Metchosin Biodiversity Project 2023 Species Summary

Centre photo by David Slipher. Clockwise from upper left: Dacrymyces capitatus by Angelica Save; Dumetella carolinensis, the grey catbird, by Simone L. (simonele); Ortholasma pictipes, a harvestman, by Darren and Claudia Copley; Pyrola aphylla, leafless wintergreen, by Kem Luther; Aeolidia loui, warty shag-rug nudibranch, by Angelica Save; Orthotrichum columbicum by Randal Mindell; Unguiculariopsis lettaui, oakmoss spot, by James Holkko

BC is fortunate to have three active long-term species inventory projects. One of them is in Metchosin. At the end of 2023, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project had curated records of almost 3600 species from the District of Metchosin.

Since the records and record-keeping of the Metchosin Biodiversity Project were transferred to iNaturalist in 2018, the number of new species added to the database each year has been steadily increasing, from 120 in 2020 to more than 170 in 2023. And many more people have become involved in ferreting out these new species. You can see the current totals of species, people, and observations on the iNaturalist project page at (short link:

This year, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project, in addition to its ongoing work in collecting and vetting iNaturalist records, also sponsored a one-day (October 21) collection of mushroom species samples, a MycoBlitz. Many of these collected mushrooms were put on display at the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society’s mushroom show at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) in October 22. Metchosin residents received invitations to one part of the RBCM week-long Fungal Fest, an early screening of a new IMAX movie Fungi: Web of Life. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project also organized a November species survey of a Metchosin property located north of the old Sooke flowline. A dozen invited experts found and recorded—in just six hours—more than 400 species on the property. About 40 of these observations turned out to be species that hadn’t been previously noted in the District of Metchosin.

Here is quick review, broken down by category, of some of the species that were added to the Metchosin Biodiversity Project’s database in 2023:

Fungi. Forty new fungi were recorded. Joey Tanney of the Pacific Forestry Centre exercised his Big Expertise in Really Small Fungi to add ten new species to the database. Metchosin resident Bill Weir, who likes his fungi bigger than Joey’s, spotted mushrooms of about seven new species, including the sushi mushroom (Macrocystidia cucumis)—so named it smells like cucumber and fish. A regular contributor to the Metchosin count also found a new species of witch’s butter, Dacrymyces capitatus, proving once again that there are witches in Metchosin.

Lichens. A few lichens became part of the species count this year, but what caused the biggest lichen buzz was not a lichen itself, but a fungus growing on a lichen. During a cold January visit to Witty’s Lagoon, Gabe Schp found Unguiculariopsis lettaui, oakmoss spot, growing on lobes of the lichen Evernia prunastri, the oakmoss lichen. He made an iNaturalist record of it, and when this record was pointed out to local lichen expert Juliet Pendray, she was thrilled to hear that long-sought “little ung” (as she called it) had be found. A quickly-organized expedition by the Metchosin Biodiversity Project found and photographed Gabe’s stand of the little ung while it was still fruiting.

Birds. No additional mammals showed up for the count this year, but three birds that had not yet been catalogued in the database decided to visit Metchosin, all of them wandering outside of their typical ranges. Two of them were Say’s phoebe and Lewis’s woodpecker. The third was the grey catbird, Dumetella caroliensis, a vocal prodigy with long, complicated songs. It has a call that sounds a lot like a mewing cat.

Insects. About fifty insects and spiders entered the official Metchosin list in 2023. Darren and Claudia Copley, local spider experts, found a harvestman, Ortholasma pictipes, that hadn’t been noted before. Many of the new insects were photographed and identified by Metchosin residents Garry Fletcher and Mike Fischer, both participants in the University of Victoria’s Metchosin Insect Biomass project, a study supported by the Metchosin Foundation.

Vascular Plants. About twenty plants joined the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database in 2023. In June, the discovery of the exquisite blooms of Pyrola aphylla, leafless wintergreen, at a property along Rocky Point Road caused some excitement and brought people out to look. Leafless wintergreen is a mycoheterotroph—lacking chlorophyll, it makes a living by establishing a (possibly unequal) partnership with fungi. Not having leaves, however, doesn’t mean it has no flowers. The blooms of this wintergreen are a radiant magenta.

Bryophyes. A few new mosses and liverworts are catalogued each year. This year, the presence of the bryological specialist Randal Mindell at the November survey by the Metchosin Biodiversity Project of the north Metchosin private property added eleven new bryos, including a tiny tuft of the well-proportioned Orthotrichum columbicum.

