'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 5 April 2013

BioBlitz - All Things

At the Miranda Shorebird Centre on 28th February a whole lot of people got together with nets and buckets and plastic bags and what-not, and, over the course of a day, tried to see how many living species they could find.  This BIOBLITZ has to date resulted in approximately (it keeps going up) 1115 different species being identified.  This includes everything living in the area ~ plant, animal, bird, insect, spider, lichen, fungi, diatom, plankton, bacteria, etc.  If there had not been a severe drought in the area at the time, the total might have been even higher.

Here's ecologist David Riddell with a flock of homeschoolers looking in the stilt ponds.


It's been an amazingly massive undertaking involving thousands of man-hours before, during and after the day itself.

I drew a diagrammatic map of the Taramarie/Miranda area so that species could be located and cross-linked to create an energy web.  Here it is mid-morning.  You can see the coloured bits of paper.  Each is a species identified and located.  Each colour indicated a 'type' of creature.

Key to colours of the Miranda BioBlitz Energy web.

I think Phlegm has summed The BioBlitz up beautifully in his drawing 'All Things That Lived:*


The much more modest contribution of the Artist-in-Residence-at-the-BioBlitz consisted of the map, a watercolour of Karo (Pittosporum crassifolium) and some sketches of a katydid that was slowed down enough to paint by a brief, harmless spell in the freezer.
2 species down, only 1113 to go...

*Phlegm wasn't actually at the BioBlitz, but he could have been.


  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. I had wondered when you first mentioned the bio-blitz how it was going to work practically. Obviously, just listening to the discussions at Aftermas, it was well planned and thought out but I couldn't help wondering how many people brought in a species already brought in by everyone else or even ignored because 'they will have one of those already'. The vastness of the area and the task rather daunted me.

  3. Very impressive! I would find the exercise rather daunting too. I've been on bird counts before and am constantly amazed at the high number that are so often overlooked.

  4. Wow. Now that IS an undertaking. And one in which - had he been living and in NZ at the time - my father would have jumped with both feet. Being a coleopterist of no little enthusiasm, he'd have dropped everything else (and I mean everything) to be there and would have LOVED every moment. I can see him now, on his knees in the mud, glasses nearly falling off and hair in his eyes, peering at the tiniest specimen and rattling off its latin name.

    I have always admired people who do this. It's so needed, especially these days to keep us up to date with what we have, what's in decline, and what's on the up, and of course, it's SO educational. There is absolutely no comparison between this and sitting in a classroom, even with the best of teaching aids and the most willing students. Well done to all!

  5. By the way, I do love your illustrations. You already know how I love insect studies and photography, but your Karo is stunning. Definitely book illustration quality there, but with 'soul'.

  6. Had to look up the word Katydid = Bush cricket. You slow them down by putting them in the freezer. That’s probably the reason why I don’t see them around. It is still 5 degree C here. Do they jump away when the temperature goes up again?