Species Count Milestone

Today I managed to surpass the total taxa count of my 1000 species attempt in 2012 (at least as measured by iNaturalist). As of today, I have 882 unique taxa for the year, with 792 identified to species. In 2012, I had 881 and 789. Of course all of these numbers are subject to change as identifications on observations will continue to get refined in some cases. Still, it’s nice to acknowledge this as a milestone along the journey. I am sure the second half of the year will end up with many fewer species than the first half, but 1000 species for my personal total seems well within reach (as a collective for the project, we’re already nearly to 1200 species for the year).

Skies remained overcast, though it was much drier today than yesterday. Conditions were calm this morning, though there seemed to be a bit of a breeze this afternoon.

Rowan and I made a trip up Verstovia trail. This time I gave Rowan the option of an hour of moving time (at her preferred pace), or going as fast as we could manage to the first viewpoint. She opted for the latter, and despite burning lungs (legs were definitely not the limiting factor today), we managed to get there in 23 minutes.

This evening Kitty wanted to collect some Labrador tea leaves to send to someone for a genetics project that is being done on the species. I tagged along to Jarvis Street muskeg, and picked up a few observations while there, including common burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) blooming that I included a photo of here. Other photos are with the iNaturalist observations.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Verstovia Trail

There was a nice mix of moths attracted to the porch light over night. None of them were new, but I decided it might be a good idea to document them (to get a better idea of when they fly). The pictures were not great, so I just left them as iNaturalist observations instead of including them here.

Skies were mostly cloudy this morning, there was a fair amount of blue I could see out the window. I had a work obligation that lasted until lunch time, so did not get out until later this afternoon. By then it was almost completely overcast, and clouds had moved further down the mountain. Even so, Rowan and I walked up to the second viewpoint on Verstovia. t

We took about 30 minutes getting to the first viewpoint (only a couple of minutes faster than earlier in the week), and another 20 or so to get to the second viewpoint. All in, it took us just under an hour to get there (but we made it down in 30 minutes).

The base of the cloud layer was right about at our level when we reached the second viewpoint. It was just high enough to afford a nice view of the north part of Sitka sound.

I had been motivated to get to the second viewpoint in order to get better pictures of the orchids that are there (my photos from Sunday were not very good, due to the challenging conditions).

Unlike my Sunday hike, this one was slightly better timed with the rain. There was just the lightest of mist that started falling when we reached the viewpoint bench, but within the next 10 minutes it started to increase in intensity. By the time we were going down, there was a pretty good drizzle, and that got stronger while we hiked down.

Earlier this week I was driving in towards the roundabout from Halibut Point Road, and there was a mix of sun and clouds that just resonated summer to me. I realized it is not the clear, hot days that feel like summer as arrived, but rather the partly cloudy days that are warm (60+) with the sun peaking through. There’s often a nice interplay of light and clouds on those days, and it’s just pleasant. The hot sunny days always feel a bit anomalous, but this summer, even those partly cloudy warm days have been in short supply.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #135 – Derek Sikes

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The July 9th show featured a conversation with Derek Sikes, curator of insects at the Museum of the North. We talked about his work collecting (and maintaining collections) from around the state for the museum, how much there remains to be learned about insects in Alaska, and how non-specialists can contribute to the knowledge of insect fauna in the state.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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Start of the Second Half

As yesterday marked the end of the first half of the Sitka Big Year project, and the weather was not super inspiring (low clouds, wet, and with a bit of a breeze), I decided it would be a good day to work on catching up on my organization and reflecting on the progress so far.

Looking back at the first half, I’m happy with the overall participation. Thirty people have contributed almost 4700 observations, of over 1100 species, which is great progress.

Personally, I managed to get at one observation everyday so far, and on all but a handful of days I had three or more new (for the year) things. In the process, I’ve gotten out at least for a little bit every day, taken well over 6000 photos, with 720+ species identified and 800 unique taxa (not everything has been identified to species) as of yesterday. There are certainly multiple additional species that could eventually be identified (from photos or collections), but for now are all clumped at a relatively coarse taxonomic level.

Overall I’ve done pretty well at getting photos tagged and uploaded to iNaturalist. However, as I worked on my photo organization today, I did find quite a few things that never made it on to iNaturalist, so I will try to take care of those soon.

I’ve done less well (but much better than in the past) at keeping the collections neat and organized, but it’s mostly under control, and I hope to clean things up even further over the next couple of days.

The one thing I have not kept up with at all is weblog updates. It’s one of those things where in my mind I want to give a good (ideally well-written) account of the day with well-edited photos, but don’t feel up for that effort in the evening, so put it off. It just continues to be put off until I have nothing left but vague memories of the day to go along with the photos.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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Sitka Nature Show #134 – Kari Sagel, Jen Cedarleaf, and Kitty LaBounty

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The June 25th show featured a conversation with Kari Sagel, Jen Cedarleaf, and Kitty LaBounty. We talked about the Sitka Big Year project, how we’ve each been approaching our own efforts, and some of the things we’ve been seeing.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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Sitka Nature Show #133 – Lauren Bell

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The June 11th show featured a conversation with Lauren Bell, of he Sitka Sound Science Center. We talked about her work on various projects around Sitka Sound, with a focus on her experience helping out with abalone surveys and the upcoming research she plans to start soon related to kelp forest ecology. The conversation with Lauren starts at 3:50 in the recording.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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