Archivos de diario de enero 2022

03 de enero de 2022

Is it a good thing or bad thing: 10% of my biodiversity on New Year's Day

Just like I did for the first day of 2021, for the first day of 2022, I decided to start the day off by making a lot of observations, in a few places. Luckily, the weather was with me, giving a clear, mostly sunny day in-between the snowfall of the previous week and the rain of this week. I went to two counties, starting early and getting home at dark.

This might be a good thing, or a bad thing: I got 121 taxa in one day. Or 71 species. Some of that might be revised-- (the "Fox sparrow" might just be a song sparrow, for example), but some of it is pretty solid. Last year, I got around 650 species (that also might be revised). So on one day--- a short day in winter---I got about 10% of my yearly species observed. With birds, I got 18 species (that might also go down a little, or maybe even up, but lets say 15). Last year, I believe I had 70 bird species observed. So on one day, a winter day, I got 20% of my yearly bird species. And of those 15 species, about a dozen of them (American Crow, California Scrub-Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Mallard, Anna's Hummingbird, Red-Tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Black Goose and Dark Eyed Junco) probably made up around 60% of my observations last year. (The only one missing of my top 8 birds was the Turkey Vulture, which isn't resident).

So one hand, I am happy I live in a place, where, even in the middle of winter, it is active and there is a lot of wildlife to see. But on the other hand---it makes me think I should be expanding beyond what is familiar. Many of my plans to see more last year were interrupted by the pandemic, I hope this year, one way or another, I get to see more.

Publicado el enero 3, 2022 10:28 TARDE por mnharris mnharris | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de enero de 2022

iNaturalist helps me think critically

One thing about iNaturalist is that it gives me a daily opportunity to think critically about my natural environment. And to think critically, in general. I can form ideas, and then see what other people were thinking of them.

For example. Here is an observation of a type of raptor I saw last week. My own initial guess was that it was a Bald Eagle. An observer disagreed with me and said it was a Red-tailed Hawk. So far, we at least most agree that it is some type of raptor.

The reasons I guessed "Bald Eagle" were that it seemed to be larger, that its profile seemed different, that it behaved in a different way than a Red-tailed Hawk, and that it was close to the Finley NWR, where Bald Eagles are relatively common (and, indeed, I had a confirmed sighting a few miles later).

But I can also admit that none of my evidence is exactly a slam-dunk. Sizes can be hard to judge, birds can act a lot of different ways, and I am not an expert on bird silhouettes. Also, I have to admit I might be personally not objective --- a Bald Eagle is more exciting than a Red-tailed Hawk. I still believe, based on the overall gestalt, that it was a Bald Eagle, but...I don't blame other people for thinking differently, and I admit my evidence is not strong.

And this is all important, because with the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone in the world has had to think about biology every day. And what I see a lot with the Covid-19 pandemic is a lack of incrementalizing evidence. Mostly from "sceptics", but there have more times when people who have been strict on Covid have been wrong and clung to incorrect positions (mostly early on, in such matters as shutting down outdoor areas, before we knew that Covid doesn't spread much outdoors). But "skeptics" have advocated things like anti-parasite medications being cures for a virus based on limited clinical trials. Which, from the beginning, they should have wondered about whether that made any sense. It makes sense to investigate possible cures, but it also makes sense to grade hypothesis by likelihood. And to admit our own emotional ties to a hypothesis.

Usually, on iNaturalist, I will try to make note of my own doubts or uncertainties of an observation, and make a note of other possible theories. And usually, if two or more people say I was wrong in my first guess and say why, I will withdraw it. There are a few cases where I feel that what I observed, and things that didn't appear in the photos, mean that my guess is still right. (There is still an observation or two that I believe are Spotted Towhee, even after other people said Robin), but I try to be honest about what the range of possibilities could be. Incrementalizing, and knowing why we believe what we believe, are important skills in critical thinking.

Publicado el enero 20, 2022 12:12 MAÑANA por mnharris mnharris | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de enero de 2022

Another month of this! :(

I was looking at climate data, and it appears that for where I live, February on average is 4 degrees warmer than January in its highs, and 2 degrees warmer in its lows. The days are getting a little longer, which is nice, but overall, it looks like it will be four more weeks of blurry grey blobby birds and lichen.

I am looking forward to spring now!

Publicado el enero 24, 2022 08:49 MAÑANA por mnharris mnharris | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario