Guest blog by TTF intern Jennifer Lafty
On April 28th, TTF and members of the local community gathered in two parks within our watershed for our first ever BioBlitz. A BioBlitz is an event where a group of people get together to document as many species as possible (animals, plants, insects, and more!) in a certain area, usually in the course of 24 hours. We started the BioBlitz within the TTF Watershed the week earlier in celebration of Earth Day, with April 28th as the final day. At High School Park and Tacony Creek Park, groups worked together to photograph the animals, plants, and other life found within the watershed in order to submit them to the TTF’s Bioblitz Project with the iNaturalist app. The iNaturalist app is used to identify and record species using photographs. With enough confirmation from others using the app, it is able to produce research grade information. Every year, Bioblitzes like this one are held worldwide, and 2018 makes TTF’s first year.
Gathering at 10am at the I Street and Ramona Gateway of Tacony Park, we split up into three separate groups to cover different areas of the park. Those more interested in documenting butterflies and species of birds explored the meadow area. Warblers, heron, swallows, and woodpeckers are just a few of the species spotted by the meadow group. Those looking for a chance to get closer to the water could join the creek group in search for aquatic life in the Frankford Creek. With boots, fishing rods, and nets, the creek group was able to collect photos of fish and other aquatic life such as the Banded Killfish, Eastern Red-Backed Salamander, and the Northern Watersnake for our project. The Creek Mobile made an appearance on the Tacony Park trail along with the third and final group, driven by TTF’s very own, Robin Irizarry. Packed with field guides for plants, fish, birds and trees, the CreekMobile carried the resources we needed on our journey down the park path. Documenting the parks native and invasive plant species along our ride taught us a lot about the different roles plants play in our parks. We also learned about the many uses for plants we see around us everyday in cooking and different natural remedies.
Over the course of that week, TTF’s BioBlitz Project recorded 442 observations of over 184 species in both High School Park and the Tacony Creek Park. Our most observed species in our watershed included the invasive plants Japanese Knotweed and Lesser Celandine, and common birds like American Robins and Canada Geese. Some of the coolest species we saw included a DeKay’s Brownsnake, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Wolf Spider, and a Green Heron.
Attending the 2018 BioBlitz taught me so much more about what the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford watershed has to offer and gave me a new appreciation for diversity of plants and wildlife around me. Living in the large city like Philadelphia, it’s rare to find areas where many different species thrive. Educating ourselves about what plants, insects, birds and mammals call our park home helps our community take better care of what is important to us.
Do you love nature like us? Submit photos of the species you find near the TTF creek our iNaturalist Biological Survey that’s active all year long: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tookany-tacony-frankford-creek-biological-survey Right now, we have over 550 observations of 202 species! You can help us find and identify even more species in our watershed!