At 7:00am last Friday morning, over 20 volunteers gathered at TLC’s future Walnut Hill Preserve. Outfitted with their tools for the day, binoculars, nets, field guides, soil augurs, hand lenses, sturdy boots, and most importantly keen eyes and ears the group set out to conduct a bioblitz of the future preserve. A bioblitz is a rapid biological inventory aimed at finding and identifying as many species as possible in a short period of time.
The crew tramped across the site for 8 hours and documented over 400 species of birds, plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and more. This inventory will help document the current conditions of the site and help inform TLC’s management planning process for the preserve that will occur over the next year.
A few bird highlights from the visit included northern bobwhites (which are rarely heard in Wake County) and black-and-white warblers near the fields. We also heard wood thrushes (an indicator of a mature intact forest ecosystem) and documented 60 other bird species across the property.
A little closer to ground there were butterflies in abundance. A few butterfly discoveries included: American Snout, Northern Cloudywing, Appalachian Brown, and even Monarch feeding on emerging milkweed in the fields.
A variety of insects were discovered including a few ticks we wish were not on the list. Several dogbane beetles had taken up residence in a patch of dogbane also known as Indian hemp in one of the fields, a name given in reference to its historical use for making cords and rope.
Even closer to the ground, the group noted over 200 species of plants and trees. A few species in bloom included helmet skullcap, fire, pink, and Carolina milkvine.
Volunteers even dipped their nets in the seeps and creeks including one of my favorites, the slimy salamander.
Overall we had a great day! TLC wants to thank all of our volunteers, several who are shown in the picture below. Your efforts will have an impact on this preserve for many years to come. TLC would especially like to thank John Connors and Deborah Fowler with WakeNature, who helped TLC organize the day.