Keshi Satterwhite has been doing outreach and engagement for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association since 2019. CWEP education and outreach coordinator Hannah sat down with Keshi to talk about her passion, leadership, mentorship, and hope for the future of the water sector.
Our interview with Keshi kicks off our Water Leaders Profile Series, where we will be interviewing water leaders from across the CWEP region. Know someone in a CWEP community who is leading the water sector? E-mail us at email@example.com to suggest our next interviewee.
Winter in North Carolina means shorter days and colder nights, a time when you might be spending more time indoors or bundling up to brave the drop in temperature. But what does winter mean for our aquatic animal neighbors? You might be surprised to discover that the winter is still an active time for many critters.
Water gets cold more slowly than air, which means fish, macroinvertebrates, and other aquatic creatures remain active even as the air temperature drops. You may still find mayfly, dragonfly, stonefly and other macroinvertebrates when sampling in the winter. Some people even prefer to look for these tiny animals in this season because they move slower and spend more time hiding under leaves and rocks.
Stoneflies overwinter as aquatic nymphs and continue growing even as water temperatures approach freezing. (photo courtesy of thecatchandthehatch.com)
Get involved: Macroinvertebrates are important water quality indicators and can help us assess stream health. Join or create an NC Stream Watch group to collect and submit macroinvertebrate data to a statewide citizen science effort! To learn more about the importance of clean water for macroinvertebrates, check out this video by the town of Chapel Hill’s stormwater department that talks about macroinvertebrates and dissolved oxygen.
Many salamander species are still active during North Carolina winters. You can spot red-back salamanders, lead-back salamanders, and maybe even the notoriously elusive marbled salamanders under logs in wet woodland areas. They are especially active during warm and rainy winter nights. Marbled salamanders breed in the winter, laying their eggs in ephemeral (temporary) woodland ponds.
The beautiful Marbled Salamander is the state salamander of North Carolina.
Winter is a time that many birds migrate to North Carolina to overwinter. Buffleheads, pied-billed grebes, coots, ring-necked ducks and hooded mergansers are some of the inland waterfowl you might spot on a nearby pond or lake. If you live on the coast, you might spot gannets, loons and wrens near the shore. Some bird species even mate and lay eggs in the winter! If you listen closely, you might be able to hear the nasal sounding mating call of a male woodcock on a mild January night. Woodcocks live in shrubby forests and grasslands near water.
Male buffleheads are easily identified by their large white crown. (photo courtesy of allaboutbirds.org)
Get Involved: Ready to do some winter birding? Be sure to download the E-Bird app before you go. E-bird allows you to easily track, record, and ID the birds you find. To read more about winter birding in North Carolina, check out this page on the Bird Watcher’s Digest.
These animals need clean water to survive or thrive (like us!) Help protect critters by doing your part to keep stormwater clean.
CWEP is hosting an iNaturalist Spring BioThon for all partner communities from May 19-June 19, 2020. Join us in exploring our local watersheds! If you live in a CWEP community, your iNaturalist observations will automatically populate in the BioThon project, but you can also join the project by following the link above and clicking the “join” option in the top right corner, shown below:
Follow CWEP on social media (twitter and instagram: CWEP_nc; facebook: NC Clean Water Education Partnership) for leader board updates and a chance to win a handmade prize.
Have you ever heard of the iNaturalist app? iNaturalist is a crowdsourced species identification system and social media platform designed to showcase local flora and fauna observations. Users collect photo and audio observations that upload onto an online database where other users can help with identification. iNaturalist is a helpful tool to get to know the plants and animals that live in your watershed, and view observations by others.
Just created an iNaturalist account and downloaded the app? Click here to learn how to create a post using an iPhone, Android, or computer.
Tips for New iNaturalist Users
iNaturalist most easily integrates with a smartphone, but photographs taken on a camera instead can also be uploaded to the iNaturalist website. When using a camera, try to keep track of where certain species were seen as best you can, as you will be asked to add the location of the photo when you upload your observations.
Consider taking photos with your phone or camera and uploading to iNaturalist later. This gives you time to properly ID species when you have access to WiFi, ID guides, or more time to look through options using the app. If you go this route, remember to make sure that your phone location services are on so that the location will upload with the photo into the iNaturalist app.
Familiarize yourself with species nearby by looking at posts that others have made. You can do this using the “explore” tab in the app or on the webpage
If you are unsure about an exact species ID, opt for a more general identification such as genus or family. Others in the iNaturalist community can then help narrow it down to species.
Try to crop photos close to the subject for easier identification by the iNaturalist app and community.
Free Apps to Help with Species ID
Seek: Created by the same developers as iNaturalist, this app will compare your photo with other observations from the same area to find a more accurate ID.
Audubon: This virtual field guide is similar to Merlin but also helps you ID a bird from its call, habitat, tail shape, and wing shape.
Merlin Bird ID: Using features such as bird behavior, coloring, and size, this app can help narrow down the possible options for IDing a sighting. This app also has a photo ID feature if you can get close enough to snap a picture.
Leafsnap: A collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution, this app will let you ID plants and trees using photos of their flowers and leaves.
Mushroom Identificator: This app helps ID mushrooms by having the user take several photos of the same species and comparing them to species within the guide.
Happy collecting! If you have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to the CWEP team via our contact page.
Are you looking for a local stewardship opportunity? Do you enjoy picking up trash or water quality monitoring? If so, you should join NC Stream Watch!
NC Stream Watch is a state-wide community science engagement program created by North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). NC Stream Watch showcases the wide diversity of watersheds across the Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plains regions of the state and gives folks an opportunity to engage with their local waterways. Any interested group can participate in Stream Watch, including scout troops, church volunteers, key clubs, or school programs. The minimum requirements are to do two trash cleanups per year and take a photo and GPS location of your stream site.
This spring, CWEP is launching an NC Stream Watch Train-the Trainer series. Community groups in member local governments can contact CWEP to be trained as a Stream Watch leader and we will join you for your first event. CWEP will train leaders how to fill out the online monitoring surveys and choose a safe site. We will also provide materials such as macroinvertebrate sampling equipment and chemical water quality testing kits to enhance the environmental education opportunities at the first event.