First Annual Blogger BioBlitz

Saturday, Don and I hiked a loop over several trails at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, stopping to photograph some mosses, a few remnants of what looked to be a Northern Flying Squirrel that must have been dropped by a predator (I’m sparing you the photo), and some Red Velvet Mites that we found wandering over a lichen-covered rock. Although it was a cool, overcast day, typical of early spring here in eastern Ontario, we saw signs of life everywhere. I’m often asked how we find so much stuff while out wandering around, and the simple answer is that we just spend some time looking.

With that in mind, I’d like to spread the word about an event that I hope many of you will find of interest. Yesterday, Jeremy Bruno of The Voltage Gate sent around an email asking a group of nature and science bloggers if they thought there would be some interest in holding a “blogger bioblitz”. Those of you who are familiar with the BioBlitz can probably figure out where this is going without further description. However, for those who aren’t, Jeremy has written an introduction to how the BioBlitz idea will be adapted to create the First Annual Blogger BioBlitz. He writes:

In honor of National Wildlife Week, April 21 – 29, I am inviting bloggers from all walks to participate in the First Annual Blogger Bioblitz, where bloggers from across the country will choose a wild or not-so-wild area and find how many of each different species – plant, animal, fungi and anything in between – live in a certain area within a certain time.

Pick a neat little area that you are relatively familiar with and is small enough that you or the group can handle – a small thicket, a pond, a section of stream, or even your backyard – and bring along some taxonomic keys or an Audubon guide, or if you’re lucky enough, an expert in local flora and fauna. Set a time limit. Try to identify the different species of organisms that you find as well as the number of each species that you find. Take pictures if you have a digital camera, compile your numbers, make observations, set up your post however you wish as long as you include your numbers in a digestible fashion (I’ll have more details on that later) – then submit it to me and I’ll include it on the list. We will also be tallying total numbers of each species found, and then a grand total. There has also been talk of coding an interactive Google Map with distribution information, geotagging regions with a blogger’s submitted information.

This is not meant to be a contest, nor is meant to be a hard source of taxonomic data. It is meant to be a fun little excursion to highlight little pockets of biodiversity across the country (perhaps the globe). I should have a 160×160 button available for distribution in a couple days.

This event was inspired by the National Wildlife Federation’s own project, the Wildlife Watch. They will be posting a downloadable list of springtime critters in the near future that may be of use.

Jeremy has begun to assemble a list of all bloggers who wish to participate. If you’re interested in doing a BioBlitz (however large or small), just email Jeremy and he’ll add your blog to the list, and to the georeferenced map if that part comes together (which is likely to happen just as soon as that can be figured out). EDIT: There is now a discussion board where anyone will be able to ask questions, discuss methods and results. I’ll post more news on that as things develop. (Note: You do have to possess or set up a Google member account to participate, but that just takes a moment.)

Just a few words of my own regarding the idea of the Blogger BioBlitz. I think it’s a super idea. It should inspire more people to get outdoors to see what’s happening in their part of the world during the target week (April 21-29). It also allows anyone, regardless of location, to participate in a BioBlitz of some kind — whether it’s just to report on backyard birds on a certain date, or something much bigger — perhaps a science class or a field naturalist club to work on a larger tract of land. The main thing is to just get outdoors and acquaint yourself with what’s there. And you don’t need to be a biologist to do so. Any interested naturalist with a couple of decent field guides can identify at least a few organisms. Add a few naturalist friends and you’ll find plenty of interest. And, with digital cameras, if you come up with some “unknowns”, you can post some photos and perhaps get them ID’d. So, please give some serious thought to participating. If you have questions, post them below in the comments and I’ll do my best to scare up some answers.
** Note: The beautiful Blogger BioBlitz logo up above was designed by Jennifer Forman Orth of the Invasive Species Weblog


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10 Responses to “First Annual Blogger BioBlitz”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    I love this idea, bev. I immediately thought of the tidal estuary where we often walk. There is a great diversity of life, but we’ve never catalogued what we’ve seen. It would be a wonderful way to get right into a small piece of it and take an even deeper look around. Have you thought about where you’ll do yours?

