All wildflower bloom reports are not the same. The two most important factors are timeliness and accuracy.
Timeliness is critical as rain, heat,cold and wind can quickly change destroy blooms. It is important to know how old the report is. Was it posted the day after the observation, several days or a week. Many reports come out on Mondays and say what has happened the past weekend. If you are not getting out until the following weekend, you may find things have changed.
The accuracy of those of us submitting reports can vary. The reporters come from many backgrounds from professional botanist to wild guesser. I once went to a place where a report had stated there were Daffodils and found the large yellow flowers to be Mule’s Ears! Some of the most knowledgeable reports are by CNPS groups and park naturalists/botanists. I would describe myself as a relatively knowledgeable amateur but am definitely fallible which is why I encourage corrections to my posts and often check on questionable I.D.’s with others who are more experienced. It is also important to understand the type of report. Is it geared towards what species you find in bloom or big displays? Is the reporter interested in describing rare flowers, number of species in bloom, or large displays? I certainly look for the big displays that most wildflower seekers and landscape photographers seek out. However, I can also be content to find good species in bloom that I can enjoy looking at and doing macro photography when there are no displays. Know what you looking for? Feel free to ask bloggers and websites for more information.
In planning your trips be flexible. Check reports. I have links to many resources listed in the Wildflower Reports: What’s Blooming Where section of Natural History Wanderings. Check at visitor and information centers and attempt to speak to knowledgeable naturalists, botanists or rangers who have been out in the field. I have sometimes had good success seeking out botanists assigned to National Forest districts.
Remember historical predictions are good for generally planning your trip, but bloom quality and bloom time periods can be different every year. This is especially true in areas like deserts where some years there may be no bloom at all.
Comments and suggestions welcome.