With the help of the public, Westchester Land Trust (WLT) and Healthy Yards are collaborating on an effort to find and identify as many species of plants and wildlife as possible through a series of events June 18-20. Nine programs will be featured in the BioBlitz to be held at Westchester Land Trust’s Tom Burke Preserve in Bedford Hills.
With family-friendly events including a nighttime moth hunt, a wetlands walk, and “Wings and Stings” to introduce participants to the benefits of misunderstood insects, participants will help discover plants and wildlife on the preserve, and document as many as possible with photographs. Pictures can be uploaded as observations to iNaturalist, a widely used app from National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences. iNaturalist allows users to share observations, which experts can help identify, and scientists may use for research. To better understand the local impacts of climate change, even documenting the most common of species provides valuable data.
The varied ecosystems of meadow, forest, and wetlands in the 7.5-acre preserve make it an ideal place to document biodiversity and welcome everyone to appreciate nature and support community science. The preserve has been owned and managed by Westchester Land Trust for nearly 20 years, after the Town of Bedford and more than two dozen generous neighbors donated the funds to acquire the property, named for Tom Burke, who lived nearby and was lost in the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001.
“We are thrilled to be offering a wide range of events, including one in Spanish, to introduce everyone to community science, and to share the wonders of biodiversity,” said Gentian Falstrom, Conservation Easement Steward at WLT. “Not only do we want to reinforce the joy of spending time in nature that so many have embraced over the past year, it gives us an opportunity to find out in greater detail what species are living on our land. Healthy Yards is the perfect partner for this endeavor because the more that people appreciate the life all around us, the more they are inspired to take those lessons home and treat their own yards like a nature preserve.”
The schedule of events is as follows:
9:00pm – 10:00pm Moth Hunt
Enjoy a rare opportunity to visit the preserve after dark! We will shine a light behind a sheet to attract and learn about the moths and other night-flying insects living there.
Saturday, June 19
8:00 am – 9:30 am Community Science
Learn how to identify and document the species you spot using common apps. Naturalist will be the focus, but will also discuss Seek, e-Bird, Merlin, and Birdnet.
10:30am – 12:00pm “BioBlitz” en Español (Spanish language nature walk)
Vamos a caminar entre el parque y aprender sobre las criaturas—polinizadores, aves, y otros animales—y plantas que viven en nuestra comunidad.
1:00pm – 2:30pm Plants: Native or Invasive?
In recent years, you may have heard a lot more about invasive species here in Westchester. Learn to identify the plants of the preserve and distinguish those native to our region.
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm Wings and Stings
Hymenoptera–bees, wasps, hornets, and ants–are some of the most misunderstood, successful, and complex animals in the world. Join us to track down and try to identify as many of these elusive and beautiful creatures as possible!
Sunday, June 20
7:30 am – 9:00 am Feathers for Fathers
Join Tait Johansson from Bedford Audubon for an early morning bird walk on Father’s Day. The preserve provides meadow, forest canopy and wetland habitat for lots of local birdlife.
10:00 am – 11:30 am Wonderful Wetlands
Let’s get muddy! Wetland ecosystems are home to a variety of unique plants and animals. We’ll explore the woodland swamp, and spend some time getting to know the tiny creatures that live in the water.
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm Design like the Wild
Nature is an awesome gardener! Instead of buying a book or magazine about gardening, let’s go out and see what cues nature can give us about mulch, seeding, and planting. This workshop is especially meant for people who are interested in welcoming more nature and wildlife into their yard and want to learn how to do so, while remaining friends with their neighbors.
Thursday, July 1
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Project Summary and Celebration
We’ll gather virtually to review the number and variety of species discovered during the BioBlitz, along with noteworthy finds. Small prizes will be awarded to the observers with the most plant and animal species reported, as well as the best photo and the rarest discovery.
All events require pre-registration, and space is limited. There will also be opportunities for people who visit outside of these events to participate. For more information or to register, visit www.westchesterlandtrust.org/bioblitz.
About Healthy Yards
Healthy Yards is a Bedford-based organization committed to helping homeowners move away from the landscaping practice of “cleaning” yards to a more earth-friendly practice of creating insect and bird habitat in residential landscapes. For more information visit www.healthyyards.org
About Westchester Land Trust
The Westchester Land Trust works with public and private partners to preserve land in perpetuity, and to enhance the natural resources in Westchester and eastern Putnam counties. WLT’s conservation efforts impact the long-term health of these communities through the protection of watershed areas, air quality, and food supply. In total, WLT has preserved nearly 9,000 acres of open space including 900 acres of preserves owned and managed by the organization.
For more information visit www.westchesterlandtrust.org/bioblitz. Contact: Gentian Falstrom firstname.lastname@example.org or 914.234.6992 ext. 14