Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day Mini Bioblitz 2007

The Song Sparrow performed a special concert this morning

I did not register for the Blogger Bioblitz due to a lack of expertise and time. In the spirit of the event, I decided to spend one hour in the old landfill site recording the more obvious and slightly hidden things around me. I chose not to wade through the vernal pools or turn over logs and stones looking for insects. We have had warm weather with temperatures around 20C the last three days. Because of the very cold weather during most of April, the plants and trees are a little behind schedule.

I picked a small corner of the field that included a vernal pool, meadow, and a small deciduous bush, containing mainly oak and maple trees. Houses, malls and roads surround this entire area in the suburbs of our city. I went out from 9:15 until 10:15 in the morning with my trusty assistant, Dakota. I have spent a number of hours in the area this spring and knew where to look for a variety of birds.

I have seen where the Kildeer are nesting, but if I hadn't, it would heve been hard to find them today as they hid in the grass.
Here is the list of birds, animals and plants I identified.

Red-winged Blackbird 20+, Kildeer 2, American Robin 20+, Canada Goose 4, Starling 5, Mallard Duck 4, Common Grackle 2, Downy Woodpecker 1, Song Sparrow 2, Brown headed Cowbird 1, House Sparrow 20+, Brown Creeper 1, Eastern Phoebe 2, American Kestrel 1, Chickadee 1, Gold crowned Kinglet 2, Cedar Waxwing 4, Northern Cardinal 2, American Goldfinch 4, Dark eyed Junco 1, Red tailed hawk 1, House finch 4, Crow 2, Mourning Dove 3.

We also discovered
Groundhog 1, Cottontail rabbit 1, Grey Squirrel 2, Black Squirrel 1, Field mouse 1, Garter snake 1

Dakota found the snake and I am very pleased that I did not panic and was able to take a picture of it at fairly close range. (well, with a little zoom!) It seems my snake phobia may be decreasing with my understanding of their place in this little ecosystem. If the dog had not seen the snake, I may have been startled by stepping on it as it blended in so well with the dead grasses.
There were very few flying insects. As we returned home I saw three dragonflies. This afternoon there are swarms of flying insects in our yard that were not around earlier in the day.

Green shoots were coming through dead grass and leaves and I did not try to identify them. The city had seeded the entire site with grass over 25 years ago, but native species now dominate the meadow. The bush had many Trout Lilies starting to poke above the ground and there were a couple of Trillium shoots as well. I know this area has an abundance of Trillium blooms in May.

The vernal pools are shrinking rapidly as we have not had a lot of rain or snow this month. I believe these are Spotted Salamander eggs. I noticed plenty of bubbles in the shallow water as gases escaped from the frost free ground. I don't know if this is normal in swamps, or if this is caused from methane created by the garbage below this site. I did take a movie of the bubbling and will post it if I can figure out how to do it.

While I saw nothing unusual, I was surprised at the length of the list compiled in such a short time, so early in our spring season here in South Western Ontario. I look forward to reading about the findings of more experienced naturalists as they participate in the Bioblitz.