GSB2021 Wrap-up & CNC2022 Plans

Back in October 2021 I detailed my BioBlitz history and set a few goals for the 2021 Great Southern BioBlitz. With the 2022 City Nature Challenge almost here, it’s certainly time for me to wrap-up my GSB2021 with a summary of activities, finally get around to filing the photos, and decide on my CNC2022 plans.

I’ve previously taken part in the City Nature Challenge 2020 with 1172 observations of 374 species, the Great Southern BioBlitz 2020 with 1440 observations of 465 species, and the City Nature Challenge 2021 with 1403 observations of 432 species.

Great Southern Bioblitz 2021

The was my second attempt at the 4-day BioBlitz during Spring. I had set myself the goals of recording 1,500 observations covering 500 species, including at least 50 new species for my iNaturalist Life List. To find 50 new species I’d need to travel further afield, away from my usual hunting grounds, seeking the flora and fauna of semi-arid and coastal habitats. Finding 500 species would require visiting many different locations and attempting to get photos of Invertebrates of sufficient quality for species or Genus level ID. Recording 1,500 observations is mostly a matter of motivation.

Over the 4 days I visited 13 locations ranging from Sandy Creek CP (East of Gawler) to the Riverglades Wetlands along the Murry River, Bonney Reserve along the Coorong, and Newland Head CP on the Fleurieu Peninsula southern coast. I recorded 1,278 observations covering 470 species (using the ‘leaf count’ method’), with 385 of those identified all the way to species. While I fell short of the goals for observations and species, I nevertheless recorded more species than I have in any past BioBlitz. This is likely due to the wide range of habitats visited. Additionally, I added 53 new species to my iNaturalist Life List. Not a bad haul for 4 days in the field.

Unsurprisingly Plants, which are so numerous and cannot flee, featured heavily (253 species) in the most observed list. The Flat-leaf Grass-tree (Xanthorrhoea semiplana) took out the top spot with 21 observations from all across Greater Adelaide including Sandy Creek CP, Onkaparinga River NP, Cox Scrub CP and Newland Head CP.

Coming in 4th place with 18 observations was the invasive weed Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides). Showing the extent of the weed problem this was found in Sandy Creek CP, Newland Head CP, Bonney Reserve (Coorong) and Mowantjie Willauwar CP (along the Murray River).

Interesting Plants finds include Prickly Wax-flower (Philotheca pungens) and Coast Speedwel (Veronica hillebrandii) at Newland Head CP, and a Tea-tree Mistletoe (Amyema melaleucae) at Bonney Reserve along the Coorong.

69 Bird species were recorded with the most observed being the common Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) with 9 records from 7 location. Several interesting species were found visiting a shallow pool on the fire track in Cox Scrub Conservation Park, including a Beautiful Firetail (Stagonopleura bella), several Elegant Parrots (Neophema elegans), and Yellow-rumped Thornbills (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa).

The most observed Invertebrate was the Apple Looper Moth (Phrissogonus laticostata), primarily because it was recorded visiting the UV light on each night. Fewer Insects were recorded than I would have preferred with 223 observations of 102 species. Interesting finds include the 2nd, 3rd and 4th observations on iNat of the Jewel Beetle Castiarina malleeana in Sandy Creek CP, a Three Spot Skipper (Motasingha trimaculata) at Bonney Reserve, a Brachyponera lutea Ant in Mowantjie Willauwar CP, and a Praxibulus sp. Grasshopper at the Bee Hub at Brownhill Creek.

Thanks to some country driving the Shingleback Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) was recorded 5 times.

Observations on my property over the four days totalled 146 records of 81 species, with approximately 2/3 of these attracted to the UV light after dark, including 38 Moth species.

A few more of my favourite observations from the BioBlitz are shown below.

City Nature Challenge 2022

The CNC2022 starts in a couple of days. This BioBlitz only covers Greater Adelaide so the range is a little more restricted than the GSB Event, however there are still many different habitats from which to choose.

Given the 1,900 or so species I’ve already recorded on iNaturalist, it may be a stretch to aim for 50 more in 4 days during Autumn, especially since the weather is going to be cool and wet, keeping the Insects grounded. My CNC2021 record of 1403 observations of 432 species is probably safe.

So my focus this time will be ‘familiar places, new trails’. I’ll be sticking relatively close to home visiting some familiar places but heading down trails I’ve not been down before, or at least along which I’ve not made many observations. I’ll also visit some core locations that always net me a stack of common species. A majority of the locations will be woodlands, with a few wetlands. I’ll miss out on mallee species and wading Birds, but I’ll pick up one beach in an attempt to add a stack of Mollusc species.

Over the years of using iNaturalist I’ve discovered that the least enjoyable excursion is the one where I set out to find a specific uncommon species and inevitably come home empty handed. The most enjoyable are those random excursions, often through habitats I have considered not worth searching, in which I chance upon something completely unexpected. Given the number of species present even in degraded environments, it shouldn’t be surprising that I encounter something uncommon and unexpected on every outing.

Good luck to anyone participating in the City Nature Challenge this year. Whether you’re heading out on all 4 days or just spending some time discovering the species in your own backyard, all will contribute valuable biodiversity records to the Atlas of Living Australia.

