Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day and a BioBlitz

It may be the BioBlitz that never was. Or at least the slowest, most piece-meal effort that shouldn't rightfully be called a "blitz." I can hear two questions, so before I venture into the "why," here's some background as to "what."

A BioBlitz, as described by Wikipedia, is an inventory of all living organisms in a specific location during a 24-hour period, and is ultimately a scientific undertaking. It's a quick-and-somewhat-dirty census of everything that lives in an area, typically a public area such as a park. Often it is a group that participates, providing more hands, eyes, and ears to uncover the variety of life, plus the members often come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, providing expertise in identifying their findings.

This year, in honor of National Wildlife Week (21 - 29 April), Jeremy at The Voltage Gate organized the first Blogger BioBlitz, inviting anyone blogging about natural history in any form to inventory a familiar place and submit the results to a common database. Most importantly, get outside and enjoy nature, and blog about your experience. That, incidentally, is my primary motive: be outside and in the moment. My first reactions, fueled by what my daytime job entails, were geared toward data quality, data entry and accessibility, and other various aspects I've dealt with when working on eBird. Happily, a lot of talented individuals are involved and not only thinking about issues like that, but are addressing them as well.

So that's a "BioBlitz" and the goal of the "Blogger BioBlitz." I had planned to participate as this would get me outside and focused on things other than birds (I keep a a yard list of birds), and I was planning to entice Reina (my daughter and curious naturalist) and Donna (my wife and professional botanist) to join me. Together we'd all discover more about our yard.

The best, and it now seems only, time available all week would be the first day, Saturday. However, you all know about the best laid plans. The morning was out as I was leading a birding trip in Ithaca, so we had a few hours in the afternoon. And then other "things" came up, all important, and took up the rest of the day. We did spend some time gardening so I managed to find a few things, but if it wasn't a bird or plant it pretty well went unidentified. Sigh.

Sunday evening, while playing "restaurant" with Reina, I managed this non-digiscoped shot of a Northern Flicker foraging on our lawn.

Northern Flicker casting a wary eye. © Mike Powers 2007

It appears I won't get the solid block of time I hoped for the Blitz, the best I'm hoping for is sporadic periods in the evenings throughout the week. I'll still be outside and enjoying nature, so happily I will enjoy the journey intended by Jeremy's concept, I just won't reach the final goal. I take comfort in knowing that the journey is really what it's all about, and of course, there's always the second annual Blogger BioBlitz!

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