Monday, July 5, 2021

2021 Reptile BioBlitz at Great Basin National Park

Every year Great Basin National Park holds a BioBlitz that focuses on a different group of creatures. This year it was Reptiles.

Dr. Bryan Hamilton, the Park's wildlife biologist and a herpetologist, led the effort. Turn out was great.
The event started with some talks about reptiles and iNaturalist, a cool platform to upload sightings that are used for a variety of projects. 

Here are some of the snakes and lizards found in the area:

During the talks, one participant even found a lizard in the bathroom!

Hello, Great Basin whiptail lizard!

Participants went on an outing at the Baker Archeological Site and then prepared for night drives. I gave a scorpion talk. We didn't see any reptiles, but we saw some cool scorpions!

The next morning we were back at it with trips to various places.

I joined up with a group in Pole Canyon in the Baker Creek watershed. They weren't seeing a lot of reptiles, but they were having a good time.

Meg explained more about rattlesnake dens.

Back at Baker Hall, everyone could get a close-up view of another scorpion species.

Outside, a whipsnake was found on the grass.

Then it was time for show-and-tell inside. Jeremy Westerman showed a rattlesnake safely.

Participants could get up and close with a pet kingsnake.

With the head in the tube, it's safe to touch the rattlesnake.

The scales feel really neat!

Meanwhile, outside some participants were learning how to preserve reptiles with formalin. It's a dying skill. (pun intended!)

The show and tell was super popular and folks hung out quite awhile, soaking up the herpetological knowledge.

My kids even had fun with the snakes.

They made good progress with the preservation.

Sunday morning people were still out trying to capture a few more lizards.

A few participants took the challenge to find all the reptiles in the Great Basin Visitor Center. It had been closed in the summer due to staffing issues, but opened up especially for the BioBlitz. As of July 5, it's open from from Wednesday-Saturday from 1-5 pm. 

Can you find the horned lizard? What about 10 more reptiles in the exhibits?

The BioBlitz concluded with a delicious lunch sponsored by the Great Basin National Park Foundation and catered by Salt and Sucre.

A short talk about the preliminary results followed (featuring what had been shared on iNaturalist), and then the Western National Parks Association donated prizes for a free raffle drawing.

As participants left, they had one more fun opportunity, checking out the sun via solar telescope that Park volunteers set up.
It was a great BioBlitz, and it's always so fun to see the Park through a different lens. Using iNaturalist more made me slow down and be more observant. Next year's topic isn't decided yet, but when it is, you can learn about it and past BioBlitzes on the Park's Bioblitz webpage.

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