The long anticipated BioBlitz of the Tortolita Preserve in Marana was conducted on Saturday, November 19th. The Pima County Chapter of the Arizona Master Naturalists partnered with the Marana Parks and Recreation Department, Arizona Game and Fish Department, The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and the Tortolita Alliance to support the event. INaturalist was the Identification App used for the Blitz.
Although competing with El Tour de Tucson and a UofA home football game there was a great turnout for this first of, hopefully, a series of biological inventories. Over twenty Pima County Master Naturalists participated in one or more capacities: Observation Group Guide, Tabling staffer or trail Observer/Recorder. Hopefully we’ve not missed anyone in the appreciation list below. A few early birds are pictured here.
THANK YOU to: Kathe Sudano C3, Melissa Fratello C5, Peggy Ollerhead C3, Dave DeGroot C2, Jenna Marvin C3, Marcia Lambert C5, Vicki Ettleman C3, Melissa Mundt C5, Sharon Overstreet C2, Paul Stillman C3, Izetta Feeny C6. Carly Pierson C6, Linda Doughty C6, Andrea Hoerr C3, Diane Taylor C6, Paula Redinger C5, Diana Holmes C2, Penny Miller C2, Jean Boris C2, and Franklin Lane C1
Jay Grodman from Marana Parks and Recreation was the overall “jefe” and the Town of Marana supported the minimal cost of the event. But special thanks and appreciation should also go to our own Dave DeGroot for his deep passion for the project. There was multi-generational participation by the DeGroot family.
Jay feels that now that we have a template, we should consider doing additional Blitzes during other parts of the year. Pre-summer and perhaps monsoon season. Obviously, there were very few herp sightings on this crisp November morning! Also, this first Blitz was concentrated on just the southern part of the Preserve.
There were however almost (700) observations by (46) participants. Within the total observations were (136) distinct plant and animal species. Marcia Lambert (C5) had the individual record recording (34) different species. One observation team was led by Tucson Audubon Society staffers Jennie McFarland and Steven Prager and captured the first Ruby-Crowned Kinglet recorded in the area. Paul Stillman’s (C3) tremendous ‘trail-eye’ recorded a Gregg’s Night Blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii). Not surprisingly the most common species identified were the Saguaro and Graham’s Fishhook Cacti. Several mammals were observed but were mostly scored by their tracks. Jessica Moreno from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection led a special ‘tracks’ team out at first light before the ground was trampled. They noted; Grey Fox, Mule Deer, Coyote, Bobcat, and even a K-Rat.
While it was pretty chilly setting up and for the first couple of groups, it turned into a typically beautiful Sonoran Desert day. Since the Preserve could not be closed for the event, participants needed to keep an eye out for other recreational users. Below Melissa Mundt (C5) chats with a couple of mountain bikers at the PCMN propaganda table!