Thanks to all who joined in the great fun and huge effort of the first-ever McLaren Park bioblitz! The results are beyond our wildest expectations.
McLaren Park BioBlitz
Speaking of all that species data, here’s a synopsis:
- We had well over 60 attendees with a wide range of expertise and age, of which 43 submitted official observations into the iNaturalist database.
- From all previous plant and animal species lists painstakingly accumulated over the decades, we knew of about 250 species in McLaren Park, of which about 70 had been recently observed and entered into iNat.
- During the 3-hour bioblitz, we made 1310 observations and discovered a whopping 248 confirmed species!
- About 90 or so of those were not on any previous lists, so the known species list for McLaren now stands at 340. Most of these new species are insects — moths, dragonflies, beetles, and creepy crawlies of various sorts [aka bird food], but a few are plants and other critters.
- Here’s the results from several different views:
We’re already talking about when to do it again in McLaren, and already other parks are talking about picking up the model we’ve proven here. So stay tuned for more nature nerdiness. Last but not least, a huge thanks to all of our partners in this bold citizen science adventure — Nerds For Nature, iNaturalist, and Bay Nature Institute!
By the way, if you are interested in the intersection of technology and nature conservancy you’ll want to attend the innovative Nerds For Nature “Project Speed Dating” event next month in Oakland (Friday Aug.16, 7-9pm). It’ll be a hoot!
Tom Scott gives us a heads up that ticks are currently abundant in McLaren Park. “In the past two weeks alone I’ve found 3 different ticks on me, although none had clamped down (thankfully). I don’t recall finding any ticks in the previous 8 years that I’ve been going to the park. My dog remains tick-free thanks to the medication she uses.”
Tom explains, “the ticks I found on myself have been identified as Dermacentor variabilis
, also known as American Dog Tick and Wood Tick. This species is not known to carry Lyme Disease, but it can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It’s unlikely, though, that the ticks in McLaren carry this disease. I don’t think this is an urgent health concern for park users, but something to be aware of.”
Suggestions when going to the park: Apply mosquito repellent, especially to your legs and even if you’re wearing pants. Also, it’s a good idea to check yourself after returning from the park. Ticks tend to go for warm moist areas, such as armpits and groins.
The original ParkScan system devised some years ago by the Neighborhood Parks Council (now SF Parks Alliance) has helped bring awareness and accountability to various infrastructure problems in our open spaces. The 311 program is an even more comprehensive effort that covers the entire City, using both an on-line system and live phone operators to transcribe voice reports from 311 callers.
Now there are several apps for that, and we hope to see this new trend towards high-tech civic engagement blossom even further. Check out this list of several new apps that feed directly into the City’s SF311 system. We have tried CitySourced with some success, but the others have their merit as well. The advantage of the apps is that they use your smartphone’s GPS to geo-tag the report, and you can directly attach photos that you take of the problem, as well.
We invite you to try them all out and let us know how it goes. We also encourage you to use for practice data all of the illegal dumping and graffiti that has been on the rise in our park, especially along the Mansell corridor, but in other corners as well. Let see how loud we can squeek for John McLaren Park!
In recent weeks a number of motorcycles have been riding at high speeds through the trails and meadows of McLaren. This threatens natural habitat and pedestrian safety.
Riding a motorcycle in a city park is against the law! Police encourage anyone seeing motorcycles in the park to call 911 immediately.
There have been numerous sitings of coyotes in McLaren Park this year. And, there is good evidence that a family of foxes have located here as well.
City coyotes are generally not a threat to humans. Timid by nature, they have adapted to the urban environment and are able to find plenty of food. However, these rules-of-thumb change during breeding time. Two coyotes seen together – like those recently sited in McLaren – are likely a breeding pair and can be more agressive, particularly when the pups arrive. (Click image for info on coexisting with coyotes. For a more detailed brochure, click here.)
If you see a coyote:
- Do not approach it. Back away calmly.
- Do not offer it food.
- Important: control your dog! Coyotes and dogs do not mix and your dog will lose a fight. Smaller dogs can even be killed. Keep your dog on leash in areas where coyotes have been sighted.
- If a coyote approaches you, make yourself large, shout, if necessary throw something (not food!) at or behind the coyote, and move away slowly towards a more human-populated area.