City Nature Challenge 2024

My third year of the Challenge proved to be my best yet, and another great year for the region

The 2024 City Nature Challenge wrapped up on May 5, 2024, finishing the Identification period of the Challenge after the initial Observation period the previous weekend from April 26-29, 2024.

This was my third year participating in the CNC, and I had plans for it to be my biggest. I had a pretty great result last year, but definitely knew I could do a lot more, as I wasn't even able to get out much for nearly two full days of the four day observation period. All in all, last year I finished with 373 Observations of 267 Species.

This year my goal was mainly to break those numbers, though with the #1 finisher in our region having 473 species last year, I thought 500 species would be a really cool number to hit — and I figured I would have to if I wanted to have a chance at #1 this year.

I also wanted to make some observations in placed that were under-observed last year, if possible, to get myself into some new areas and get a better representation of our region overall. That ended up being a really great decision.

A warning before we get started: This is going to feature a good bit of close-up insect photography.

Landry Property (Friday)

For the first day of the Challenge I decided it would basically be a personal BioBlitz of our home base, the Landry Property. Having found over 1100 species here in the last 2.5 years, it's as rich as anywhere else I could have hoped to go and at this point I of course know it like the back of my hand. I figured I could easily pick up a couple hundred here the first day, especially with...

Moth Sheeting

Starting off at Midnight, I had the moth sheet up with a UV light under one of the big Magnolia trees on the east side of the driveway. Unfortunately I had a light mishap when I initially set it up, so things weren't quite as productive as I'd hoped right at midnight, but a later run at 1am got me a few little things -- mainly one of my favorite moths, Tulip Tree Beauties. Either way a midnight moth sheet is always a fun way to kick things off.

The pre-dawn look at the sheet had a couple more moth species but overall it wasn't a very productive spot.

A medium sized, intricately patterned moth rests on a white sheet One of several Tulip Tree Beauties, one of the most abundant moths here and one of my favorites.
A pink gecko with many different colored spots hangs upside-down on a white metal wall A Mediterranean Gecko hangs on the outer walls of our little house.

Big Day at Home

Throughout the day I was focused on picking up as many of the common species that I walk by every day as possible, while keeping an eye out for the ephemeral and unusual. I'd spent the last couple of days coming up with a list and mental map of where I knew I could get most of them, and set out at dawn to catch as much as I could (there was also a chance the lawn would get mowed, but that ended up not happening until May 1).

My first Mississippi Kite of the year was the first wonderful surprise, along with a small flock of White Ibis that I was too slow to capture with the camera. I got one of my best ever looks at a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers making their way back toward a big dead pine in the West Woods that looks like it may be their nest for the year. A Box Turtle appeared in the path, always a nice surprise and certainly not a species I would have counted on seeing.

There were some great new galls that I hadn't seen before, and a couple of new dragonfly species for the year. Gusty winds kept the butterfly numbers down, a theme that would keep up for most of the weekend.

By mid-day I was well over 100 species and was feeling good. There weren't many surprises in the afternoon, mainly just knocking out everything I already knew would be here in this wonderful little place we call home.

A sleek raptor with long, pointed wings and a square tail flies over the bare branches of a treetop, half-silhoutted against a gray morning sky A first Mississippi Kite of the year, flying swiftly over the treetops. Was really glad to be able to catch it with the camera.
A very large black woodpecker with a white face, large red crest and red "moustache" of feathers near its bill rests on a large branch of a pine tree The male of the Pileated Woodpecker pair that I saw moving through the West Woods toward what appeared to be a potential nesting cavity.
20240426 3dp 6257 One of the first Great Blue Skimmers of the year. This is an immature one and doesn't have its full color yet.
20240426 3dp 6330 One of the few butterflies for the weekend, a Southern Broken Dash skipper (Polites otho) visits a clover flower. Clover and Florida Hedgenettle were the busiest pollinator plants by far during the weekend.

Moth Sheeting Round 2

For the 2nd night of sheeting I set up further south on the property, a bit deeper into the woods at an intersection of paths, next to one of the large Water Oaks. It turned out to be great. Just an hour or so after sunset the sheet was covered in bugs of all sorts.

