The Kingston Field Naturalists recently held their 13th Great Canadian BioBlitz at the Lost Bay Nature Reserve on Gananoque Lake a property belonging to Ontario Nature. This was a public event and included guided walks along with listing species of all kinds. The property has a variety of habitats including forests, wetlands and some open areas It has rocky slopes, wet ravines, shoreline and ponds all contributing to the biodiversity of the area.
A BioBlitz is an attempt to list as many species as possible in 24 hours, to give a snapshot of all the plants and animals of the site. They usually take place in June and serve as a good one day view of the living things in a particular area. Amateur and professional naturalists join forces to spot and identify species, and to educate each other and the public about the diversity of the location.
The dubious weather prediction, the loss of power in the area and trees falling along the access road did not deter the enthusiastic crowd of members, professionals and friends who turned out for this event. The weather was perfect: dry and around 20C, power was not necessary for this event recording nature at this site and we were grateful to locals who managed to clear the trees from the road before we arrived.
Sixty participants enjoyed a 24 hour listing of species of all kinds to get a baseline inventory of the property. Everything from Mink to Cerulean Warbler, Grey Rat Snake and Map and Snapping turtles, a Pickeral Frog and a Grass Pike amongst the vertebrate species were recorded. Lots of invertebrates including an Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly, butterfly and various pond creatures scooped up by some Junior Naturalists
were added to the tally. The plant lists provide the majority of species as trees, shrubs, vines, herbs including ferns were listed. Butternut and fern were good finds. Some of those listed are species of concern or on the endangered species list.
Guided walks included discussion of plants, small mammals, early birds, reptiles, dragonflies, butterflies, pond dipping and night time creatures including owls and moths.
In total over 400 species were listed and a good time was had by all. The final tally will depend on the final identification of those species photographed for professional confirmation.
The importance of the BioBlitz is in the long term value of knowing the Biodiversity of the site at a particular point in time. Environmental changes including the effect of global warming or invasive species can be seen and monitored. Reference to the report where there may be future threat of development whether for housing, roads, wind turbines or something else is useful.
A full report and listing of species for the 2011 BioBlitz will appear in the September issue of the Kingston Field Naturalists quarterly magazine, the Blue Bill and on their web site at www.kingstonfieldnaturalists.org (Volume 58 # 3).