City Nature Challenge 2018 - Power Users Tips and Tricks

CALLING ALL POWER USERS, and anyone else with major BioBlitzing experience!

I'm sure many of us that participated in the CNC last year experienced the excitement of the first day of the challenge, the absolute physical exhaustion on the last day, and finally the mental exhaustion of uploading and ID'ing everything in a mad rush before the cutoff. With only a few weeks to go, we've got time to get our game plans mapped out and fine tune our plans of action!

I don't think any "rules" have been published for this year's competition yet, but there are still 3 ways to win: most observations, most species, most users. I thought it would be great to collect tips and tricks that you used last year to help maximize our impact for this year. (This post is not limited to DFW users! It's meant to help us all improve our challenge techniques by learning from one another.)

So toss out some ideas on things you consider helpful advice to make it through the nature marathon! I'll get us started with the first comment!

(I'm going to tag some folks, but feel free to tag others! If you do not want notifications on this post, you can "Unsubscribe from this post" by clicking on the tool wheel on the notification.)

@sambiology @wildcarrot @tfandre @denver @drtifflipsett @tadamcochran @charley @brentano @taogirl @cgritz @naturenut @suz @andyk @mchlfx @zooga1961 @dfwuw @itmndeborah @butterflies4fun @aguilita @kalamurphyking @rehb @squaylei2000 @mustardlypig @picklepastures @daniel112 @galactic_bug_man @lulubelle @postoak @katelyn3 @gcwarbler @hydaticus @beschwar @amzapp @dpom @dlbowls @hfabian @kestrel @sea-kangaroo @damontighe @greglasley

Lähettänyt kimberlietx kimberlietx, 25. maaliskuuta 2018 21:35


Make a list of things you can observe around your yard so you can still be active at home. (I realized last year I never took a single pic of a squirrel. They are so abundant I just completely overlooked it!)
During the ID phase (or any time really,) set your default search area under your "Account" to your area so you aren't typing the location on every search query.
Utilize both the app and the website for uploading. Common observations that I want to make primarily for statistical purposes and don't need to show fine details or look up IDs (mallards, cardinals, anoles, etc) I can use my phone camera, attach it to an observation immediately, and upload when I'm home on wifi. Others can be done on my camera and processed, posted,and ID'ed later through the website.
Book a massage ahead of time! (Or 2, or 3...)

Lähettänyt kimberlietx yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

I myself have a set way of doing my photos as I take nothing on an iphone.

CROP each photo. There is nothing harder to ID than a photo with a teensy tiny bug in the center. The person that must ID it has to take too much time to zoom in and find the bug and your observation may get overlooked as a result.

Determine if it must be edited a bit to make the observation easier to ID. Is it shadowed? Does it need sharpening? Too many photos to edit them all but make it as easy to ID as possible.

Self ID anything easy and quick and upload first. That reduces the load and makes it less stressful on you.

Try to get things to at least Family if not genus if possible. Unless you really have no clue at all, do not leave it as "UNKNOWN"

HAVE FUN!!!!!!

Lähettänyt tfandre yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

Observations don't need to be verifiable to count in the "most species" and "most observations" stats. Keep tabs on what you observed but didn't grab a photo of and bulk upload.

Lähettänyt bouteloua yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

If I recall correctly, they had to be at least genus to count. @sambiology wasn't this the case?

Lähettänyt tfandre yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

I had so much fun last year: Having a birding background, I treated the event like a "Big Day", albeit one that lasted five days. That meant plan, plan, plan. In that vein, I made a point of listing all the regional endemics and rarities that were essential for maximing our area count. So I purposefully aimed at getting things like Texabama Croton and Black-capped Vireo. I absolutely didn't worry about Fox Squirrel or Johnsongrass. I knew I'd encounter those and take a quick pick when I was chasing my focus list of things. Then I planned a route (roughly) which was the most efficient for not only encountering those regional specialties/rarities, but also to maximize the habitat diversity that I personally covered. Austin happens to be on a biogeographical boundary which offers the opportunity to document substantially different suites of plants, for instance, to the E and W of town, as well as on limestone vs. blackland clay vs. granite sand. Knowledge of what is uncommon or locally occurring in your CNC area pays dividends for a fun event like this.

