Aucilla Wildlife Management Area Bioblitz Yields Many Exciting Finds

By Peter Kleinhenz

A great egret perches on the edge of the Wacissa River at the Aucilla WMA bioblitz.
Photo by Emily Ellis

What the heck is a bioblitz? A bioblitz consists of various teams made up of members of the public going out with taxonomic group experts to search for as much life as possible, within a set geographic area, within a set period of time. On May 6, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held just such a blitz at Aucilla Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County.

Groups searched for birds, plants, reptiles/amphibians, and insects. The bird group was led by Apalachee Audubon members Budd Titlow, Don Morrow, Rob Williams, and Dana Bryant. They were joined by Scott Davis, a St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge ranger, who assisted with plant identification.

Bioblitz participants check out a butterfly captured by butterfly expert, Dean Jue, at the Aucilla WMA bioblitz. Photo by Andy Wraithmell

33 participants, ranging from 9-year-olds to grandparents, trekked on trails, forest roads, and through the forest in search of life. Each team surveyed for all taxonomic groups and had the opportunity to visit three different natural communities. Groups checked traps for turtles and cave invertebrates, paddled down the Wacissa River in search of birds, and netted butterflies feeding on roadside flowers. Life (including ticks) abounded.

Participants cataloged their finds using iNaturalist, as part of the Florida Nature Trackers program. This data will ultimately be shared with FWC biologists and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory in order for them to better understand, and conserve, the life found on the area. Below is a list of the birds observed that day:

Wood Duck

Wild Turkey

Great Egret

Cattle Egret

Little Blue Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Turkey Vulture

Swallow-tailed Kite

Mississippi Kite

Red-shouldered Hawk

Common Gallinule

Limpkin

Spotted Sandpiper

Common Ground-Dove

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Barred Owl

Common Nighthawk

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Acadian Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

White-eyed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

American Crow

Fish Crow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow

Purple Martin

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Carolina Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Swainson’s Thrush

Brown Thrasher

Black-and-white Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Swainson’s Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Northern Parula

Pine Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Eastern Towhee

Summer Tanager

Northern Cardinal

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