INaturalist app DIY activities for a nature safari on the Saint-Joseph river


One of the glories of those hot summer days is that you can spend long hours lazing by the riverside to spy on the weird little creatures spinning their legs in the shallow, clear waters. Or listen to a splash, then watch to see who or what did that.

Or just think about how many types of leafy plants provide shade and protect you from the chaos of civilization.

And if you have a homemade landing net – with nothing more than a stick, hanger, tights, and duct tape – you can pick up a weird friend.

A month-long bioblitz, which started on Tuesday and runs through July 15, challenges you to search for as many of these mysterious plants and animals as possible along the Saint Joseph River, take pictures of them, and drop them into a free app called iNaturalist, which will tell you what they are.

The project is one of several “Celebrate St.Joseph’s Day” events that will run until the August 28 premiere of a documentary film, “So, Now, and Always… The Story of the St. Joseph River,” which will air on PBS. WNIT station. The film will take something we’ve often taken for granted, the St. Joe’s River, and explore the history of its use, abuse and recovery and enduring biodiversity.

The film will cover the entire river, but the bioblitz only applies to its section through Elkhart, St. Joseph, and Berrien counties, as it is organized by area parks in those areas. You start by downloading the easy-to-use iNaturalist app. Other people on the app will see it and suggest what it is. I’ve often found it accurate, but you’ll want to delve a little more on the internet or in guidebooks to see if it’s accurate ID. I always feel a little smarter when I walk away knowing what kind of life it is.

For this bioblitz, however, there are a few steps you will need to take so that everyone involved in the project can see the river finds. After creating an account, navigate to “more” and select “photos” in the app. Press the magnifying glass and search for “Celebrate the St Joe BioBlitz”. Then “join” the project.

The native wildflower of Canada grows on Sunday along the banks of the St. Joseph River at the boat launch just north of Cleveland Road in South Bend.

Krista Daniels, chief naturalist for Elkhart County Parks, says she arranged it so that it wasn’t a contest or a real science tally, but “just for fun.” . Yet if it’s like the ‘Parks for Pollinators’ bioblitz she tried last year in Elkhart County, people will enjoy seeing the fascinating diversity of life that others have observed, as well. that “good photos”. And scientists and land managers are using the observations in iNaturalist to help track changes in life. It is now used to document 17-year-old cicadas.

You can do the bioblitz anywhere along the river in all three counties, even if your house borders the river. But the photo must represent something wild, not a pet or something that has been planted. Think of birds, insects, mushrooms, trees, moss, ferns, fish, frogs, toads, snakes and so on.

Families can extend the project with several DIY activities that park naturalists have posted on WNIT’s “Celebrate the St. Joe” website. One is how to build the landing net with the stick, tights, etc., as I mentioned, and how to use it. For a good sampling of life, like macroinvertebrates, Daniels recommends fishing with a net under water lilies and along the rootlets of trees.

For another life, she suggests quietly using your senses to listen and watch for any changes.

Other activities on the website, suitable for classrooms and youth groups, include wildlife bingo, using aluminum foil to build a river model, coloring page with animals from the river and a game to learn about historical fur bartering techniques.

The website is

The wild-flowering Ohio spiderwort grows in mid-June last year near the St. Joseph River along the trails of Clay Township Park in South Bend

Leaves no trace

Scientists at the US Geological Survey study how wildlife is affected by us when we recreate and view nature, whether on the trails or in the water. So, last week, the USGS sent out some key ways to “leave no trace,” which ties into a more in-depth essay on what the studies have found so far.

Here are two scientific tips to follow, here and on your travels across the country:

• Leave the plants exactly as you find them. Unless you know for sure that it is an invasive species, do not shoot it or cut it down for fear of killing the plant. In addition, it is illegal in nature reserves, punishable by a fine.

• Never feed wildlife. We already know that bread can make waterfowl sick or aggressive. On top of that, foraging in the wild (as opposed to home bird feeders) alters the behavior of wild creatures and their ability to survive from wild food sources. It can also cause animals to associate humans with food, bringing them closer to animals that can attack or spread disease. It also endangers the creatures by drawing them near predators and cars.

A few years ago, Painted Turtles sunbathed on a log on the St. Joseph River near Riverside Drive in South Bend.

Let’s go

• Glacier hike: Join the Harbor Country Hikers for an easy hike Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Jens Jensen Preserve in Sawyer, over glacial terrain with beech and maple forest, seasonal wetlands and a curious understory that will be explained during hiking. The reserve is at 6851 Parkway Drive, Sawyer. Take the Red Arrow Highway just south of the Sawyer Road traffic light and turn right onto Parkway Drive.

• Fun Trail Creek Float: This annual paddling Saturday on Trail Creek in Michigan City tends to get a lot of people on kayaks and canoes. Launch into the waves from 10 a.m. CDT from the ADA-accessible launch at Hansen Park, float upstream in the gentle current to Friendship Gardens for a break, then return. The Northwest Indiana Paddling Association is offering this event for free (or with a donation). You must first register on and find updates on the NWIPA Facebook page.

• Ready for the trails? : Amie Dworecki, professional running trainer in South Bend and veteran of extreme trail running, will host a clinic on “How to Train for a Kick-XXX Trail Run” at 6pm Tuesday at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend. This is aimed at a wide range of people, beginners to advanced, whether they are trailrunning for the first time or trying a new distance. Among other things, she will show you how you can still train even while traveling on vacation. It will include an easy hike and sample snacks. Registration is free until Friday, then $ 10 thereafter. Additionally, on June 29, she will begin her 8-week holistic course on How Beginner and Returning Runners Can Safely Prepare for a Trail Run, namely the Park’s Running Wild 5K on August 21, which will include a 3K scavenger hunt / walk and in-person and virtual options ( This course can be done in person or virtually and includes a choice of two race plans, with an emphasis on mental and physical health in the aftermath of the pandemic. To enroll in one of Dworecki’s programs, visit

• Walk in the meadows: Join a naturalist to identify prairie plants and creatures at 9 a.m. on June 23 at Bendix Woods County Park in New Carlisle. Register for this free program by Monday at 574-654-3155.

• Assault Tour of the Fort: 2nd Mile Adventures will lead a bike ride from Winona Lake to Fort Wayne and back on June 26 with options of 100 miles and shorter. You’ll learn about Heart of the City Bicycles, a Fort Wayne charity that supports downtown families and offers a co-op Earn-A-Bike program. More information on the ride at

• Kayaks on Goshen Pond: Dave Coyne waits with his 12 kayaks to rent them to anyone who shows up for a paddle at Goshen Dam. You can paddle this diked part of the Elkhart River for 3 miles before you run out of navigable water and have to return. Coyne started the business this spring. The cost is $ 20 until Sunday, then $ 30 for the summer. Arrival from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day, return before 6 p.m. Reservation not required. Call 574-536-8889 or find Coyne Kayaks on Facebook.

• Wilderness areas of Indiana: Retired State Botanist Michael Homoya will speak on “Indiana’s Natural Regions – It’s Wilder Than You Think” at 2 p.m. on June 26 in the auditorium of the Nature Park of Indiana Park. State of Potato Creek in North Liberty. He will describe the reliefs, flora and fauna that make our State unique, drawing on a map of natural regions. He will also be selling his recent book “Wake up, Woods”. The conference is free, hosted by the Friends of Potato Creek State Park with a grant from Indiana Humanities. It will be in the Peppermint Hill picnic shelter, weather permitting.

Follow Outdoor Adventures columnist Joseph Dits on Facebook at SBTOutdoorAdventures. Contact him at 574-235-6158 or [email protected]


Leave A Reply