4th Grade Bioblitz and Moth Survey

Today was the 4th grade bioblitz that I had agreed to help out with. I was one of the folks working with small mammals in the morning, then talked about mushrooms (and more) with three groups of kids in the afternoon.

Though most of the event was occurring at Starrigavan, there were some groups of kids that started the morning at Halibut Point Rec (Magic Island) with small mammals and intertidal. This is where my first station was, and as we were getting started there was a solid marine stratus layer. Before the fourth graders arrived, Rowan found sand lance on the beach and was able to capture one in a cup to show folks. There were four very short transects of ten traps, in each transect one mammal was caught. We ended up with two deer mice and two shrews, in both cases the shrews were dead and the mice were fine. It is apparently typical for shrews to not survive live trapping unless they are found within a relatively short time. I’m not sure if they starve, or just have a panic attack. It seems hard to believe they could starve to death in a matter of hours (especially since there’s generally a good bit of a food in the trap for an animal the size of a shrew).

By the time we moved to Starrigavan, the overcast had broken up and I spent the first half of the afternoon taking about plants, lichens, and fungi with the fourth graders. It was interesting that multiple kids said “oak trees” when I asked what kinds of trees we have here. I spent a little time with each group talking about the difference between spruce and hemlock, blueberries and huckleberries (when there aren’t ripe berries), ecological roles that fungi play, and various other things.

Later in the afternoon at the bioblitz debrief, Connor spotted the white-winged eagle flying over Smith Street.

Early this evening Connor and I went to Kimsham fields for ultimate. There was a pretty stiff northwest wind which made things interesting.

Around sunset Connor, Rowan and I went to the park to observe an insect survey. There was a white sheet set up with a couple of uv leds for illumination. In the couple of hours we watched, several moths, and many smaller flies were attracted. All of the moths were ones I recognized (mostly Variable Carpets (Anticlea vasiliata), but a couple of others as well). As the light was fading Rowan found several (I think she said 10) freshwater sculpins under/around rocks at the edge of the river. When it was getting close to full (for this time of year) darkness, we were able to see some bats flying over the river. They were moving fast, so it was hard to get much more than a quick flash of movement through a beam of light if we were shining it from the bridge.

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