Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021's Journal

July 29, 2021

Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021 Recap!

The 3rd Annual Merck Forest BioBlitz has come and gone, and what a success!

Check out the project page if you haven't since the end of the event for all the info in this recap and more.

The 21 iNaturalist participants helped us log 1,286 observations for the weekend, including 549 different species. Here’s a bit of a breakdown:

  • 259 Insect Species
  • 161 Plant Species
  • 68 Fungi Species
  • 23 Arachnid Species
  • 10 Amphibian Species
  • 8 Bird Species
  • 4 Protozoan Species
  • 2 Reptile Species



The most observed species were:

  1. Herpetogramma moths (12)
  2. Common Idia Moth (Idia aemula) (12)
  3. Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) (10)
  4. Monarch (Danaus plexippus) (9)
  5. Two-spotted Bumble Bee (Bombus bimaculatus) (8)
  6. Clover Looper Moth (Caenurgina crassiuscula) (7)



The furthest observation from the Joy Green Visitor’s Center was made by @mellohrer of a member of the Darner family (Aeshnidae): 1.66 mi from the visitor’s center. Way to get out there!

And so far, over 140 different iNaturalist users have contributed to the identification of our observations posted during the weekend. In addition to the over 80 people we engaged with about the BioBlitz at our event HQ, there have been over 200 people involved with our effort.


Thanks to all who were involved for their time and naturalist skills offered to Merck Forest’s 3rd Annual BioBlitz; we couldn’t do it without you!

See you again next year!

-Max, Tim, and the Merck Forest Staff

Posted on July 29, 2021 16:21 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 24, 2021

BioBlitz Weekend is Here!



BioBlitz weekend is here! Come down to Merck Forest and Farmland Center any time this weekend, dawn to dusk, and join fellow naturalists of all experiences in exploring and documenting plants and wildlife on iNaturalist! Merck Forest and other BioBlitz staff members will be stationed outside the Joy Green Visitor Center to check you in and support your exploration.


The first observation of the weekend was a first for the state of Vermont! The Daylily Leafminer (Ophiomyia kwansonis) is a great start to Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021! Check out the observation here. You never know what you’ll find at Merck Forest!


We have bug nets, collection jars, aqua nets, field guides of all types, and more discovery materials for you to check out and use during your BioBlitz experience.


Explore on your own or sign up for a guided nature walk. See this iNaturalist post for a schedule of the walks.


See you this weekend at Merck Forest!


Photograph: © Nathaniel Sharp - some rights reserved - (CC BY-NC)


Links
Identification Resources Google Doc
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Posted on July 24, 2021 12:02 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 23, 2021

Botany Walk 9-11AM Cancelled Saturday/Sunday

A short announcement that the Botany Walks from 9-11AM on both Saturday and Sunday have been cancelled. The 11AM-1PM and 1-3PM will still take place!

Posted on July 23, 2021 16:55 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 22, 2021

Online Resources for Identifying Plants and Wildlife!



Less than 48 hours away from the start of the Third Annual Merck Forest BioBlitz! As we get closer to the weekend, we’re sharing helpful information and resources for the BioBlitz. Check out this project journal post about the Guided Experiences Schedule for the weekend including nature walks on birds, botany, and more!; and check out this project journal post which goes over the easy process of using Avenza Maps at Merck Forest offline to make sure you always know where you are!


Today’s post is to provide BioBlitzers with some online resources for identifying plants and wildlife found at Merck Forest! The list includes websites and smartphone apps that can be used before, during, or after taking pictures during the BioBlitz weekend. Some of the resources require an active internet connection, while others you can use offline, so be sure to check before you get into the field if you plan on using them!

Every resource mentioned in this post, and more, can be found on this Google Doc.


The top three identification resources recommended by the Merck Forest Conservation Team are:

  1. Plants – GoBotany is a project funded by the National Science Foundation aimed at opening botany, the study of plants, to a “larger and more diverse segment of the population”. The website has a host of identification materials, including a Simple Key and two Advanced ID Tools.


  2. Birds – All About Birds and Merlin Bird ID App are projects funded by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with a wealth of information about bird identification, biology, distribution, and much more! All About Birds is the website, and Merlin Bird ID is the app. Merlin functions offline once you download “Bird Packs” for your area, so you can use it in the field!

