Share your bioblitz stories!

While observations are still trickling in, we asked the current top observer, @johndreynolds, for his account of how the day went. Here is what John had to say!

"I started at 7 am at Burnaby Lake Park, which is just within an 8 km radius of my house in Greater Vancouver. One of my first birds was a long-staying Tufted Duck, which was well off course from its Eurasian homeland. By 10 am I had 185 observations of 126 species ranging from Ensatina salamander to Fan Moss. But I was slowing down, so time to move on. I returned to my car and as I was filling in my eBird checklist on my phone I heard a White-throated Sparrow - uncommon on the west coast. I raced over to investigate and found a couple of birders who swore it wasn't them doing a random play-back, but we couldn't find the bird. As soon as they left, there it was!

https://inaturalist.ca/observations/41511077

Next stop, Colony Farm Regional Park, for a quick walk where I added 18 species, mostly birds, but also an endangered Oregon Forestsnail from a place where I'd seen them before. I also ran into BC's Minister of Public Safety, which seemed appropriate for some reason. We stood 3 m apart while he gave me some intel on some birds I needed, but it turns out we both missed a Loggerhead Shrike that was reported later that afternoon and hasn't been seen since. But I digress. I checked my tides app and realized I had just enough time to catch some inter-tidal species near my house on the rising tide. So I raced home and my wife Isabelle joined me for an hour, helping me add 28 species, including migrating Chum Salmon smolts and a Hutton's vireo which I couldn't see but recorded on my phone.

https://inaturalist.ca/observations/41535558

Around 2 pm I decided to call it a day, as I had some chores that I needed to do around the house and yard.

In the early evening I was on my second beer while uploading photos, and Isabelle asked how the tallies were shaping up. I figured I might be heading for around 180 species, which might rank me in 2nd or 3rd place, depending on what other people uploaded. Isabelle wasn't having it! She dragged me out as the light was fading and we picked up about 8 species of invasive plants along the road in front of our house, avoiding anything that had been planted. I was also surprised to see a Pacific Yew, which I must’ve walked past a hundred times without ever having noticed it. We went down to a dock, and Isabelle noticed a rope going down into the water. She pulled it up and there was a crab trap on the end. Nothing in the trap. But wait! What's that clinging to the side of the bait bag? A Saddleback Gunnel! Only the second I've ever seen.

https://inaturalist.ca/observations/41516242

So there you go, fun day! Many thanks to Steven and the other organizers for putting it together, and it’s great to see that new observations are still coming in.

John Reynolds. @johndreynolds"

Would you like to share your own summary or story from Socially Distant BioBlitz with us? Post it in the comments section below.

Posted by slamonde slamonde, April 09, 2020 15:42

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You definately put some efford in there, John. Well done. I am also amazed about how these kind of things are able to open eyes for the small things we usually ignore.
Here in Ecuador a tour like yours is not possible at the moment, as we have strickt curfews. So I sticked with my house and huge backyard I am so fortunate to have. I only considered species I assumed found their way naturally into my realm and was able to find at least 60+ species (it is probably a bit more, but identification is pretty hard here, as a lot of stuff is not so well documented as. e.g. in my home country Germany). I am most happy about the pictures I took from the hummingbirds. Always wanted to get some nice ones but never took the time. The Bioblitz helped me focus on that :-)
Hope next time, it will be a sunny day, as I am sure a lot more will go on here then and my goal will be to take some nice pictures of butterflies as well.

all the best
Anja

Posted by ajott 3 months ago (Flag)
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Here in New Jersey I started the day by walking around my house right after breakfast. Unlike other bioblitzes and other observers I did include planted species. I've been observing on my property for a long time, so did not find much that was new to me, but nevertheless when I flipped a paving stone in my front yard I found two red-backed salamanders, one the classic red back and one lead backed. I also found the violets (common blue) had just started blooming. And on my patio was a Carolina geranium I'd never seen here before. All in all I documented 100 species.

