Monday, May 11, 2009

Bio Blitz, Part Two

Well, 24 hours of surveying complete. I look forward to seeing the final species list compiled from all the groups, but in the meantime here are some snaps of what I experienced.

(click to enlarge any of the images)

Setting up camp in an open field. Not much time was spent here, so it wasn't anything fancy.

Antelope Island is home to a herd of about 300-400 Bison. A good chunk of them were on the north side of the island where most of the surveys took place, so we came across quite a few.

More Bison. They are just so massive.

At one point, four big bulls came running by, not too far from where I was camped. I stayed well back and behind my truck in case they decided to check our little camp out. They didn't; just kept heading south.

Getting ready for our scorpion surveys.

Our scorpion expert had a few specimens to show us during a little education bit as we waited for it to get dark.
Don't ask me the names of these guys; I don't know. But I do know that we don't grow them that big or black out here.

Holding one of his living, non-lethal ones for all to see. Quite a bit of "wow" factor here. These we do have.

Here he is holding it by the stinger - the best way to hold them. I didn't try.

It got very cold once the sun went down, plus it was a full moon. Two strikes against seeing any scorpions. We were about a month too early.

However, we still searched for about an hour and a half with black lights - they actually fluoresce under black light. That's how you find them. However, we had no luck finding any. So our guide put his out on the sand so we could all see how it reacted under the fluorescent lights.

It was too cold for it to move too fast. So we all got good looks at him. Very cool.

The next day started early. I was up by about 4:45am, got a few groups off to where they needed to be, watched the sunrise, then spent the rest of the day birding and bugging (don't know if that is a real term, but that's what we did - looked for and tried to escape from bugs).

Sunrise over the water.

Of course, while out looking for birds and bugs, other things are seen as well. Here is a Pronghorn, also known as Antelope - for which the Island is named. The funny thing is, they aren't even Antelope. Just like the Bison on the Island are sometimes called Buffalo, but aren't.

Catching and examining insects. I tried to get some pics of the little critters, but that mesh net didn't allow any clear looks.

One of the many Red-winged Blackbirds seen over the course of the day.

Fellow surveyors and birders.

We found several mushrooms, but I don't know my fungi, so I'll leave that up to the mycologists.

Here's another.

A Western Meadowlark.

A Long-eared Owl hunkered very low in the nest. That was a fun find.

Can you see what's out there? They certainly aren't birds.

Here's a closer look. A couple of Coyotes.

This was a fun find. A Common Raven in it's nest. It was so well hidden up there, and so still that if it hadn't been blinking, we would have thought it was dead.

Another awesome find. A Great Horned Owl high up in the trees. He and his mate had a nest in the hollow of a tree. There were two chicks in there, but they never poked their heads out while we were watching.

Finally at the end of the day, we all gathered together for a nice dinner. Some of the bug and plant folks brought a few specimens back to ID.

It was a great day. A lot of fun. Great people. If you ever hear about a Bio Blitz going on in your area, I highly recommend joining in. You don't have to be an expert, but the experience is well worth it.


Jenny said...

You took some awesome photos! I would personally be happy to be a month before the scorpions!! Our first car was a tiny honda, and on our honeymoon we encountered a group of bison on the road in Yellowstone. They ran along side, clearly bigger than our car. Pretty scary at the time, but fun to remember.:)

deejbrown said...

I would absolutely do this. Talk about immersing yourself in what you love! Kudos for you!

RLRP said...

That is just cool! I am not feeling so sure about interacting so intimately with scorpions, but that's just me. Neat pictures.

Vickie said...

Wow, is all I can say, from scorpions to bisons and everything in between. Not sure I would want either around my tent! Sure read like a lot of fun and good learning. I especially loved your owl discoveries. I will be on the look out for a bio blitz in our area.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Cool indeed!

I've never seen a scorpion for real.

Vili said...

How does one go about getting involved?