A key blogging discovery I’ve made during my “freshman” ten months of having a blog is that blogging is as much about learning from others as it is about sharing my own thoughts, photos, and information. I’m sure others have learned that long ago and may have even started blogging for that reason. When someone comments on or likes one of my posts, I always check to see what they are doing. Granted, that’s presently easy to do as my blog doesn’t generate much traffic. As a result, I’ve found myself reading some interesting blogs that I wouldn’t have searched for. I’ve also found myself following bloggers who post on topics that are outside my typical areas of interest because they found me and write well or do something on their blog better than I do. For the most part, this learning for me has been serendipitous.
On a recent hike, I started thinking about this interesting community aspect of blogging. Closing in on two years and over 1,500 miles of hiking in Angeles Forest, I’ve come to know a fair amount about its many peaks, trails, water sources, burn areas, and how weather impacts hiking experiences. However, looking at a bird that I knew nothing about caused me to reflect on the fact that I knew very little about the life living in the forest. Sure, I can tell a lizard from a snake. In fall, I can tell a deciduous tree from an evergreen. I’ve seen enough warning signs and talked to enough people about the poodle dog bush to know to avoid it. I read a book on bears (and have seen two), to learn about them and what to do when I see one. For similar reasons, I read part of a book on rattlesnakes. I want to know more about life in the forest, but it’s hard to look something up if you don’t know its name. I don’t trust myself with field guides. I want verification from someone who knows what they are looking at. As I was struggling to take pictures of the bird, I recalled many of the great bird pictures I’ve seen from bloggers. I always admire those photos from serious photographers using expensive camera equipment. My point and shoot snapshots rarely (if ever) do the bird justice. Thinking about how great it would be to see a picture of this bird taken by one of those bloggers caused me to also think about how there are people who know what species of bird it is, and possibly others who have written a post providing information about the bird, and even the outside chance that someone might write a post about the bird if encouraged to do so.
For the rest of my hike and periodically over the past couple weeks I’ve wondered if the serendipitous learning I’ve acquired through reading blogs could also become more focused and teach me about life in Angeles Forest. Could I use my blog to ask the blogosphere questions and reasonably expect to get answers? Would non-bloggers who find their way to this blog participate? I don’t have much I can offer others in return for investing the time to educate me. What I can do is take the information people share with me and make it a permanent resource on this blog and acknowledge those who help in some way.
So, what I’ve decided to try is to ask a weekly nature question asking what species something is and post photos of the thing in question. I will also provide a link to a page with other photos of the area I took the pictures to provide context for those interested. If I get answers (that are plausible), I will create a page on this blog for that species under a new section called Forest Life–which will be first created with results generated from this post. This will create a resource for anyone interested to examine. For bloggers who send me links to posts of the species (through my contact page as linked comments tend to go to spam) that are from their blog, I will create a link to their work (provided I think its accurate) on the species page and add a page for their blog in the reference section area that will work similar to how the newly created author pages are working. I’m hoping some people will also provide links (again through my contact page) to articles and references that I can add to the species page. I’m really hoping that this turns out to be a viable and meaningful way to share knowledge.
So, if you know anything about the bird pictured below (the one who inspired this project), please share.
Photo taken at Valley Forge Campground
Photo taken at Valley Forge Campground