Diario del proyecto City Nature Challenge 2021: Winnipeg Region

18 de abril de 2021

11 days, Ferndale 14PA00 and Ticks

Ferndale 14PA00 is located in the RM of Macdonald. The La Salle River flows from the northwest to southeast through the northern part of the square. The square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square.

At the time of posting, 5 observations of 4 species had been uploaded by 3 observers. The survey for the Breeding Bird Atlas of Manitoba confirmed 5 bird species nesting here, with another 44 species probable or possible. Here's the full list.

Manitoba has two tick species that we should all be able to identify accurately: American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) which we know here as the wood tick and Eastern Black-legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis) which we sometimes call the deer tick. The wood tick is more commonly seen and its bites can be very annoying. The much smaller deer tick is a known vector of several tick borne diseases including Lyme disease.

Wood ticks...

Black-Legged ticks...

There is now a national project to report ticks - eTick. It also has a mobile app for use when you are out and about. At the time of posting, most of the observations are from the eastern part of Canada - a situation reflecting more the location of eTick users rather than the locations of ticks. Manitoba has recently joined the the project as a partner.

Mary Kennedy (@mkkennedy ) has set up a project called Ticks in the Maritimes Her journal posts there give details for adding tick observations to both iNaturalist and to eTick. She encourages us all to support the eTick project - by entering data to the eTick project as well as with data entered in iNaturalist. eTick has created a helpful video demonstrating exactly how to take a photograph of a tick with a smart phone. There is interest in images of ticks from anywhere in Canada taken at any point.

Links

Ingresado el 18 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de abril de 2021

12 days, Sanford 14PA10 and Poison Ivy

Sanford 14PA10 is located in the RM of Macdonald. The La Salle River flows from the west to east through the square by the town of Sanford. The square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square.

At the time of posting, 23 observations had been uploaded by 6 observers, led by @rjr-mb . 18 species are represented including 5 plants and 5 birds. The survey for the Breeding Bird Atlas of Manitoba confirmed 32 bird species nesting here, with another 37 species probable or possible. Here's the full list.

There are a few species that I feel everyone in Manitoba should be able to identify confidently if they are going outside their own door. For these species, your identification expertise will not only give you higher identification numbers but also make your experience outdoors more pleasant.

Today we are going to brush up on our Poison Ivy identification skills. The species found in Manitoba is Western Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii). Some of your reference books may use the name Rhus radicans var rydbergii instead but it is the same plant.

Scoggan's "Flora of Manitoba" informs us that the plant was first collected in Manitoba by Bourgeau in 1857. Eugene Bourgeau was the member of the Palliser Expedition assigned to collect plant specimens for the herbarium at the royal gardens at Kew . Irene M. Spry describes in her book "The Palliser Expedition" their first experience with the plant near Rainy River...

Here they encountered poison ivy for the first time, a plant that, they were surprised to find, produces a most intense itching sensation attended with considerable swelling and rash. These effects lasted for many days; some of the voyageurs suffered severely from them.

While the effect on skin is an excellent fieldmark, I don't want any of you or your companions to suffer so lets make sure to notice it before we get too close.

Scoggan describes the plant's preferred habitat as "woods, thickets, sandhills and clearings in the southern two-fifths of the province". In my experience, it is most frequently found in or at the edges of treed areas where the trees are further apart and there is little or no shrub layer to block the sun completely. The plant needs sun but can tolerate a bit of shade. It cannot grow in very wet conditions. It also does not like very acid soil conditions - so not likely to be found in a peat bog. If the soil is sandy then it is even more likely that you will encounter the plant. The plants preference for drier sunny edges and clearings means that it will be frequently found right at the trail edge.

Finding a single plant is very unusual. Poison ivy generally grows in patches or colonies. Each plant is separated a little from its neighbour, just enough so that the individual plant's leaf canopy gets its own patch of sunlight. It has woody stems but never gets very tall, more ankle height than knees on grown-ups. Wearing something on your legs and feet is generally recommended in areas where the plant is abundant.

