Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bio Blitz

 Prairie Larkspur
(Delphinium virescens)

Ever been to a Bio Blitz?  I witnessed my first one last summer at the Lost Island Prairie Wetland Nature Center north of Ruthven, Iowa.  It was a blast!  Various professionals in different fields headed groups of volunteers out into the marshes, woodlands, and prairies in the Lost Island Lake area.  Each group was focused on a specific plant, animal or invertebrate, and would explore the area's habitat for those species and tally what they found.  I had volunteered last year to just float from group to group as they inventoried their finds and found it fascinating what everyone was finding.  

Lost Island Naturalist Miriam Patton is carrying out another Bio Blitz this summer and asked me if I would help with the "prairie plant" part of this year's effort.  If running around and identifying prairie plants interests you - why not come over and join us!?  Besides - I "really" could use the help!  More eyes and heads are often better than one.  Any way, it'll be fun!  If plants aren't your thing, you can also volunteer to assist in finding Butterflies and Moths, Birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, aquatic specific species, and so on!  What could be more fun than that?  :) 

I'll paste an agenda here for more information -

Those interested in participating should make reservations by calling the Nature Center at 712-837-4866.  Let us know which session(s) you will be attending.  There is no charge for this event.
The schedule is as follows:
Saturday, August 7
12:00 -1:00  Registration at Nature Center
1:00 Welcome and logistics
1:30-5:00  Field Session
5:00-5:45  Sack Supper
5:45-7:45  Field Session
8:00 Lake Management Update
9:30 Moth Field Session
Sunday, August 8
6:00-8:00 Bird Field Session
9:00-12:00  Field Session
12:00 Sack Lunch
1:00 Final Report
Bring a sack lunch/supper, wear sturdy shoes that can get wet or muddy (no flip flops or open toed sandals), sunscreen, bug repellent, water bottle to re-fill, and binoculars.

 Wood Lily
(Lilium philadelphicum)

One thing I find interesting about identifying forbs during mid to late summer is identifying the late spring and early summer plants with their seed capsules in place instead of their flowers.  I often wish I'd find the time to photograph forbs in seed...would you recognize the Prairie Larkspur gone to seed?  I think it's amazingly similar to the shape of columbine when it's gone to seed...except larger and paler, maybe even somewhat more "papery" (if that's really a word!?).

If you're familiar with lilies in your garden, then you'll likely recognize the Wood Lily gone to fruit...these are perhaps some forbs we'll be able to find at the "Bioblitz:  A 24 Hour Nature Scavenger Hunt" at Lost Island on August 7th and 8th.  If you're free, and game for a real "hunt", come on over and give me a hand!  :)


  1. What a nice plan in your August. Unfortunately I can't join because of I have job this summer.
    I love your heart to prairie nature.
    I haven't never seen top of beautiful delphinium virescens of nature. That looks so small.

  2. Hi Makiko, Thank you for your comments; I do love the Tallgrass Prairie! I love all of nature, but the prairie stole my heart about 15 years ago and I've not recovered since!

    The Prairie Larkspur flower is really a fairly good size...around 2.5 cm This native prairie flower is highly toxic to livestock though (cattle) and I do know farmers who have lost cows after they browsed it. I don't believe sheep or goats have nearly as much trouble with it as cows however.