Stephen Q. Shafer

Joined: Dec 4, 2021 Last Active: Jul 23, 2024 iNaturalist Monthly Supporter since December 2021

I live on a small farm in southeastern NY. We found i-Nat when my wife and I, total neophytes, joined NY Mycological Soc in Dec 2021. Then we started to use the platform for plants and fauna as well. Thank you, NY Myco!
I'm very impressed at the performance of i-Nat Computer Vision on my gererally sub-optimal images. Many thanks to the human beings who school Computer Vision. I'm struck, too, at the helpfulness of the community. I tag people shamelessly but try not to overwork any individual.
Thirty months now after having joined i Nat, I use it in four ways: Foremost is to get the most accurate IDs I can achieve to appreciate the wonder and diversity of what's living around us by (per Sherlock Holmes ) observing, not just seeing.

Second is to be able to name what desired grasses, forbs and legumes and what "weeds" are growing in our pastures so that we can improve forage quality for sheep. Grasses are so hard to ID!
The third, coming to be the most important, is to create a convenience-sample inventory of the biota on these 61 acres as an album of a particular place and time. This has become an i-Nat project. All observations in the project are from our farm or the river on whose bank it lies. My personal album, though, includes a few observations of life forms brought from nearby and photographed here or photographed elsewhere.
The fourth use is for a refresher when I see something that looks familiar, is in my album, but whose name I've forgotten.
Flora and funga are much easier to capture with an i phone camera than fauna that rarely hold still for a close approach. Thus, my bird observations are few, way outnumbered by fungi and mosses that don't flee at my approach.
In midsummer 2023 I began to designate "invasives" found on the 61 acres and the river by them. Some plants listed in the USDA index https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/index.cfm that we see here I have not designated yet, because they cause us little problem and are even welcome. Three such are Scarlet Pimpernel, Deptford Pink, and Herb Robert.
Sedges (Cyperaceae) and rushes (Juncae) are also invasive in pastures, but are hard for me to identify to species. Moreover, a native sedge or rush thriving in a relatively wet pasture should be seen as reclaiming and holding its own rather than invasive.
Grasses are a different matter altogether. I have trouble identifying grasses, but know that in our pastures almost every one of the dominant and welcomed forage grasses is on the USDA list of invasive, e.g. Timothy (Phleum pratense), smooth brome (Bromus hordeaceus), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), annual rye (Lolium pratense), perennial rye (L. perenne), sweet vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum), orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) and cereal rye (Secale cereale) are just a few. I don't mark these as invasive on this place. A few species that I can recognize and don't value as forage, for example goose grass (Eleusina indica) or barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli) I will note as invasive.
Among the forbs and legumes, red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (T. repens), bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) are all valued as forage and are all on the USDA invasives list. (We don't see alfalfa growing here though we do encourage the others and in fact sow white clover and BFT. We get alfalfa in the hay we buy.)
Here's a list of plants called invasive in PA https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Conservation/WildPlants/InvasivePlants/InvasivePlantFactSheets/Pages/default.aspx

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