Metchosin MycoBlitz 2019

The fungi of Metchosin were more than cooperative for Metchosin Mycoblitz 2019, the seventh in the annual Metchosin Biodiversity Project series.  This fall has been one of the best mushroom years in memory.

The MycoBlitz began with a media bang on Friday night, November 8, when Dr. Cara Gibson gave a talk on insect and fungi interactions to a packed house. The talk doubled as one of the Metchosin Talk and Walk events (#115 in the long-running series).  Cara, a Canadian who has recently returned to Canada after a long stay in the U. S. for graduate study and teaching, is a welcome addition to the already deep mycological resources in the Victoria region.  For more on Cara’s talk, see the Talk and Walk web page.

The Saturday foray began at 9:00 am in front of the Metchosin District Office. A light mist fell as 60 people, including about 15 invited experts, assembled to be divided into three groups, one to go to Camp Thunderbird, one to Pearson College, and one to Metchosin Wilderness Park.

Mushroom experts for the 2019 Metchosin MycoBlitz

The MycoBlitz would not be possible without the help of regional experts on mushrooms. Here is the team for this year's MycoBlitz (old and young). A big thanks to all of them for volunteering their valuable time. Photo by James Holkko.

Luke, Oluna, Adolf, and Kevin (l. to r.) start the process of identifying the mushrooms collected by the foray teams. Photo by James Holkko.

The groups returned from the three forays a little before noon to drop off their mushroom collections. Experts immediately began sorting and labeling the fungal treasures, taking time out only to have a quick lunch of homemade soups, pizza, and pastries.

While experts sorted and labeled, the rest of the crowd adjourned to the Metchosin Fire Hall to watch a The Nature of Things documentary on fungi.

Oluna and Luke check their IDs in Ammarti and Trudell's Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. Photo by James Holkko.

At 2:00 pm the guests began to arrive.  Laid out on three tables were 134 different species of mushrooms.

For two hours, the hall was a noisy, bustling place. Comments ranged from “Ahhh” to “Ewww” to “Can I eat it?” Photos by James Holkko. Click to enlarge.

When the crowds leave, the tabulating and recording starts. This year the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database has been expanded to include iNaturalist. Pictures were taken of the specimens on the table and 180 visual records were added to the Project’s iNaturalist list.  The records included 134 different species.  About 15 of these were new to the database, lifting the species count for the Metchosin Biodiversity Project to 2800 species

The observations can be viewed on iNaturalist.

A quartet of happy mushroom identifiers:Erin, Leanne, Oluna, and Juliet (l. to rl). Photo by James Holkko
"What's that mushroom on your chin, Uncle Andy?"

Besides the many volunteers, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project received help from several organizations and individuals.  A special thanks to

  • Pearson College and Camp Thunderbird for permission to visit their properties and collect mushrooms.
  • District of Metchosin and the Metchosin Fire Department for use of the Council Chambers and Fire Hall room and for arranging insurance coverage.
  • My-Chosen Pizza for helping with the luncheon fare (pizzas!) for the experts.
  • Royal Bay Bakery for a selection of desserts for the experts’ lunch.
  • Karyn Woodland and Mairi MacKinnon for soups for the experts’ lunch.
  • James Holkko for taking pictures and the letting us use them on these web pages. 

2019 Marine Day with the CRD

It was a beautiful day at Witty’s Beach for Marine Day 2019. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project partnered with the CRD to plan and host it. Metchosin Foundation came to the event with a booth.

Over 350 people showed up at the beach between 11 am and 2 pm to participate in the program. The CRD Parks staff, out in force, had events such as beach seining, face painting, and scuba divers bringing up sea creatures.  The Metchosin Biodiversity Project sponsored two walks, one with Joel Ussery to look at estuary plants, one with Sean Rangel to look at sea creatures and seaweeds. 

A number of people stopped by the Metchosin Foundation booth to look at the displays and talk with the Directors.  Nicole Lalonde, Morgan Freeman, and Kem Luther (wo)manned the booth.

Andrew Simon talk and iNaturalist bioblitz

On May 10/11, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project hosted a combination Walk and Talk and BioBlitz.  Andrew Simon, one of the region’s experts on bioblitzes, did a talk on Friday night on “Backyard Biodiversity.” 

The next morning, a group of about 15 people met with Andrew and Scott Gilmore (insect specialist from Lantzville) to do a biological inventory of Metchosin Wilderness Park.

Picture by James Holkko. Left to right: Caroline and Mike Bailey, Andrea Rangel, Jochen Moehr, Sean Rangel, Scott Gilmore, Bev Hall, James Holkko, Marcia Waterway, Shelly O’Conner, Kem Luther, Andrew Simon, Lise Gagnon, Ron O’Connor.

Unlike previous Metchosin BioBlitzes, this event was organized around the widely-used iNaturalist bioblitz software. Mike Fischer helped to prepare participants for the event by running a one-hour training session on Friday, before Andrew’s talk.

Many of the participants at the Saturday bioblitz brought their smartphones in order to record their observations.  Some of them brought cameras, planning to upload the pictures to iNaturalist at a later time.

 

Happy hours in Metchosin Wilderness Park. Pictures by James Holkko. Select to enlarge.

Six of the bioblitz participants made, and uploaded to iNaturalist, about 225 observations of approximate 140 different species.  You can view the iNaturalist project additions for the day on the iNaturalist project site. (Key to observers: carolinemetchosin is Caroline Bailey, mwaterway is Marcia Waterway, fmgee is Scott Gilmore, chlorophilia is Andrew Simon,  bioblitz4242 is Sean Rangel). The observation added about 20 new species to the 2600+ already in the Metchosin Biodiversity database.

Except for those by Sean, the day’s observations were almost all from Metchosin Wilderness Park. Sean and Andrea went to Weir’s beach later in the day and made algae observations.

A selection of species from the day:

Metchosin Earth Day 2019

On Sunday, April 14, 2019, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project joined with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria and Habitat Acquisition Trust to celebrate Earth Day in Metchosin

Despite a cool wind and occasional sprinkles, about 170 eager adults and children joined the 30 volunteers to enjoy music, BBQ hot dogs, nature hikes, crafts, games, and plant scavenger hunts.

Music for the event was by the fantastic Bald Eagles, a Victoria combo composed of musician/naturalists. (click to stop and start video)

Three organizations, Habitat Acquisition Trust, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Metchosin Foundation, had displays for the visitors to browse.