  2. burning silo Says:

    robin – the tidal estuary sounds perfect and also so unique. It would be quite an experience to see what you could find by choosing a period of time and compiling a list of whatever flora and fauna you wish to record. In my own case, I’ll probably choose an area of our farm, but I’m not just sure which part. I may survey the section behind our house, which includes a 12 foot wide drainage creek, or perhaps the section of the woods where we just opened up a new walking trail during the winter. It has a somewhat shallower drainage ditch through it (more typical of a vernal woodland pool). I think the amphibian life might be good back there. I’ll probably make up my mind closer to whichever date I go with. We do have a challenge here because the week chosen for the event is very early in our season, but I think it will be fun regardless. In truth, if you spend even an hour or two in any place (except a paved parking lot), you should be able to find a reasonable list of organisms.

  3. Celeste Says:

    Hello! I really really like your picture of the red bug on the grey rock, it’s beautiful! See, that’s what I mean about taking artsy pictures of things, you made the bug very pretty, celebrate its special color and how it compliments its home. I’d like to do the bioblitz, by then the wildflowers here are really popping up.

  4. Troy Says:

    This is a great idea. I look forward to more info. I am really enjoying your site.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Celeste – Thanks! Yes, you should do the bioblitz if you’ve got the time. It might be a neat thing to do with kids or friends.

    Troy – I see that you’ve signed up to do the bioblitz. That’s great!

  6. John Says:

    Bev, as always, I’ve found interesting new insights here and in the links you’ve posted. I’m afraid to sign on to do anything, as my schedule, workload, location, and lack of knowledge/skill are hindrances. Something occurred to me, utterly unrelated to this post, that I’ve wanted to mention to you for some time…something sparked a memory tonight. A few years ago, some friends of my wife introduced us to Bracken Cave, north of San Antonio, TX, which is home to more than 20 million Mexican freetail bats from late spring through the summer. We’ve gone twice to watch the twilight emergence of bats from the cave…it takes a full two hours or more for them to all (or most) to emerge for their nighttime forays into the surrounding countryside. I thought of our experiences at Bracken Cave recently when I got my copy of the periodic magazine from Bat Conservation International and then thought that you all would probably marvel at the experience (and would get far better photos that I could ever hope for). I hope the Blogger BioBlitz is a smashing success!

  7. burning silo Says:

    John – I think you’ve got enough on your plate without getting involved in a bioblitz! I’ve heard about some of the bat caves in the southern U.S. and they sound fascinating – definitely something I hope to see some day. Also, I’d also love to see some of the large fruit bats that a friend in the Philippines has told me about. As I said to a paddler friend recently, too many rivers and not enough time. The same goes for wonderful places on the planet.

  8. Wayne Says:

    I think it’s a great idea, too. I’ve written a piece and registered this morning. I was delighted to see that Robin had the idea of their tidal creek area – after all the observations she and roger have made, it would be quite a contribution.

    I don’t participate very much in group efforts – I’m only a team person in a very few ways, but this one attracts me. Yesterday I socialized much too much and was a bit overwhelmed by the end of the day and our fire training. When a couple of the guys suggested a late dinner, it was tempting but I was already el pestoed. It may take the entire weekend by myself to recover.

  9. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – I’ve just posted a comment to the piece you’ve written at your blog this morning. I think you have such a wonderful location that it’s great to hear that you’ll be doing at least one site there. I love robin’s idea of the tidal creek as that’s such a unique site and as you’ve mentioned, she and roger have spent a lot of time there. I think familiarity with a site is an important thing as I find it’s a lot more difficult to do a species survey when you are at a site you rarely or never frequent.
    I like the format of this too — as you know, I’m a very solitary person, so working away on my own here at the farm appeals to me. However, I’m thinking that Don and I may do mini-blitzes at one or two sites where we frequently hike on the weekend of the BioBlitz week. That might be kind of fun as an addition to our hike.

  10. Cindy Says:

    beautiful photo of the velvet mite! I know how tiny these are, so I can appreciate the photo even more..
    and after reading about the bio-blitz, I have second thoughts on that one. It’s great timing for those in temperate climates, but we’re in an area that hasn’t truly woken up to spring yet and I’m not up to walking clear out to our vernal pools to check on things..
    I’ll stick to my migrant birds, that’s keeping me busy enough ;)