We came. We saw. We counted.
Over 60 volunteers descended on the land for a 24-hour period from Friday at 3:00 pm to Saturday at 3:00 pm. The Wintergreen BioBlitz was made possible by the generous support of the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
Here are some highlights from the press release prepared by Anne Robertson from the Kingston Field Naturalists, and coordinator of BioBlitz 2015.
Field observers spread over the property collecting information on everything from night time moths to early morning birds and from beautiful dragonflies to forest ferns. Participants included Kingston Field Naturalists, fellow naturalists from further afield, professionals, neighbours, and youth. The weather on Friday was rainy with temperatures around 13C, but we persisted and set our minnow traps and pitfall traps for invertebrates. By 9:00 pm the rain had stopped and we spent 3 hours with moth lights identifying many beautiful species of this group of insects. Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-twenties and sun, was perfect. A delicious BBQ was held at noon on Saturday with quiz questions to identify natural objects for which prizes were awarded.
Guided walks were held throughout the event on a variety of natural history topics for those wishing to participate and learn about the ecology of the area. Topics included bird watching, and pond dipping as well as moth identification and dragonfly and butterfly listing and a plant identification walk. A couple of canoes were available to explore some wetland habitats. Other participants waded up to their waists to access the bog mat for different species. This year our non-species-listing activity was a sketching nature workshop held on the porch of the house (out of the rain).
All observed species were noted, from those that are very common to those on the endangered end of the scale. Plants varying in size from plankton in the pond to ferns, grasses and all herbaceous and woody plants were added to the tally. Spore-bearing species including fungi were included. All identified invertebrates including insects (butterflies, damsel and dragonflies, moths, flies, beetles, bees) and non-insect species (including spiders, ticks, centipedes, millipedes, slugs and snails), that were observed were also added to the tally. All vertebrate species (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) were noted.
The minnow traps left in the water overnight with bait and light sticks to attract species were well filled by morning. Observations enjoyed by participants included several Grey Ratsnakes, Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies pollinating Wood Lilies, an Arrow Spiketail (a lifer dragonfly for a professional naturalist), Luna Moth, Giant Leopard Moth and a Clearwing Moth. The Daisyleaf Moonwort and Rattlesnake Fern were new species for many. Three species of hawk were seen soaring about the same time. They were Red-shouldered, Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Active nests of Red-eyed Vireo and Rose-breasted Grosbeak were noted. Several special sightings of unusual or species-at-risk or of particular interest were added to the tally. A patch of 50 Showy Orchis was found, just past flowering. Several endangered Butternut trees were seen. A Fisher, a mid-sized mammal, was observed in the late evening. A Five-lined Skink (our only lizard) was an exciting find: a species of special concern. One Whip-poor-will, a threatened species, was heard calling.
Anne Robertson, coordinator of the event said, “Despite the wet weather on Friday the overall annual BioBlitz event was very successful and enjoyed by the participants, with plenty of ‘special’ species over a variety of different wildlife groups.”
How many species were found? The final tally is not in but we are hoping for about 600. We do know so far we have 7 mammal species, 58 birds, 3 reptiles and 4 amphibians. Within the invertebrates 22 dragon and damsel flies, 16 butterflies and roughly 50 species of moth were recorded. The final tally of plants including seed and spore bearers is well over 200 including 11 species of fern and 24 sedge species.
The Kingston Field Naturalists hope that future generations will also have the thrill of finding as much variety of life in this area in one day and would like to thank all those who joined us at this annual party held in a different location each year.
Indeed, since the Kingston Field Naturalists will choose a different location next year, we hope that we will be able to host another BioBlitz at Wintergreen in 2016, building on this year’s work. Stay tuned!