May 222009
 
Cool Snake Park (aka Van Bibber Park)

Cool Snake Park (aka Van Bibber Park)

Do you have a local park or open space that is just wonderful with wildlife? If it helped get more families to engage and play outdoors would you share it with others? I hope so…

My daughter and I have two criteria for where we get our daily green hours with one being “fun playground equipment with a random smattering of other kids” (guess who picked that one ;-) and the other being “local wildlife”.

Over the last year we have found a some really good spots. Here is the (cool & harmless) snake park. Here is the oriole & king bird park. Here is the biking/scootering owl & waterfowl trail. Also, here is where I go when I need to get a little exercise and be on top of the world, while still remaining close enough to get back on time to shuttle to soccer.

Wildlife is all around us and it is fun & relatively easy to get one’s green hour with wildlife while playing at local parks or on trails. If we share with each other the good parks and open spaces, and what they hold for us, we can appreciate wildlife right in our neighborhoods. Please share your park’s wildife with others.

Here is how to add your park…

If you haven’t already, create your WildObs username, or claim your Twitter username to become a WildObs Observer.

Then, post a wildlife encounter for your favorite wildlife spot. You can use the WildObs website, or (if you have one) your iPhone or iPod Touch. You don’t need to list every species, perhaps just the one or two that make the place special for you.

Put your park on the map. Put it’s wildlife on the map.

Park Sharing Observers

Here are some wonderful observers sharing their parks:

And, quite spectacularly, we have @rangergirl141 sharing  Riverbend Park, FL.
May 192009
 
Hummingbird? No ... not even a bird.

Hummingbird? No ... not even a bird.

Dad, what is that? Mom, and that?

If you are walking along, you see something cool, and your child asks you “what is that neat animal?” or “what is that pretty flower?” you know the sinking feeling if you cannot answer. All they asked was the thing’s name so you take your best guess, which could easily be the wrong species. Wouldn’t it be good to have some help here?

Well nature sure doesn’t make it easy when some things just look like each other. For example, a hummingbird and a hummingbird hawk-moth share a lot of similarities, and at first/quick glance (which is often all one gets) one can easily mix them up. For many of us the same is true of Moose and Elk, Wolf and Coyote and so on, not to mention wildflowers, bugs and other fun species.

Naming is step #1 in knowing…

Not knowing (or mistaking) the species of wildlife you encounter does not stop you enjoying the experience. The beauty, the character, the interest are all still there irrespective of a name. However, it is better to know because knowing allows a closer connection with that moment, access to fun facts about the critter, and/or recording on a life list. Know when you can know, but enjoy anyway when you cannot.

Contribute common mix-ups

Knowledge of common mix-ups (and a known one is Wolf and Coyote) is half the battle, and helps us avoid falling for them. Being more comfortable that we identified the critter will significantly increase all our enjoyment of wildlife spotting, and it is wildlife spotting fun that this is all about. Bringing wildlife closer to all of us, and us closer to wildlife.

I would like to see the identification situation improve in favor of us all, and one way to help is to share knowledge of common mix-ups… Please let me know what wildlife pairs you know that people frequently misidentify. I plan to use this data to help folks reduce such mix-ups.

To contribute, either leave a comment here, or tweet to @wildobs and use the #wildobs-mixup tag. Something like this tweet (below) would be great, but be creative:

Example #wildobs-mixup Tweet

Example #wildobs-mixup Tweet

Some examples off the top of my head from this part of the world:

The list goes on, and on. Please do contribute your ideas on what mistakes people make. What wildflower do people mistake for another? What tree or plant? All wildlife mix-ups wanted…
May 192009
 
North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

I was preparing a guest posting for the excellent The Grass Stain Guru website and wanted an outdoors photo of WildObs Observer (iPhone application) for the posting. I was taking a hike in one of my current favorite open spaces North Table Mountain and so I took my iPod and my camera. I felt a little weird doing “a photo shoot for an iPod”, and I am no photographer, but I had a fun trip out. [Click any photo for a closer view.]

Perhaps it was because I was slowly moving (taking a photo here, another there) but I also had a very natureful trip. A skunk wandered by me uninterrupted by my presence. Massive bees buzzed past me going about their business. I discovered rock squirrel (a first for me.) I saw lizards and birds I had not seen this season. It was quite a memorable trip.

Colorado is living up to it’s “colorful” name right now with glorious wildflowers, and even a seasonal waterfall. Yes, this open space is one of my favorites right now.

At the start of the trip. I am sure there is a fly catching bird (perhaps Kingbird) in there somewhere, but clearly my arm isn’t long enough to get both the iPod and the critter in focus. [I tried with the skunk, even risking myself by getting close, but the photos just didn't work out.]

Photo Shoot for a Wild iPod

Photo Shoot for a Wild iPod

Ok, a rock … that seems a good place to try. Nice background w/ the mesa:

Rock iPod

Rock iPod

Wildflowers, now there is some color.

Wildflower iPod

Wildflower iPod

Here is what I really came for. Up on top of the mesa some flowering cacti:

Scenary iPod

Scenary iPod

Ok, the water “fall” is a trickle, but still worth a shot:

Waterfall iPod

Waterfall iPod

More blooming cactus:

Flowering Cactus iPod

Flowering Cactus iPod

More color:

Wildflower iPod

Wildflower iPod

Again, a bit of a daft endeavor but a fun way to get some exercise and be outdoors amongst nature.