Have you ever wondered what that strange bug crawling on the rock wall is called, or what the name of a plant is that you often see while hiking? What about that fluffy-looking moss on the side of that maple, or the energetic songbird singing away in the canopy? You can answer all these questions and more through a new, community-driven field guide of Walpole’s flora, fauna, and fungi. The project, called A Living Field Guide to Walpole, NH , collects observations of living organisms that people submit to the community-science database iNaturalist ( www.inaturalist.org ).
iNaturalist is an easy-to-use, free app that can help identify what you are seeing and hearing. When a photo or sound recording is shared to iNaturalist, expert naturalists help identify what was observed. As of April 2021, beginner and master naturalists alike have used iNaturalist to document over 600 wild species in Walpole. Among these, are one of New Hampshire’s only records of a Rusty Snaketail dragonfly and North America’s largest native moth, the Cecropia Moth, which has a colorful wingspan measuring seven inches.
The town-wide living field guide project arose out of a long-term natural inventory at Walpole’s Distant Hill Gardens and Nature Trail, where iNaturalist continues to deepen our understanding of nature. Most of Walpole’s public lands are poorly documented in iNaturalist, and places like the Hooper Forest, Academy Ravine, and Fanny Mason Forest eagerly await your exploration. Similarly, nature knows no bounds, and observations of wild plants and animals from your own yards are welcomed by the living field guide.
To learn more about this exciting project, get involved, or see a list of all 607 species and counting, visit the project website ( https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/a-living-field-guide-to-walpole-nh ). All are invited to attend an informational Zoom meeting about the project on Thursday, May 20 th at 5:30pm. Please register on the Eventbrite Event page at https://tinyurl.com/ukk7w3u9 . This meeting will be followed by a Walpole-wide bioblitz on May 23 rd , which will kick off a bi-weekly, summer-long bioblitz series. Let’s start exploring!