"Leaves of three, let it be" is a good start to learning this plant in the summer. Leaves of three leaflets grow from a single stem. Each leaflet has an irregular toothed margin. Usually the number of 'teeth' on one side of the leaflet is not the same as on the other side - and counting those teeth shouldn't strain your brain. Lots and lots of small teeth indicate that you are not looking at a poison ivy plant. In the fall, winter and early spring, the most obvious field mark are the tight clusters of yellowish ridged berries.

There are a few other plants that get confused with this one - the ones that people have asked me most about over the years are Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) and the two Parthenocissus - Thicket Creeper and Virginia Creeper. Wild Sarsaparilla does not have a woody stem, its leaves are in groups of 5 finely toothed leaflets, and it has round clusters of dark blue berries with no ridges. The two creepers are woody but they are vines. The creepers also have 5 or more leaflets with many teeth and clusters of very dark colored berries.

Happy Saturday and stay out of the poison ivy!

Ingresado el 17 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de abril de 2021

13 days, Saint Adolphe 14PA340 and what about those fish

La Salle 14PA20 is located in the RM of Macdonald. The La Salle River flows from the west to east through the square by the town of La Salle. The square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square.

At the time of posting, 25 observations had been uploaded by 9 observers, led by @ellyne . 20 species are represented including 10 plants and 5 birds. The survey for the Breeding Bird Atlas of Manitoba confirmed 26 bird species nesting here, with another 44 species probable or possible. Here's the full list.

The self-directed nature of iNat observations produces some interesting results. When I first started looking at the data back in 2016, I was surprised to see how few observations there were of trees in areas which I knew to be forested. I realized then that every observer has their own unique approach to deciding which organisms to observe. And just as importantly, I realized that every approach is valid.

The strength of allowing people to decide exactly what and when they want to add observations means everyone has the ability to contribute something unique. The more people observing, the more viewpoints are represented and the more interesting the whole data set becomes.

Living near Lockport, I am keenly aware of the enthusiasm of Manitobans to fish in almost every type of weather at every time of year. When I looked at the numbers of observation of fish there seemed to be a mismatch - of the nearly 40,000 observations in the Red River Valley region, only 79 are fish. What an opportunity I thought for CNC observers to make a difference. (All you real fisher people are now realizing how much I know about fishing)

I checked into the Fishing Guide and soon saw a big problem with my great idea - in the southern division the fishing season is closed from April 5th, 2021 to and including May 14, 2021. The reason is of course that it is spawning season. So no fishing, but not necessarily no observing. Several species of fish in Manitoba move from the large lakes and rivers into the upstream tributaries to spawn. This can make them easier to photograph from the bank. Any fish remains left by a passing mink or otter are also valid to qualify as observations. Despite the challenges, I hope that between us all we will be able to observe at least one fish during the survey period.

Happy snow melt!

Ingresado el 16 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de abril de 2021

2 weeks (14 days), Saint Adolphe 14PA30 and the new CNC video is up

Saint Adolphe 14PA30 is shared between the RMs of Macdonald and Ritchot. The Red River flows from the south to north through the square including the town of St Adolphe. The river lot system prevails adjacent to the river. Elsewhere the square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square. La Barriere Park is found in the northern section.

At the time of posting, 267 observations had been uploaded by 42 observers, led by @seraphinpoudrier . 167 species are represented including 86 plants, 29 birds and 26 insects. The most frequently observed organism is the Bur oak with 8 observations. The survey for the Breeding Bird Atlas of Manitoba confirmed 20 bird species nesting here, with another 58 species probable or possible. Here's the full list. The City of Winnipeg, Naturalist Services report records 87 plant species confirmed in La Barriere - many of these are only defined at genus level. With the Red Riiver and the La Salle both flowing through this square there is ample room to add more records of species of many different organisms.

