The tenth annual Rhode Island BioBlitz was held at Sprague Farm, off Pine Hill Schoolhouse Road in Glocester on June 5 and 6, 2009. In the final analysis, 119 participants were able to find and identify 1,013 species of animals and plants in just 24 hours.
Friday was an unpromising gray with lowering clouds but nonetheless the teams turned out in force and we had a wonderfully pastoral scene for Science Central. Thanks especially to the Glocester Land Trust and the Town of Glocester for the great set-up, including Roy Najecki’s historical registration tent. The weather remained cold and damp overnight and we were grateful for the bonfire. By mid-morning the weather broke and by 11 a.m. it had turned sunny and steamy and insects were simply pouring out of the vegetation and into the air. With just a short window before the end, the aerial insect teams nonetheless turned in impressive odonata and butterfly lists.
Highlights: Despite the weather Lou Perrotti managed to pull a good sample of snakes out from among the many stone walls. The crew from Roger Williams Park Zoo did a fantastic job setting mammal traps and were rewarded with a good selection including both the meadow and woodland jumping mice and the elusive water shrew! We were particularly lucky to have Mike Kieron along because he collected a specimen of the otherwise rarely encountered and interesting harvester butterfly (Feniseca tarquinius). Also, we found giant millipedes, which many people didn’t even know occurred in Rhode Island, but which turn out to be not uncommon in old, healthy forests such as that at Sprague Farm.
A noteworthy odonata find is the brush-tipped emerald (Somatochlora walshii), an attractive, uncommon species at any time, but this particular one was collected from the fen alive, as an unidentified larvae, and reared in a participant’s home aquarium until it emerged. Another notable aquatic insect from the fen is the caddisfly Phanocelia canadensis, a northern species never seen this far south before. One truly noteworthy accomplishment is the identification of no fewer than 95 species of lichens and 77 species of mosses, more indication, as if more were needed, that Sprague Farm is a healthy forest and a special place.