While back inside I photographed a few birds at the feeder, then after our virtual church service I headed back out and did the back of our yard, adding another 20 species, and finding the spring beauty (Virginia) had bloomed as well.

After lunch I took my three daughters (aged 21, 16 and 13) to a park about half an hour away where there was supposed to be a large waterfall we'd never visited. Many area parks were already closed (and the rest closed Tuesday) but this one was open. We walked passed a beach on the man-made lake and then hiked down the rocky ravine to the 30-foot falls (very pretty). While my daughters climbed all over the boulders I searched for plants and found 53 species (some duplicated from my yard). There was a ring necked duck on the lake, rough cinquefoil by the (closed) snack bar, and rock polypody and dwarf ginseng in the woods. But the highlight for me was round leaved violets in full bloom, something I'd never seen before.

After the hike, we stopped in the nearby town for ice cream. While we were eating it outside by the parking lot I spotted several weeds including greater celandine and dwarf mallow, neither of which I see very often.

As I observe mostly with my camera, I spent the evening uploading photos and did not get back out that day, instead stayed in and helped some with identifications.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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In San Diego, California, all our parks and trails were closed on April 5 and we were under a "stay at home" mandate except for essential travel. I spent the morning in my yard, which borders a small remnant of a canyon with native and naturalized plants. My totals (observations and species) were modest, but it was fun exploring and seeing how many different species I could find. If I hadn't spent so much time the past few weeks pulling weeds in my yard, I could have done better! I was happy that I had not pulled up a patch of chickweed (introduced to San Diego) in my yard and I was finally able to take photos of its seeds and determine the species. But my favorite observation was of a native bumble bee visiting flowers in my yard: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41490474

Thank you to the organizers for making this happen!

Posted by milliebasden 3 months ago (Flag)
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Nathaniel Sharp - Cape Cod, MA, USA

In what can only be described as a BioBlitz Brain Fart, I awoke the morning of April 4th with big plans for a day in the field following a 2-day coastal storm that had been battering the cape. Striking out for a morning seawatch at First Encounter Beach, I counted hundreds of Razorbill flying by, plus several small flocks of Black-legged Kittiwakes, a life bird for me! Throughout the day, I ‘iNatted’ every plant, shell, bird, and springtail I came across, finishing the day with a total of 150 observations and 126 species (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?on=2020-04-04&place_id=any&user_id=nsharp&verifiable=any). You may have noticed based on the above date, that I had done my BioBlitz a day early! After returning home I saw a Facebook reminder about -tomorrow’s- upcoming BioBlitz…

After getting over my frustration and iNat burnout after a long day of iNat photography and uploading, I adopted a slower pace for the actual BioBlitz day. I began with a few drive-by observations (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41443612) on the way to a masked, socially distant grocery run with family. Having agreed to meet up with a friend later that day for a 6-feet-apart-picnic, I headed to Scusset Beach State Reservation for a more stationary BioBlitz. Setting up our picnic blankets 6+ feet apart, we broke out some snacks and drinks and I began photographing the plants and insects within a few steps of my snack stash. Roaming a little farther from our spot, I came across a nearby saltmarsh (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41501086) with a nesting Osprey pair (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41562358), as well as a small tidal pond filled with Banded Killifish and Mummichog (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41500650).

As the sun began to set, I grabbed my spotting scope and headed over to the canal to see what ducks were around. A harbor seal poked its head up every now and then as it floated down the canal, and White-winged Scoters, Common Eiders, and Red-breasted Mergansers (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41562374) winged their way upstream. The highlight of my BioBlitz day came at the very end though, as just as I turned to head back home, my friend and fellow iNaturalister @ntepper pointed out an American Mink among the rocks lining the canal! (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41562339) We continued to watch this mink as it entered and exited the water, and even were treated to point-blank views of it chowing down on a freshly caught fish. After finally managing to pull our attention away from this slinky weasel, we were startled to find yet another mink a short ways down the path! (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41562340) This one was even more abiding, and frequently poked its head up from the rocks to check out the binocular and camera-wielding strangers that were following its every move.