I know from all our observations so far that we have a solid core of observers here. The City Nature Challenge is an opportunity for us to introduce iNat to others that also enjoy observing and identifying organisms. The new City Nature Challenge video is up now. It's posted on YouTube and on Vimeo,. Feel free to share it far and wide!

Ingresado el 15 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de abril de 2021

15 days, Ile des Chenes 14PA40 and some thoughts on prepping observations

Ile des Chenes 14PA40 is shared between the RMs of Tache and Ritchot. The town of Ile des Chenes is located in its north.The square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches with two major drains combining near the center then flowing west towards the Red. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square.

At the time of posting, 17 observations had been uploaded by 7 observers, led by @meghann_81 . Twelve species are represented including 5 plants and 4 birds. The survey for the Breeding Bird Atlas of Manitoba confirmed 6 bird species nesting here, with another 40 species probable or possible. Here's the full list. Lots of scope for discovery here.

Today I thought I would share with you some details of my particular process. Feel free to ask questions or add useful alternatives in the comments.

These days I rarely use my phone to collect observation images - having almost completely switched over to using digital cameras. My workhorse is an Olympus TG6 - which I originally bought because it was waterproof and could take pictures underwater. I have not yet summoned the courage to plunge the the thing into the drink - but it is comforting to know that if we tip while out on the water, it won't turn into a brick. It has a 'microscope' mode for super closeups of moss and lichen. It has a wrist strap so I don't drop it very often. I chose the red body - this is good for me as it is harder to mislay but has the unfortunate consequence of causing pink reflections on some closeup subjects.

This camera also has the ability to collect a GPS log - this feature I use whenever our little band is on the move. I start the log as we leave base and leave it running continuously until we return. I generally also take a few 'sync' images - pictures of known locations during our outings. These prove useful later when when using the software to tag the images with the locations. Logging and taking lots of images means that I often need at least one battery change during the day - so the two spares are very useful. If I am observing at my bases, I don't bother with the GPS log. I have pinned location circles in the upload wizard for my habitual observation localities and use those instead. I figure that 'somewhere in my yard' is probably sufficient location accuracy for people to work with.

I set the camera time on initial setup and then forget it ever after. Some of my digitals auto-switch between daylight savings and regular - others do not. Most of my observations are of plants so unlikely that time is an important data point - the heavy lifting is all done by date. YMMV. I have a few trail cams as well and these vary in their approach - some require that the date and time be reset when the batteries are re-inserted - a pain if one forgets.

Trail cams can be an interesting way to augment your observations - we never guessed that a red fox was wandering through our yard regularly until we put out the trail cam. I did not opt for any wi-fi or cell capability, content just to place the camera, then see what I get when I retrieve it. It takes a bit of experimentation to find the right sensitivity for the kind of organism you would like to record. Too little sensitivity and no photos - too much and many photos of nothing that you wanted. :) Place your trail cam so that it does not face into the sun at any time of the day. You will get less false positives if you choose a relatively sheltered location without nearby grasses or tree branches in the triggering cone. My best results have come from finding places where there is a natural reason for animals to pass by the trail cam and preferably reasonably fresh sign that they are.

All the images get transferred to the computer. I keep them in date folders. This has the interesting side-effect of iNat acting as a searchable index of my images. Next I tag the images that need it with the locations from the GPS log. Here's a tutorial from iNat and a forum discussion on the many solutions. I then use my photo-editing software to adjust exposure if the images is badly over or under exposed - and to ruthlessly crop images to isolate my chosen organism.

Once all the images are ready, I use the web page to upload them - using the drag feature to combine multiple images into single observations where appropriate. I find that I need to keep the number of images added at one time to under 50 as otherwise the whole thing bogs down in lag. I then add the identifications and check for any missing locations or dates that may have slipped though. Once the images have been uploaded, I can add the extra details like tagging dead things as dead.

After the dust is settled, I work through the observations that I did not recognize, using both my stack of field guides, the internet in general and other iNat observations to see if I can come up with more specific ids. Sometimes I just find that I need to make a note to return and get another observation with more details. This I do not regard as a setback. :)

Still working through my backlog...