Hundreds of tiny Waterlily Leafcutter Moths, more Tulip Tree Beauties, a few different kind of June Bugs, and my first ever Mantidflies which I was really excited to see. What strange and beautiful little creatures they are.

This was probably the best overall night of sheeting I've had at home in the 5-6 times I've tried it in the last year and a half.

On the way back inside I stopped to check the Buttonbushes just to see if anything was hanging out, and found quite a few large, dark-gray June Bugs eating the edges of the leaves. I don't really know what to make of it but it was really interesting to see them all on there.

I finished the first day with 214 species from 245, a really great start and well on pace for my goal of 500 species for the weekend.

20240426 3dp 6388 A Four-Spotted Mantidfly. So unbelievably cool. This is a very close view – it was probably a bit over an inch long.
20240426 3dp 6382 A cool little True Bug of some sort. I just really like the clean orange thorax against the black on the rest of this guy.
20240426 3dp 6371 Two mating moths, I believe Waterlily Leafcutting Moths (as they were EVERYWHERE on the sheet). I just thought the size disparity was cool.
20240426 3dp 6403 One of the many chalky dark-gray June Bugs eating the edges of the Buttonbush leaves in the dark.


With a great Friday behind me, the goal for Saturday was to spend as much time as I could out and about, particularly in areas I hadn't been before and areas that don't get a ton of observations, either for the CNC or in general. I decided my main focus would be St. Helena Parish, which got 9 observations in the 2022 CNC and only 8 last year. The parish doesn't have many public parks or areas for non-residents to hang out, which obviously makes it tough for birders or naturalists to come and see anything (at 167 species on eBird, it has the lowest count of any Louisiana parish).

I also had only ever driven through St. Helena on my way elsewhere, so I was excited to explore a little bit and add it to my Life List for eBird, if nothing else. The only eBird Hotspot that stood out was Greensburg Park, which didn't look like much from Google Maps, but I figured it was worth a shot.

The morning moth sheet produced mostly the same as the night before, so I was off before dawn to get to the park as close to sunrise as possible.

Greensburg Park

I tried to get to the park as early as I could, because I knew that would help my chances for birds and because I didn't know how much time it would be worth spending there, so I wanted to still have plenty of time to explore elsewhere if it ended up being a bust. Thankfully, it was worth my while.

It's a pretty well-manicured park at its heart, but there is enough wild stuff around the edges and nearby that the birds were singing and I was able to pick up a few new common plant species that we just don't have at home.

The big reward for this stop was hearing and then seeing a pair of Inca Doves hanging out on a defunct concrete tennis court next to the park. I ended up with 20 bird species, which was way more than I was expecting, and at least 10 new plant species to boot. Overall I was more than pleased with this little park, as it really was just to visit it for the first time and just get St. Helena on the map for the CNC more than anything else. I knew I'd already surpassed last year's efforts and that felt great.

Img 1072 This lawn with Loblolly Pines didn't seem super inspiring when I first pulled up, but it ended up being pretty productive around the edges.
20240427 Dscn0715 One of the surprise pair of Inca Doves hanging out on a little concrete tennis court next to the park.
20240427 Dscn0723 One of my favorites, a Red-headed Woodpecker looking out into the early morning light.

Hutchinson Creek WMA

When I got back in the car at Greensburg Park I really didn't know where I was headed next. It had ended up much more productive than expected, so I was pretty open to anything. In general though, I wanted to head toward East Feliciana Parish, another place that is relatively under-observed and where I hadn't birded, just like St. Helena.

But when I opened up the eBird app to explore nearby Hotspots, I saw a surprise: something called the Hutchinson Creek WMA, just 4.5 miles away. It had a decent list of bird species, but for whatever reason I hadn't noticed it in all my preparation. There were recent enough lists that I felt like with it being so close it had to be worth at least a quick stop.

What a little adventure those 4.5 miles ended up being! Google Maps didn't really understand how to get me there without sending me through someone's private driveway, and the LDWF website had a lovely map of the WMA that was still really unclear where you were actually expected to enter or exit. Eventually I figured out a second road to try, drove through a few more places that felt like I was going through someone's front yard, and finally saw an Official Brown Sign for the WMA, basically at a point where you wouldn't be unless you already knew the WMA was there.

But man, what a reward. This spot just 15 minutes south of the Mississippi border was a quiet, rich, rewarding landscape of beautiful rolling hills, several different kinds of habitats including a small patch of Longleaf pine forest... and I had it all to myself!

