I thoroughly enjoyed the recent Woomargama Bioblitz event. You might be familiar with the Bioblitz concept – surveying an area for plants and animals and recording what is found. When you’ve got experts along to help, as they did in Woomargama, it’s a fantastic opportunity to improve your own knowledge as well as see things you might not otherwise notice or be able to identify. The data from this Bioblitz was uploaded into the national biodiversity aggregator, the Atlas of Living Australia. With so little known about so many of our Australian species, surveys such as this are invaluable for adding to our collective knowledge.
But did you also know you don’t have to be an expert to make a contribution?
A new website developed by Museum Victoria, BowerBird.org.au, offers us all the chance to have our sightings of flora and fauna identified by experts and potentially added to the Atlas of Living Australia.
Here’s how it works. After creating a free account, you can upload photos, a description and the location of what you’ve seen. You can identify the species yourself if you know. Or ask for assistance from the many experts involved with the site.
I uploaded some photos of native bees I took at an event at Wirraminna in Burrumbuttock. I tried to get close and took shots from various angles to provide much detail as possible for identification. A camera with macro is great, but even my pictures taken with my phone sufficed.
Dr Ken Walker from Museum Victoria identified the bees as Leioproctus versicolor on BowerBird and encouraged me to add other sightings. You bet!
Projects are another feature of the site. A project can be a place or an event, where everyone can add and view sightings. So ‘Nail Can Hill’ might be a project. Other users have set up projects of their backyards and schools, and yes, even Bioblitz events.
You can also ‘follow’ particular people, organisations or projects on BowerBird, so that you see the content that interests you most. You won’t be surprised to hear I’m following the ‘Australian bees’ project.
Want to know more? Dr Ken Walker will be presenting a series of ‘talks, walks and gawks’ in our area between November 5th and 7th, including sessions about the BowerBird website. For details see here.
An edited version of this article appeared in the Living Lightly column of the Border Mail and online on Saturday 26th October.