Metchosin Biodiversity

Welcome to the web site of the Metchosin BioBlitz and MycoBlitz. The team at the Metchosin Biodiversity Project sponsors the blitzes and publishes the results on these pages in order to:

  • Increase our understanding of Metchosin’s species and ecosystems.
  • Share natural history information with interested people in Metchosin and adjacent jurisdictions.
  • Use this information and awareness to protect and restore Metchosin’s species and ecosystems.

We started our work in 2011. A large number of Metchosin species have been located during the years of the Metchosin BioBlitzes and MycoBlitzes. Until 2018, we kept our species data in our own database. Here, from that database, is the summary of our counts in May of 2018, broken down by organism groups. You can view the entire set of observations–more than 10,000–by species group and by scientific name. You can also download an Excel spreadsheet of all of our data (but with specific observation locations removed). 

In 2018, we migrated our database to iNaturalist. Our most up-to-date inventories (including all of the data from the older database) are now available in the Metchosin Biodiversity project of iNaturalist.

Species counts continued to mount during our various 2019 blitz events and our virtual events in 2020-2021. By Novermber of 2021 we had catalogued over 3275 species, from more than 17000 observations made 350+ people. See the posts below for the latest totals.

The COVID pandemic has affected our inventory work, but we continue to count. We encourage everyone interested in helping us to log their photographed Metchosin observations in iNaturalist. All of these observations will be automatically logged by our 2021 collection project. Curators will review these and move most of them into our iNaturalist database (Metchosin Biodiversity Project).

The Metchosin Talk and Walk series is also on COVID hold. You can read about our previous events on the Talk and Walk pages.

(The Metchosin bioblitz data, by the way, also includes some offshore waters and islands and the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve that are not technically in the boundaries of the District of Metchosin.)

Metchosin MycoBlitz 2022

The Metchosin Talk and Walk series rebooted on Friday, November 4. The Walk part of this Talk and Walk event was the annual Metchosin MycoBlitz.

The Talk part of the Talk and Walk on the Friday evening was, by long tradition, a presentation about fungi. Andy MacKinnon delighted the audience gathered in the Council Chambers tales of faery. Elves, fairies, and witches lend their names and stories to many of our fungal fructifications. 

Because of a scheduling conflict with the annual SVIMS mushroom show, the mushroom inventory part of the MycoBlitz was truncated to Saturday morning, November 5. The collected mushrooms, instead of being identified and exhibited in Metchosin, were ferried to the SVIMS show for the Sunday event.

At the MycoBlitz, teams were sent to Metchosin Wilderness Park, Eleanor Mann Park, and Blinkhorn Lake. The teams were headed by a clutch of experts–Luke Mikler, Allen Szafer, Sinclair Philip, Kevin Trim, Bill Weir, Kem Luther, and Andy MacKinnon.

Because of the weak mushroom season–lack of rain led to the poorest mushroom production in living memory–the teams struggled to find mushrooms. Almost no mycorrhizal mushrooms were collected–almost all of the fruiting bodies belonged to decomposers. Nevertheless, searchers ferreted out at least 27 different species. The species were recorded on the Metchosin Biodiversity Project’s iNaturalist site. One of these–the Western Alder Tongue, a parasite on the female cones of Red Alders–was a new species for the District, bringing the current total for the Metchosin species count to 3402.

SVIMS members work on identifying and sorting mushrooms (including Metchosin MycoBlitz specimens) for the annual SVIMS mushroom show. Photo by Steve Strybosch.

Talk and Walks resume with mini-MycoBlitz

With COVID somewhat tamed, we are re-launching the Metchosin Talk & Walk series. We’ll begin it with a mini-MycoBlitz! We have found more than 600 species of fungi in Metchosin, but there are still species out there that have eluded our grasp. The event will begin on Friday, November 4, 7:00 p.m., at the Metchosin Council Chambers. (For the safety of all attendees, including those with compromised immune systems, we encourage attendees to wear masks when not eating or drinking.)

At the Friday evening meeting, Andy will present a slide talk on “Magical Mushrooms.” He’ll tell us how mushrooms are associated with the enchanted realm of fairy rings, elfin saddles, witch’s hat (see photo), witch’s butter, and all manner of supernatural creatures.

