BioBlitz Notes

Birds are hard to capture with phone cameras, the standard way people enter information on iNaturalist. I led two bird groups of Macualay Honors College students on the BioBlitz Saturday. This is the only picture of a bird I put into iNaturalist. We tallied birds seen the old fashioned way, with paper and pencil.

Macaulay the honors program at CUNY. They do a BioBlitz every year for their sophomores. This started in 2012 when the in-coming dean, a primatologist, was dismayed to see the one science course sparsely attended. A BioBlitz is a survey of lifeforms over a specific time-span. Every year the blitz has been in a different location in the city. Up to five hundred students take part. The data they help collect is used throughout the year in their classes. Here’s what we found.

This year they divided the blitz between Green-Wood and the Gowanus Canal area. In one of these things, volunteers, or in this case students, accompany educators, naturalists, etc., to search and record. You’ve seen some of the moths I photographed during the night component; there was another moth unit and a bat team that night as well.

The students were not particularly familiar with the common birds, although they all knew what a pigeon was. We had good views of a Great Blue Heron and Red-tailed Hawks, both the perching one pictured and another flying a few minutes earlier. There were lots of warblers out and about, especially American Redstarts. A northeast wind bought a fallout of migrants to town. Following these through binoculars takes some practice. The sight of a Belted Kingfisher bought a real smile of joy to the face of one young woman, an Indian-American — a dozen species of kingfishers are found in India.

My 3pm group was a quartet of the most insect-phobic humans I’ve ever seen. They were terrified of flying things, doused themselves in citronella, and one even jumped away when I pulled a cicada exuvia off a tree. It wasn’t a surprise: knowing how jumpy they were, I announced that it was coming — a hollowed out exoskeleton, lifeless, harmless — but no matter. (I was nervous around bees until after graduate school, so there is hope.)
While looking for birds, the motion of large dragonfly can easily catch the eye. This looks like a Shadow Darner, a species I’ve never seen in Brooklyn before.
***

On the absolute necessity of cities for biodiversity.

1 Response to “BioBlitz Notes”


  1. 1 Sherry Felix September 12, 2019 at 5:38 am

    I heard about this bioblitz. Sounds like a fun day.


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