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City Nature Challenge 2022: Self-Challenge FTW!

The City Nature Challenge is an annual four-day BioBlitz-style event, designed for friendly competition between metropolises around the world. It was developed in 2016 by the Community-Science brainiacs at the California Academy of Sciences and its Los Angles counterpart, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Each year since, it has expanded its international scope. The 2022 event, held from April 29-May 2, featured more nations and cities than ever before, as shown in this summary from Alison Young of the California Academy of Sciences:

This year, still feeling the loss of two of my best iNat mentors, role models and friends - Greg Lasley and B.J. Stacey - I decided to challenge myself to try for 200 observations each of the four days of the CNC. I just missed that goal with 767. But it was good enough for me to win for most observations and most species in the Bay Area CNC for 2022. This came as quite a surprise to me!

Most everyone in these lists is a friend of mine, naturally and in nature, so I wasn't trying to 'defeat' them - I really wanted to challenge myself to honor my friends. And I learned some interesting things. First, that this kind of marathon can be done - and that I will be able to exceed this number of observations and species in the future. B.J. always encouraged me to think bigger - as he did in his gargantuan desert iNat sweeps. Second, that mixing habitats is important; I try not to repeat a species within a day, so variety makes a difference - and it makes an impact on the success of the CNC overall. Third, being intensive rather than extensive is rewarding - insects are revealed resting inside flowers, galls become gallingly obvious, and the chance for getting good recordings of bird sounds increases. Fourth, like a Birding Big Day, advance strategic planning is advantageous, but there are also serendipitous moments. I couldn't go out right away on Friday morning, due to work commitments, but I did spend a very productive ninety minutes in my yard! There was also a quick stop on Saturday at the Parkside Aquatic Park in San Mateo, where I got a lifer fish by accident - Yellowfin Goby (Acanthogobius flavimanus). Turns out that an intensive hour spent anywhere can yield something new and interesting.

The San Francisco Bay Area did not win the competition - we weren't even close...and neither was any one else, because La Paz, Bolivia, had more than double the observations of any other municipal region! A remarkable showing.

But for me, there was a surprise in the data. A "collection project" of all the Bay Area CNCs has been maintained, and lo and behold, I am the leader for observations there, too! My self-appointed role as the advocate of community science is validated! I account for 1.5% of all CNC observations in the Bay Area all-time!

For more on the CNC, check out the wrap-up by Alison Young here -


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