I had a singing Tennessee Warbler and calling Yellow-breasted Chat, two nice migrant bird pickups. I got a couple of different Vaccinium species, our native blueberries, along with so many new plant species associated with the sandy soil in this area of the Florida Parishes.

The real treat of the trip was a perfect look at a Hairy Woodpecker, only my second in Louisiana and the first in four years. I was able to get the perfect confirmation photos of the bill along with audio recordings.

I also saw a great interaction of a pair of Barred Yellow butterflies, with the male zooming all around the female right in the middle of the trail. I was able to capture a great photo of this little moment to remember the first time I'd ever seen this species.

Hutchinson Creek ended up being the perfect place to visit to round out my trip to St. Helena, and I finished with over 100 observations in the parish this year of nearly 100 different species.

20240427 3dp 6463 A beautiful Golden-winged Skimmer held still long enough for some nice photos.
20240427 3dp 6455 Surprisingly, I think this was the one Green Anole I saw all weekend.
20240427 Dscn0731 The relatively rare and elusive Hairy Woodpecker, finally turned in a position where I could see the length of the bill to compare it to a Downy.
Img 1154 Some of the small section of Longleaf Pine on the WMA.
20240427 3dp 6486 A really special moment; a pair of Barred Yellow butterflies doing a bit of a courtship dance on the trail. I was so glad the camera was able to capture this.

East Feliciana Parish

My next move was to and through East Feliciana Parish, basically hoping to see a spot along the way to the State Capitol Lakes that I could stop and maybe do some observing.

Yeah... not so much.

I did eventually get a wild hair and stop on the side of the highway near a large culvert for a creek. I was rewarded with a couple of nice new wildflowers and some Cliff Swallows that appeared to be starting to nest on the bridge.

Img 1269 A new species for me; this beautiful little Hairy Vetch was growing on the side of the highway in East Feliciana Parish.

Capitol Lakes

Next I headed to the Capitol Lakes in the search of water birds. Ducks, herons, cormorants, ibis, pelicans... I had high hopes for picking up quite a few species.

Again... not so much.

Whether it was just the time of year or the high winds, there was just about nobody out on the lakes. I saw one American White Pelican, which was nice, and three Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in the distance (compared to the 3800 we recorded here for the Christmas Bird Count four months prior, it almost felt silly to even count them).

I did still manage to pick up a few good species in the area, like American Robins, Spanish Moss, the aforementioned pelican, and Diamondback Watersnakes... of which there were dozens lining the rocks along the lake's edge just about everywhere you went.

20240427 Dscn0740 2 A sleepy American White Pelican, the only one of the weekend, eyes me as it hides from the wind.
20240427 Dscn0748 The silly little face of one of the many Diamondback Watersnakes.
20240427 3dp 6507 2 An adorably fierce looking baby Painted Turtle.

LSU Lakes

Last fall, between the ongoing drought and recently-started dredging work, the sudden appearance of large mud flats on the LSU Lakes were producing record numbers of shorebirds for East Baton Rouge Parish. Winter rains and changes in the dredging operation meant the large flats disappeared, but the lakes in general still had some promise for picking up some reliable wading birds. I've hardly ever driven the edge of those lakes without seeing quite a few Great Egrets.

The stiff wind whipping the tall marsh grasses and young willows grown up in the some of the newly-exposed wet ground, there were almost no birds to be seen this day. A few Red-winged Blackbird calls pierced the breezy air, and I got a nice photo of one male and his bright red epaulets, but it was soon onto the next location.

20240427 Dscn0753 A handsome Red-winged Blackbird showing off his vibrant epaulets.

Ben Hur Rd

Ben Hur Rd is another unique and somewhat legendary birding location in East Baton Rouge. A two or so mile road lined with LSU's agricultural testing fields, it's a rare ecosystem for the parish and even rarer for it to be publicly accessible.

I did add Cattle Egrets for the weekend, but once again it was not the day for a good visit. But, it was nice to check out this spot for the first time and I look forward to seeing it at a more productive time.

My hope was that I'd be able to also check out Richfield Riversilt for the first time — another unique location for East Baton Rouge, and a private one that requires permission for entry. It didn't work out for Saturday, so it was time to head back home.

20240427 3dp 6526 One of a little flock of Cattle Egrets hanging with a small herd of cattle on the south end of Ben Hur Road.

Landry Property (Saturday Evening)

The moth sheets in the evening were great once again. I moved the sheet further down the trail and got a few new little things, including a few lifers.

After the huge Saturday effort, I was now sitting at 329 species from 427 observations. Not bad at all, but not quite what I had hoped for considering the amount of time I spent out. But it was really great to do so much observing in St. Helena Parish and add a lot of good data there.

20240427 3dp 6546 Some kind of young grasshopper with some loooooong antennae.
20240427 3dp 6532 A handsome Harvestman staring me down from it's perch on a Beautyberry leaf.
20240427 3dp 6562 An Eyed Baileya Moth, just a unique look and shape to this one. Looks like he's wearing a fur coat.
20240427 3dp 6580 A really cool little guy; a Yellow-winged Oak Leafroller Moth
20240427 3dp 6577 Blurry Chocolate Angle. Absolutely love the colors on this one.


Moth Sheets

The moth sheets on this morning were pretty productive! An Ilia Underwing, Saddled Prominent and a pair of Brown-shaded Grays next to each other were some highlights along with a beautiful little tree frog down near the base of the sheet, likely eating little moths as they fell down.


Sunday morning was a bit of a break, as De and I met my grandparents for breakfast in Covington. I was admittedly anxious to get back out again, but I actually picked up a few new species just in the cracks of the sidewalk on our way back to the car. The life of a naturalist!

In retrospect if I'd been able to really get out in a new location during this time, I probably would have been able to hit 1000 observations for the weekend.

Landry Property

Once we got back home, it was time for a little walk with Loki which actually ended up getting me a few new species for the weekend, including a Tan Jumping Spider predating a moth and the very cool Waved Light Fly.

Soon after, it was time to head out again.

20240428 3dp 6618 The big and beautiful Ilia Underwing.
20240428 3dp 6629 Brown-shaded Grays "holding hands" on the sheet in the morning.
20240428 3dp 6611 The unique green coloration of the Saddled Prominent moth.

Richfield Riversilt

I was headed back across the Parish to Richfield Riversilt, a spot along the Mississippi River where this company dredges the river for riversilt, sand and other mineral resources. This creates large ponds, and with it being along the river which is often used as a flyway, it picks up some species that aren’t seen in many other places nearby. I was still hoping to catch some wading or shorebirds, and being one of the best places in the parish for dragonflies, I was hoping to see a lot of those as well.

There wasn’t much in the way of birds, but the ones that were there were almost all new species. Baltimore Orioles and Indigo Buntings were singing near the entrance in the batture. I finally got a Great Egret and a distant, flying Great Blue Heron. There was a Green Heron in the ditch along the entrance and a Little Blue Heron flying by.

It definitely came through on the dragonflies. A steady breeze of Blue Dashers whizzed by everywhere I went. I got a Black Saddlebags which was a new species for the weekend and year, and Rambur’s Forktail, one of my favorite damselflies.

I walked out to a spot near the river and added a lifer — gray, iridescent, S-banded Tiger Beetles (Cicindela trifasciata) working in the wet banks of the river. There were also a few Spiny Softshell turtles hanging out in one of the ponds, which I hadn’t in person seen since I was a kid.

All in all I was glad to get the chance to visit this spot that I’d had my eye on for a while, even though the continuing strong winds seemed to be keeping the bird count low. The batture forest area in particular was an incredible ecosystem and it was amazing to get that sort of a look at it.

After this, I was HOT, exhausted and ready to for a shower and some lunch. With some rain moving through the area during my break, it turned out that the last run of the day would be another round at the home base.

20240428 Dscn0759 A preening Green Heron stares me down.
20240428 3dp 6699 A really cool little fly, a Double-banded Plushback
20240428 3dp 6732 The mysterious and stunning Batture woods.
20240428 3dp 6738 A Yellow-billed Cuckoo skulking in the Batture woods.
20240428 3dp 6747 Seemingly plain at first, these little S-banded Tiger Beetles were like little jewels on the sand when you looked at them closely.