Then we’ll gather on Saturday morning, November 5 at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Municipal Hall. Our teams of intrepid citizen scientists will head off to all corners of Metchosin, led by our mushroom experts. We’ll return around noon to Municipal Hall, where the experts review the teams’ finds, wrapping up by 12:30.

This year, instead of displaying our finds in the Council Chambers, the Metchosin mushrooms will be taken to the South Vancouver Island Mushroom Show, which begins at 10:00 am, Sunday, November 6, at St Luke’s Church, 3821 Cedar Hill Cross Road. Metchosinites are invited to attend the show (more info at svims.club) and see our local mushrooms labeled and displayed.

Friday night and Saturday morning are both free, family fun events, suitable for all ages. 

Mushroom art cards available

On May 15, the new 2022 Mushroom Art Card set is available for purchase. A project by Metchosin Foundation and Metchosin ArtPod, the boxed set of 36 heavy-cardstock 4″ X 6″ cards features the work of three dozen (mostly local) artists on the card faces.

The cards depict locally common mushrooms. On the back of each card is a description of the mushroom by the authors of the new Mushrooms of British Columbia. More information about the cards is on the Metchosin Biodiversity site.          

 

2022 Metchosin species count happening

The 2022 Metchosin species count has started. You can track the ongoing count on its iNaturalist page. In the first four months of the year, about 130 observers made 2000 observations of 750 different species.  

These four months of observations added 45 new species to the Metchosin species count, bringing the total to 3325. 

Hundreds of identifiers from all over the world chipped in to help observers decide what they had found. For an example of the sort of dialogue that goes on, see the discussion triggered by Finn McGhee’s discovery of dead bird along the Tower Point waterfront. After much back-and-forth, experts decided that it was a Turkey Vulture (well, ex-vulture).  For an example of the simple beauty that can be found in these observations, see the snaps of the Mountain Lady Beetle. Not all the observations in these four months were visual–some animals (the Pacific Tree Frog, for example) can be identified by sound alone. Nor are all of the observations made in wilderness areas–James Miskelly found a bit of the wild, a Pine Trogossitid Beetle, had invaded his house. On April 23, the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society hosted a foray in Metchosin that found 27 species of mushrooms–one species for each person on the foray.

The count will be going on all year, with lots happening almost every day. Just yesterday (May 3), eight people added 30 observations to the 2022 Metchosin iNaturalist project. To be part of it, all you have to do is grab your camera or smartphone and head outdoors.  This is citizen science, as described in a recent edition of The Narwhal.

Mountain Lady Beetle, photo by Finn McGhee

Miskelly garry oak work recognized

The work of Metchosin Biodiversity Project member James Miskelly on the DND Garry oak lands has been recognized in a recent profile from the Pacific Forestry Centre. Congratulation James! Click on image to read.

James regularly logs his Metchosin (and other places) natural history observations in iNaturalist. See some of his pictures and sightings here.

2021 species report — almost 350 new species

The 2021 iNaturalist observations have been moved over to our Metchosin Biodiversity Project Database.

We had an impressive number of observations logged within the bounds of Metchosin this year. About 280 people made more than 4500 observations of more than 1300 different species.. Another 690 people–almost all experts in their various fields–chimed to help with the identifications.

These observations raised the number of species that have been identified in Metchosin and the neighbouring Race Rocks. At the end of 2020, the species count stood at 2920.  At the end of 2021, the species total had climbed to 3280, an increase of more than 350 species.

The people who played the largest roles in finding and logging new species in 2021 were Garry FletcherJames Miskelly, and Ian Cruickshank. The three of them accounted for about 30% of the observations.

Here are some highlights from the iNaturalist work of the Metchosin Biodiversity Project work in 2021:

Some late breaking news to get the 2022 bioblitz work off on a good foot–District resident Bill Weir has just found the first-ever Metchosin specimen of Cordyceps militaris, the Scarlet Caterpillar Club. This is a species of fungus that parasitizes insects. It grows inside the insect’s body, kills it, and sends up a fruiting club-shaped mushroom to spread its spores to other insects.

The Scarlet Caterpillar Club