photo on your screen, then zoom again to enlarge... now take a screensnap by pressing the power button and thumb button simultaneously. Make this improved image your default to iNat, not the original.

  1. For the 2nd shot, shoot the stem/leaf structure, how the leaves connect with the stem. For small plants, lay a good representative stalk in your hand or up against a structure, if it helps in getting good focus. If you can get a focused shot of the leaf itself, shoot that too, perhaps from underneath.
  2. For the 3rd shot, photograph the entire plant in its environment, if you can framed top to bottom. I find that getting low (right down where the plant is, silly) prevents shooting down on it, an odd angle. Think of being eye to eye with your subject, only you'll be eye to flower.
  3. Before you submit, check the map of the species you selected. You'll want to be certain it's one known to be in your eco-region, and not something from another part of the world entirely. (That can be embarrassing.)
  4. Species uncertainty: Sometimes you're down to just a couple of species but can't figure out which one. In this case, select the genus, then type a comment on your suggestion or a short note about what you know. Many times, someone will tell you what features led to the suggestion ... and you will gain knowledge to help you with the next ID. When the species comes back, you can agree with the iNat suggestion making your observation research grade.
  5. Trouble getting an image crisp? Exit the iNat app and take the photo using the iPhone's camera app instead. You can better control the aperture and focal depth this way. Then go back into the app and select the photo taken. You may have to re-select your location if the photo didn't embed it already.

EXAMPLES SELECTED BELOW.

Happy shooting!

Lähetetty 21. lokakuuta 2019 13:41 käyttäjältä dirtnkids dirtnkids | 4 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

7. lokakuuta 2019

Galveston Island 10/6/2019

Had a great coastal day out with friends from afar. We began with a boardwalk tour south of San Luis Pass, then along the beach. We then drove to Artist Boat, and Scott and I finished up at LaFitte's Cove. I had just complete coastal ecology training with the Coastal Prairie Texas Master Naturalists, so it was a good reteach and sharing of what I had already learned!

Lähetetty 7. lokakuuta 2019 18:12 käyttäjältä dirtnkids dirtnkids | 23 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

13. lokakuuta 2019

Brazos Bend SP, Cool Autumn

After a night of yard-camping in the glorious new autumn temps (from 90's to 60's), Scott and I decided to go for a long nature walk at our favorite state park. Here are some of the species I logged into iNat. There are a few insects that required a slow-mo scrub (I didn't bring the Tamron 600mm with me this time), and I may upload later if I can figure out the ID's.

In going through list, I can see I missed several bird species which I typically ignore when looking specifically for autumn migrants (think mockingbird, cardinal, titmouse), those that only pass through on their way south. If I was also counting species and individuals on eBird, I would not have done that.

Lähetetty 13. lokakuuta 2019 17:19 käyttäjältä dirtnkids dirtnkids | 30 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

23. lokakuuta 2019

NPSoT BioBlitz 10/22

What is BioBlitz? Read here:
https://npsot.org/wp/story/2019/11953/

For this outing, I chose an area near where I live that is slated for development. Many trees had already been removed, and many more were 'marked' with the dreaded orange tape. LOSERS ... all in the name of progress.

Shooting and logging weeds keeps me happy. The weed of the day turned out to be Frostweed (Verbesina virginica), something I only just recently discovered on my own property. (It's been growing for years; I just never checked to see what it was.) Everywhere there was frostweed, there were pollinators, particularly butterflies. They were a decided distraction from the [doomed] plants I was there to catalog.

In reverence of the wild places near Houston which are quickly disappearing, I stuck with only wild plants. One day soon, these beauties will all be gone.

Lähetetty 23. lokakuuta 2019 22:00 käyttäjältä dirtnkids dirtnkids | 29 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti