Around the Island

Join Mashomack Preserve’s digital scavenger hunt

The Eastern Spring Beauty flowers on forest floors across the eastern United States (Credt: Alex Novarro).

Got cabin fever? If your kids are bouncing off the walls with Island restaurants, organizations and school closed, they can get a taste of spring and participate in Mashomack Preserve’s Signs of Spring Shelter Island Digital Scavenger Hunt, designed to help people stay active and entertained during this stressful time. 

Whoever has the most points by April 20 wins.

Your observations will help TNC scientists study seasonal changes on Shelter Island over time.

“There are a handful of plants and animals that we start to see and hear as winter turns to spring. Some are returning from long migrations. Others are waking up from hibernation or changing behaviors to attract a mate. By tracking springtime observations each year, we get a sense for how the world is changing,” the preserve stated in a press release about the scavenger hunt.  

To sign up, create a free iNaturalist account and download the app on your mobile device. Look for plants and animals and record your observations on the app. Your observations will be automatically submitted to the Signs of Spring on Shelter Island Scavenger Hunt.

If you can’t identify the plant or animal, no problem, the preserve said. 

“The iNaturalist community will help you out. The most important thing is to capture a photo and post your observation on the app,” the press release said. 

Scavenger hunters can participate from anywhere on Shelter Island. They can take a hike in Mashomack, stroll along their favorite beach, sit in their own backyard or take a look out the window, the preserve advised. 

“People have started to hear spring peeper frog choruses around the island, find spotted salamanders coming down to ponds for breeding season and have noticed a major shift in bird activity,” said Alexander Novarro, Ph.D., the preserve’s conservation and outreach manager. 

  • Spring peeper frogs
  • Salamanders
  • Snakes
  • Turtles
  • Birds
  • Native flowers and trees

Here are the rules. Your mission is to record observations of the following plants and animals:

All observations must be posted to iNaturalist. If you hear an animal but don’t see it, you can post an observation without a photo.

“Participants must obey local laws and respect all people, property and wildlife. Please remember to leave all plants and animals where you find them. Keep your distance from animals and try not to disturb them in any way,” the preserve said. 

Earn one point for each species you identify at each location you visit. For example, if you observe 30 American robins in your backyard you will receive one point. If you hear spring peeper frogs calling in three different ponds, you will receive three points.

Ten bonus points will go to the person with the first osprey sighting.

To view current observations, visit Signs of Spring at