A magical weekend at Fern Cove Bioblitz 2013

Basecamp team identifying species at 1 a.m. photo by: Bianca Perla

Basecamp team identifying species at 1 a.m. photo by: Bianca Perla

A huge, heartfelt thanks to all of you who made the 2nd Annual Vashon Island Bioblitz a success in every way. Even with our raw count we found more species than last year at 386 (compared to 354 at Neill Point in 2012).

We identified 159 plants, 75 shoreline species, 20 fungi, 3 liverworts, 22 mosses, 30 lichens, 9 slugs and snails, 46 birds, 5 reptiles and amphibians, 9 mammals, and 8 assorted terrestrial insects. And if the multitude of photographs sitting on our hard drive are any indication, our work is far from over!

Special thanks to our off-island experts including Brian McNett (fungi) and Phoebe Goit (mosses and lichens) as well as some of Adria Magrath’s colleagues (shoreline, plankton, and photos!) who made the trip over to participate and who generated detailed species lists and incredible photos for us. Please check out the photos (link below).

Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:

1. The Darwin award goes to…….. this yellow jacket that somehow got itself impaled on a rose thorn. Bad flying day? Or maybe the work of some elusive migratory shrike? Or some human with a morbid sense of humor? We’d love to solve that mystery.

photo by:  Kathryn True

photo by: Kathryn True

2. A pectoral sandpiper was seen by Ezra Parker– pectoral sandpipers are rare visitors to the island seen only every few years or so. They are recognized by their yellow legs and delicate spotted breast.

photo by: Kathryn True

photo by: Kathryn True

3. Clematis ligusticifolia (or Virgin’s bower) which is native to Eastern Washington was spotted here by Jim Evans. Although this plant is native east of the mountains it can act invasive in some areas where it establishes west of the mountains so this may be an important find for the management of Shinglemill area. It was also not listed on the plant list we had for King County and we just got word that it is a new species record for the county.

4. A western red-backed salamander was found by a child exploring during the Bioblitz and also by Maria Metler when she was looking for snails.Many Ensatinas were seen as well as red-legged and chorus frogs.

photo by: Bianca Perla

photo by: Bianca Perla

5. Orion Knowler discovered juvenile salmon in the mouth of Shinglemill and thanks to Gary Shugart and Rayna Holtz who, like most of us, just happened to have keys to juvenile salmonids in their back pockets (!), we were able to key these out to discover they were coho salmon.

photo by: Bianca Perla

photo by: Bianca Perla

6. Varied thrush were still present in the riparian forests indicating that we have Varied thrush that stay to breed rather than migrating after all (a long standing question with island birders that seems to have been answered by this and other finds this year).

7. We also had some impressive shoreline finds in the eel grass beds including many beautiful nudibranchs, Aglaja egg sacs, skeleton shrimp, and a tubesnout and a few sole and flatfish species swimming in the shallows! We even got samples of some plankton that are currently being identified. Here is an example of a really nice crazy looking one:

photo by: Adria Magrath

photo by: Adria Magrath

8. And Ellen Kritzmann gets the courage award for wrestling a full grown Norway rat out of a mammal trap armed only with latex gloves and a ziploc bag. Don’t worry. She is author of the book Little Mammals of the Pacific Northwest so it all turned out completely fine. She still has 9 or so of her fingers.

On top of all the great species encounters we enjoyed all the fascinating and happy people who came to share in the joy of discovering this place. 93 of you signed the sign-in sheet and we know there were even more that showed up!

photo by: Kathryn True

photo by: Kathryn True

Besides all who donated their time, thank you to all who donated funds to our effort as well. We were able to cover all expenses this year and come out even which is exactly what we were hoping for. Special thanks to Snapdragon who donated two huge trays of scrumptious breakfast goodies that were such lifesavers for many of us on rainy Sunday morning. Please be sure to thank Megan and Adam for their generosity next time you visit Snapdragon. And thanks to Harsi Parker for making our Bioblitz sign and putting in some long hours helping us out.

We are grateful to all the abundant and varied animals and plants who showed themselves to us during the weekend. It is truly marvelous how beautifully all those different lives fit together to make such a magical place as Fern Cove and Shinglemill Creek. Many of us were humbled by the power and intricacy of life in this place and touched by the amount of people who gently uncovered and marveled at its mysteries together.

Here is a link to a slideshow of photos from throughout the 24 hours:

Bioblitz 2013 PHOTOS

We are still working on formatting, combining and entering species onto the species lists but as we get them done we will be posting them on the Bioblitz page of our website so check back regularly for more details.

Thank you everyone and see you next year! Bianca and Kathryn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *