California Wild Women 2021's Journal

August 15, 2021

2021 International Bioblitz Recap

Last year, we formed a team called California Wild Women and competed in the International Bioblitz sponsored by the Ecological Society of America. This year, when the event was announced, we decided to participate once again, having spent the last year making many observations and getting to know one another better. This was also an opportunity to look at our strategy used last year and see if we could enhance our searches.

Working as a team is one of the most rewarding aspects of these events. In addition, by having a team, we can each focus on our strengths and cover different geographic areas. Like last year we primarily spent our time in Los Angeles County though several of us ventured out to different ecosystems including the mountains and desert as well as coastal tide pool areas (though the tides were not low during the bioblitz). Our efforts paid off, as we actually “won” the competition by finding the most species between the dates of August 2, 2021 and August 5, 2021 with more than 800 species found.

I learned from last year’s competition that what takes the most time is uploading results to inaturalist. So this year, rather than driving long distances to find species I opted to stay closer to home. In addition, the drought and heat conditions this time around, made it more of a challenge to find things. One thing that has become abundantly clear during this drought year is that you will naturally find the most life where there is water. So each day that I went out, I went to locations with water. Even with doing this, I didn’t find some of the species I would have loved to see…not one snake (nor did any of us find any snakes), no newts and I found only a few tadpoles and no frogs.

The locations I covered were Santa Ynez Canyon, Malibu Lagoon, Legacy Park, Solstice Canyon, Tujunga wash and the Sepulveda wildlife lake area. Another important aspect of bioblitzes is that it helps to know ahead of time where things are so going to familiar places or places you have recently scouted is very beneficial. Though not going to new places leaves some of the fun out of it, it still is a challenge as things change quickly in nature and what might have been around the week before may not be there anymore…with the exception of plants. And if you’re lucky you will find something that you’ve never found before at a place you’ve been to many times.

My focus overall has been insects for the last couple of years though I love all wildlife and always hope to see and document cool animals. The downside of looking for insects is that it takes a bit more time and IDs are often not easy to get. But I also know that insects are an area I can really help to contribute to as a team member. My goal was to try and find unique species to help add to our overall count. So at times I overlooked things I could have “observed” in favor of finding species not yet on our list.

What were my best finds of the bioblitz? I can’t say that I found anything spectacular this year. Having to rush around to find things is not really something I enjoy doing. However I was happy to have added a eufala skipper to our list as they are not a species I’ve seen often. In addition, I was also pleased to have added snowy plovers and white Pelicans to the list as these species are often very localized. Finally, I found a fly genus that evidently has only one other observation for the US. ( Normally seen in Africa and some parts of Asia, the sternobrithes genus is a genus of soldier flies that I found in the Sepulveda basin, just proving you can find unique things almost anywhere!

I’d also like to thank all my fellow team members for their contributions, not only of observations but also for their help in identifying some of my observations. Each one of them brought unique contributions to the team: Andrea for her fine eye and excellence at making good observations and identifications, Kim for always contributing many bird and dragonfly species, Laura, for her excellent work at the tide pools and suburban areas, and Tracy, for braving 110 heat to add some wonderful desert species to our list! It’s been great to be part of this team!

Posted on August 15, 2021 12:31 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 comments | Leave a comment