For this blog post, I am going to reflect on how far I have come with the project in relation to what I wanted to do at the beginning of the semester. In short, I am not quite as far along as I had hoped to come. I do not see this as a bad thing, I just know now how to better manage my expectations and overcome the obstacles I encounter.
There are two great challenges I have faced so far this semester: 1) Weather has frequently prevented me from taking pictures as I can only shoot at certain times, and; 2) I have been reluctant to reach out to help from people who know much more about the species in this area than I do.
It is hard to control the weather, and even harder now that it gets dark by 5:30 which limits my ability to shoot over dinner. Luckily, I have a plan for this winter. I will be using my time to look in the archives to find information on past research projects people have done regarding the species around the lake. I will also be using that time in the winter (with such cold weather that is difficult to shoot in and many species are dormant or migrating) to catalog many of the photographs I have already taken. This is very time consuming but it is important work and I should do it when I cannot be taking pictures.
The second problem I have encountered is one that can be easily fixed, but I have been reluctant to fix it. The reason for that is simply because I wanted to be as independent as possible with this project. However, it has become clear that I cannot do this alone. One of the hardest parts of my project has been figuring out how to classify certain species of either flora or fauna.
Here is one example:
I love this picture of the spider on the water. I think it is great because you can actually see the individual eyes on the spider (if the photo is slightly bigger), the surface tension of the water holding the spider up is amazing, and the colors of the spider with the grasses beneath it is very pretty. However, I have not been able to identify this spider. It is frustrating because I spent some time trying to figure it out, but I was unable.
Another example is this mushroom:
I like this picture of these mushrooms because of the detail that you get of the feathered seed pods and the grooves in the cap of the mushroom. This is another example of a species I am struggling to identify. I have a fantastic mentor in T. Tim Sterrett who is highly educated on all the flora and fauna on the campus. I also have T. Tim Mountz who can identify most plants in the area on sight. I haven’t been using them to nearly the capacity as I should as both are very helpful. I have just been wanting to do it on my own but that is no longer a possibility.
As I move forward with the project, I will work to manage my time more successfully and fully use the resources around me, particularly the mentors I have. I am excited to keep working and hope the next quarter is more successful than the last.
Thanks for reading!