4-Day BioBlitz History

With the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021 approaching, I thought I’d review my City Nature Challenge and Great Southern BioBlitz history, and see if I can break some personal records during the GSB2021.

I’ve previously taken part in the City Nature Challenge 2020 with 1172 observations of 372 species, the Great Southern BioBlitz 2020 with 1440 observations of 461 species, and the City Nature Challenge 2021 with 1403 observations of 426 species.

City Nature Challenge 2020
My first attempt at a 4-day BioBlitz was the CNC2020. Taking place in our Autumn, this wasn’t an ideal time of year to discover as many species as possible. The weather can put a damper on most activity and the short daylight hours can be limiting. Many seasonal plant species aren’t present, Insects are hidden away in egg or larval stages, and identifying plants without flowers can present difficulties. Nevertheless, over the four days I visited 17 locations recording 1172 observations covering 373 species (using the ‘leaf count’ method), with 325 of those identified all the way to species.

Given the season and ease of observation, Plants featured heavily with the top 24 most recorded species being Plants. Most recorded was the Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia) with 24 records across 8 different locations. The most recorded Bird was the Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus), with 7 records across 7 different locations. The first Insect, the Meadow Argus (Junonia villida) appeared in 25th place with 6 records.

Observations from my property over the 4 days totalled 155 records covering 78 species. Many of these were Lepidoptera attracted to a UV light, however the species total also included 6 Flies, 6 Beetles, 5 Arachnids, 5 Plants (naturally occurring), 3 Molluscs and 3 Ants.

CNC2020 Highlights:

Great Southern BioBlitz 2020
This is a BioBlitz much more suitable for tracking down those Spring flowers and Insects. The first Great Southern BioBlitz offered warm days with longer daylight hours. But the weather doesn’t always play nice as I found myself in the middle of Ferries-McDonald CP fending off a hailstorm.

Over the four days I visited 17 locations recording 1440 observations covering 461 species (using the ‘leaf count’ method), with 403 of those identified all the way to species. That’s +268 observations and +89 species beyond the CNC2020 totals.

The higher species count came from both records of seasonal plants and the inclusion of two beach locations in the mix which brought in additional marine species. While Plants feature heavily in the most observed list, 4 of the top 5 observed species were seasonal Orchids, with the Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia major) taking out the top spot having 23 observations across 3 different locations. The most observed Bird was the Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) coming in 9th place with 11 records across 4 different locations. The first Insect was again a Butterfly, with the Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi) coming in 52nd place with 5 records across 2 different locations.

Observations from my property over the 4 days totalled only 61 records covering 33 species. The lower numbers than in the CNC2020 were due to poor weather limiting the use of the UV light and time to search in the yard.

GSB2020 Highlights:

City Nature Challenge 2021
My second run at the City Nature Challenge followed much the same pattern as the first, with Plants featuring heavily, followed by Birds, and few Invertebrates.

Over the four days I visited 14 locations recording 1403 observations covering 426 species (using the ‘leaf count’ method), with 364 of those identified all the way to species. This was less than during the Spring GSB2020, as expected, but compared to the previous Autumn CNC2020 it was +231 observations and +54 species.

I had expected that across both years the species seen would have been fairly similar. The locations visited were different, but generally within the same region. However comparing both species lists (using the iNat compare tool) showed that of the 426 species seen in the CNC2021, 225 of them were NOT seen in the CNC2020. And of the 372 species seen in the CNC2020, 177 were NOT seen in the CNC2021. This strongly suggests that the key to recording as many species as possible during the BioBlitz is to visit as many, and varied, locations as possible. As opposed to longer visits to fewer locations.

The most observed species was the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), with 31 records across 5 different locations. Some species featured heavily this year due to choice of location, such as the Mount Lofty Ground-Berry (Acrotriche fasciculiflora) which placed 6th with 16 observations across only 2 locations in the Adelaide Hills.

Observations from my property over the 4 days totalled only 191 records covering 79 species. Lepidoptera featured heavily (143 observations) thanks to some warm weather. Interestingly, even though these observations were recorded at the same location and the same time of year, there was limited crossover. In the CNC2021 there were 50 species not recorded in CNC2020, and in the CNC2020 there were 52 species not recorded in the CNC2021. This suggests with a little effort the number of species recorded on my property over the 4 days could be doubled.

CNC2021 Highlights:

Great Southern BioBlitz 2021
This all brings us to the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021. This year I’ll be looking at visiting new locations and recording new species. Having learnt a few lessons from the previous BioBlitz events, I’ll be aiming to:

  • Add 50 new species to my life list.
  • Record at least 1,500 observations.
  • Record at least 500 species.

It’ll take a bit of effort to achieve all three. I’ll be visiting some semi-arid locations to track down some new species, however such areas tend to have lower species diversity, so I may be hard pressed to reach 500 species for the 4 days. It’ll also very much depend on the weather.

Good luck to anyone participating in this years Great Southern BioBlitz. Whether you’re heading out on all 4 days or just spending some time discovering the species in your own backyard, all will contribute important biodiversity records to the Atlas of Living Australia.