I ended up falling a bit short of my total from my ‘false-start’ BioBlitz, but besides the wear and tear on my phone’s storage space, and the time spent uploading observations, I certainly enjoyed the mindset of treating every day like a BioBlitz.

Thanks so much Steven, Sara, and Michael for organizing this fantastic event!

Posted by nsharp 3 months ago (Flag)
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As a fairly new iNaturalist member who finally got around to uploading observations when New York went into "pause" mode for the COVID-19 pandemic, this was my first BioBlitz. I wanted to document some organisms around the house where I grew up and where my Dad still lives. It turned out I was the only iNatter posting observations in Staten Island, New York. I uploaded 23 observations, which nearly doubled my total.

The day started with a pre-breakfast stroll, where I saw an Eastern Grey Squirrel (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41435492) enjoying his own meal. That was a great opening; I wanted to avoid "abnormality bias" and post some typical plants and animals.

My Dad is probably less than thrilled that I've document the weeds in his yard, but we've never been much for the perfectly-manicured lawn, anyhow. The most interesting was this Red Deadnettle (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41441554), which I'd never noticed until recently. I didn't know what it was until another iNatter IDed it, and it would have taken me a while to look it up on my own. For starters, it is neither red nor dead; it's distinctly purple and there's are some healthy-looking clumps of it living nearby. I also documented the more common Dandelion and a few other plants.

After lunch I took a walk to Oakwood Beach. Some day it will be a park, but for now it is being re-colonized by nature after hurricane Sandy destroyed the homes that once stood there (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-storm-sandy/new-york-lets-neighborhood-return-to-nature-to-guard-against-storms-idUSKBN1CW19G). When I was young my best friend--who had cousins there--and I would occasionally walk down, sometimes going on to the beach. Our Girl Scout troop did a clean-up there for Earth Day. There was supposed to be a clean-up the weekend before the Socially Distant BioBlitz (https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2020/03/28/its-my-park-at-oakwood-beach) but it was cancelled.

I got a lovely photo of a Canada Goose (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41457546) and of some lichen (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41458247). The geese are common around here and even those who would never consider themselves naturalists recognize them, but the lichen is unfamiliar to many. For years New York City's air was too polluted for lichen, which are sensitive to air pollution. When I was young we never saw it. Now the air quality is better and lichen can be found on many trees, if you know what you're looking for. I'm hoping to learn a bit about lichen from some photos I've taken over the past couple of years. (More uploads coming!)

I spent the afternoon sitting in the back yard, looking for birds. Mostly I got some very blurry photos of birds in a neighbor's tree, but I did find this cute House Sparrow: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41488866.

All in all it was fun and a successful first BioBlitz. Thanks to the organizers for helping us stay a little saner in difficult times.

Karen

Posted by karen5lund 3 months ago (Flag)
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Awesome stories everyone!
In Berlin, Germany, I started by recording some birds from the window of my apartment. after breakfast I went into the courtyard to see what I could find. there were Springtails there as usual: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41427662 as well as ants flies, and several more arthropods. later on I went for a walk in the neighborhood, and thought I'd check out one of the green strips in the middle of the road. over an hour and probably close to a hundred species later, we noticed that we had barely gone more than a block from our house :) about 3 blocks and probably 2 hours (I'd lost track of time by then) from our house, we decided to turn back and take a slightly different route. I'm really looking forward to next time, and maybe I'll go a bit further afield then ;)

Posted by alexis_orion 3 months ago (Flag)
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@alexis_orion It fascinating to see that although you're in Berlin and I'm in New York, a quick browse (by no means complete, as you have quite a few observations) through your observations from the BioBlitz, we have (at least) three species in common: House Sparrow, Red Deadnettle, and Striped Squill.

Posted by karen5lund 3 months ago (Flag)

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