Mammals of the Quabbin's Journal

June 18, 2024

For New Members!

Welcome to the Mammals of the Quabbin project!

I've always wanted to participate in an iNaturalist project dedicated to Quabbin mammals, but I couldn't find one that fit the bill. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a project with that specific focus!

Building the project was quite the adventure. I wanted to define the Quabbin as a rich, diverse region rather than just a body of water. To achieve this, I created and imported a new place into iNaturalist called the "Quabbin Reservoir Region." This approach allows the project to automatically include the various ecosystems associated with the Quabbin, such as red and white oak forests, red pine, birch, hemlock forests, wetlands, swamps, talus slopes, and bedrock outcrops (Amherst College, 2008). This ensures that the wildlife within these bounds is accurately accounted for.

When the project launched, it had around 716 observations. In just six months, we've seen a fantastic increase to 847 observations—about a 20% jump in Quabbin mammal sightings! Considering iNaturalist was founded in 2008 and has been around for 16 years, this is a remarkable achievement.

Representation is key to building a thriving community. As of June 2024, 22% of the people contributing observations to this project are active members, and that number continues to grow as more people explore the Quabbin. This diverse participation is what makes our community vibrant and strong.

In conclusion, I created this project to foster a deeper appreciation for the mammals inhabiting the Quabbin region and to provide a platform for the community to collaborate on projects, present research, and participate in group field outings. Your involvement and passion are what will make this project truly special. I hope you enjoy being a part of this exciting journey!

Big announcements to come, stay tuned!

Brendan

Posted on June 18, 2024 03:42 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Observation of the Month!

Hello Everyone,

I'd like to introduce the "Observation of the Month" to the Quabbin Mammals project! Previously, we tried doing an "Observation of the Week," but due to a decrease in observations during the winter when many mammals are hibernating or seeking shelter, we decided it would be better to switch to a monthly basis. This way, we'll have more observations to choose from and can highlight the best of the best.

It's been a very exciting spring for wildlife, and I'd like to backtrack and highlight some of the best observations from February to May!

Observation of the Month:

February 2024 - @jamesdt's observation of a North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) on February 6th features a young porcupine in a tree! The photo is incredible and highlights the porcupine's behavior of climbing trees to sleep and bask in the early morning and evening sunlight. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/198643585

March 2024 - @zogspot's observation of an American Beaver (Castor canadensis) skull on March 1st! This observation is particularly interesting because it highlights the contrast between the beaver's bright orange teeth and the neighboring bones. Beavers' teeth are rich in iron, which protects them from wear and tear while they chew trees. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/200960211

April 2024 - @cbuelow45's observation of a mother Eastern Moose (Alces alces americana) with her yearling calf on April 9th! In March and April, moose move out of their wintering grounds in search of new growth to feed on. Many appear scraggly as they shed their winter coats, and you may notice white patches where winter ticks have fed. Moose have much recovering to do during the spring; they are such resilient animals! https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/206333037

May 2024 - @carefortheplanet's beautiful observation of an American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) on May 11th! Black bears are bulking up this time of year after losing, on average, 20% of their body weight. This is likely either a male born in early 2023 or a young female. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/215616870

I will be posting the "Observation of the Month" for June during the first week of July! Congratulations to everyone mentioned!

Brendan

Posted on June 18, 2024 02:35 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 29, 2024

Thoughts on Quabbin Deer

Hello!

Having spent hundreds of hours at the Quabbin, I've noticed that deer seem to be much less common than they would be in a similar sized forested region anywhere else. Which has me wondering, is the thriving moose population affecting the deer population? Moose require lots of space and food and the two species, both cervids, have very similar food requirements. I'm sure Quabbin has a greater deer population than moose but it definitely does seem that deer would be even more than they already are in such a remote forested area. Is there only so much food available for deer because moose consume the best food available in the region? Comment your thoughts below!

Brendan

Posted on May 29, 2024 08:50 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 01, 2024

Project Updates (03/01/2024)!

Spring is quickly approaching and mammal activity is really going to start picking up so I'm excited to see what people can find at the Quabbin over the next few months!

I have a few ideas for some moose population studies if anyone wants to message me and ask about them. Long story short, there are a few areas at Quabbin that I anticipate being popular spots and it would be interesting to figure out where the bulls are.

Have a great weekend!

-Brendan

Posted on March 01, 2024 04:41 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2024

Observation of the Week (12.31.2024)

Hi everyone,

Our first ever Observation of the Week highlights @er1kksen's January 6th sighting of a Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus).

These hares, adapted to colder climates, are commonly found in northern regions and at higher elevations, where their thick coats serve to regulate temperature. While Snowshoe Hares are not frequently seen south of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, @er1kksen's observation in the Quabbin Reservoir Region is particularly noteworthy. In Massachusetts, only 35 Snowshoe Hare sightings have been documented on iNat, with just 15 reaching the research-grade level. Remarkably, only 7 of these observations capture the actual animal.

Congratulations to @er1kksen for submitting the first iNat observation that captures an actual Snowshoe Hare in the Quabbin Reservoir Region and only the third Snowshoe Hare observation at the Quabbin!

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195971179

Best,
Brendan

Posted on January 11, 2024 04:25 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 08, 2024

"Mammals of the Quabbin" Spotlight (Week of 1.7.2024)

Hi!!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Exciting news! In line with my promise that through this project, I'd aim to better protect native wildlife, I went back into the Massachusetts Endangered Mammals List and iNaturalist observations and determined that observation locations for the Tricolored Bat and Little Brown Bat could make colonies vulnerable to interruption and should be obscured in Massachusetts. I'm excited to announce that my request for this was approved shortly after proposing it! Along with using iNaturalist as a tool and a hobby to document species locations, it's just as important to protect species locations when necessary. I'm thrilled about this significant win for mammal conservation efforts!

Thanks to @carefortheplanet for taking on the role of a new manager! Your dedication and willingness to contribute to the project will undoubtedly enhance its effectiveness. Feel free to introduce yourself to the members of the group and share your interests!

With 31 members now, the community is growing, and the increased participation in uploading Quabbin mammal observations is a testament to the group's enthusiasm and commitment. Keep up the excellent work, and I hope everyone has an inspiring week ahead!

Brendan

Posted on January 08, 2024 07:00 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 02, 2024

"Mammals of the Quabbin" Spotlight (Week of 12.31.2023)

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year, I hope everyone has been enjoying time with friends and family and maybe getting into nature a bit on your days off!

As mentioned before, we surpassed our goal of getting 20 members to this group by the New Year, we're now at 27. Please keep sharing this project with your friends and encouraging them to join.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the project? I'd love to hear how we can improve. Thanks!

Posted on January 02, 2024 04:37 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 18, 2023

"Mammals of the Quabbin" Spotlight (Week of 12.17.2023)

Hey everyone!

Here are some quick project updates going into the week.

We're looking for one more admin. Send me a message if you're interested in helping plan events down the line!

We've welcomed a few new members to the project bringing us up to 24 total!

About 17% of people who have contributed observations to the project are members.

There are now 757 Quabbin mammal observations. It would be amazing to reach 1,000 by 2025 but we'll see how things go!

93.13% of all observations are at the Research Grade level, an increase from 93.11%.
The top 5 contributors are lynnharper, cbuelow, btk, bmaher222, and zogspot. Four of the top five are members of the project.

I'm also still taking requests for species spotlights.

Hope everyone has a great week!

-Brendan

Posted on December 18, 2023 04:13 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 13, 2023

Seasonal Distribution of Alces Alces (Moose) in Massachusetts

Hi everyone,

I'm excited to share a summer project I poured my time into! I compiled public data on moose sightings throughout the year, creating a map that unveils their seasonal habitats in detail. By zooming in, you'll discover the specific environments they frequent. I focused solely on confirmed moose sightings, excluding mere signs. I compiled sightings reports from platforms like iNaturalist, news articles, and public moose sighting maps and integrated them into one comprehensive map. Unsure where else to showcase this, so here it is—an informal passion project. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

https://earth.google.com/web/@42.45514541,-72.20610424,228.85228034a,229829.65462407d,30.00000722y,0h,0t,0r/data=MikKJwolCiExM284UXVYTnZCT0pRTmJTSkpiMXl4TDVmZW5vSlI1ZGQgAToDCgEw

-Brendan

Posted on December 13, 2023 09:02 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Quabbin Gate 16

Gate 16, my go-to Quabbin entry point near Shutesbury along Route 202! It's only a 20-minute hike to the reservoir and offers three trails. Take a left after 10 minutes for a visit to a scenic shallow cove. Or go straight, face a fork, left for a 5-minute shore trip or right for a 20-30 minute scenic route. At the end of the trail that goes left, you'll spot a very photogenic island across from you that changes size based on the season. To its right, notice the carefully crafted beaver lodge where dawn, dusk, and post-rainstorms are reliable times to see the resident beavers!

Dawn or dusk, summer or winter, I've tracked moose here and identified their prints in the snow and mud. Follow left to the beach where you'll notice mammal footprints of all types including tons of moose tracks.
I've also been lucky enough to spot river otters down gate 16. Keep coming back, try different times, different seasons, and you'll be surprised that your hard work will pay off when you spot a family of otters fishing from the ice, they're such curious animals. Despite being touristy, Gate 16 remains a top wildlife spot at Quabbin for me.

Posted on December 13, 2023 08:22 PM by bmaher222 bmaher222 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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