Ingresado el 14 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de abril de 2021

16 days, Landmark 14PA50, and Nature Conservancy Canada - Manitoba Division lends a hand

Landmark 14PA50 is in the RM of Tache. The town of Landmark is located just east of its centre. The Seine River and the river lots running perpendicular to it cross the northern portion of the square. The remainder of the square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square.

At the time of posting, 5 observations had been uploaded by 4 observers. Lots of room to fill in the blanks here.

The Nature Conservancy Canada-Manitoba Division is helping to raise awareness of the upcoming City Nature Challenge event by promoting it on their website here.. They also let me know about an upcoming webinar hosted by their Alberta region discussing the benefits of iNaturalist data on April 26th at 6:30 pm (free, pre-registration required). The presenter is Matt Wallace (@wowokayyes), very active in the Calgary City Nature Challenge as well as actively encouraging other Canadian cities to join in on the fun.

The main City Nature Challenge website is refreshed with resources for this year. If you or someone you know would benefit from checking out videos or reading through activity plans related to the event, this is the place to go. They are actively looking for feedback on their resources to improve the experience particularly for people new to iNaturalist and educators interested in using iNaturalist in their learning toolkit.

Here in Manitoba, iNaturalist continues to make gains - as of the time of posting, 90,152 observations of 4,474 species have been posted by 3,020 observers. 8,547 of these are observations made since January 1 of this year. Last year in the same period, 1,498 observations were made. We are well on our way to breaking that 100,000 milestone sometime this summer.

Looking at all of Canada, there are 4,508,886 observations of 28,149 species by 102,462 observers at the time of posting and globally, 61,512,695 observations of 327,755 species by 1,529,298 observers. Don't forget to update your photo licensing before April 15th. Read all about it in the blog.

Enjoy the snow!

Ingresado el 13 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de abril de 2021

17 days to go, Dugald 14PA52 & Lorette 14PA51, and what is Research Grade in iNat

Dugald 14PA52 is in the RM of Springfield. The town of Dugald is located in the northern section. The square is divided by mile road grids and drainage ditches. Agriculture dominates the land use in this square.

At the time of posting, 3 observations had been uploaded by 2 observers; 2 observations of Western Yellowjacket and 1 Blue Jay The Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas found that 35 species of birds were confirmed breeding in this square, with another 40 species possible and probable. Here's the full list.


Lorette 14PA51 is in the RM of Tache. The town of Lorette is located in the southern section. Mile roads and drainage ditches divide up the land in the northern section. the Seine River runs east to west through the southern part of the square. River lots run perpendicular to its course. Agriculture is the main land use.

At the time of posting, 37 observations had been uploaded by 11 observers, led by @rdcromarty . 28 species have been identified here, including 7 plants and 14 insects. The most frequently observed species is the Common Dandelion with 3 observations. The Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas found that 11 species of birds were confirmed breeding in this square, with another 52 species possible and probable. Here's the full list.



The idea of 'research grade' in iNat seems to be a puzzlement for many. I like to think of it as simply a strategy towards creating observations that are more useful to the users of iNat data.

For an observation to become RG, it has to meet several criteria.

  1. there must be an organism (or evidence of one) in the image or sound file
  2. there has to be a location for the observation
  3. there has to be a date for the observation
  4. the organism cannot be captive or cultivated
  5. at least 2 identifiers must agree on an identification
  6. the community must agree that the identification cannot be any more specific than it is

There is a list at the bottom of each observation page which shows these same criteria and the thumbs up/thumbs down status of each. For a fuller explanation check out these links.

And feel free to ask questions in the comments .

Ingresado el 12 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de abril de 2021

20 days, Oakbank 14PA53 and how to find under-represented organisms

Oakbank 14PA53 is in the RM of Springfield. The eskers forming Birds Hill and Pine Ridge are quarried for sand and gravel in the north west of this square. The town of Oakbank is in the central area. The square is divided by the mile road grids and drainage ditches. In the southern and eastern portion, the soil is more suitable for agricultural use..

