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July 11, 2015 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: BioBlitz and NatureFest

What is a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of scientists, naturalists and volunteers work together to find and identify all the living species within a designated area to create an ecological snapshot of the plants and animals that live there.


Herrick Lake Forest Preserve

A few weekends ago, the forest preserve in my county celebrated its 100-year anniversary by hosting an open house for the public, NatureFest, and conducting a BioBlitz on the same weekend.

I participated in the BioBlitz as a volunteer citizen scientist on the bird counting team. There were also people surveying plants, butterflies, reptiles, insects, amphibians, snakes, and mammals. At the same time, NatureFest was open to the public with hands-on exhibits, field-study demonstrations, lectures and other educational programs.

Eastern Kingbird in the Meadow

Eastern Kingbird

The ‘bird people’ divided into teams, and my group met at our designated area at 6:30am. It was a beautiful morning; clear and cool but warming up fast. The mosquitoes were already ferocious; one of the downsides of a very rainy spring. But the plants and grasses were brilliant green and the marshes were filled with water.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

One of the highlights of the day was finding a Black-crowned Night Heron fishing at the edge of the marsh. He would patiently wait, hiding in the leaves of a fallen branch. When a fish swam past, he would pounce. Here he is with a catch. He ate that fish in one gulp!

Fritillary Butterfly on Milkweed

Fritillary Butterfly On Milkweed

I wasn’t counting butterflies, but I couldn’t resist stopping to get a photo of this Fritillary Butterfly. A robin was busy chasing the butterfly, so I was also able to count a bird!

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

I saw a lot of this dreaded vine but was careful not to touch any of it.

The officials results of the BioBlitz won’t be in for a few months, but when they are, we will find out if any new species were discovered. My team didn’t find anything unusual or discover any unexpected birds, but we had a good time searching for them.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Maria Matthews / Jul 11 2015 9:32 am

    Interesting way to spend your free time. I had never heard of a Bioblitz until this post. Enjoyed the short glimpse into the landscape in your part of the world.


  2. Sean @ His and Her Hobbies / Jul 11 2015 9:49 am

    Awesome photos of the flora and fauna. It would be interesting to hear the results from the study.

    Sean at His and Her Hobbies


  3. Mary / Jul 11 2015 10:38 am

    Great pic of the gorgeous heron – I’ve never heard of it before.


    • Leslie / Jul 11 2015 11:12 am

      They’re fairly common but difficult to spot. They are most active in the evening or early morning, which is when we saw him. They also like to hide so they can sneak up on their meal.


  4. Suko / Jul 11 2015 2:09 pm

    I had not heard of the term BioBlitz before. Your photos are truly wonderful.


    • Leslie / Jul 11 2015 9:02 pm

      I had never heard of it either until the forest preserve asked me to work on the bird count.


  5. Ginny / Jul 11 2015 3:34 pm

    Bird shot are wonderful, and I also love that butterfly picture, especially as he is on Milkweed. #gotmilkweed


  6. BermudaOnion / Jul 11 2015 8:22 pm

    Gorgeous photos! I saw a long legged bird catch and eat a fish at a pond near our house and tried to capture the shot with my phone but failed miserably.


    • Leslie / Jul 11 2015 9:00 pm

      Thanks! That’s not your fault that you didn’t get the shot. The shutter speed on a phone is too slow for action shots.


  7. sarahalbom / Jul 12 2015 12:41 am

    That Fritillary Butterfly shot is absolutely gorgeous!

    – Linking over from Saturday Snapshots


  8. Louise / Jul 12 2015 6:46 am

    I think it’s great that you get out there doing these counts- and you take lovely photos to share with us. I’ve learnt so much about American birds from your blog. That’s a gorgeous heron.


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