Projektin City Nature Challenge 2021: Winnipeg Region Päiväkirja

Päiväkirja-arkisto kohteelle joulukuu 2020

joulukuu 5, 2020

Stuck inside? Time to add observations from the past

Mary Kennedy, organizer of several East Coast CNC events just emailed "Perhaps people out west need an activity this winter – perhaps at some point before travel restrictions they had the great fortune to visit the east coast. If they took any photos of local flora/fauna maybe this is a great time to practice uploading old photos that are in danger of being forgotten."

Actually, its a great idea to add observations from the past no matter where they are from - that magical trip to the tropics, that tour of the mountains, or summers spent at the cottage - the minimum requirements can be pretty easy to meet - an image that shows the organism, where it was observed and what day it was seen. The photos don't have to be perfect - simply to record the organism that you saw.

Phone photos usually have both the location and the observation time already in the digital file. if you are using the app to upload, just choose the library option and then select the image you want.

I usually use my computer for this task rather than my phone app - i long ago ran out of room on my phone for iNat images :). There's a green upload button near the top of every page of the website - I think they want to make it easy for you to find. Clicking on the button opens a page where you can either drag and drop the images or click on 'Choose images' and select the ones that you want. I find that uploading no more than about 50 images at a time is about right for my Internet connection (ymmv)

Each image will end up by default in its own little observation, represented by a bordered tile. You can select several tiles and click on combine to group multiple images of the same organism in the same observation. If you have an image that has two organisms - like a bee on a flower for example - use the duplicate button to make a copy. If you change your mind about an image, use remove to take it out of the queue.

Each observation needs three pieces of data added - the date, the place and what you think it is. The web page will try to read the date and place from your uploaded images - if it can't then you will need to add this data manually. You can edit more than one image by selecting them and then using the fields to the left of the web page to add the data. I have saved a bunch of the places where i go again and again in my pinned locations. This makes it super simple to add observations from those locations.

Identifying organisms doesn't have to be complicated - if you know the species, just type it in. Keep an eye on what ends up in the field - some common names aren't as specific as we might expect. If you are less sure - or can't find the name you know the organism by in the list - then just add the general group you think it belongs to. At its simplest, this is just choosing between plants, animals and fungi.

Add comments to the observations if you like - anything that you think important about what you saw, or where and when you saw it fits here. Then when all is ready , hit that green 'submit observations' button.

Here's some links to early observations in iNat - add a comment if you can add something earlier so I can update the post :)
- March 24, 1974 the earliest observation uploaded from our event boundaries
- July 22, 1933 the earliest observation uploaded from Manitoba
- August 15, 1938 the earliest observation uploaded from Canada
- January 1, 1801 the earliest observation uploaded from the world

Julkaistu joulukuu 5, 2020 04:59 IP. käyttäjältä marykrieger marykrieger | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

joulukuu 12, 2020

Big, obvious and extremely slow moving...

When all else is hiding or dormant, you can always count on trees to be there for you to observe. Its perfectly fine to make separate observations of several individuals of the same species in the same general area, especially it is particularly common or they are at different stages of growth. It is also completely acceptable to make more than one observation of the same individual on different days or by different observers. Each time you make an observation of an individual organism, you become more skilled at both observation and at recognizing that species in the wild. Each observation that is uploaded adds to the depth and breadth of information about that species available to us all.

If you are not sure which tree species you are observing, it helps to collect several images of the tree to help out with a good secure identification:

  • the whole tree in its environment
  • the bark on the trunk
  • the leaves or needles – a branch showing how the leaves or needles are attached is very useful; for some species you might need both the top and underside of the leaf as well. If there are no leaves on the tree, look on the ground underneath for fallen ones and/or take pictures showing the leaf buds on the twigs.
  • the flowers and/or fruit if present

When you upload your observation, add notes about anything you noticed that doesn't show up in your images - like the fragrance of the flowers or the stickiness of the leaf buds. Remember to choose the cultivated/captive option if you know (or suspect) that someone planted the tree that you are observing. There is a good chance that the tree is planted if there are no other similar trees nearby, especially if is growing in a mown lawn or planted in evenly spaced straight lines. :) Once you are familiar with a particular tree, you will know exactly what features are needed for an identifier to be sure about the species. Then you will be able to highlight what is needed in only one or two images.

