BioBlitz 2017

This workshop is part of the spring celebration series: Land Art


WEDNESDAY May 24 (10am) to SUNDAY May 28 (2pm), 2017

Engage in citizen science and learn more about what’s living in your backyard!

Calling all expert naturalists, amateur naturalists, nature enthusiasts, outdoor junkies, and everyone under the sun! Join us for the 3rd annual Wintergreen Studios BioBlitz and help us celebrate our natural heritage and learn to love our Mother Earth and her amazing diversity.

This is a rain or shine event. Come one, come all, and bring the whole family! You’re welcome to join us for a few hours, for a full day, or for the entire stretch. Our goal for this year’s BioBlitz is to identify over 750 living species at Wintergreen. Help us meet our goal! Let’s all come together to observe more, learn more, and protect what sustains us. Because we depend on biodiversity and biodiversity depends on us!

Why hold a BioBlitz?

The goal of a BioBlitz is to bring together scientists and naturalists, along with members of the general public, to identify as many plants, animals, birds, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible, typically over a 24-hour period. This inventory of living things in an area provides a baseline for observing future changes that could occur due to climate change or invasive species. The BioBlitz is an international movement — they are held all over the world as we all try and learn more about our planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems, and learn to live in harmony with all living species. But you may have noticed that Wintergreen’s BioBlitz takes place over a five-day period…

How is the Wintergreen BioBlitz different?

Bioblitz 2017

This year, instead of identifying as many living organisms as possible in a 24-hour period, we’re planning a “slowBioBlitz, to be held over several days. The idea will be to mirror and honour the Slow Food movement.

In response to the 1986 promise of a McDonald’s restaurant opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Carlo Petrini founded a movement that has come to be known as Slow Food ( The movement has expanded globally; there are over 100,000 official members in 150 countries, in addition to the millions of local farmers, chefs, and consumers who embrace the slow food tenets without being official members ( Slow food advocates are committed to enjoying the pleasures of good food in combination with a commitment to community and the environment. The slow food movement highlights traditional and regional cooking, and encourages the cultivation of plants, seeds, and livestock that are characteristic of local ecosystems.

Slow food is part of a larger movement, which calls for a cultural shift in slowing down the pace of life. We try and do this with all of our activities at Wintergreen and we will slowww down the pace of the BioBlitz as well. Letting it unfold over five days 
will not only challenge us to be more mindful and take the time to enjoy all the area and atmosphere has to offer, but also allows us to involve more people in the BioBlitz itself. By including several school days, we will be able to bring classes of elementary and secondary students to join the BioBlitz, building on the work that occurred in the 2016 BioBlitz and inspire the next generation of naturalists to take action for biodiversity. These students will not only be involved in species identification and educational workshops, but also learn how poetry and art both honour and extend the beauty and complexities of the natural world.

What can we do besides count species?

BioBlitz 2017

During the Wintergreen BioBlitz there will be a series of hands-on educational workshops, nature hikes,  even a sound walk and music session, where participants  can learn about various species and explore the grandiosity that makes up the natural world. There will also be a variety of arts activities — sketching, creating sculptures and installations with found objects, poetry writing and reading.



What workshops can we expect? 

Stay tuned for a full event schedule.

Save The Salamanders

Matt Ellerbeck (The Salamander Man)

Learn about the amazing world of salamanders! Join the Salamander Man for an insightful talk on nature’s tailed amphibians. Receive information on the conservation of these rarely seen animals. Workshop will feature live salamander species, both local and exotic! Come out and see these colorful and charming salamanders up close!


Marie Bencze

In addition to their beauty, pollinators provide an important link in our environment by moving pollen between flowers and ensuring the growth of seeds and fruits. Rad Kids loves to teach kids about honeybees and native pollinators, and their gigantic contribution to feeding us! We hope that with more information, kids will lose some of the fears associated with insects. In this workshop, we will explore the roles of pollinators, and take action! Bringing in simple materials, Rad Kids will assemble a ‘bee condo’ with the students that we can  install in the garden to help encourage habitat for native bees.

Wild Edibles

Marie Bencze

In this session, Rad Kids will guide the group to think critically about industrial and convenience foods while touring the woods with foraging in mind. Through hands-on discovery, students will learn about incorporating wild foods into our lifestyles, identification of key spring plants, availabilities of wild edible foods, and mindful harvesting. In a bountiful season, there may be snacking as part of this workshop. There is food everywhere!


Jesse Stewart

Composer/musician/artist/educator Jesse Stewart will lead groups on a series of soundwalks throughout the Wintergreen grounds, encouraging participants to listen as closely as possible to the soundscape, the immersive sonic environment that surrounds us. Together, we will listen to—and reflect on—the “geophony” (earth sounds), the “biophony” (animal sounds), and the “anthrophony” (people sounds). Each soundwalk will culminate in a soundscape-inspired interactive musical workshop that will take place inside a geodesic dome on the Wintergreen grounds.

Birding for Beginners

Richard Aaron

Learn the basics of birding by sight (bring binoculars is you have them) and sound (many birds are heard rather than seen). We will also discuss some interesting bird behaviours.