Marine life. Ten or so of the new 2023 species were marine organisms. Angelica Save found Aeolidia loui. Its common name is the “warty shag-rug nudibranch,” a name much less beautiful than the creature that bears it. This sea slug has a superpower—it can chemically disable the defenses of the anemone it preys on.


It has been a great year, perhaps not for munched anenomes, but certainly for species counters. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project hopes that many more Metchosinites will take up their cameras and smartphones to help with the 2024 inventory, which has already begun.


November 2023 Survey of Buck Hill Property

On November 6, 2023, a team of field specialists surveyed a private property in Metchosin north of Sooke Road. The team, consisting of Hans Roemer, Mary Sanseverino, Kristen Miskelly, Carrina Maslovat, Randal Mindell, Ryan Batten, Kem Luther, Andy MacKinnon, Joey Tanney, Claudia Copley, Darren Copley, and Robb Bennett, are pictured above. 

The field team found more than 300 different species of flora, fauna, and funga. More than 20 new species were added to the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database. Thanks to the Metchosin Foundation for their support of this effort.

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 and see our local mushrooms labeled and displayed.

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

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

Metchosin Mycoblitz 2020 (Virtual)

The regular events of the fall Metchosin MycoBlitz didn’t happen in this pandemic year. Still, we managed an inventory of sorts. We set up a site on iNaturalist that gathered in all iNaturalist fungi observations (includes lichen observations) made within the bounds of the District of Metchosin from the beginning of September to the 9th of December.

In this period, we accumulated 561 observations from 44 different observers. These observations represent about 230 distinct species. Interestingly, this represents more observations and species of fungi that we typically have in our one-day non-pandemic MycoBlitzes.

You can view these observations at the project website. Below is a map of the observations.


Ramaria stuntzii from Metchosin Wilderness Park, Novermber 2020

The observations from the 2020 MycoBlitz project do not automatically go into the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database. We reviewed the observations and the ones that seemed to be correct observations (with the bar raised for species that were uncommon or unexpected) were manually moved into the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database. 

About 10 of these fungal species were new to the database, When these new ones were added to other non-fungal 2020 iNaturalist observations from Metchosin, our species count increased by over a hundred this year–we now have more than 2920 species in our Metchosin count (with 860 being fungi and lichens).

You can view the iNaturalist site for the Metchosin Biodiversity Project here.

For the majority of our Metchosin MycoBlitz and Metchosin Bioblitz observations, we do not have pictures, nor are most of the observations tied into vouchered specimens. We also do not have exact GPS locations. Since moving the database over to iNaturalist in 2017, we have begun to accumulate pictured observations that are tied to specific GPS locations. In addition, we are making a more concerted effort to voucher specimens of these observations–about 90 species were vouchered this fall.

At the right (or below) is a gallery of photos from the 2020 Metchosin virtual MycoBlitz. Select the gallery to begin the slide show.

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.
  • Use this information to protect Metchosin’s species and ecosystems.

We started our work in 2011 with BioBlitzes and (a bit later) MycoBlitzes. Our most up-to-date inventories of Metchosin species are available in the Metchosin Biodiversity project of iNaturalist. By the end of 2023 we had catalogued almost 3600 species, from almost 23,000 observations made 700 people. See the posts below for the latest totals. 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 2024 collection project. Curators will review these and move most of them into our iNaturalist database (Metchosin Biodiversity Project).

For more about the Metchosin Talk and Walk series, see the Talk and Walk pages.

The Metchosin Biodiversity Project acknowledges the regular support of the Metchosin Foundation. The project is a member of IMERSS.

Contorted-pod Evening Primrose survey, Witty’s Beach, 2020

From l. to r., Kem luther, James and Kristen Miskelly, UVic student Maria Varem, Andy MacKinnon, and Jacqueline Claire and Mike Fischer..

On May 7, 2020, a small group of naturalists gathered at Witty’s Beach to do the second count of Contorted-pod Evening Primrose (Camissonia contorta), a rare and small plant that inhabits coastal sand dunes. The counts have been preparation for some restrictive fencing that will protect the dune area from human encroachment. 

The group, maintaining physical distancing, stalked, staked, and counted exactly 70 plants. After the count the group adjourned to the front yard of  Andy’s house on the bluff over Witty’s Beach. There, joined by Mairi MacKinnon, they celebrated the annual return of the plant with a bottle of Andy’s plum wine.