September 14, 2020

Bush Blitz Citizen Science Award

We are thrilled to let you know that the winner of the Threatened Species Commissioner's inaugural Bush Blitz Citizen Science Award is Nick Lambert (@nicklambert)! Nick's entry included a sound recording of the threatened Eastern Ground Parrot (one of only six observations of the species in iNaturalist). Nick is also the top contributor to the Backyard Species Discovery project and has more than 34,000 observations in iNaturalist. We're handing the rest of this post over to Nick but don't forget that entries for the Bush Blitz Scavenger Hunt must be in by this Sunday 20 September.

Since I was first able to walk, I have always loved the sense of adventure I get from being outdoors. Exploring, noticing and finding things. Though it is only fairly recently that I have begun to actually learn about what I am seeing around me when out in nature. I have always considered myself a sportsman and had little time for too many other interests. However, since retiring from competitive soccer a couple of years ago, nature has more than filled the gap and the only sports I find time for now are surfing and hiking.

I've worked as a primary school teacher for the past 11 years mainly in the Nambucca Valley and kids always know to 'show Mr. Lambert' whenever they find any bizarre or interesting creatures in the playground. Last year they even brought me a Feather-tailed Glider!

© Nick Lambert

For the last 15 years I have been an avid recreational fisherman, although these days I mostly enjoy catch and release freshwater fishing in more remote locations. It has always seemed important to me to identify the fish I caught, even if it wasn't a so-called 'keeper'. In fact, fishing brought me into contact with one of my first endangered species, the Clarence River Cod, which we sometimes come across during our Bass fishing expeditions. It is an incredible fish and is probably my favourite.

© Nick Lambert

The next step in my naturalist 'evolution' was when a hip injury ended my Father in Law's bowls career and he took up birdwatching. On a subsequent visit he convinced me to take him to some local places looking for birds. Let's just say it didn't take long before I was more hooked on birding than he was! My most exciting birding experiences so far include the recent endangered owls and ground parrot I submitted for this competition, but also memorable was seeing a raft of 150 Atlantic Puffins, on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland, take off from the water and fly by several times before landing around us on the cliffs of the island. It was amazing to watch!

© Nick Lambert

Bird watching gave me even more excuses to get out in nature and it wasn't long before I began noticing which plants were preferred by different species of birds and then what insects were found on these plants. The last few years and my introduction to the website 'iNaturalist' have begun a spiral for me where I now photograph basically anything living that I come across, as I am curious to see how it fits into the puzzle of our ecosystems. I have learnt so much as a result of my photos, personal research and the IDs provided on the iNat platform, that taking a walk in any of my local environments is now a totally different experience for me. I can spot common and uncommon species of plants and animals, hear and identify calls and notice seasonal and year to year changes. It is exciting, humbling and fascinating. It is my relaxation, my obsession and my spiritual connection.

I run a small facebook page called Nick's Nature Pics where I post some photos every week or two. Its main purpose is to encourage people to take notice of what's around them and share my surprise at what they can find, literally under their feet or in their backyards. This year I am also organising a local Coffs Harbour Bioblitz as part of the Great Southern BioBlitz initiative, aimed at getting locals involved in citizen science through iNaturalist. I've had so many other cool experiences and adventures and last year I co-authored my first paper as a result of photographing a rare pygmy grasshopper .

I am grateful that I live in a part of the world where I can access spectacular natural spaces and I'm thankful to the many people (particularly on iNaturalist) for their assistance, encouragement and friendship in deciphering the natural world around me. It is a great adventure and I hope to encourage and inspire others in small ways to get outside and experience it for themselves.

Posted on September 14, 2020 04:29 by bushblitz bushblitz | 3 comments | Leave a comment

September 02, 2020

Finding and photographing gastropods

If you need help finding snails and slugs, or want to know the best way to photograph them for identification, get some tips from gastropod expert @kevinbonham. His top tips are featured in our latest video and we've turned the info into a fact sheet for easy reference. You can find both video and fact sheet on the Bush Blitz website. Thanks to Geoffrey (@cobaltducks), one of our top contributors, for sharing his observation of a Yellow Cellar Slug (Limacus flavus) with the world - one of the many species of introduced slugs in Australia.


© Geoffrey Cox

We hope Kevin's advice will help you tick off one more item on the Bush Blitz Scavenger Hunt checklist.

If you want a chance to win the Marine plants of Australia book, you need to enter There must be something in the water soon - it closes at midnight tonight, 2 September 2020.

There are also only a few days left to enter the Bush Blitz Citizen Science Award which closes on 8 September 2020.

