Welcome to my second in-between episode. These are short episodes in between my interview episodes. I’m calling this one Cool Tools – Nature Identification Edition! I’ll cover what I think are great tools to aid you in identifying, and thus, learning about the nature all around us. I cover phone apps and websites, hand loupes, binoculars, field guides, and what makes for a great field guide – along with many specific recommendations.
NOTE: I begin this show with some discussion of the historically bad 2020 wildfire seasons. I wrote a bit about wildfire causes, policies, and more in this blog post. There are links to all of the studies I mentioned and more resources in that post.
1:14 – Some discussion about the California and western USA wildfires. See links and resources in this blog post
5:05 – Cool Tools – the original, by Kevin Kelly
6:10 – Traditional Field Guides, and what makes for a good field guide
10:27 – Recommended Apps, like eBird, iNaturalist, BirdNet, and Merlin
13:38 – Hand loupes
14:12 – a short note about my camera, my go-to lens selections, and my camera harness, called a Cotton Carrier
15:36 – what to look for in binoculars – magnification, objective lens, close focusing, and more
Links from the Show
Kevin Kelly, founder of Cool Tools, and so much more. Tim Ferriss calls him “the actual most interesting man in the world”.
Matthew Dodder – Executive Director of Silicon Valley Audubon has some excellent birding videos, including three on eBird features: eBird Mobile, My eBird, and eBird Explore. Be sure to check out podcast episode #2 where I interview Matthew!
Note: links to books are affiliate links
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West by Dennis Paulson – one of the best field guides I’ve found. A bit large, but worth it.
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson – the Eastern version of the above.
The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley. It’s larger than a field guide, but makes a great resource.
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, by David Allen Sibley
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, by David Allen Sibley
California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora by Matt Ritter
More great Field Guides from University of California Press…these get into more natural history and very local information.
Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California by Robert C. Stebbins and Samuel M. McGinnis
Field Guide to Owls of California and the West by Hans Peeters
Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions by Arthur M. Shapiro and Timothy D. Manolis
Apps and Websites
eBird – the app is great, but the website has many more features that are great for researching species, trends, locations, trips, etc. Matthew Dodder’s eBird videos provides a great introduction: eBird Mobile, My eBird, and eBird Explore.
iNaturalist – an app that helps you identify organisms of all types using photos. You can connect to experts to get identification assistance, and research where and when species are seen. Again, their website is a bit more full-featured. Check out my blog post “A Newbies Guide to iNaturalist” for a few pointers.
BirdNet – Android only (for now). This turns your phone into a bird call/song identifying machine! If you are on IOS, you can use their webiste directly.
Merlin – the best AI/ML photo ID app for birds! It even handles molting birds quite well!
Things – Optics, Cameras, Binoculars
BelOMO 10x Triplet Loupe with lanyard – great for up-close inspection of plants and tiny insects.
Canon 7d Mark ii – Digital SLR – my go-to camera for the last few years.
Canon 100-400 L ii – great wildlife lens with amazing close focus and image stabilization
Cotton Carrier – a harness that secures your camera freeing up your hands for hiking and scrambling.
Nikon Monarch 5 10×42- These are excellent binoculars that should last a lifetime. While binoculars can cost $1000+, these are about $300 and get you close to what those high end ones give you.
Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed
Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed
Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/