Journal archives for December 2017

01 December, 2017

November 2017 iNaturalist Vermont Photo-Observation of the Month

Congratulations to Jason Berard for winning the November 2017 iNaturalist Vermont photo-observation of the month contest. His image of a curious Ruffed Grouse was the most popular photo-observation as measured by clicked ‘favs’.

Ruffed Grouse are often encountered along old roads and trails in the woods. The Ruffed Grouse's startlingly explosive flush often leaves the observer breathless. Another clue to the presence of Ruffed Grouse is the territorial drumming of the male. A low, throbbing, accelerating sound, drumming is caused by a series of compression waves created by the beating of the male's wings while he remains in a stationary position on a display log, stump, elevated terrain, or stone wall. Learn more about Ruffed Grouse from the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life.

Visit iNaturalist Vermont and you can vote for the winner this month by clicking ‘fav’ on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Posted on 01 December, 2017 22:44 by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comments | Leave a comment

20 December, 2017

Vermont Dragonfly and Damselfly Atlas: 10,000 Odes and Counting

By Bryan Pfeiffer

Our brigade of volunteers added 1,605 records to our growing dataset, which now stands at 10,544 records. That includes the addition of two new species to the Vermont fauna in 2017: Cordulegaster erronea (Tiger Spiketail) and Somatochlora incurvata (Incurvate Emerald).

Before we get to the news on those additions, perhaps the best news in Odonata this year was that the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE) brought our collective data online. On April 21, as the first Anax junius (Common Green Darners) were cruising into Vermont, VCE made more than a century of Odonata data freely accessible to the world, thanks in large part to the work of Senior Biologist Kent McFarland. It’s all part of the Vermont Atlas of Life.

VDDA now covers 145 confirmed Odonata species in the state: 101 dragonflies (Anisoptera) and 44 damselflies (Zygoptera). But we’re not done. In our atlas, every dragonfly counts, even common species. So we continue to grow our dataset with contributions from skilled odonatologists and casual observers alike. Thanks to everyone who contributed this year, a total of 120 people, pushing us past the 10,000-record mark. It’s a tremendous achievement for a small state.

After we launched the project online, the first big news came from the Black River in Springfield. On July 31, Dale Ferland, an angler who likes to poke around rivers, snapped a photo of a dragonfly perched on the shoreline. Kelly Stettner, who’s doing great work educating folks about the river, posted Dale’s image to iNaturalist Vermont, where project curators first saw it. Needless to say, we were happy — and surprised. It was Vermont’s first Cordulegaster erronea (Tiger Spiketail).

This handsome dragonfly inhabits streams and rivers east of the Mississippi River, and rarely gets this far north. Spiketails are so named for the females, which lay their eggs by hovering and plunging their spiked ovipositors, like sewing machines, into flowing water. Dale’s find turned out to be the 100th dragonfly species we know of here in Vermont. Whether we’ve got a resident population of Tiger Spiketails, or whether this is a one-off, remains to be seen. We’ll be back to the site next year. (In a similarly rare encounter, our colleague Josh Rose also found this species in Massachusetts on June 25, 2017.) In any event, congratulations are due to Dale and Kelly!

The other big discovery, not so much a surprise, was bittersweet for me (your humble VDDA co-coordinator). I’ve spent many years in Vermont peatlands searching unsuccessfully for Somatochlora incurvata (Incurvate Emerald). In August, I hatched a late-season plan with Josh Lincoln to search for this rare dragonfly in a remote section of Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area, in Vermont’s Northeastern Highlands. The expedition required about two hours of bushwhacking and mucking through wetlands to reach the site.

My plan might have worked — except that I went down with a heart attack on August 26, a few days before Josh and I had intended to get to Victory. (I’m doing fine now, by the way.) As I was recovering, on September 16, Josh and Mike Blust set out on the Victory slog. And after the two-hour march, and then 45 minutes on the bog, each of them had achieved victory in Victory: at long last, Vermont’s first Somatochlora incurvata (Incurvate Emerald). This elusive species is among the rarest North American dragonflies, known only from scattered records throughout the upper Midwest and northeastern North America. We continue to seek out additional sites for it in Vermont. Read more about Josh and Mike’s discovery on the VCE blog.

Had Josh and I instead made that fateful trip to Victory, yes, indeed, we might have finally landed S. incurvata in Vermont. It would have been great. But it might have been the last dragonfly I had ever encountered on this good earth.

So congratulations to Josh and Mike. Meanwhile, I live on to find more dragonflies in this state. You can join the effort. If you’d like to learn more about dragonflies, and how to discover and enjoy them, send me an email. We’ll keep you posted on project trainings and workshops next year.

Posted on 20 December, 2017 19:44 by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comments | Leave a comment

30 December, 2017

iNaturalist Vermont Builds Biodiversity Big Data in 2017

With a tap on his smartphone and a click to submit to iNaturalist Vermont, Noel Dodge added the 150,000th record this year on June 15th, a Black Ash tree growing near Otter Creek. And observations kept on coming to iNaturalist Vermont, with more than 183,000 observations representing more than 4,000 species contributed by 2,175 citizen scientists. Over the past 5 years iNaturalist Vermont, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, has become a big data biodiversity resource for the Green Mountain State thanks to you!

2017 was a big year for iNaturalist Vermont. We had 1,057 naturalists contribute over 56,250 observations representing more than 3,850 species. Over 1,325 naturalist helped to identify and verify data. And we joined the more than 73,000 iNaturalists worldwide that submitted over 3.5 million observations in 2017! Check out the 2017 year in review statistics dashboard, and if you're an iNaturalist you can see your year in review too.

Read more on the VCE Blog

Posted on 30 December, 2017 14:16 by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comments | Leave a comment