What I learned during the 2019 City Nature Challenge

Bill Hafker

Participating in the City Nature Challenge was an enlightening and enjoyable experience in several ways.

First, I was somewhat surprised at how many unique living things you can spot when you are really intent on trying to find as many as you can, and you slow down and “get into the weeds” looking for things!

Wool sower gall wasp (Callirhytis seminator), by Bill Hafker

Second, I found that looking at the species identified by others participating in the Challenge was a good source of information for identifying things that I saw. A good example is when I found what I believe now is the wool sower gall wasp. I really had no idea where to start looking to see what this colorful little ball might be, but I found a picture of it in the species list identified by others. Several days have passed and no one has confirmed my ID, alas. Although my pictures are a bit blurry, I think there’s nothing else this could be. I found who the leading identifier of this species was, hoping to engage him in its identification, but could not find a way in iNaturalist to try to contact him.

In addition to looking into how to work with other identifiers, I’ve learned other things to improve my performance next year. This year, I limited myself to submitting only one observation of a species, even if I saw it in more than one area to make observations. I now know that multiple observations are a good way to help define spatial distributions of observed species.

I also realized that, while I received training in how to make observations in iNaturalist prior to the event, I should have sought out training in how to do identifications so I could more actively participate in that aspect of it, also.

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