What’s a Bioblitz?
Imagine a bunch of people all heading out into the same area for a day, trying to find and identify as many living things as possible.
That is my kind of day!
Different groups and individuals go out looking for different flora, fauna and fungi, such as aquatic invertebrates and fish, insects, birds, plants, fungi, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Local experts help out with the identification.
I’ve been lucky enough to take part in two Bioblitz days in the last couple of months, organized through rare Charitable Research Reserve. My daughter works there so I guess you could say she dragged me into it, but that would be far from the truth.
Set me loose in the woods, fields and streams and let me learn about nature- I’m in!
The first Bioblitz was right at rare Charitable Research Reserve itself, in Cambridge, Ontario. We had a beautiful summer morning to plunge into the river with our hip waders and nets and see what we could find.
My next quest of the day was a to go looking for insects, and the day had warmed up enough that we had no trouble finding a huge variety of insects and arachnids in my group, and swamping our expert with questions and requests for identification.
It was so fun to see kids and families getting all excited about nature and enjoying a day out. Not only kids are curious- everyone there was eager to learn.
The Cambridge area is a busy, developing part of Ontario and it is so important to preserve and keep track of the species that live there. I know that species are monitored all year round on the reserve, but the Bioblitz gives a snapshot of a day, and with so many people looking, and finding, it is exciting to be able to add a few more species to their site list every year.
My second Bioblitz was October 1 in Norval, the outdoor education centre for Upper Canada College. It is a beautiful property in Georgetown, but once again right on the edge of a heavily populated area. Planes from Pearson International airport flying overhead were a common sight throughout my day there.
My purpose for going to the Norval bioblitz was a little bit different. Rather than go out in a group and find a variety of creatures, I was tasked with finding birds.
I got up early in the morning and headed down to Norval so I could bird on my own before the crowd of people came. I was rewarded with a beautiful view of an Osprey by the river as the sun was rising. Moments later a deer crossed my path. Chipmunks were everywhere! But back to the birds.
Norval had a wide variety of woodpeckers, as well as migrating birds passing through.
I did see one bird I had never seen before, a type of thrush that does move through my area of Ontario but is not very obvious due to its habits and colour. In birding this is called a “lifer!”
Birding in the fall can be fun, as many trees and shrubs are fruiting and it is possible to come across large flocks feeding such as these Cedar Waxings.
Overall I found 35 species of birds at Norval and was happy to hear that other people there found some different birds than I did to add to the Norval list- one person even saw a Bald Eagle circling overhead, and I know that pre-dawn listeners were treated to the calls of a Great Horned Owl and a Screech Owl.
Knowing me, my daughter was a little bit concerned that I would get lost wandering around in an unfamiliar place by myself, and admittedly I did get a bit off track a couple of times. However, one detour took me through a field full of painted lady butterflies- an absolutely magical sight.
As the day warmed up, groups of people headed out to look for insects, and try their luck in the river.
As part of the Canada 150 celebrations, numerous Bioblitz events took place all across Canada this year, sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
One result will be a “snapshot in time” inventory of Canadian species in significant natural areas.
But perhaps an even more important result will be the curiosity and connection to nature that was ignited in the citizen scientists, young and old, who took part in the community Bioblitz events across the country.
To learn more about rare Charitable Research Reserve and the work that they do: http://raresites.org
Thanks for visiting, and if you ever get a chance to participate in a Bioblitz, give it a try. You will learn so much!