Posted on September 02, 2020 01:49 by bushblitz bushblitz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 26, 2020

Hidden stories and new challenges

Congratulations to Thomas Mesaglio (better known as @thebeachcomber) who won 'Left Behind', our final weekly challenge, with great images like this tiny Austroliotia botanica shell.


© Thomas Mesaglio

Thomas clearly has excellent powers of observation, and photography skills to match, but ever since the Bush Blitz team started using iNaturalist we have been equally impressed by his welcoming attitude to new users, and his patience and willingness to share what he knows. To read Thomas' story, see last Friday's post on the Bush Blitz Facebook page.

Well done @aliciasmith and @kalimata who were Highly Commended for their 'Left Behind' entries. Alicia included the internal shell of a Ram's Horn Squid (Spirula spirula) among her observations and the origin of this beautiful shell is the subject of our latest Facebook post.


© Alicia Smith

While that was the last weekly challenge, you may like to enter one of the other competitions currently running:
There must be something in the water (closes 2 September 2020)
Bush Blitz Citizen Science Award (closes 8 September 2020)
Bush Blitz Scavenger Hunt (closes 20 September 2020)

Posted on August 26, 2020 05:15 by bushblitz bushblitz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 19, 2020

There must be something in the water...

We enjoyed the Weekly Challenges so much, we decided to come up with a new one. Upload 3 observations of aquatic (marine or freshwater) plants or animals to the Backyard Species Discovery project and you could win a copy of 'Marine plants of Australia' by John M. Huisman (published December 2019). Several of our contributors regularly upload aquatic animals to iNaturalist, so we hope to get some great entries.

We will accept images taken in the past (so long as they haven't already been added to a national database) but you should upload your observations to the project during the challenge period. Following feedback that a week flies by too quickly, this challenge will be open for 2 weeks. If you're interested in this book, follow the instructions and email us your entry by Wednesday 2 September. For full details visit the Bush Blitz website.

If that's not enough to keep you busy, to celebrate National Science Week we launched the Bush Blitz Scavenger Hunt. Individuals, groups and schools from across Australia are encouraged to take part and there are great prizes for those who enter the competition. The scavenger hunt will run until Sunday 20 September. For full details, visit the Bush Blitz website.

Congratulations to @arizona23 who won the 'What's that sound?' challenge with an amazing sound recording of a Superb Lyrebird. It is really worth a listen!

The 10th and final Weekly Challenge, 'Left behind', closes at midnight AEST tonight Wednesday 19 August. You have to be in it to win it!

Posted on August 19, 2020 04:44 by bushblitz bushblitz | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 12, 2020

Left behind

For the 10th, and final, weekly challenge, we want you to record what is 'Left behind' that could lead to an identification, including footprints, scat, bones, shells and more. We'll accept images taken in the past (so long as they haven't already been added to a national database) but you should upload your observation to the Backyard Species Discovery project during the challenge week. To enter, send a link to your observation to bushblitz@awe.gov.au by next Wednesday 19 August. For full details visit the Bush Blitz website. Don't forget, our sound challenge closes at midnight AEST tonight Wednesday 12 August.

While 'Left behind' is the final weekly challenge, don't despair, as we have a one-off challenge to announce next Wednesday. And, before we even get to that, we have National Science Week starting this weekend. Bush Blitz is celebrating National Science Week by launching the Backyard Species Discovery Scavenger Hunt which will run until Sunday 20 September. For a sneak peak, visit the Bush Blitz website - the checklist and full details will be made available this Saturday 15 August.

We had some amazing entries for last week's bird challenge and the judges had a tough time picking a winner. Congratulations to @kalimata whose images included this Powerful Owl, listed as Vulnerable in New South Wales. Highly commended were @narelle_b and her 8 year old daughter Ava, who got some lovely shots of a Tawny Frogmouth visiting their garden during lockdown in Metropolitan Melbourne.


© kalimata

Posted on August 12, 2020 04:39 by bushblitz bushblitz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 05, 2020

What's that sound?

How are you going with the bird challenge? Did your subject fly away just as you were about to take the perfect shot? Frogs can be tricky to photograph too, as they're more often heard than seen. Don't forget, birds, frogs and some other species can be identified by their calls alone. We have very few sound recordings in the Backyard Species Discovery project - fewer than 0.4% of our observations include sound! So, this week, we challenge you to add at least one sound recording to our project. Supporting images are welcome, of course, but the judges will be looking for good quality sound recordings that will lead to identifications. Upload an observation that includes sound and submit your entry to bushblitz@awe.gov.au by next Wednesday 12 August. For full details visit the Bush Blitz website and, remember, our bird challenge closes at midnight AEST tonight Wednesday 5 August.

