Clifton Institute bioblitz August 2023

looking more or less northAlmost perfect weather yesterday for traipsing and documenting. We surveyed a farm up on the Piedmont of western Fauquier County that is being converted from cattle pasture to a more native plant-based flora.

low flowgetting the shotquarryThe farm backs on to an upper reach of the Rappahannock River, this summer not running with much water due to our moderate drought. But Bert Harris and helpers managed to net a Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) for observation and release.

After I chased an Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens) for half an hour, it settled down to sally from a perch, giving me some excellent, well-lighted looks. I’m not fond of Box Elder (Acer negundo) as a rule, but some of the trees in the river bottom are delightfully gnarly and chonky.

It’s a bioblitz, so everything counts, including Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) and Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix) and Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). This one caught our attention because it was loudly gnawing on a bone.

After sifting out the out-of-focus shots and doing my best to color-correct the greenish cast given off by the mercury vapor lamp, I was able to contribute 49 observations to the project.

At the end of the day, as we started to drift back towards the cars, someone gave up a shout, because a female Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus) had come to the light.