At the time of posting, 36 observations had been uploaded by 18 observers, led by @darrellneufeld2 . 31 species have been identified here, including 12 plants and 9 insects. The most frequently observed species is the White-tailed Deer with 3 observations. The Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas found that 44 species of birds were confirmed breeding in this square, with another 48 species possible and probable. Here's the full list.

As you may have noticed in our parade of squares, the data to this point in iNaturalist forms only a partial picture of the organisms living around us. You are likely to see something that is under-represented in the data set just by looking out your window or stepping out your own door.

The Bird Atlas summary sheets I have been linking to were intended for the use of the volunteer observers helping to collect the data for the atlas. In the notes at the bottom of each sheet is the following..

Underlined species are those that you should try to add to this square .... They have not yet been reported during the atlas, but were reported in more than 50% of the squares in this region during the project so far.

You can find your own under-represented species by Exploring the current observations for your area and comparing them with your own experience. Use the filters to refine your search by month of observation and choose 'Research Grade', click on the icon for the set of organisms you are most interested in - plants, birds, insects, etc. then click update search. Switch the view to species and you will see a list of all the identified organisms with the number of observations of each one. here's the search for Manitoba RG observations of plants in the month of April

If there is something that seems common to you, but is not yet in the group with lots of observations (they are sorted most observations to least by default) then it can be considered under-represented. :)

This kind of search is also useful if you are new to an area - or want to explore a set of organisms that you have less experience with. Organisms that have lots of RG observations also often represent organisms that are frequently seen and have clear field marks. They can be a good place to start learning a new place or grouping.

If you click on the link under the # observations, you will see the map with points where that organism has been identified so far. Switching to grid view will let you see all the images at once. Here's the link for RG observations in Manitoba in April of our provincial emblem the Prairie Crocus (the common name in iNat may appear as Prairie Pasqueflower but it is still the same plant)

If you were not sure what something looks like in the wild, this is the way to go - lots of images by different people in differing lights and weather at different stages of growth - but all identified. Like having a field guide that has room for way more pictures than the 1 or 2 usually supplied.

So nice to see some moisture !

Ingresado el 09 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

08 de abril de 2021

3 weeks (21 days), a look at Cooks Creek 14PA54, and observing the familiar and the new

Cooks Creek 14PA54 is shared betwen the RM of St. Clement and the RM of Springfield. Cooks Creek flows from south to north through the square on its way to the Red River. The western portion of Birds Hill Provincial Park is located in the west half. The Manitoba Bird Atlas listed the habitats in 2014 as Young broadleaf forest, Mature broadleaf forest, Mature coniferous forest, Mature mixed forest:, Open Wetland, Agriculture / open country and urban.

At the time of posting, 3,669 observations had been uploaded by 138 observers. 692 species have been identified here, including 319 plants, 148 insects and 112 birds. The most frequently observed species is the Black-capped Chickadee with 95 observations. Bur Oak and Trembling Aspen are tied for second with 57 observations each. The Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas found that 70 species of birds were confirmed breeding in this square, with another 53 species possible and probable. Here's the full list.

The things you see, hear and smell at the moment of observation become the data that can be linked to our collective knowledge and producing an identification. The stuff that gets later uploaded to iNat is the evidence of your experience. A better observation experience for you is more likely to lead to an identification. Take your time; enjoy yourself!

You may be very familiar with some things that you see - you can recognize them immediately and know their name without any hesitation. For these organisms, you probably know what needs to be in the stuff you upload to help others confirm your id. Things that don't fit in the image (or recording) can be described in the description field. Just check when you add the name during your upload, that you have the right organism. We all know situations where similar names can be confusing when you are in the midst of uploading your day's haul.

What to do then when you have no clue what the organism might be... The first thing is to gather as much evidence as practical while you and the organism are still in the same place at the same time.

