City Nature Challenge 2023: The Maritimes/Atlantic Umbrella Project's Journal

April 26, 2023

Data Quests for the CNC (and the rest of the year!)

Data quests are an opportunity to link your species observations to specific science and conservation needs. By collecting data on data quest species, you'll be helping researchers and managers better understand where key species exist from our city centers out to our rural regions. Each quest has been chosen to answer relevant questions or as a key indicator of an important habitat. What’s more, by joining a data quest, you'll increase your knowledge and observational skills about nature across our region.
(The description above was 'borrowed' from the CNC Boston group, with their permission of course!)

What you can do: Choose a quest below, find out what is needed and help collect data!

The Nova Scotia Invasive Species Council designed two data quests for the 2022 CNC. These pilot quests were promoted for the rest of the year and the NSISC hopes that participants in this year's CNC will find these activities useful - Choose a quest. Choose multiple quests!
Data Quest 1: Invasive Plants
Data Quest 2: Bird photographers.
To learn more click here.

The Ecology Action Eelgrass Monitoring Team also set up two quests:
Data Quest 1: Low tide walks
Data Quest 2: Paddler Observations.
To learn more click here.

Check out the quests on the Boston page - the What's in the Wrack quest looks interesting!

If your group has ideas for additional quests pleas add them below as comments.

Posted on April 26, 2023 12:25 PM by mkkennedy mkkennedy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 21, 2023

Another galling project!

Do you from time to time feel bombarded with requests for you to join an iNat project? If yes, please keep reading!

If the invite doesn’t seem interesting or relevant to you then simply ignore. However if curious then browse their description and if you wish to be alerted when they post more info then consider joining.

Often projects will contain observations from non-project members. In other words it is not necessary to join a project for your observations to be added. Many iNat projects are collection type meaning that they will include any observations that meet certain criteria. Your observations may seamlessly be added to these projects without you noticing. This is good, correct? Observations are posted to iNat so that they can be shared with the public and made accessible to researchers, resource managers, educators, etc. Projects simply group observations together for a given purpose.

I recently read a comment from a local iNatter – they wrote ‘I love it when I look at my observations and see that they have been added to so many different projects’.

Part of iNatting is about learning. Get curious. Browse these projects – how are others connecting with Nature? How are they using your observations? Read their journal articles – perhaps they will entice you to look for additional species and/or note additional info.

Before last year I knew little about galls. My expertise does not lie in plants nor in insects. As those who know me are aware I can at times become competitive. I noticed that others were posting more observations and more species than I was…it started with leaf miners and then quickly expanded to galls. I then became interested in learning how to filter observations and group gall observations. This led to browsing existing iNat gall projects to see how they did it. Many of these were old legacy type iNat projects where one has to manually add observations to a project (yuk!). and then I found a collection project! I then learned that a new term ‘gall’ has been added to the iNat annotation ‘evidence’. If this is selected, then it is simple to filter observations! I then…I then… It is so easy to go down rabbit holes!

It is important to populate the evidence field as the name assigned to the observation is for the species. The presence of a gall however does not mean that that species was present at the time that the observation was recorded. Obviously, the species was at that location just no idea when…

If the gall was removed from the plant and dissected perhaps eggs or larvae might be found in which case the life stage of the insect could be added as well. But not all iNatters should be encouraged to pick every gall that they find! A few iNatters however might pick the galls and take them home to see what hatches…once insects emerge then additional observations should be uploaded to inat. And fields populated to tie the time series of observations together.

Many of the original gall projects recommended that iNatters populate a couple of observation fields to reference the host plant. If possible include the name of the host plant in the notes field.

Looking for a new activity or a new iNat challenge? Look no further!
In preparation for the 2023 Gall Week and the 2023CNC we set up a new activity – we are calling this a ‘Galling Data Quest’.

If you are new to posting observations of galls on iNaturalist then you have a bit of homework to do. First you need to know what a gall is! Of course, there is a lot of info online…Here is the definition according to the Plant galls are abnormal growths of plant tissues, similar to tumors or warts in animals, that have an external cause--such as an insect, mite, nematode, virus, fungus, bacterium, or even another plant species. Growths caused by genetic mutations are not galls. Nor are lerps and other constructions on a plant that do not contain plant tissue. Plant galls are often complex structures that in most cases allow the insect or mite that caused the gall to be identified even if that insect or mite is not visible. (

To facilitate identification of gall observations on iNaturalist the iNatter needs to provide photos of not just the gall but also of the host plant and position of the gall on the host plant.

Galling Activity #1

  • Step 1. When you come across a gall when out exploring make sure that you take a number of photos. Basic guidelines suggest that you take a closeup (or two) of the gall and include a photo showing the position of the gall on the host plant and another photo that can help ID the host plant.
  • Step 2a. Upload photos to iNaturalist. Combine the multiple views into one observation. The iNat species recognition software is very good for identifying galls – if you don’t recognize the suggested name(s) browse content on inat and/or dig out a field guide. If you feel uncomfortable choosing one of these names there is always the option to add the generic name ‘Insect’.
  • Step 2b. (optional) Consider adding a second observation for the host plant. Add a note to reference the gall observation. And on the gall observation add a note to indicate if a separate observation was uploaded for the host plant.
  • Step 3a. Don't forget to add information about the host plant (example ‘gall observed on a rose bush’) as a note.
  • Step 3b. (optional). Provide information about the host plant in the observation fields: Host and Host plant ID field. You can also link (add the URL)to the host plant observation if you're not sure what it was.
  • Step 3c. (optional). Under annotations click evidence of presence and select gall. (This step can be done by iNat identifiers)

Before heading out do a little exploring online. What type of galls have other iNatters observed in the past? Check out this umbrella project:

Add a few filters for your area and time of year. Here is a link to observations from the ‘All your galls are belong to us’ project that were observed in the Canadian Atlantic Provinces in April.,7289,9116,7587&project_id=all-your-galls-are-belong-to-us&subview=map&view=species

Posted on April 21, 2023 10:09 AM by mkkennedy mkkennedy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 12, 2023

Kwilmnej milamu'kl mimajuaqnn kjikank - Everyone, let's go find different life in the city

In 2023 a number of municipalities and counties in the Maritime Provinces are registered to participate in the global City Nature Challenge (CNC). We acknowledge that these locations are located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq People.

