A New Year and a New Big Year Project

About an hour before the close of 2016, I finally finished up posting observations from 2012 to iNaturalist.

Over the past few months I’ve imported observations of all the unique species I recorded in my phone, plus all the photos I took during that year’s 1000 species project. As I write this, my iNaturalist species count is at 878, but there are many photos that are only coarsely identified, so over time that number should slowly increase. I am confident I managed over 900 species documented that year, but 1000 is probably a stretch.

Part of my motivation to get the observations for 2012 into iNaturalist was to have that complete before embarking on another similar project in 2017. I’m optimistic that with iNaturalist as a tool to help organize my observations, it will be easier to keep track of what I’m seeing (with running totals). This was a significant challenge in my first two attempts.

Although I’m hoping to get at least 1000 species in the Sitka area myself, I’m not calling this one a 1000 species project, as a bigger part of this project involves inviting other people join in as well (at whatever level of engagement they’re so inclined).

I’m planning to give a talk in mid-January to share about my past experience and invite people to participate in this big year project. I don’t really have any idea what to expect, but from where I sit just before the start of the year, I am hopeful that at least 10 people in town will observe 100 species in 2017 (adding them to iNaturalist), and hopefully many more will observe at least 10. I hope the collective efforts will result in at least 1500 species, and maybe with some luck, we’ll push towards 2000.

I hope there will be a series of little public events to look for and document species at particular locations around Sitka, perhaps targeting specific groups as season and guest expertise allows.

In a few hours I’ll get up to go birding for this year’s Christmas Bid Count. It seems a fitting start to the year, and I’m feeling excited to get out there and document as much diversity as I can around Sitka in the coming days, weeks, and months.

If you’re in Sitka (or will be visiting) – I would love to have you join me in this project, you can start by simply visiting inaturalist.org and creating an account there. If you have a smart phone, you can download the app and add observations that way (using your phone’s camera), or you can add observations via the website by uploading photos you’ve taken with your digital camera.

If you won’t be in Sitka this year, but are interesting in doing something similar where you live, I think it would be great to have parallel projects going in other locations (especially in south coastal Alaska or coastal British Columbia). If you would like any tips for using iNaturalist to help track (in particular, how to set up an iNaturalist place and keep track of the observations that from there), let me know, and I’ll do what I can to help!

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