CWEP BioThon and Tips for new iNaturalist users

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

Animals/General:

  • 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.

Birds:

  • 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.

Plants:

  • 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.

Fungi:

  • 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.

Water-Based Distance Learning Activities

With the increase amount of school, workplace, library, and community space closures, you might be looking for some ideas to pass the time with your children. Here are some water-based/ STEM activities to pass the time while learning about water.

  •  Go on a water scavenger hunt! Using the image below, make a checklist or take photos of the following items to keep track of what you find!

water scavenger hunt

  • Sidewalk water painting. Sidewalk painting can happen with paint brushes and water, too! Watch in fascination as your designs disappear slowly because of evaporation. This is a great opportunity to begin teaching younger children about the wonders of the water cycle. This activity is best done on a sunny day.
  • Is it raining outside? Take your child on a rainy day walk! Follow the water from the gutters to see where it ends up. What did you find along the way?
  • Teach your child about the water cycle using their bodies through water cycle yoga. Visit this link if you need some inspiration for how to facilitate it!

water cycle yoga

(Image Courtesy of Durham Hub Farm)

  • Make your own mini water cycle using a to-go or old food container with a clear top. Fill the container with rocks, grass, plants, and other found items, mist with a bit of water, set in the sun, and see what happens!
  • Does your child like to color and read? Learn about stormwater runoff with the Stormwater Sleuth and Running Rain activity book put together by University of Nebraska- Extension. This activity book is geared towards 4th-8th grade students.

For a complete list of activities and online resources, please visit the new Distance Learning page