Seven different native tree species are commonly found growing wild inside the boundaries of our CNC area. Wild trees can be found all along the creeks and rivers as well in many of the city parks. Some native trees are particularly good at springing up in the gaps in our built environment. Look for seedlings and saplings nearby established trees. Before you go you can also use the 'Explore' and the taxon pages to check out the observations that others have already uploaded.

Manitoba maple
this is the most frequently observed tree in our survey area – almost as easy to find as falling off a log. It may be starting to bloom – reddish tipped clusters held toward the end of the branches but with leaves only just emerging. Seeds from last year will still be hanging on the tree in some places as well as scattered on the ground underneath. The purplish-red colour of the smooth bark of the twigs that grew last year contrasts with the grayish ridged bark of the main trunk and older branches. There may even be maple seedlings sprouting if the soil is warm enough.
Bur oak
riverbank forests, nature parks like Assiniboine Forest; undeveloped land with ‘bush’
the second most frequently observed tree in the survey area. It very likely will not have any green leaves or flowers during the survey period – it is the last tree in our area to leaf out in the spring. There still may be a few brown leaves hanging on to a twig so you can see the distinctive lobed oak leaf shape. The dark bark is very rough and ridged. Oaks are slow growers but are long-lived so they can get quite large. The central trunk spreads into a globular crown – some feel the somewhat crooked branches give it a spooky appearance.
Trembling aspen
nature parks like Assiniboine Forest; undeveloped land with ‘bush’
this is the second most commonly observed tree in southern Manitoba – inside the survey area you will have to work a little harder to find it. Trembling aspen is one of the earliest trees in bloom – round buds expand into fluffy catkins which then form strings of green fruits that explode into fluff. Aspen seeds do not have particularly good germination rates. The tree compensates for this by being very good at expanding a few trees into a forest of trees through root suckers. In spring, you can see which trunks are actually part of the same tree because they all come into bloom at the same time. Aspen bark is quite smooth and thin – they can actually photosynthesize through it – so in the spring, it can have a greenish tinge. The bark produces a whitish powder to prevent the tree warming up too fast before it is safe to do so. Older aspen bark can be roughened and black in places, scarred by damage from animals and fungi.
White spruce
near planted spruce
the only evergreen tree in our list, this conifer is a favourite for planting in yards and shelterbelts - and often downwind from those plantings you will find seedlings and saplings growing wild. White spruce needles are four-sided and whitened along the sides. They are attached to the twigs singly in a spiral pattern around the twig, but are more thickly clustered on the top of the branches to get the best light.
American elm
riverbank forests
The silhouette of the elm's single trunk with arching spreading crown is very familiar to Winnipeg residents as it was planted extensively on residential streets. It can also be found along the rivers within the city, though both planted and wild trees have been hit hard by Dutch elm disease. Leaves have prominent veins and are heavily toothed - with a slightly lopsided leaf base. Flowers are in drooping clusters like the maple but the fruit is oval and flat.
Eastern cottonwood
riverbank forests
This relative of the trembling aspen can grow very tall with huge trunks with heavy flattened ridges. Leaves are triangular with wavy teeth. The pointed leaf buds can be gummy and young trees have thin greenish bark so look for some old leaves to make sure you have a cottonwood and not a balsam poplar.
riverbank forests
Basswood trees have a distinctive fruit that often persists on the tree through to spring. It is a pale brown hard 'berry' dropping from an elongated 'leaf' Trees can grow quite large and have bark with soft flat scaly ridges.
Balsam poplar
nature parks like Assiniboine Forest; undeveloped land with ‘bush’
Medium sized trees with a single trunk branching into a narrow crown. It can be confused with trembling aspen or eastern cottonwood- look out for the long pointed copper brown buds. In the spring they will be very sticky to the touch and a have a fresh exotic smell.

