June 28, 2023


Wow...I didn't expect to make my 2,000th observation today (I thought I'd have made it yesterday when I was walking and deliberately searching for wildlife). However, between meetings I heard a familiar cry in the air outside my little huis, so I grabbed my camera and stepped outside to be rewarded with three osprey circling over the lake where I'm currently located. They were circling over several small fishing boats and I sensed a display of skills oncoming.

Sure enough, those osprey dove and retrieved fish with all the ease and grace of the most experienced ballerinas... for an audience of clearly envious fisherpeople.

And that's the beauty of iNaturalist: over the course of making these 2,000 observations I've become so much more aware of the world around me - the sights, smells and sounds of wildlife. I've learned that it's worth it to drop everything, grab the camera and step outside (sometimes even without the camera) to enjoy the awesomeness that is wildlife. And I enjoy it not just for myself, but with the knowledge that maybe these photographs will help a scientist somewhere - help with tracking migration patterns perhaps, or fishing technique or invasive species etc.

It's also made me want to be a better photographer - and I'm trying my best but I know I have so much more to learn. It's incredibly challenging to not let my enthusiasm of watching wildlife overtake my barely steady hand and ability to focus a camera - I'm still giddy every time I see or hear a bird... and my face hurts from all the happy every time I get a "good" photograph. Maybe some of these osprey photographs are good... maybe they'll be useful (there haven't been many osprey observations at this lake - but I'm hopeful that there will be more osprey observations made here... by better photographers or even newcomers to iNaturalist).

Thank you, @greatspaceflamingo for getting me into this iNaturalist life....you've been making me so much more aware of our world since the day you were born - I'm super proud of you and so grateful you introduced me to iNaturalist.

Posted on June 28, 2023 06:51 PM by sarahcoty sarahcoty | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 02, 2022


This morning my daughter got up "too early" and joined me for a walk in our local park - knowing I'd most likely make my 1,000th iNaturalist observation today. What a gift iNaturalist has been in my life, and sharing the excitement of my 1,000th observation with @greatspaceflamingo was also a gift (as she got me into this wonderful adventure only a little over a year ago)!

iNaturalist has become such a genuinely delightful part of my Every Day this past year and as we headed out on our 4 mile walk this morning I was recalling the earliest Nature Walks I went on with my daughter - years before I had a camera...with only her stroller and our shared wonder at exploring everything on our neighborhood walks. When you see the world through the eyes of your children, it's sort of like experiencing everything all over again for the first time - with all the questions "What makes roses pink? Why are blue birds blue? Why does tree bark crack?" that I had to look up answers for in encyclopedias (remember those?!).

How special it is, almost 26 years later, to go for a long walk and still be fascinated with the world around us...to sit on a bench under a tree and hear my daughter say "I think this might be some type of willow..." and now we have the luxury and privilege of uploading a photo to iNaturalist and confirming that it is indeed a Pacific Willow. Or to share the excitement of knowing that if we walk slowly and quietly to the edge of the creek behind the dam, and wait patiently, we might see a Great Blue Heron swoop in for a snack - and share our delight at what "absolute dinosaurs" these magnificent birds are.

Being a mother is absolutely the best part of exploring the wonderful world around us - I used to want to understand more about the world around me so I could better answer her questions. But now, knowing that maybe some scientist studying wildlife somewhere might benefit from our observations and maybe be able to better answer their own questions about migratory patterns or invasive species...well, it fills me with as much enthusiasm and excitement as looking up all those answers for my daughter from those earliest Nature Walks together.

So it was pretty special to have her join me for today's walk - early as it was. Because walks with my daughter have always been filled with wonder. And her ability to get up close and personal with lizards will forever leave me in awe.

So here's to the children the world over who engage curiosity and exploration. And here's to the parents who indulge curiosity and exploration. And here's to the scientists who value and make purposeful the observations born of all this curiosity and exploration. And here's to all those who make identifications and answer questions and explain the subtle (and not so subtle!) differences of observations. Thank you for making this such a welcoming "place". And thank you to all those who keep iNaturalist "alive" behind the scenes - on behalf of the curious explorers making observations: we really appreciate your efforts.

