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Adventures in BioBlitzing

Anne Olivier, Adult Librarian, Woodland Hills Branch Library,
Collage of photos from plants, animals, and insects
Take up the L.A. BioBlitz Challenge, and remember to never leave home without your camera. You never know what wildlife neighbor you may encounter!

Have you decided to join the L.A. BioBlitz Challenge? If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time! The challenge runs until August 7th and helps contribute to the knowledge about our city’s biodiversity. Your observations will help fill in the map so researchers can learn which species live in the different areas of Los Angeles.

You’ll want to start by downloading the iNaturalist app on your smartphone or other devices. Next, simply begin snapping pictures of your furry, slithery, or feathery neighbors and upload them to the app. Be sure to add them to the L.A. BioBlitz Challenge Project. To complete the Challenge, you will need to upload at least 10 nature observations to iNaturalist, including at least three indicator species. Researchers are especially interested in knowing where in our city the 38 indicator species are found.

The Community Sciences Observations map shows observation hot spots in green areas, and cold spots in grey areas. The green indicates areas with at least 5 or more observations. The darkest green shows areas where at least 32 observations have been made. Help turn the map green in your neighborhood!

One thing I’ve learned from this challenge is to always have my phone ready when I’m outdoors. It’s a fact that nature does not always stay still and pose for that perfect photo! For example, one morning I was out on my back patio with coffee—but not phone—in hand. After a moment I noticed a great deal of rustling in the bushes in our planter area. I set my coffee down and moved over as stealthily as I could, then peeked into the bushes. I saw a flash of a black head, wings, and a reddish-brown color on its side.

It was a towhee, one of the indicator species! I dashed into the house and grabbed my phone. I aimed the camera a moment too late, just as the little bird hopped through the fence to the neighbor’s yard.

Another challenging subject was the monarch butterfly that was swooping around our front yard. I ran up with my phone in hand and patiently waited until it rode the breezes back toward our rose bushes—but it never landed. I stretched, squatted, and waved my camera around snapping away in the hope I would get a usable shot. I managed it, but just barely!

butterfly near a wall
My elusive Monarch Butterfly
small brown lizard
Gladly, some of my suburban friends are not so camera shy, as was the case with this Alligator Lizard

Hopefully you will decide to take up the L.A. BioBlitz Challenge, and remember to never leave home without your camera. You never know what wildlife neighbor you may encounter!


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