As Columbus Audubon continues to define the role of Calamus Swamp Preserve in its mission, we are continually becoming more familiar with the property and its seasonal nuances. The idea of a BioBlitz was hatched by the Calamus committee as a way to gain a better understanding of the flora and fauna on the property. Are there any threatened and/or endangered species, regional rarities, bell-weather species or educational opportunities? How do we manage for them? What changes are occurring with the decline of the ash trees? A BioBlitz is a fun way to get together at the property and have a day of discovery seeking out, documenting, and verifying the living things at Calamus Swamp Preserve.
A date and time were set: May 26, 2018 from 6:00 am to midnight. Invitations went out to Columbus Audubon members and various naturalists and science-based organizations to participate. When the big day arrived, tents and tables were set up as an on-site office at 5:00 am.
We had 25 participants, professionals and amateurs, of all walks of science gathering photos and documenting species. Aquatic invertebrates, plants, butterflies and moths, damselflies and dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians, trees and of course, birds — all were included. An unexpected challenge on the day was the extremely high water level which covered much of the boardwalk and limited access to some parts of the property. Regardless, high water was a welcome sight after the drying trend of the last several years, and has given the aquatic species a chance to rebound.
The BioBlitz was a success, and has provided a baseline of information needed to guide the processes of preservation, education, research and public access and awareness with Calamus Swamp. Much of the May 26 haul of information is still being processed; it will be made available online once it is put into a useable form. We’re not done yet! We will continue to add to the Calamus database with ongoing observations at different points during the year.
Some of the highlights and discoveries of 2018 include a healthy population of Eastern Tiger Salamanders on the property, as well as counts of great finds such as Least Bittern, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, Kentucky and Prothonotary Warblers, Luna Moth, Gray Treefrog, Sweetflag Spreadwing Damselfly and Davis’ Sedge. These and many other species found during the BioBlitz support the designation of Calamus Swamp Preserve as a high quality habitat, well worth protecting.