Top 10 Citizen Science Observations of 2021

What’s happening in iNaturalist and what’s in it for you?

by David Cook, NANPA Conservation Committee Volunteer

In 2021 NANPA created regional collection projects in iNaturalist where members can load their observations of the natural world.  The projects are valuable resources for nature photographers; you can research the types of species found in a specific geographic area at a specific time of year, for example, to help you prepare for a photo trip.

NANPA’s Umbrella Project summarizes all of the regional collection projects, so we dove into the data to share an end-of-year snapshot with you. In 2021 the NANPA iNaturalist projects recorded 19,016 observations of 5,354 different species from 82 observers in 38 different states across the U.S.!

Screenshot from NANPA’s Umbrella Project Dashboard in iNaturalist
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Citizen Science Decodes the Pecking Order

Photo of a bird perched on a tree limb singing. The unassuming song sparrow ranks in the middle of bird hierarchy at feeders. © Frank Gallagher
The unassuming song sparrow ranks in the middle of bird hierarchy at feeders. © Frank Gallagher

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Many NANPA members are engaged in citizen science projects. Others are unfamiliar with the idea, how they could participate, or what difference they could make. Along comes a fascinating story in the Washington Post about a large-scale, citizen-science effort that’s given ornithologists important new insights into bird behavior.

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Finding Rare Species during a BioBlitz

Photo of an alligator or caiman head above the water looking at the camera.. Something was observing me back. © Judd Patterson
Something was observing me back. © Judd Patterson

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

A BioBlitz is a great opportunity to get out into nature and observe all the species of plants and animals (and fungi) that inhabit an area, whether that’s a local park or meadow or someplace you have traveled. During a BioBlitz, participants observe, photograph, and upload their observations to iNaturalist. During NANPA’s recent Nature Photography Day BioBlitz, more than 9,000 observations were logged, covering more than 3,000 species, 97 of which were threatened. The date contributed by participants becomes available to scientists and researchers—a true citizen-science project. We’ve profiled several participants (here, here, and here) already. Today, we turn our attention to Judd Patterson, who works for the National Park Service and pursues nature photography in his spare time. He logged observations of several rare and/or threatened species.

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Unusual Butterfly Nets Photographer Bioblitz Prize

Photo of a colorful butterfly on a bush. The Dury's Metalmark that won the award. © Cathryn Hoyt
The Dury’s Metalmark (Apodemia Duryi) that won the award. © Cathryn Hoyt

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Nearly 10,000 observations were made and more than 3,000 species observed during NANPA’s Nature Photography Day Bioblitz. Nearly 100 of those species observed were classified as endangered. A bioblitz is an event created to find and identify as many species as possible in a given area over a limited period of time. All observations are uploaded to an iNaturalist project. Cathryn Hoyt won the Judges’ Choice Award for her photo observation of a Dury’s Metalmark, a species of butterfly found in the US Southwest.  

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Nature Photography Day Bioblitz Was Eye Opening

Photo of a song sparrow perched on a cattail. © Gouri Prakash
Song Sparrow © Gouri Prakash

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

On Nature Photography Day, June 15th, hundreds of photographers joined in a bioblitz, an eleven-day, citizen science event to find, identify, and document as many species as possible in a given area. During the NANPA Nature Photography Day Bioblitz, nearly 10,000 observations of over 3,000 species were made and uploaded to the iNaturalist project. And there were prizes. Did I mention prizes? Gouri Prakash, a hobbyist photographer in Pennsylvania was excited to participate in the bioblitz and thrilled to be recognized with a second-place Most Unique Species Observed award, consisting of a Visa gift card, Wimberly Plamp and Plamp stake.

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North Carolina Photographer Wins NANPA Nature Photography Day Bioblitz Grand Prize

Photo of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in flight © Sam Ray
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Sam Ray

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Back in June, many photographers joined in the NANPA Nature Photography Day Bioblitz, an eleven-day citizen-science project. A bioblitz is an event created to find and identify as many species as possible in a given area over a limited period of time. All observations are uploaded to an iNaturalist project. During the NANPA event, participants made close to 10,000 observations of over 3,000 species, 97 of which were threatened species. All this data is now available to scientists and researchers. To add a little excitement, several of NANPA’s generous sponsors contributed to prize packages. North Carolina-based nature photographer Sam Ray won the random drawing for a Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens.

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Welcome to Great Outdoors Month!

Photo of a pastel-colored sunrise over undulating terrain, A quick visit in late May to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to celebrate the beauty of the outdoors produced this sunrise image at Painted Canyon. © Dawn Wilson
A quick visit in late May to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to celebrate the beauty of the outdoors produced this sunrise image at Painted Canyon. © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

I never pass up a chance to travel, and I am behind on my goal of visiting all of the national parks by my birthday this year. (I currently have visited and photographed 43 of 63 national parks.) Part of that is due to the pandemic, partly due to the addition of five new parks, and partly just due to a busy schedule.

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Nature Photography Day Is Coming

Nature Photography Day Graphic
Click to download a Nature Photography Day flyer to display or share.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

June 15 is Nature Photography Day, a time to promote the enjoyment of nature photography and to reflect on how photos can be used to further the cause of conservation. NANPA celebrated the first Nature Photography Day (NPD) back in 2006 and, over the past 15 years, there have been many ways the day has been observed—not just in North America but across the globe as well.

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Nature Photography Day: We need it now more than ever

Backlit baby bird at dawn. Nature Photography Day: Reconnecting with nature near home. 2019 second place image: "First Sunset"  © Teri Franzen.
Nature Photography Day: Reconnecting with nature near home. 2019 second place image: “First Sunset” © Teri Franzen.

NANPA has been celebrating Nature Photography Day on June 15 every year for 15 years, to promote the enjoyment of nature photography and increase awareness of the role images play in promoting conservation and protecting plants, wildlife, and landscapes. Enthusiasm for Nature Photography Day continues to grow worldwide.

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Bugs, Photographers and NANPA’s Conservation Handbook

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on milkweed flowers. This meadow, planted with milkweed, is an important stop on the Monarch butterfly migration, but also provides food and shelter for many other insects, birds, rodents and reptiles all year long. Photo © Frank Gallagher.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on milkweed flowers. This meadow, planted with milkweed, is an important stop on the Monarch butterfly migration, but also provides food and shelter for many other insects, birds, rodents and reptiles all year long. Photo © Frank Gallagher.

You might have seen headlines about an “insect apocalypse,” a dramatic and alarming decline in the numbers of insects, collapsing bee colonies, once-common species becoming increasingly rare.  Should we be worried?  And what has this got to do with photography?

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