If the organism is stationary and unaffected by your presence (like a tree or a moss) take pictures of the whole thing, and then pictures of the major parts like leaves or flowers. If the organism is really small, then use the closeup or macro features to get more details. Check for any smells - or textures like stickiness that seem distinctive.

If your approach causes the organism to change its behaviour, then keep your distance. Use telephoto features to zoom in without disturbing the organism. Note the surroundings and behaviour details to be added to the description when you upload your images. If the organism left traces like tracks or scat then photograph that too. The Audubon Society has great resources on recommended ethical practices. Remember that you can obscure the location of your observation to reduce repeated disturbance for organisms that are tied to a location like a nest or roost.

When you upload your unnamed organism, you can choose to identify it as a member of a large group rather than a single species. The top level of the taxonomic tree are the kingdoms. Here are the ones in iNat at the time of this post together with the observation and species count to date for Manitoba...

  1. Animals:45,222 observations of 2,599 species
  2. Plants:38,599 observations of 1,447 species
  3. Fungi: 5,093 observations of 405 species
  4. Kelp, Diatoms, and Allies: 10 observations of 3 species
  5. Protozoans: 113 observations of 13 species

As you gain experience with more organisms, you will be able to confidently assign your observations to the smaller groups within the kingdoms. You are probably already able to tell if it is a bird even if you are brand new to identification.

Happy spring observing!

Ingresado el 08 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de abril de 2021

22 days to go - Narol 14PA44 - and the naming of names

Narol 14PA44 is part of the RM of St. Andrews, RM of Springfield and the RM of East St Paul. Both the Red River and the Floodway run diagonally through the square rejoining just to the north. The eastern portion of Birds Hill Provincial Park is located in the southeast corner. Birds Hill Park is situated on an esker complex rising above the surrounding plain. The changes in relief and soil provide a wide variety of conditions that interest a similar wide variety of organisms.

At the time of posting, 1,358 observations had been uploaded by 83 observers. 438 species have been identified here, including 244 plants and 83 insects. The most frequently observed species is the Bur Oak with 91 observations. The Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas mentions that 37 species of birds were confirmed breeding in this square, with another 53 species possible and probable. Here's the full list.

iNat has chosen a community based identification process. This makes huge sense as the iNat team is small and the community is continuously growing and multi-talented. You may have already experienced some expectation gap around getting identifications of your observations - especially if you thought you were downloading an 'expert' app. No worries - a little adjustment to the expectations and I think you will find iNat to be an extremely interesting and useful tool in learning which organism is which.

The first asset I would like to draw your attention to is the dynamic taxonomy data. Taxonomy - the study of naming and classification of living things - has been making enthusiastic use of DNA analysis to review and revise our collective understanding of how things are named scientifically. This can be a little unsettling when huge swathes of your reference material (and your memorized facts) throw off their old names to parade in shiny new ones. iNat has worked towards selecting authoritative global sources for the names and portions of the iNat community specialize in keeping the naming used in iNat in sync with the latest understanding. These changes are then propagated through the observation data so your observations remain associated with the name that is currently belongs to the organism you observed.

Here's an example. Our Manitoba provincial flower, the Prairie Crocus, used to be known as Anemone patens ssp multifida. When the new name Pulsatilla nuttalliana became authoritative, identifications using the old name that were attached to observations were automatically copied and updated with the new name. You can see in the example - the original identifications and the auto-revised copies.

This is actually not the first time that the scientific name has changed for this plant. It was first described in 1817 under the name Anemone nuttalliana DC; this then lumped in with the European Anemone patens as a variety in 1841 becoming Anemone patens var. multifida. Things stayed quiet for a while then it was elevated to a subspecies in 1941 - Anemone patens subsp. multifida. Then DNA studies uncovered Anemone had a number of genera lumped in including the group that this plant belonged to. After a period of discussion, the new name became Pulsatilla nuttalliana.

Hope you are enjoying the spring activity as much as I am!

Ingresado el 07 de abril de 2021 por marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario