San Mateo County Bio-Blitz's Journal

January 14, 2022

Happy New Year - and some statistical fun and games

Happy New Year, San Mateo county iNaturalists! We have now passed 525,000 observations for this project, a statistic of which we can all be duly proud.

Just out of idle curiosity, I decided to check to see what percentage of the total iNaturalist observations, our little corner of paradise accounted for, and here's the result: 00.6%! That may seem small, but our county is 744 square miles. Compared to the planet itself (at 196.9 million square miles), our land mass accounts for a mere 00.00038% of earth. So we are outperforming our relative size.

But, you say, that includes vast oceanic expanses that we cannot effectively iNat! OK, so the land mass portions of Earth amount to 57,268,900 square miles. San Mateo county accounts for only 00.0012%. We are still outperforming our relative size by a lot!

As of this writing (8:00 am on the morning of January 14, 2022) there are 88,455,668 iNat observations overall, for an average of 1.544 observations per square mile of landmass on earth, or .45 observations per square mile of earth (including oceans).

Scope Obs. per sq mile iNat in total San Mateo county iNat
Earth .45/sq. mile 705 observations/sq. mile in county
Land Mass only 1.54/sq. mile 705 observations/sq. mile in county

I call that OUT-PERFORMING! San Mateo county - the little engine that could!

Posted on January 14, 2022 16:14 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 01, 2022

Happy New Year!

Well, San Mateo County iNat-ters, here we are, at the end of another COVID-impacted year. But it hasn't slowed this project down! We are now on the cusp of 520,000 observations. Hopefully we can get to 650,000 and more in 2022. I'm cooking up a scheme for increasing our knowledge of moths in the county, and looking for co-conspirators. Currently there are 469 species of Lepidotera in this project. Let's see if we can't push that to 500!

See you afield in 2022!

Jennifer Rycenga, a.k.a. gyrrlfalcon

Posted on January 01, 2022 03:20 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 25, 2021


The San Mateo County Bio-Blitz project factotum is grateful for all of you who contribute, and thankful that we live in a county of such natural abundance. Let's protect it and love it so that it will be here for generations to come!

Have a happy day of Thanksgiving.

Posted on November 25, 2021 18:06 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 04, 2021

Half a Million Strong!

Dear San Mateo iNat-ters - We just passed the 500,000 observation mark! Wow! Good work everyone! Note also that over 60% of our entries are at Research Grade. Incredible! Keep up the explorations!

Posted on November 04, 2021 06:27 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 4 comments | Leave a comment

May 29, 2021

450,000 - 90% of the way to Half-a-Million!

Today we passed the 450,000 observation mark. Let's get to Half-a-Million in 2021!

Posted on May 29, 2021 01:53 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 18, 2021

Take the ID plunge!

Dear San Mateo County Naturalists -

I've been doing some intensive ID work lately, inspired by doing more ID work during the City Nature Challenge. However, I have severe limitations. Take for instance, "Plants." I only know a few for which I feel confident making an ID. Or "Fish" or tidal creatures.


First, the good news - we are ahead of most projects, with over 60% of our sightings taken to research grade. Only 33% remain in need of more specific IDs. That's rather exceptional for a project this vast.

Second, more good news - it is easy to search through the project for either all entries in need of identification, or by specific species. Here's how.

  1. On the home page for the project ( ), click on "observations"
  2. Once you've done that, just below the number of observations you will find five little boxes. One of them says "Identify" - that's your ticket - click it!
    3, This takes you to an "Identify" page that automatically brings up all the observations in this project in need of identification (other than your own). However, you can narrow this using the two empty rectangles at the top - "Species" and "Place". I will daily put "Birds" in the species box, for instance - that will bring all Bird observations in need of IDing to me. If you are an expert in the plants at Edgewood, put in "Plants" and "Edgewood County Park". You can get even more detailed using the Filters link - I can look for @leslie_flint observations of insects at Edgewood Park over the last three years, to check on her gall sightings! Amazing stuff that the intertubes bring to us!

  3. While it does not take an entry to research grade, anything that helps to gain more specificity is great. So if someone described their entry as "Plants" but you known it is a "DIcot" - that's helpful. If the observer said "Fungi" but you know it would fit under "Common Lichens" (Lecanoromycetes) do that. Any refinement helps guide entries to better specialists (I check Lecanoromycetes, but I don't check all of Fungi, for example).

Third, the less good news -
At the bottom of the general identification page, you can see how many pages remain of observations to be identified for the project. Every page contains 30 entries. We currently have over 4000 pages of observations in need of identification!

Fourth, the bright side - If we make a push now, in 2021, to clean this up, we will put the project on a strong footing moving forward, especially as more of us become familiar with how to do these identifications. All of us, at some point in life, even post-COVID, will have times when boredom, or physical illness, mobility limitation, etc., will keep us indoors or laid up. What better to do than continue contributing to the scientific record!

Thanks for listening - remember, it's not your ego that concerns me - it is your ID!

Posted on May 18, 2021 17:49 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 3 comments | Leave a comment

May 12, 2021

30,000 observations

Excuse me for a moment while I toot my own horn - I just became the first person to reach 30,000 observations in this project. COVID definitely helped with this achievement, as my naturalizing was artificially limited geographically. But I saw this as an opportunity to better learn the local habitats.

I don't want to be here all by myself, though - hope to see many more friends at this plateau in the years to come!

Keep on keeping on in our wonderful county!

Posted on May 12, 2021 03:34 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 7 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2021

Looks Like We Made It!

When I set the goal of over 7,000 entries for the county over the City Nature Challenge weekend, I thought it might prove unrealistic. But thanks to all of you, we did make it, and contributed mightily to the Bay Area's total. In fact, by my seat-of-the-pants calculation, our little slice of the planet accounted for 28% of the current total! That's astounding - a sign of both our ecological richness, and the commitment of so many local residents to community science.

Check out the Bay Area totals here -
and the overall City Nature Challenge here -

Keep on entering and, when confident, identifying

Posted on May 04, 2021 04:45 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 28, 2021

City Nature Challenge THIS WEEKEND - April 30, May 1, 2, 3 - LET'S DO IT!

The SIXTH annual iNaturalist-based CITY NATURE CHALLENGE (CNC) is this weekend,. Hundreds of cities and metro areas are now participating, which marks astonishing growth over a short period of time (thanks to Alison Young @kestrel and Rebecca Johnson @rebeccafay our leaders, assisted by many others). San Mateo county is part of the San Francisco Bay Area (2018 overall winners by sweeping all three categories, and winner of the 2019 "Participants" trophy - no mere "participation" trophy!)

While the continuation of COVID means that we cannot hold large organized events, let me STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to GET OUT AND DOCUMENT LIVING ENTITIES! Let's see if we can get San Mateo county from its current position of 432,251 observations, to 440,000 by the end of the weekend. That's a tough climb, but doable!

To paraphrase something I heard once:
We Shall iNat on the Beaches, We Shall iNat on the Landing Grounds, We Shall iNat in the Fields and in the Streets (safely, now), We Shall iNat in the Hills!

For more on the CNC, see

Posted on April 28, 2021 15:19 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 08, 2021


We reached 400,000 observations in this project. To all who are participants


Posted on February 08, 2021 00:57 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon | 2 comments | Leave a comment