Congratulations to @twan3253 who won the 'Plant invaders' challenge last week - he will receive an e-voucher for Snowgum and a Bush Blitz cap. Tim is a top contributor to the Backyard Species Discovery project. Since 2018, he has uploaded 12,203 observations and made 49,118 identfications on iNaturalist. He describes himself as an amateur naturalist fascinated by nature. “I love a bit of beachcombing or bushwalking, and collecting lots of feathers! I don't really have any specialities. I also enjoy IDing Australian birds and frogs, and am glad to help citizen science reach its full potential in Australia, so would love to see more observations from Australia! For the beginners, feel free to check out my iNat profile for identification guides on a wide range of animals, or ask me anything about using iNaturalist! :)” Here is one of his photos of Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe delagoensis).


© Tim Wang

Posted on August 05, 2020 05:14 by bushblitz bushblitz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 29, 2020

The early BIRD catches the worm

This week's challenge sounds simple - add three bird species to the Backyard Species Discovery project between now and next Wednesday 5 August and email us links to your observations. Birds are all around us and they are the 'Most Observed Species' in this project, with the Superb Fairywren looking quite safe in third position. However, we all know that taking great photos of birds is not simple and therein lies the challenge. The judges will be looking for images that allow the birds to be easily identified, plus there will be extra points for rare or unusual sightings. Give it a go - there's only one way to get better!


© deborod

Congratulations to Julia and Isaac who won the 'Plant a native' and 'Build a native bee hotel' challenges respectively and will each receive an e-voucher for Snowgum and a Bush Blitz cap.

For further details about our weekly challenges, visit the Bush Blitz website.

The 'Plant invaders' challenge closes at midnight AEST tonight Wednesday 29 July.

Posted on July 29, 2020 01:45 by bushblitz bushblitz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 22, 2020

Plant invaders!

Take part in this week's challenge - it shouldn't be hard to find a weed. Environmental weeds have a serious impact on Australia's biodiversity but iNaturalist can be a useful weapon against them, helping us recognise and record them, and alerting land managers to their presence. @steve818 is an ACT weeds manager who has set up Weed Swap - Early Invaders which offers an incentive for people to record new and emerging weed species in the ACT region, like this Pink Pampas Grass. Look out for similar projects in your area.


© Steve Taylor

For your chance to win a $30 online voucher for Snowgum and a Bush Blitz cap, photograph at least one plant living in the wild that is not native to Australia, upload it to the Backyard Species Discovery project and email links to your observations to bushblitz@awe.gov.au by midnight AEST Wednesday 29 July. Visit the Bush Blitz website for further details.

Don't forget the closing date for the Week 5 and Week 6 challenges 'Plant a native' and 'Build a native bee hotel' is midnight AEST tonight Wednesday 22 July!

Posted on July 22, 2020 02:03 by bushblitz bushblitz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 15, 2020

More than Eight

The winner of our Week 4 challenge 'More than Eight' is Simon Ong (@simono). Simon is an entomologist living in Kununurra in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. His entry included a crab, shrimp and sea slater (below) that he photographed while on a trip to Cape Domett - a remote but popular fishing spot five hours from town, down a dirt track.


© simono

For the Week 6 challenge we're asking you to build a native bee hotel. Why not have a go? As well as helping our native bees, you will increase your chances of seeing them in your garden and will be in the running to win a $30 Snowgum voucher and Bush Blitz cap! Visit the Bush Blitz website for further details.

Posted on July 15, 2020 02:08 by bushblitz bushblitz | 1 comment | Leave a comment

July 08, 2020

Intriguing invertebrates

Thank you to everyone who entered our Week 3 challenge - Discovering Invertebrates. We had some wonderful images to choose from but the $30 Snowgum voucher and Bush Blitz cap are on their way to Kristi (@zosterops99) in Tasmania. Here's one of her images - a Passionvine Hopper.


© Kristi Ellingsen

For the Week 5 challenge, we're encouraging people to plant a native. One of the aims of Bush Blitz is to encourage Australians to learn about the importance of biodiversity and explore ways to improve and protect it. While you won't be able to add your new plant to our project, it may attract some wild visitors that you can add some time in the future! Visit the Bush Blitz website for further details.

Posted on July 08, 2020 03:32 by bushblitz bushblitz | 1 comment | Leave a comment