Landry Property (Sunday Afternoon)

As soon as the rain let up, I pretty much ran out the door to see what I might be able to find. I was hoping that some of the moss I knew was around would be in a little better state for photography, and maybe there would be a mushroom or two. I had a list of species that I knew should be around the property that I hadn't gotten yet, and set out to get those at the very least.

It seems I was rewarded for getting out right after the storm. Suddenly it was the coolest and calmest part of the day, and it was like the insects couldn't wait to come out. I may have seen more insect variety in this little hour or so than I did all year with the high winds.

The coolest find of the evening and one of the coolest of the entire CNC was a tiny, mesmerizing moth called a Tragic Goddess (Strobisia proserpinella), only the 2nd record on iNaturalist for the state of Louisiana and the first since 2015.

I got a couple of new bees and butterflies, some new damselflies and water bugs, and an adorable Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar. I picked up a lot of the plants on my "to get" list, and a few new galls, including a gnarly infestation on an elm leaf. There were indeed some fresh mushrooms here and there, which was great, and I got quite a few mosses and possibly my first liverwort on one of the trees down by the creek.

I got a photo of a Summer Tanager, which I'd only heard so far for the weekend, and finally caught a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeder. This little pre-dusk extravaganza ended with a lovely dusk surprise: a Common Nighthawk calling and doing its dancing flight over the North end of the property.

I was too tired and it was a bit too wet for the moth sheets this night, but I did catch a raccoon under the bird feeders with the trail cam.

At the end of Sunday, I had jumped up to 457 species from 636 observations and felt great about my odds at hitting 500 species for the Challenge with one more day to go.

20240428 3dp 6795 A cool looking Pocket Moss (Genus Fissidens) looking fresh after the rain.
20240428 3dp 6803 The spectacular, tiny, iridescent Tragic Goddess moth (Strobisia proserpinella)
20240428 3dp 6830 A cool little damselfy, the Blue-tipped Dancer (Argia tibialis)
20240428 3dp 6886 Another damselfly, the tiny Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata)
20240428 3dp 6871 A Six-spotted Fishing Spider skating on the surface of the water, with a Neogerris hesione water strider nearby.
20240428 3dp 6897 This little Florida Hedgenettle was busy all weekend, and this American Bumble Bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) was enjoying it thorougly
20240428 3dp 6914 The smiley false face of Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar.
20240428 3dp 6995 Two feisty Ruby-throated Hummingbirds using the feeder.
20240428 3dp 7009 A Common Nighthawk doing its dancing flight at twilight. This was a treat.


Monday was the last for observations and by now a clear top 3 had established in the Baton Rouge Region. Brandon Johnson, Katrina Hashagen, and I were neck and neck between observations and species.

After a big Sunday, Brandon was starting to take a considerable lead in observation count, while Katrina and I were swapping first and second place for species count multiple times a day.

Overall, Baton Rouge was still doing great in the Americas and worldwide. Monday was our last chance to add on, and I had a big event planned to hopefully push things across the finish line.

Amite River Wildlife Sanctuary BioBlitz

First thing Monday morning it was time for my first ever BioBlitz, and the first that I was hosting, at Baton Rouge Audubon's Amite River Wildlife Sanctuary. We had a really nice turnout, about a dozen people, and got a nice bird list in the parking lot to get things going.

We were focused on birds at first at working our way through the Sanctuary trails when suddenly the skies darkened a bit, and then a lot, very quickly. We all turned around and made a bee-line for the entrance, and most made it to their cars right before the sky opened up and it started pouring.

I was not quite so lucky, as I'd gone back to collect a sample of the swamp water to look at under my microscope at home to see if we could add any microorganisms to the list. I got absolutely soaked on my way back to the van, but it ultimately paid off as I found three species the swamp water: Ceriodaphnia laticaudata, a type of water flea; another tiny crustacean called a copepod, and some small gray pill-shaped being of some sort that I had no chance of identifying.

I was pretty bummed about the rainout, as we'd planned to pretty much be there all day and it would have been a really productive time in a new ecosystem for the weekend. As is, even with our brief visit I got a handful of new species. Once again if we could have done this as expected, it may have pushed me up over 1000 observations.

Either way, I was headed back home in the pouring rain and soaked to the bone.

20240429 3dp 7056 A gaggle of Naturalists doing their thing at the Amite River Wildlife Sanctuary.
20240429 3dp 7040 Some great mosses and lichens in the swamp.

