2021 promises to be a big year. We’ll witness the largest vaccination campaign in history, the inauguration of a new President–and on a more personal scale–some aspirational nature observation: my very own Mammal Big Year. You might have heard the term “Big Year” in reference to competitive birding, the universally panned Hollywood movie, or VCE’s own fantastically successful Butterfly Big Year. For my Mammal Big Year, I’m turning my attention from the flighted to the furred in an attempt to observe each of Vermont’s mammal species in calendar year 2021. And I invite you to follow along!
There are 50-plus mammal species observations listed on the Vermont Atlas of Life project on iNaturalist. I’m cautiously optimistic that I can find and record them all. As VCE’s Mountain Ecology Technician, I spend most of my professional time dedicated to our Mountain Birdwatch project. Everyone needs a pandemic hobby though, and since I’ve grown tired of baking sourdough, I’m spending nights and weekends searching for the furred inhabitants of nearby woodlands.
With some diligent forest-romping, I just might observe each of the mammal species thus far reported on the state’s iNaturalist list–and perhaps even add a species or three. Stay tuned for updates as the seasons turn. From snowshoe-shod tracking treks, to dumpster stakeouts, to ultrasonic snooping, I have a toolbox full of methods to help me on this fool’s errand. Wish me luck! -Pete
(Watch the VCE blog for seasonal updates from Pete! The next species update will be in early February, followed by a “Mammal Methods” post on GIS/camera trapping in early March).