Wildflowers: Identification, Ecology & Natural History

Richard Aaron

Learn to identify a variety of early spring wildflowers. We will also discuss the interesting lives that many of these plants lead.

Wildflower Names & Meanings

Richard Aaron

Discover how the Dandelion, Stinking Benjamin and many other plants got their names. The stories are sure to intrigue you.

Moth Night

Richard Aaron

If weather conditions are favourable (above 12C, not too windy, no rain), we will set up lights to attract moths to sheets. If we do, the event will be preceded by an indoor intro talk and Q & A. (Bring insect repellent for outdoor portion).

Trees: Nature’s Silent Sentinels

Richard Aaron

Trees play many fundamental roles in the ecosystem. Find out why they are so important and also learn to identify a variety of species. We will also explore the crucial relationships that trees have with fungi.

Dragonflies & Damselflies: Aerial Acrobats & Hunters

Richard Aaron

Using a net, the leader will catch and identify some of the early-season species that will hopefully be flying (and release them afterwards). We will also discuss some of the interesting features and lifestyles of these creatures.

Slime Moulds: Half “Animal”, Half “Plant” … totally cool

Richard Aaron

Myxomyetes, or slime moulds, are some of the most intriguing organisms on the planet. Come to this evening talk to find out why. After the talk, you will have an opportunity for a close-up look at some specimens.


Can you tell me more about the workshop instructors? 

When you engage in a workshop at the BioBlitz, you’re in good hands. Our instructors are friendly, accessible and among the best in their respective fields. Here are some of this year’s instructors:

MATT ELLERBECK (A.K.A The Salamander Man), is a Salamander Conservationist whom is licensed with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. He is a Partner of the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), which is the world’s largest partnership for amphibian conservation. The Amphibian Ark, a prominent figure in the world of conservation also featured him as one of their Amphibian Ambassadors. Matt’s salamander advocacy efforts earned him the Cataraqui Conservation Foundation’s Education Award. He has been aptly described by the Frontenac News as the champion of creatures great yet small, and hailed as a legend by the Chairman of the Cambridge Amphibian and Reptile Group.

Learn more about his work by visiting

RICHARD AARON is a professional naturalist based in Toronto, Ontario , who has worked with over 80 organizations, including nature clubs, conservation groups, provincial parks and universities. He is interested in all facets of the natural world, with a particular fondness for plants, fungi and insects. He places a premium on experiential learning whether it’s examining a flower through a hand lens, netting an insect (for later release), or making a mushroom spore print. He strongly encourages intellectual curiosity, while acknowledging that sometimes the best questions are those that lack clear-cut answers. His motto is “Explore – Observe – Question”, which he lives and breathes with all he does. 

Learn more about his work by visiting

MARIE BENCZE is an organic vegetable farmer, community organizer, and social & environmental justice activist. She runs Rad Kids, a food and farm education project that includes a summer day camp on a farm. She lives in Kingston with her partner, cat, and chickens, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Studies



Learn more about her work by visiting

Photo courtesy of Brett Delmage

JESSE STEWART is a composer, percussionist, artist, and educator. His music has been documented on over twenty recordings including Stretch Orchestra’s self-titled debut album, which was honoured with the 2012 “Instrumental Album of the Year” Juno award. He has been described as “one of the most innovative musicians in Canada” (OttawaJazzScene, 2015).

He has performed and/or recorded with musical luminaries including Jacques Israelievitch (former concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony), William Parker (acclaimed New York City jazz bassist, described as “the most important leader of the current avant-garde scene in jazz” by the Boston Globe), Pauline Oliveros (called the “godmother of American experimentalist music” by New Yorker magazine), Hamid Drake (master drummer and percussionist), Ernst Reijseger (Dutch cello virtuoso), Pandit Anindo Chatterjee (one of the world’s foremost tabla virtuosos), Dong-Won Kim (master Korean percussionist and member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble), and many others.  He performs regularly with Stretch Orchestra (with Kevin Breit, Matt Brubeck), the Sonoluminescence Trio (with David Mott and William Parker), the Stream Quartet (with David Mott, Peter Lutek, and Justin Gray), and in various groups under his own leadership.

His music has been performed at festivals throughout Canada, Europe and the United States, and he has been widely commissioned as a composer and artist. He endorses Headhunters brand drumsticks and brushes. He is a professor of music in Carleton University’s music program and an adjunct professor in the visual arts department at the University of Ottawa. In 2014, he was named to the Order of Ottawa, one of the city’s highest civic honours.

Learn more about his work by visiting

BRONWYN HARKNESS is coming soon. 

What about food?

You’re more than welcome to bring your own food and snacks. There will also be canteen with food for sale for those who would prefer to purchase snacks and meals.

Can we spend the night?

Yes. We have a tenting area free of charge (bring your own tent), as well as rooms in the Wintergreen lodge and woodland cabins. We’re offering rooms and cabins at a reduced rate for the BioBlitz at $50/night. If you are interested in rooms or cabins, please contact Diane Black at, with your dates and lodging preferences.

Is there a charge?

Except for the canteen and overnight lodging, the BioBlitz is FREE to the public! We are able to offer this event without charge because of the generous support of the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.