Bioblitz at Killbear Provincial Park

On Saturday June 10th, over 150 people came out to count the species in Killbear Provincial Park. It was part of a “Bioblitz” where experts helped people to observe nature and learn about biodiversity. 

Fifteen different sessions were offered throughout the day, from early birding to late night owl prowls and moth identification. Other guided outings included reptiles, fish, plants and a benthic program for kids where they could catch and count critters in the water. 

Seven-year old, Percy Shurr, came with several families and talked about his day: “I loved the fish – especially catching them with the seine net. We found a black-nosed shiner and a black-tailed shiner. I liked seeing my friends too.” 

Several hundred species were documented over the weekend, with 300 entered so far. The final tally is still out because experts are entering their data into the iNaturalist app from their observations collected on Sunday. The final data is open source and free to the public and will help Killbear Provincial Park in the future.

Parry Sound High School science teacher, Nancy Regan, brought her nine-year old son, James. He said: “I liked seeing the live rattlesnake. We saw a salamander and a mink frog.” 

According to Becky Pollock, executive director of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve: “Park naturalists are reporting that there were at least 60 species of birds recorded. Red headed and red-bellied woodpeckers are both southern species that are now in the Parry Sound area – likely indicators of changes in climate. We also had some Sandhill cranes that are a species that have recolonized the area over the last 10 years and sound fantastic when they call. About a dozen reptiles and amphibians were seen and approximately 20 different species of dragonfly – not to mention the other insects found. There are still several unidentified species that will take some outside experts to confirm.”

Although the reptile count started off slowly with Snapping turtles laying eggs on the side of the road, then an Eastern garter snake, a Midland painted turtle and a Northern water snake, by the end of the weekend five Massasauga rattlesnakes were spotted (and documented for research) and one boy climbing a tree at his campsite spotted two Eastern foxsnakes mating. 

“The more eyes on nature, the more sightings get reported,” explains Pollock. “It’s the definition of ‘citizen science’  where people of all ages can contribute to science. It was exciting to see people going off on their hikes with nets and guides and binoculars to find out what lives in our Biosphere. We were very proud to host a Canada 150 Signature Project – one of the 38 Bioblitz events across the country.”

The events are being coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage. For more information, visit BioBlitzCanada.ca