Each tree you spend time observing supports a host of other living organisms - from the fungi and lichens seen on the bark, the insects feeding in the flowers, the birds feeding on the insects. Go ahead and add observations of them as well. Each observation builds up our collective knowledge of the whole. Each new connection between organisms I find reminds me how connected I am to the natural world around me - linked to all as are all living things.

Julkaistu joulukuu 12, 2020 05:02 IP. käyttäjältä marykrieger marykrieger | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

joulukuu 21, 2020

Lichens and Galls and Brackets, Oh My!

Once you have documented your tree observation, take a second look to find some of the other organisms that live on or in the tree. Many are as stationary as the trees themselves and give you lots of time to observe and document them.

Some lichens specialize in growing on tree bark. These are the greyish or orange crusty things you will see if you look closely at the bark. As I write this, our community is not yet able to identify many lichens from photographs. Observing and documenting now will help change that. I suspect that just as in most other groups of living organisms, there are common easily recognized species, others that are so similar that they will remain at genus level or get a 'complex' designation, and a few that are only found infrequently. The Manitoba Conservation Data Centre lists 618 different species from found in Manitoba from the barren grounds to the 49th parallel. That's only a third more than the number of bird species found here. :) I think we can make a dent in the unknowns with more data. You will need to get up close and personal with the lichens to help build the library of images needed to make this happen.

Galls often blend in well with the normal growth of the plant so a closer look may be needed to find them. They are a sort of joint project of an arthropod (a mite or wasp usually) and a plant. The arthropod would like to live in the plant and be protected and fed by it - the plant would rather not that happen. Evolution has armed the arthropod with chemical triggers that force the cells of the plant to grow to make the shelter and food it needs. These chemical triggers differ from plant to plant so gall makers specialize in a single species or genus of plants. If you are sure what plant produced the galls, you are more than halfway to identifying the tiny creature that made it. The shapes and colours of the galls that are formed are individual to the gall maker. When you are sure you have a gall observation, let the community working to identify Galls in North America know about it by adding it to this project. Unlike the CNC project which collects observations automatically, the Gall project depends on you to manually add your observations to the project. This strategy works really well for situations where the project is focused on a very specific subset of observations that cannot be found using the base observation data of place and date.

Brackets are the fruiting bodies of fungi living inside the tree. Brackets may be woody, adding a new fruiting layer each year to the previous growth. The lower surfaces of some have gills like the familiar field mushroom that we eat; others have pores or teeth to dispense their spores. Images of both upper and lower surfaces are often needed to help with identification. Some brackets are specialists, and are only found on one tree species, while others are less discriminating, happy to make a home in any one of a number of tree species. I find that the easiest one to identify in our region is the aspen bracket - Phellinus tremulae. It only grows on Trembling aspen - not on any other species in our area. It has a very flat spore producing surface that faces out from the tree at an angle. This surface changes colour with the seasons. Look for this bracket on large mature trembling aspen - once you find one yourself, you will wonder how you missed them before.

More Resources...
Manitoba Conservation Data Centre
Wild Species 2015: The General Status of Species in Canada: Lichens
Common insect and mite galls of the Canadian prairies
Mushroom Expert: Phellinus tremulae

Julkaistu joulukuu 21, 2020 03:43 IP. käyttäjältä marykrieger marykrieger | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

joulukuu 30, 2020

Spring butterflies in Manitoba

Manitoba Nature has posted the ten part A Snapshot of Butterflies in Southeast Manitoba: A citizen science project to record butterfly species and numbers by Richard Staniforth, Larry de March, Deanna Dodgson and Peter Taylor on their website. Reading this started me thinking about those butterflies that may be active during the City Nature Challenge. Consulting my well worn copy of The Butterflies of Manitoba by Paul Klassen, A. R. Westwood, W. B. Preston and W. B. McKillop, I have compiled the list below of fourteen species that have been seen in flight in Manitoba in April.