Perhaps the major shortcoming of my effort last year was to think that I had/wanted to cover it ALL! If you have a good, knowledgeable dedicated set of CNC iNatters, then it will pay dividends to "divide and conquer" with certain folks getting the chance to focus intensely on their area (geographically and/or taxonomically) of interest. I was greedy! I set myself a personal challenge to see what all I could document. And it was a fabulous but exhausting five days!

Lähettänyt gcwarbler yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

@tfandre you are correct. Things must be id'd to at least genus to count.
Thus the mad rush to id things at the end last year.

Lähettänyt brentano yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

Only one thing comes to mind immediately that I did last year was to try and think of things that might be seen by very few if not no one else. And if i had any time in between events I would go try to photograph these. For example last year I had seen reports that cave swallows had been found in Ft Worth. So leaving one location going to another I went about 30 minutes out of my way to photograph those in case no on else did.

Lähettänyt brentano yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

I recall that. I was frantically trying to find anything put to "unknown" and do what I could LOL I was exhausted the next day

Lähettänyt tfandre yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

Thanks for all this great info. @kimberlietx I am all for your massage idea!

I've not done a CNC before, and IDing is always the bottleneck for me. I plan to have a lot of CNC-location specific (Amarillo for me) bookmarks in place on my computer. For insects, it's always easier for me to ID them when they are oriented vertically. Usually, I rotate and crop the photos after downloading, but to save time, I think I'll rotate the camera as much as possible to have things aligned beforehand.

Also, I really love love love the website. You click the location of your plant on the map in the upper left, and you can use the settings on the left to farther narrow down the options (flowers, grasses, fungi, trees, cacti, shrubs, etc), color of flowers, leaf shape, etc, etc, and it provides you a list with photos of things growing in that area.

I don't know that I have the time to push myself like you guys do, but I'm all in for bringing Amarillo up a level on iNat!

Lähettänyt amzapp yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

I think there is much to be gained if there is a specific taxon that you know well, but it can be problematic to get others to corroborate IDs. Since I study aquatic insects, I'm pretty good at getting them to species, but many of my observations failed to get community support last year. I think I'll try linking BugGuide pages and specimen records (and maybe even photos of taxonomic keys if the characters are visible?) to try to get those observations to Research Grade this time.

Lähettänyt hydaticus yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

The "most species" stat doesn't require research grade.

Lähettänyt bouteloua yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

@bouteloua Oh, nice! Good to know.

Lähettänyt hydaticus yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

galactic_bug_man here; for me on any bioblitz is to get anything that moves as much as possible, looking around very carefully for the small things, and to get anything of interest. With those things combine you can get several things that are not normally seen. I use these tactics all the time and it has landed me a few firsts on this site. Just remember to leave no stone of leaf unturned. That is all I can say. Just be careful when you are walking you might stir up something that you might want to photograph. Also walk around your house or school or work place sometimes things may not be lurking in the grass sometimes they maybe on the outside walls or pillars. Also If you are ever up late at night; leave your back porch light on because you might get some really neat night insects. If you follow these steps then you can be a winner. This has always been my winning formula. Hope this helps. Oh and another thing also take a UV light with you on a night hike to get scorpions and things that might glow in UV light. I have not tried this myself but I am planning to do so. That was a tidbit from a friend. I hope this helps; good luck and may the best city win!

Lähettänyt galactic_bug_man yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

Great ideas everyone!! Last year I didn't really plan per se, but this year is going to be different! After Del Rio, I'm putting pen to paper and getting serious!!

Lähettänyt kimberlietx yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

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