The City Nature Challenge 2022

The City Nature Challenge is a citizen science project and at the same time a friendly competition between cities worldwide. This citizen science project aims to involve as many people as possible in order to document urban biodiversity. I have participated in the City Nature Challenge 2022 in Berlin and share my observations in this blog entry.

Every species of plant, animal or funghi - small or big - counts. Be it in a marine environment. Or on land. In the forest or on a meadow. Every single species counts for the citizen science project City Nature Challenge.

The City Nature Challenge takes place every year in spring. The last time I have participated in this citizen science project was in 2019. Due to the Covid19 pandemic the City Nature Challenge was different in the two previous years. Berlin, for example, did not participate in 2021. And in 2020 people were asked to follow the restrictions against the spread of the corona virus.

Luckily, in 2022, this worldwide citizen science project could take place again. The City Nature Challenge 2022 started on the 29th of April. People were asked to count every species they found until the 2nd of May. After that weekend - from the 3rd of May to the 8th of May - the project was focused on identifying species.

I was searching primarily for birds on my first day of participation. On the following day I was looking at all the trees and bushes I had found close to my apartment.

The most impressive thing for me was that so many cities have participated. Of course, there were several cities in the United States involved in the project as this is the place where the City Nature Challenge at first began. But also, in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and as well in Europe several cities took part in this worldwide citizen science project.

Although I was quite busy at the beginning of May, I told myself to really go out and count species. I think this is for a good cause. Especially because of the fact that our biodiversity is in decline.

I did my best to contribute to the City Nature Challenge 2022.

Information: Do you want to know more about the cities that participated in the City Nature Challenge 2022? Please check the website of the project where you can find a list of all cities.

Searching for birds at the Fauler See

On my first day of participation in the City Nature Challenge 2022, I went to a nearby lake. To be more precisely, I went to the Fauler See. I had been there so far only a few times. But I knew from the previous year that I might be able to see some leaf warblers.

In the previous year I could observe a wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix). The bird was moving from branch to branch singing its typical song.

Would I be able to see again a wood warbler that close or any other species of the same family Phylloscopidae like the willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) or the common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)?

Well, I did.

However, that time it was not that easy for me to distinguish the species.

That time I couldn’t hear the typical song of a wood warbler. I heard some calls of several common chiffchaffs farther away. But the birds close-by - the birds I photographed - were silent.

Thus, it was very difficult for me to identify these birds just by their appearance.

In this case, I was very happy to know a website like iNaturalist where I could share my photographs to get help in identifying the birds.

Was the following bird a wood warbler again?

City Nature Challenge 2022

The clear white underparts are indicative of a wood warbler.

But I knew that common chiffchaffs were around as well. I heard their typical call almost everywhere.


In comparison to the wood warbler, common chiffchaffs are less yellowish.

In general, I found it quite difficult to distinguish between the birds. Especially when they were not calling. In those cases, I took a photograph of the bird and identified it at home. I was without a binocular as I was with my camera.

Do you know which leaf warbler this is?

City Nature Challenge 2022

Result: So far, I couldn't find an answer to this question. Even on iNaturalist I couldn't find the species' name so far. Please let me know in the comments, if you are sure about the identification of this bird. And please let me know why. Thank you!

At another spot I saw a bird looking similar to common chiffchaffs.

City Nature Challenge 2022
City Nature Challenge 2022

Honestly, I find it quite difficult to distinguish between the two species. Is it a willow warbler or a common chiffchaff?

In this case listening to the calls of the birds helps. If the bird calls.

If the bird doesn’t call, again, a website like iNaturalist is quite helpful where other people can share their opinions and expertise with other people.

Much easier to identify was the Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes).

I knew already that there were Eurasian wrens around the lake Fauler See, as I had seen them already in the past. But I never had the chance to photograph them. As fast as they appeared, as fast they disappeared again.

But this time the Eurasian wren stayed for some time around a bush.

Sometimes silently sitting on a branch and just looking around.


Or singing and investigating the new place.


Another very active and “loud” bird was the Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla).

When I heard its typical “tack tack tack”, I was looking around to search for the bird.

Where was he?

Usually, I experience Eurasian blackcaps as shy birds. But this individual was different.

Eurasian blackcap

That male Eurasian blackcap was sitting on a branch and singing boldly and energetically.

I knew that it was a male, because in Eurasian blackcaps only males do have a black cap.

Females, in contrast, have a brownish cap.

Nevertheless, in that moment I was just standing in front of a bush and looking at the blackcap.

Sometimes taking photographs.

But the Eurasian blackcap was not shy at all.

I listened to its typical sound which was very easy to identify.

Eurasian blackcap
Eurasian blackcap

It was a pleasure to observe this individual.

Another pleasure to see was a European robin (Erithacus rubecula).

However, that individual was relatively shy. It was hiding behind some leaves and probably trying not to be seen by anyone.

European robin

Question: Do you know the songs of Eurasian blackcaps and European robins? If yes, are you able to distinguish their songs? What is the most characteristic feature of their songs in your opinion? Please let me know in the comments.

Actually, I have heard quite more birds on that morning at the Fauler See than I had seen. I heard quite many common chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), but I couldn’t take any photographs of them, as I didn't see them at all.

I also heard quite often a great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major).

