Bridgewater Hollow BioBlitz

This past Sunday, six people with smartphones and one guy with a pad of paper descended on a 350 acre property in the Green Mountains near Bridgewater Hollow, Vermont. The smartphone people used iNaturalist to document about 300 observations of plants and animals (and quite a few things that might be neither, like slime molds and fungi). The paper guy was Brett Engstrom whose list of vascular plants is probably longer than the list of all the species that everyone else compiled. 

The 350 acre property and the ~300 observations of plants and animals made on Sunday and documented with iNaturalist. There was a lot of duplication, so these observations might represent fewer than 200 different species.
This is Brett Engstrom and also one of the photos submitted to iNaturalist to document basswood (Tilia americana). It could also be used to document sapsuckers. I haven’t seen Brett’s plant list yet, but it might include close to 200 species.

The day also included organized field trips which highlighted a taxon or topic (birds, plants, slime molds, bees, and forest history). This is a really important addition to the listing-focused bioblitz activity and allows non-experts to participate and learn.

Above are the results on June 25. You can see the current list of species at iNaturalist.
The 444 identifications are from 43 people who have confirmed (online) the species identifications of many of the field observations.
Spencer Hardy of Vermont Center for Ecostudies led a program on bees. He had lots of traps set up and added many bees and other insect species to the day’s list.
Shelby Perry of Northeast Wilderness Trust was an organizer of the bioblitz and led a program on slime molds and actually found and identified to species some slime molds. This was eye-opening as was the fact that slime molds are not decomposers like fungi. Apparently they just ooze around in organic matter because they like it there.
Brett Engstrom on his botany walk.

I led a walk to investigate the history of the forest. Forest history in Vermont usually means the history of people using and disturbing the forest, but we explored a hillside that had no direct evidence of human use. So we had to rely solely on the trees for clues. Had we climbed another few hundred yards up the hill, we would have seen lots of solid evidence of a relatively long history of people using the land.

The zoomable image above is a panorama stitched from 19 handheld photos of a hearth and foundation deep in the woods of the Bramhall property. No records have been found which tell the story of this homestead, but the dry layup (without mortar) stone work suggests a pre Civil War origin. It’s absence on an 1869 atlas suggests that it was abandoned by that time. Extensive stone walls, rock piles, and a sugar arch (a structure for a wood fired maple sap evaporator) are also hidden throughout this rich, mature forest of sugar maples, white ash, yellow birch, and American beech.

Above is a stitched panorama from the south side of the same chimney and hearth.

Associated with the hearth and foundation are well built stone walls and stone piles suggesting extensive agricultural activity around the 19th century homestead.

Thanks to Shelby, Zack, and Cathleen for organizing and running a busy, fun, and productive day of bioblitzing.

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