A butterfly needs to be pretty warm in order to fly around and it cannot generate its own heat internally like mammals. Spring butterflies use the warmth of the sun to give them that little extra boost. In Manitoba, the earliest butterflies overwinter as pupa or adults. The butterflies begin to emerge when daytime temperatures are around 15 degrees Celsius. The very hardiest may be active when the highs are just above single digits. Early observations frequently show the adults basking in the sun on pathways clear of snow or in sheltered spots on the dry grass.

Nectar sources are at a premium this early in the year. Those of you with conventional butterfly gardens may find them still dark and dormant. Early butterflies are attracted to flowering willows, alders and poplars as well as to sap runs on Manitoba maple and paper birch and to dung. Rotting fruit is another food source for these early emergers, so leaving windfalls in place in the fall now has a purpose! Don't rush to clean up standing dead stems and leaf litter as these are likely still sheltering overwintering insects as well as providing refuge when the temperature dips for those who have already emerged.

Once the saskatoons, chokecherries and wild plums start to bloom, the number of species active increases. Consider adding some of these early flowering shrubs to your butterfly landscape. As a bonus, many of these then double as the larval food plants. Something to think about as you make your gardening plans for after snow melt.

Some people will put out cut orange sections and slices of banana for early spring bird migrants. These may also attract butterflies. A sheltered sunny spot is more attractive to both the insects and the birds.

Species earliest iNat observations in Manitoba Flight period from Butterflies of Manitoba all iNat observations in Manitoba Larval food plants from Butterflies of Manitoba (native)
Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis l-album) March 23 (March 20 to June 4) Manitoba observations to date Willows (Salix), Poplars (Populus), Alders (Alnus), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) April 3 (April 6 to October 12) Manitoba observations to date Interior Sandbar Willow (Salix interior), Poplars (Populus), Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) American Elm (Ulmus americana), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
Grey Comma (Polygonia progne) April 6 (May 5 to September 4) Manitoba observations to date Currants (Ribes), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera). American Elm (Ulmus americana)
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) April 6 (May 17 to October 6) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis), Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis), American Elm (Ulmus americana)
Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti) April 9 (April 5 to November 4 ) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis)
Green Comma (Polygonia faunus) April 14 (May 15 to August 20) Manitoba observations to date Prairie Willow (Salix humilis), Birches (Betula), Alders (Alnus), Currants (Ribes)
Lucia Azure or Northern Spring Azure (Celastrina lucia) April 15 (April 17 to August 13) Manitoba observations to date Blueberries (Vaccinum), White Meadowsweet (Spirarea alba), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), Viburnums (Viburnum), Plums, cherries and allies (Prunus), Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), Dogwoods (Cornus)
Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus) May 17 (April 20 to September 22) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) April 26 (April 28 to August 11) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis), Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis), Pennsylvania Pellitory (Parietaria pensylvanica)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) May 18 (April 26 to October 14) Manitoba observations to date
Western White (Pontia occidentalis) May 1 (April 28 to September 27) Manitoba observations to date Mustards (Brassicaceae)
Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) May 3 (April 28 to August 11) Manitoba observations to date Vetchlings (Lathyrus), Milkvetches (Astragalus), Vetches (Vicia), Locoweeds (Oxytropis)
Eastern Pine Elfin (Callophrys niphon) April 30 (May 10 to June 17) Manitoba observations to date Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
Hoary Elfin (Callophrys polios) April 30 (May 5 to June 27) Manitoba observations to date Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

More Resources

A Snapshot of Butterflies in Southeast Manitoba: A citizen science project to record butterfly species and numbers
By Richard Staniforth, Larry de March, Deanna Dodgson and Peter Taylor
Below are links to the whole series of articles on the Manitoba Nature website

other contributors Michael Loyd, Jim Reist, Bob Shettler, G. Budyk, A. Drabyk, S. Hébert-Allard, L. Holbert, A. Jacobs, L. Klassen, R. Koes, B. Krosney, D. Martin, R. Mooi, D. Neufeld, R. Parsons, J. Pelechaty, D. Raitt, J. Rodger, N. Schmidt, J. Smith, R. Smith, D. Staniforth, J. Swartz, M. Waldron and J. Yatsko

Julkaistu joulukuu 30, 2020 08:24 IP. käyttäjältä marykrieger marykrieger | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti