"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold," Aristotle.
Winter is here! Underfoot, the snow crunches, the ice is slippery and we dream of the return of spring. But the world is beautiful for those who have eyes to see.
Even in these cold months, there's a lot to see of nature. It's a hardier nature, a sleepy-headed, resting nature, a more subdued nature to see, the colours are subtle in the low light of the sun. Wind blows the dry milkweeds seeds off their pods, leaves crumble hiding hibernating critters, and we need to be careful not to disturb their slumber.
I for one, admire the tenacity of the little plants and creatures, their patience, their pace, and I think it is a pace I wish I could adopt, but life hurries us on. Still, I make the time to stop, and watch and take a picture or two, because our campaign, My Hamilton Includes Nature, is year round. There is so much to see: from red fox, birds of all kinds (still hoping to see snowy owls), plants, insects, spiders, to fungi including lichen on trees.
We invite you to join us in sharing with us the nature that is all around. Please use the hashtag #HamOntBiodiversity and tag us on instagram @hamiltonpollinatorsproject
Often, while out walking, we see things that we can't identify. Well, many of us already know about the iNaturalist app (and website). A joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, this free app is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. Available for android, iPhone, and by a website, iNaturalist allows users to upload one or more pictures, provide a location, and make notes etc. The app identifies what the species might be based on visual similarity and whether the species has been observed nearby.
Green Blog has a great article called, "Documenting urban nature in the City Nature Challenge" that goes into depth about what the app can do. The author explains, that users can set up projects and download data within defined taxa or locations to follow presence and absence, abundance, seasonality and change over time. Verified observations are sent to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an international network and research infrastructure funded by the world's governments and aimed at providing anyone, anywhere, open access to data about all types of life on earth. Valuable open-source data is available to aid scientific research, government and conservation organizations, and the interested public. The author writes, "Nearly instant gratification for species ID combined with the ability of members to contribute to a greater good whenever they venture outdoors are huge motivators for much of the existing iNaturalist community, which currently exceeds one million users and 14 million observations."
So, we are in good company! We just signed up to i Naturalist as Hamilton Pollinator Paradise, and our username is HamiltonPollinatorCorridor. Please follow us too!