Landry Property (Monday Afternoon)

After a change of clothes and a recharge, once the rain passed I decided I wanted to give the home base one last look to see what I might have overlooked. I picked up some more mosses and lichens, a few more plants that flowered from the rainier conditions of the last couple of days, and a few other plants that were on my updated "to get" list based on what I know lives on the property.

I found a really cool tiny plant, a Terrestrial Water-Starwort (Callitriche terrestris) near the Burn Pile area.

After a while, though, it really felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel and my mind wandered to where I might be able to go for the last few hours of daylight in the challenge, and a place I'd considered for Saturday jumped out at me. I asked De if I was crazy for wanting to go, and she told me to go for it, so I packed up the cameras one more time and headed to my last stop for City Nature Challenge 2024.

20240429 3dp 7065 One of the many happy mosses in the wet woods after the morning storms.
20240429 3dp 7104 A little Abrupt Digger Bee feeding on the Florida Hedgenettle.
20240429 3dp 7115 A tiny Terrestrial Water-Starwort that I thought was a moss at first. A rare find.

Sandy Creek Community Park

Sandy Creek is a large public park fairly close to our hour that I've visited a few times over the last couple of years. As its name suggests, it is partly a sandy creek bed and forest and is in a pretty unique corner of the parish. I knew with that sandy soil there should be a few final new plants that I might luck out on, and maybe I would get lucky and see a Turkey or some other rare bird in this unique habitat.

I was exhausted, but I was ready for one more big push to try to secure 500 species for the weekend. It turned out to be just what I needed.

I added the expected Candyroot (Polygala nana), a lovely little plant with bright yellow clusters of yellow flowers and little round leaves. I found another new-to-me species in the same family, Maryland Milkwort (Polygala mariana), and a sweet little orange-flowered member of the Legume family, a Sidebeak Pencilflower (Stylosanthes biflora), relatively rare in this part of the state.

Quite a few more new plant species rounded things out nicely as my back and knees begged me to call it a day. On my way out I spotted a beautiful caterpillar, a Little Wife Underwing (Catocala muliercula), only the 6th observed in Louisiana on iNaturalist, and that was a great way to cap things off. I headed back to the van, tired and smiling, ready to process this last batch of photos and see where things ended up.

20240429 3dp 7150 Some Sphagnum moss growing along the banked edges of the entrance trail.
Img 1852 Candyroot, one of the sandy soil specialists I was hoping to get at Sandy Creek.
Img 1861 The gorgeous little Sidebeak Pencilflower (Stylosanthes biflora)
Img 1868 The tiny, intricate flower of another little member of the milkworts, Maryland Milkwort (Polygala mariana)
Img 1857 2 The beautifully intricate and rare Little Wife Underwing (Catocala muliercula).
Img 1979 The clearcut in Sandy Creek, where I picked up a lot of the little plants I found here and the last lingering image of the City Nature Challenge for me.


After processing all of the photos, uploading, going back and double- and triple-checking moth sheet photos for little bugs off to the side of the main target of the picture (extra-inverts as Dr. Allen might say)... I ended up with:

831 Observations (3rd in the Baton Rouge region)
517 Species (1st in the Baton Rouge region)
898 Identifications (2nd in the Baton Rouge region)

Pretty dang good! I'm really happy with that species / observation ratio, in particular. I'm mainly happy that as a region we had such an amazing showing, and that we have a great group of enthusiastic naturalists leading the way and pushing each other to get out there and find more and more.

Some more random stats & trivia:

  • I added more observations as part of this Challenge than I did in the entire years of 2020 (786) and 2021 (518)

  • I saw nearly double the species during this Challenge than both of those years as well: 470 in 2020 and 413 in 2021

  • I finished 42nd in the Americas for number of species observed

  • I finished as the only observer for St. Helena Parish for the City Nature Challenge, so that was a really great effort

It was a great experience and I'm already looking forward to next year. I'm hoping to organize another BioBlitz at the ARWS at some point in-between because it deserves it. I would really like to organize some kind of iNaturalist-specific meetup of naturalists in our area too.

Here's a link to all of my observations from the 2024 City Nature Challenge on iNaturalist.

Happy observing!