Onward to the next 1,000 observations!

Posted on October 02, 2022 07:52 PM by sarahcoty sarahcoty | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 17, 2022

Thank you, iNaturalist

Today (September 16, 2022) is my one year anniversary of making observations for iNaturalist - and what a (literally) wonderful year it has been! This past year I've made 813 observations of 290 species in California and Nevada!

Some of the most memorable observations I've made this past year have been the Button's Bananna Slug, the pair of Great Horned Owls, the napping Coyote, the Brown Pelicans and the American White Pelicans and all the Great Blue Herons.

Thanks to iNaturalist, my daily walks have become ones of mindful wonder - always looking up and around...and perhaps all those years of geocaching have helped me develop an eye for the well-camouflaged lives we share this planet with.

For my second year of iNaturalist observations (because I'm just getting started here!) I have two goals:
1) Make an iNaturalist observation every day - I'd love to see a filled in calendar grid at the end of 2023!
2) Make some iNaturalist observations in other regions/states beyond my own.

And so another year of walking in wonder begins...with many thanks to all who thoughtfully spend their time verifying identifications and explaining the trickier identifications (Mule Deer and Columbian Black Tailed Deer are probably forever going to be my struggle) - you all make this community of observing a very welcoming and educational place to be.

Posted on September 17, 2022 07:01 AM by sarahcoty sarahcoty | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 23, 2022

400! Happy Earth Day!

Wow! Another little milestone in my observations - and happily made on Earth Day as well! iNaturalist continues to be such a gift in my life - how wonderful it was to see goslings this evening on my walk...what a perfect way to meet this milestone! If only every day were Earth Day!

Many thanks as ever to all the people who keep iNaturalist running and to all the identifiers who verify observations...your helpfulness, thoughtfulness and kindness makes this such a special community and a welcoming adventure!

Happy Earth Day!

Posted on April 23, 2022 05:53 AM by sarahcoty sarahcoty | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 26, 2022


These little milestones make me grin so much! Today I made my 300th observation when this gorgeous black crowned night heron caught my eye.

It always surprises me how people just rush past in pursuit of Other Thinks and miss all this wonderful wildlife...to be fair, before I spent so much time deliberately looking for wildlife, I was also rushing to other adventures. But these moments of stopping and staring and taking in all the Wonderful...they're really wonderful.

So here's a video of this black crowned night heron, perched less than 15 feet from the trail, staring at me while I returned the stare, nearly in tears at the awe of such a beautiful bird: https://photos.app.goo.gl/DfzjmfVorjkg4bbG9

We had a wonderful few minutes of observing each other before I wandered off to look for more wildlife before nightfall..not realizing that this was my 300th observation. Three hundred!

Many thanks to all the identifiers who are helping me learn so much more about the wonderful world I observe and all my thanks to @greatspaceflamingo for introducing me to this grand adventure and sharing so much of it with me! Meluvversyaeversomuches Bug!

Hopefully, someday when I've made 3,000 observations I'll look back on this post and have a little chuckle...but hope is not a strategy, so off to the great outdoors I go!

Posted on February 26, 2022 03:04 AM by sarahcoty sarahcoty | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 29, 2022


Today I made my 200th observation for iNaturalist - I think I'm officially hooked. ;-) Many thanks to my wonderful daughter for introducing me to this gift of an adventure. Because of iNaturalist, I've begun to notice birds and wildlife that I might never have taken notice of before; been encouraged to visit parks and wildlife preserves for the joy and grins of making new-to-me observations...and I've certainly gotten a little better at looking for those well-camouflaged creatures! Many thanks to all the observers who help with identifications - you make this experience so much more rewarding!

Posted on January 29, 2022 07:20 AM by sarahcoty sarahcoty | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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