  3. Mushrooms - US Forest Service: Field Guide to Common Macrofungi in Eastern Forests and Their Ecosystem Functions is a PDF made by the US Forest Service and groups mushrooms and their relatives by the ecosystems they’re found in (Aspen-Birch, Northern Hardwood, Upland Conifer, Lowland Conifer). Paired with our Natural Communities Avenza Map (https://tinyurl.com/mdkkana3), you can find a forest community to explore and look at the corresponding section of this PDF!

Check out the Google Doc for more resources!


Links
Identification Resources Google Doc
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Posted on July 22, 2021 16:16 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 21, 2021

Using Avenza Maps Offline during Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021!



Navigate the Merck property during BioBlitz 2021 with an offline map on your smartphone using Avenza Maps!

The free app allows you to see your location on the property in real time relative to trails, ponds, structures, natural communities, and more without relying on cellular data. Avenza is supported by Android and Apple devices and used by Merck staff every day in the field to navigate the property.


To use Avenza Maps at Merck:

  1. Download the Avenza Maps app for Apple or Android.
  2. Download the MFFC Natural Communities Map and/or the MFFC Trail Map (direct-download PDFs).
  3. Open the Avenza Maps app on your device and upload the map PDFs from Step 2.
  4. Open either of the maps in the Avenza app while on the Merck property and explore for a fun and safe BioBlitz experience!

Note: The MFFC Natural Communities map is a reference for areas within a ½ mile of the Joy Green Visitor’s Center, while the MFFC Trail Map is of the whole property.


Links
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Posted on July 21, 2021 21:09 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 20, 2021

Updated Guided Experience Schedule!

Below is the updated guided experiences schedule for Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021!


To reserve your spot for a guided experience, you must sign up at the BioBlitz event headquarters located next to the Joy Green Visitor’s Center. Each event is first-come-first-served and will have 10 participants maximum. If the experience you’re interested in has a full sign-up sheet, you may put your name down on a wait list and show up at the event in case someone doesn’t show up. All events will start and end at the event headquarters next to the Joy Green Visitor’s Center.


Be prepared with water, a snack, closed-toed shoes, any exploration gear that may be of use, an iNaturalist account, and if you’re planning to go off-trail at any point in the event, make sure to have long pants.


See you this weekend, any time between dawn on Saturday, July 24th and dusk on Sunday, July 25th for the Third Annual Merck Forest BioBlitz!


Links
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Posted on July 20, 2021 21:14 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 19, 2021

July 19th OOTD: The Monarch Butterfly!



We’re less than a week away from Merck Forest’s 3rd Annual BioBlitz! We hope you are as excited as we are!

Today’s Observation of the Day is the iconic Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The Monarch is part of a subfamily of butterflies called Danainae, or the Milkweed Butterflies, who lay their eggs on various milkweed species1. Monarchs in Eastern North America, including the one seen below, migrate annually to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, possibly without ever having been before2!




The number of Monarchs has declined by approximately 90% since the 1990s, but the conservation status of Monarchs varies by location3. The U.S federal government does not recognize the Monarch as an endangered species because it determined it needed to devote its resources to 161 higher-priority species1. However, efforts from non-profit organizations, the federal government, and individual private landowners has produced plenty of options to protect this beautiful butterfly!

Though the iconic Monarch gets a lot of attention for an insect, there are 27 other species of butterflies and dozens of pollinators at Merck Forest to observe and identify at this weekend’s BioBlitz! Join us on Saturday, July 24ᵗʰ and Sunday, July 25ᵗʰ from dawn until dusk for as little or as much time as you’d like while we explore and learn about all things nature!

Check out the Merck Forest website event page or the Merck Forest Facebook event page for more information about the BioBlitz, including a schedule of guided nature walks and experiences.


See you this weekend!


Links
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Photograph: © Tim Duclos - some rights reserved - (CC BY-NC-ND)


1Wikipedia: Danaus plexippus
2U.S. Forest Service Monarch Butterfly Migration and Overwintering
3National Wildlife Federation: Monarch Butterfly


Posted on July 19, 2021 17:12 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 16, 2021

July 16th OOTD: Fall Phlox!


This Sunday, July 18th from 11am-12pm, tune into Manchester, Vermont’s 102.7 WEQX for Sunday Brunch with Joy and her guests, Conservation Manager and Conservation Intern for Merck Forest, Tim Duclos and Max Miley, and Nathaniel Sharp, a Data Technician for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). We will be talking all about Merck Forest’s BioBlitz 2021, iNaturalist at Merck Forest and VCE, and having good-hearted conversations with Joy. Happy listening!


