The landscape is coming alive again. As the sun tilts back to the north, the leaves are budding, the first flowers are blooming, the bugs are buzzing, and the birds are showing up in waves.
The plants and wildlife of St. Croix River country give it movement and voice, color and complexity. The diverse collection of creatures and habitats and ecosystems tied together by the St. Croix is unique like its waters. It rounds out the region’s character, gives it personality.
Spring migration is when it is most outgoing.
Right now is a perfect time to check out iNaturalist, which was created by the California Academy of Sciences. The free app (iTunes, Google Play) and website lets users record observations of living things, and explore other people’s sightings. It can connect to other sites, like Flickr and Soundcloud, import and export data, social networking, and much more to let anyone easily share their interactions with nature.
I love using it to record my current ecosystem for posterity, the diversity of life and the timing of migrations, emergences, flowering, and more. It’s also been a great way to learn the names and habits of the birds and plants that live where I live. The site offers tools to help identify what users see. Once they upload a photo, other users are very helpful in confirming or correcting the identity.
So the more people who are part of it, the more fun it is. The site is currently experiencing incredible growth in users, with tens of thousands of observations from around the world each week – and 124,000 last week alone. The year ahead is expected to be exciting as more and more observations come in.
It’s a great way to get to know the biota of the St. Croix River watershed. Users can “subscribe” to a variety of places, including parks. river basins, or many other geographical areas, getting notifications when new observations are made. If the place has not been defined in iNaturalist yet, it’s a quick and straightforward process to create it. Projects can also be created to collaboratively curate observations for a particular place or taxa. It’s a great option for naturalists associated with a particular nature preserve (here is the St. Croix Watershed Research Station’s).
Lately, the St. Croix watershed has been populated by Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and Bloodroot, Eastern Phoebes and Hepatica, Kinglets and Anemones, and lots more. And there is much more to come.
Below are recent observations from watershed. Scroll down for observations from the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. And visit iNaturalist.org to get started!
St. Croix River watershed (explore in iNaturalist)
Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway (explore in iNaturalist)