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. 

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

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

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 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 with BioBlitzes and (a bit later) MycoBlitzes. Until 2018, we kept our species data in our own database. 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. By the end of 2022 we had catalogued over 3412 species, from almost 20,000 observations made 480 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 2023 collection project. Curators will review these and move most of them into our iNaturalist database (Metchosin Biodiversity Project).

The Metchosin Talk and Walk series has started up again, post-COVID. 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.)

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.

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. 

In February, the Metchosin Muse published an article on the 2019 Metchosin Mycoblitz. Click on image to view.