I’ve been catching up on reading some older issues of magazines available for free on the internet.  The December 2020 issue of BBC Wildlife offered a thought-provoking article.  Entitled Dreaming of a Wild Christmas, the author, @DominicCouzens, challenged himself to find and identify as many types of birds, plants, insects, lichens, and other species, as he could in his home county of Dorset, England during one month.  His goal was to achieve at least 500 identifications.  And this was during December!

Imagine doing this in your own community.  Couzens enlisted the assistance of a few specialists to help him with the more challenging identifications.  We could do a version of this now with the help of guidebooks and other resources.  

Anything “natural” is fair game. Start with those items that you already know.  Then begin adding and identifying new-to-you species.  

There are many references available for free on the web.  Some of the most useful are region-specific dichotomous keys, so be sure to search around.  As a reminder, a dichotomous key is a tool for identifying organisms where a series of choices between alternative characteristics progressively leads to the correct organism.

Challenge yourself by exploring types of grasses and sedges, mushrooms, bryophytes such as mosses, insects, and galls.  They can be difficult to distinguish between, so don’t worry if you can’t do a complete identification.

Let’s set a modest goal of 100 species identified between now and August 15th.  That gives us one full month.   I will be posting a copy of my results sometime after that date.  Please feel free to share yours too!

This challenge is rated as moderate. 

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