The CNC slogan ‘City Nature Challenge’ translated into Mi’kmaw is 4 words - Kwilmnej milamu'kl mimajuaqnn kjikank. This phrase translates to Everyone, let's go find different life in the city. (Phonetics--- Gwilem-en-edge... mill-am-oogle me-ma-jew-ach-in uk-jee-gank)

It is our hope that participants in the CNC will learn to observe flora and fauna in cities and rural areas in Mi’kma’ki and to learn a few common names. Download the Mi'kmaw Language App L’ni’suti and browse the reference section for animals and plants. Click here to learn more about this app.

How many of the species listed below can you observe, photograph, and/or make a sound recording? Remember to never pester an animal or trample plants in an effort to record an observation.

  • Spring peeper Jijawej
  • Chickadee Jiki’kes
  • Goldfinch Wapatji’jit
  • robin Jipjawej
  • starling ??
  • crow Ka'qawej
  • blue jay Tities
  • gull Kloqntiej
  • duck Apji’jkmuj
  • owl Ku’ku’kwes
  • osprey Ni'kmawe'su
  • bald eagle Kitpu
  • blue heron Apji'jkmuj
  • raven Wjika'qaku
  • cardinal Istaqo'kej
  • Canada goose Sinumkw
  • loon Kwimu

Click here to view a NS Museum Of Natural History bird watching checklist.

Posted on April 12, 2023 03:46 PM by mkkennedy mkkennedy | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 18, 2023

Time to start promoting the 2023 City Nature Challenge!

Are you following the countdown to the 2023 CNC? Only 40 days to go!

Please encourage iNatters, old and new alike to join this regional umbrella project as they will then automatically receive notifications when news items are posted.

If you have info that you would like to share or activities that you would like to promote drop me a line at

Don't forget to also bookmark the following projects:
Global CNC umbrella:
Canadian CNC umbrella

Posted on March 18, 2023 11:32 AM by mkkennedy mkkennedy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 17, 2023

iNat or iNot

Earlier this week a local iNatter suggested that I take a look at an article on the iNaturalist forum in the Educators category. The title was ‘iNat or iNot: A quiz to check understanding of captive/cultivated’.

The creator of the QUIZ wrote the following ‘If you would like to edit or adapt this presentation, I encourage you to make a copy from the edit view or start anew even. I have licensed this with a creative commons international 4.0 attribution license so feel free to share, adapt, mix, and reuse with attribution.

A word of caution though - this presentation is targeted to the absolute beginner. These are people who have just started using iNat and who may have difficulty knowing what is ‘wild’. During the City Nature Challenge we do not want participants taking photos of every single flowering bulb in their garden nor posting photos of all their pets and their neighbour's pets!

It should be noted however that there are many reasons why more experienced iNatters might choose to share (and flag) captive animals or cultivated plants. Example in the first slide bur oak on front lawn – maybe someone is documenting all the street trees in their neighbourhood; maybe someone is sharing photos of this tree over time and showing seasonal changes/growth; maybe this tree is host to many lichen, insects, birds, etc; perhaps fallen leaves from this tree provide protection for overwintering insects; … BUT click ‘iNot’ and read the provided explanation. This information is useful to beginners.

So, whether you are a newbie, an educator, or an experienced iNatter, give this quiz a try! Please share your comments below.

Posted on March 17, 2023 07:34 PM by mkkennedy mkkennedy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 27, 2022

Announcing the dates for the 2023 City Nature Challenge - start getting ready today!

The dates have been set for the 2023 City Nature Challenge: the CNC 4 day 'observing' event will take place between Friday April 28 and Monday May 1st; participants have until May 7th to finish uploading observations; observations may be identified as soon as the CNC starts until midnight on May 7th. Final global results will be announced on May 8th.

In past years we asked local iNatters if they were ready for an unforgettable adventure and then proceeded to provide lots of information about iNaturalist, the global City Nature Challenge, and about the various local areas registered to participate.

Click here to view the 2022 umbrella project and read the posts from last year (2022)
Click here to view the 2021 umbrella project and read the 2021 posts.
Click here to view the 2020 umbrella project and read the 2020 journal posts.

Despite the pandemic many Maritimers were able to get outdoors and explore their backyards and/or areas within their restricted areas. Getting out and observing nature was and is still a simple way to reduce stress.

Who knows what 2023 will bring. Hopefully the sun will come out and people can get outdoors, explore, observe nature, and share their observations with iNat. Hopefully people will be willing to travel to different CNC areas.

The City Nature Challenge is a global event and it is an opportunity to highlight our part of the world. Nationally many cities from across Canada registered to participate in the 2022 CNC and our Atlantic region placed well on the Canadian leaderboard.

Join this 2023 umbrella project TODAY and follow our Facebook page for more news and updates for all the Atlantic/Maritime entries.

Don't wait till April to learn how to use iNat - start sharing your photos (old or new) with iNat now!
If you need help just drop us a line at

For more info on the global CNC project click here

Posted on November 27, 2022 11:40 AM by mkkennedy mkkennedy | 0 comments | Leave a comment