Talk & Walk Feb 3-4 Resilient Coasts for Salmon

Metchosin’s first Talk & Walk for 2023 takes place February 3-4. Join the Resilient Coasts for Salmon (RC4S) team to learn about coastal processes, climate change impacts, and how we can promote healthy shorelines that protect our homes and important habitat by using nature-based solutions to better adapt to sea level rise. RC4S is a collaborative initiative and five-year project led by the Pacific Salmon Foundation with partners such as the Stewardship Centre for BC, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Peninsula Streams and Shorelines, and others.

On Friday, February 3rd, 7:00 p.m. at the Metchosin Municipal Hall, the RC4S team will lead a presentation and interactive Q&A session about how the project is helping to raise awareness about local impacts of sea level rise on East Coast Vancouver Island, and how we can use nature-based solutions, including the Green Shores® framework to adapt to sea level rise.

On Saturday February 4th, 9:30 a.m., we’ll gather again at Municipal Hall to carpool for an excursion to a nearby beach for a shoreline walk. We will assess the current conditions and processes occurring on this beach, discuss its habitat value and potential vulnerabilities, and then participate in a hands-on workshop.

Presentation by Kyla Sheehan and Maria Catanzaro of the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Kelly Loch of the Stewardship Centre for BC. After the talk, a new 12-minute video on native plants, featuring Metchosin’s own Kristen Miskelly, will be shown.

Metchosin Biodiversity Project 2022 iNaturalist Results

American Mink by Liam Ragan
Western Pondhawk by Terry Carr
Little Quaking-grass by James Miskelly
Crystal Jellyfish by Garry Fletcher

Another year of species inventory comes to an end. What happened in 2022?

To date, we’ve found and recorded 3412 species that share Metchosin with Homo sapiens. In the course of the year 2022, some 350 people made over 5000 iNaturalist observations within the bounds of Metchosin and Race Rocks. Almost half of these observations were of sufficient quality and accuracy to add to the permanent record. Some 600 experts from around the world chipped in to help identify the posted observations. These 2000+ observations represented about 1000 different species, and of the 1000 species, 130 of them were totally new to the Metchosin database.

What did we identify in Metchosin for the first time in 2022? A quick review.

Mammals. Adding new mammals to the database is unusual. We increased the count by one, though. One of our observers, Maurice Robinson, added the infamous brown rat (aka Norwegian or sewer rat), the scourge of many farms and towns. The American mink was already in our records but both David Bell and Liam Ragan took excellent 2022 photos of this charismatic weasel relative.

Slime Moulds. Robin Banks posted an observation of a slime mould, chocolate tube slime, Stemonitis splendens, that we didn’t have yet.

Insects. Several beetles appeared in our records for the first time. We added new species of click beetles, lady beetles, longhorn beetles, bark-gnawing beetles, sun beetles, ground beetles, checkered beetles, and jewel beetles. For the moths, we found a twirler moth, a curved-horn moth, a satyr moth, a snout moth, and a house moth that were new. There were two new flies, a horse fly and a robber fly, as well as two new wasps, a crown borer wasp and a cross potter wasp. A lygus bug and a seed bug made the list. A damselfly we had not seen before, the western forktail, and a new dragonfly, a pondhawk, turned up. We also found new species of tunnel spider, aphid, leaf miner, leafhopper, springtail, gall midge, and woodlouse. Several observers spotted European praying mantises this summer—these insects must have been unusually abundant.

Plants. On the plant side, James Miskelly found several new species for our Metchosin records. One was Lamarck’s bedstraw (either Galium divaricatum or G. pariseinse). He also found our first quaking-grass, Briza minor, our first American eelgrass, Vallisneria americana, our first humped bladderwort, Utricularia gibba, and our first round-leaved sundew, Drosera rotundifolia. Sundews are usually found in boggy areas, which are rare in Metchosin. We also found a cancerwort, two new sedges, water horehound, bur-reed, and a mint.

Marine life. Garry Fletcher managed to snap a picture of a crystal jellyfish, Aequorea victoria, at Parry Bay. Karen Cram gave us a first look at a new nudibranch, the BC doto, Doto columbiana. Connor (cwardrop) noted a new red seaweed, Grateloupia californica. Terry Carr found an eelgrass isopod, Pentidotea resecata. Tom Hlavac, a diver and retired fishery officer, was able to snap a picture of a giant pacific octopus, Enteroctopus dofleini. Two people submitted records of our first great sculpin, Myoxocephalus polyacanthocephalus. In addition, we had a new anemone, a wolf eel, and a red velvet sponge.

Birds. Val George contributed our first records for the black-throated sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata, and the tropical kingbird, Tyrannus melancholicus.

In all, then, a great year. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project hopes that many more Metchosinites will take up their cameras and smartphones and help us count in 2023.

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

Andy MacKinnon on Earth Day 2022

Metchosin’s own Andy MacKinnon was at Christ Church Cathedral last night to give a short Earth Day talk in their Earth Songs musical series. You can hear his 15-minute address at 9:00 in this video of the occasion. A good backgrounder to conservation efforts in the Metchosin area.
 

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