Only at the end of my observations at the lake Fauler See I could take some photographs from afar.

great-spotted woodpecker

Question: Are you a bird expert? If yes, I would be more than happy if you could comment on the identifications of the wood warbler, willow warbler and common chiffchaff. Please leave your opinion in the comments. Thanks!

Plants and insects in the Anton-Saefkow-Park

While I was mainly focused on birds on the first day of my participation at the City Nature Challenge 2022, on the second day, I was focused on trees, bushes and wild flowers.

One of the easiest trees to identify was the horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).

City Nature Challenge 2022
City Nature Challenge 2022

At this time of the year in April and May the tree flowers with its candle-like blossoms.

In the Anton-Saefkow park there are several different tree species. However, I was looking not only for trees. I was also trying to identify all the wild flowers I found on my way to the park.

I found red deadnettles (Lamium purpureum, left photograph) and common dandelions (Taraxacum officinale, left photograph), common daisies (Bellis perennis, right photograph) or Shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris, photograph below).

red deadnettle
common daisis
Shephard's purse

In the Anton-Saefkow-Park I saw garlic mustards (Alliaria petiolate, left photograph) and greater celandines (Chelidonium majus, right photograph).

garlic mustard
greater celandines

Question: Are you a plant specialist? If yes, please leave your opinion in the comments. Or please visit my iNaturalist website (see below) to help identify plants. Thanks!

When I tried to identify the trees, I typically took photographs of the leaves, the flowers, and the barks.

However, it was not always possible. Sometimes the tree was just too high.

But in the case of the European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), I could photograph all three parts.

European hornbeam
European hornbeam
European hornbeam

One prevalent tree in the Anton-Saefkow-Park is the Norway maple (Acer platanoides). However, there are different varieties in the park. One is rather reddish while the other is rather greenish.

Norway maple
Norway maple

Most trees in the park are leaf trees.

But at some places there are also conifers like the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

scots pine

When I was looking for trees, I couldn’t oversee some of the insects around.

Like the European firebugs (Pyrrhocoris apterus, left photograph) or the common carder bumble bees (Bombus pascuorum, right photograph).

European firebug
bumble bee

I was also looking around for birds. However, I could not take good photographs without a tele lens.

Therefore, I was not focused on birds. But still, I could spot at least some birds. I saw some crows and pigeons and other birds.

I recorded the following birds:

Great tit (Parus major)

Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Eurasian blackbirds (Turdus merula)

Common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

If you want to know more about all my observations on that day - or in general - please look at my site on iNaturalist by clicking on the following link:

Question: Are you on iNaturalist? If yes, I’m happy to connect with other people. I try to be as active as possible, as I think it is a good cause to document and learn more about our biodiversity.

Results of the City Nature Challenge 2022

In total, there were more than 100 observers active around Berlin who submitted more than 4.700 observations. Almost 300 people identified more than 850 species in Berlin.

I think these numbers are good.

But which city could gather the most observations? In which city people found most species? And which city could engage the most people for the City Nature Challenge 2022?

In total, 445 cities participated in the City Nature Challenge 2022 with more than 67.200 observers. Together they found more than 50.000 species worldwide. Impressively, all citizen scientists together contributed 1.694.877 observations including some rare species like, for example, the Eurasian hamster (Cricetus cricetus) or sea turtles like the Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Information: Do you want to know more about the City Nature Challenge in general? Please visit their website where you can find more information about the results, the cities that participated, but also how to contribute to the next City Nature Challenge.

Since the beginning in 2016, the City Nature Challenge has continuously grown. This way we learn more and more about our biodiversity on our planet. One interesting part - in my opinion - is to learn about the species which are common in a region.

For example, the most observed species in Berlin was the garlic mustard followed by the Norway maple and the greater celandine.

Read deadnettles and bird cherries (Prunus padus, photo) were also quite frequently observed in Berlin.

bird cherries

European firebugs also were quite common on that weekend.

But what was the most frequently seen bird among the observers in Berlin?

It was the Eurasian coot (Fulica atra) with 16 observations.

Eurasian coot

With 14 observations the Eurasian blackcap was the next most often seen bird on that weekend.

And what about the Eurasian wrens?

Well, me and another observer contributed a Eurasian wren to the competition. However, while I could get a photograph, the other observer got the bird song.

Nevertheless, there were some quite special and unique observations made by the other participants on that weekend. Please check the website of the City Nature Challenge 2022 to get more insights into the species found in Berlin.

Information: There is still some work that has to be done. So far, almost about the half of observations could be identified. If you are an expert with an animal, plant or funghi group, please help identify the biodiversity of Berlin and/or other places.

Although the City Nature Challenge 2022 is a "competition", the organizers of that citizen science weekend have not mentioned any winner. This might be due to the Covid19 pandemic, as in 2020 the City Nature Challenge was rather seen as a collaborative event than a competition. The last time a winner of most participants, most species and most observations was named in 2019.

More information about the City Nature Challenge 2022

Official website of the City Nature Challenge

Results of the City Nature Challenge 2022 in Berlin

List of cities that participated in the City Nature Challenge 2022

Have you participated in the City Nature Challenge? If yes, what have you found? Please let me know in the comments.

City Nature Challenge 2022
City Nature Challenge 2022

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