This was my first competitive bioblitz and I want to share what I learned.

My everyday way of documenting organisms includes rather generous coverage from all angles and the habitat I found it in. If it’s an insect, I look on until it flies, crawls, or hops away, then try to follow it. If it’s a plant, I cover every detail I can find, and try to frame them in a variety of ways. If the plant is new to me, I actually often come back to the same plant once I researched what it could be, to focus on the distinctive features. All that results in many pictures I have to sift through at home, to select the handful that matter. But that’s not the way to go when bio-blitzing. Time management is key. So in my case, the two most important take-aways are:

  1. Shoot economically.
    Look for the distinctive features and frame them in a way that doesn’t require much if any photo editing.

  2. Move on if you got it.
    Resist the urge to get an even better picture; resist the urge to look for details on behavior, interaction, feeding, unless of course it is just too fascinating and/or distinctive to not document it.

Like with most things in life, preparation can’t ever hurt. If possible, choose areas you know well. Even if flowering plants have mostly wilted, if you know where you saw them in a pristine state, you may find the rare last few flowers. Know the spots where animals find food at the time of the year. Know what to expect. Cover the obvious wildlife typical for the habitat in an economical way and have time left to look around and be open for surprises and new species.

Preparation also includes shopping for groceries etc. before the bioblitz starts, getting household chores out of the way, and limiting time sucking work and social obligations to a bare minimum. I tried but wasn’t too successful with that, though. How could I not help my octogenarian dad whom I had given a NYT gift subscription to establish an account there? It took a 33 minutes Facetime call during which I possibly could have found three additional species, but it saved my dad from suffering a major bout of tech frustration.

I sorely overestimated the energy I would have left at the end of each day, when I was facing the many nighttime hours on the computer. In the past half year or so I’ve been rather insomniac, and up and about during the dead of the night. During the first night of the Championship, I recorded the calls of a Great Horned Owl family, and was ready for the Coyotes that are often howling in my neighborhood. During the second night of the competition, I slept like stone. If there were any animals around my house, I didn’t hear them. Neither did I hear a thing during the following nights, other than possibly my own zzzz’s. Bio-blitzing is exhausting!

@bbunny, @kimssight, @naturephotosuze and @scubabruin were the best team mates one can possibly hope for. Supportive, equally nature nerdy, ambitious and into it. That so very much helps. We are actually planning to keep California Wild Women going as a joint project for a variety of challenges.

A bunch of people helped us with IDs, among them @tmessick, a botanist from the Sierra Nevada, @grnleaf, a botanist who is very familiar with most of California including Los Angeles County, and @sfelton, an all-rounder with a keen interest in pollinators. Special thanks to you and all who helped us!

Posted on August 08, 2020 09:04 PM by andreacala andreacala



Posted by kimssight over 3 years ago

Well said! Next year, I won't plan on driving so far during the competition days :)
I would also send a shoutout to @jdmore for quite a bit of ID help as well.

Posted by scubabruin over 3 years ago

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