Now for the OOTD!

Today’s Observation of the Day is a beautiful flowering plant in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae), Fall Phlox (Phlox paniculata). This observation was taken during Merck Forest’s BioBlitz 2020.





P. paniculata is native to the eastern and central United States, but has been extensively cultivated in temperate regions and therefore native and cultivated varieties are hard to distinguish1. The flowers of Fall Phlox are an important source of food for pollinators, with known visitors being the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the Eastern Carpenter Bee, Peck’s Skipper, and the Monarch2!

Join us at Merck Forest to learn about, explore, and identify other flowers and their pollinators at the Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021! Come for as much or as little time as you’d like while you have fun and contribute to citizen science at Merck Forest!


Links
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Photograph: © Ryan Van Meter - some rights reserved - (CC BY-NC-ND)


1Michigan Flora: Phlox paniculata L.
2EOL: Fall Phlox

Posted on July 16, 2021 15:23 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 15, 2021

July 15th OOTD: The Blue Dasher!


This Sunday, July 18th from 11am-12pm, tune into Manchester, Vermont’s 102.7 WEQX for Sunday Brunch with Joy and her guests, Conservation Manager and Conservation Intern for Merck Forest, Tim Duclos and Max Miley, and Nathaniel Sharp, a Data Technician for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). We will be talking all about Merck Forest’s BioBlitz 2021, iNaturalist at Merck Forest and VCE, and having good-hearted conversations with Joy. Happy listening!


Now for the OOTD!


Today’s Observation of the Day is a common dragonfly in the skimmer family (Libellulidae) that can be found throughout North America and into the Bahamas1. These two Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) were found during Merck Forest’s BioBlitz 2019, and were the first two of their species identified in Bennington County, Vermont!





Though the Blue Dasher’s species name longipennis means “long wings”, their wings are not substantially longer than their related species’ wings. The male Blue Dasher has a stunning bright blue color, striped yellow thorax, and green eyes, while the females are much less colorful. This difference in coloration is an example of sexual dimporphism, and more specifically, sexual dichromatism, referring to their color. These differences in male and female colorations are theoretically due to different types of sexual selection acting on males and females, usually from competition between males to find a mate1,2.


Join us at Merck Forest to learn, explore, and identify other insects, plants, birds, bats, mammals, frogs, toads, fungi, and much more at the Merck Forest BioBlitz 2021! Come for as much or as little time as you’d like while you have fun and contribute to citizen science at Merck Forest!


Links
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page



Photograph: © Zac Cota - some rights reserved - (CC BY-NC)


1Wikipedia, Blue Dasher
2Wikipedia, Sexual Dimorphism

Posted on July 15, 2021 14:39 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 14, 2021

July 14th OOTD: Greater Plantain!


This Sunday, July 18th from 11am-12pm, tune into Manchester, Vermont’s 102.7 WEQX for Sunday Brunch with Joy and her guests, Conservation Manager and Conservation Intern for Merck Forest, Tim Duclos and Max Miley, and Nathaniel Sharp, a Data Technician for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). We will be talking all about Merck Forest’s BioBlitz 2021, iNaturalist at Merck Forest and VCE, and having good-hearted conversations with Joy. Happy listening!


Now for the OOTD!


Today’s Observation of the Day is a common plant you’ll find almost anywhere people are, but only during Merck Forest’s BioBlitz 2019 was it first officially identified in on Merck Forest property and in Bennington County, Vermont! The Greater Plantain (Plantago major) grows about anywhere that has been disturbed by humans: in lawns and fields, along roadsides, or near railroad tracks, for example.





The Greater Plantain was introduced from Europe, thought to be one of the first plants brought to the Americas by colonizers. It gained the name “white man’s footprint” from some indigenous peoples to North America because it grew wherever European colonizers lived. The small seeds are a common contaminant in cereal grains, and therefore have been distributed all over the world1.


An observation like this shows us how we can ignore some of the most common plants and wildlife around us, but they are there nonetheless!


Come join us on Saturday, July 24th and/or Sunday, July 25th for as little or as much time as you’d like to document common or rare plants and wildlife during Merck Forest’s 3rd Annual BioBlitz!



Links
Merck Forest Website Event Page
Merck Forest Registration Page
iNaturalist Project Page
Facebook Event Page


Photograph: © Eric Jones - some rights reserved - (CC BY-NC)


1Wikipedia
Posted on July 14, 2021 13:36 by maxmiley maxmiley | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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