Authored by Jeff Beane
This year’s Wildathon took place on May 12 and 13. Our “24-Hour Dream Team” consists of Jeff Beane, Ed Corey, Bob Davis, John Finnegan, and Stephanie Horton. [Andy Walker also participated for the first couple of hours on Pleasure Island and was very helpful with retrieving traps and other logistics. Nate Shepard set minnow traps for us in the Sandhills on Tuesday, resulting in two species we did not encounter otherwise.] We counted only those species which we could positively identify to the agreement of our team. We recorded several species not found on any of our previous Wildathons. We omitted from the list a few species that we were uncertain of, including at least one bat sonogram from the Anabat detector that we could not positively identify.
Our total species count was the second-highest of the 24-hour Dream Team’s 16 Wildathons to date (our record was 248, in 2014). For the 9th straight year, it was a pleasure to begin the event with an Ophisaurus ventralis at Carolina Beach in New Hanover County, in the backyard of the former home of the late Ms. Myrtle Curry, mother of team member Bob Davis. The last species recorded was Spinus tristis, in Richmond County with about 20 minutes remaining. Two road-killed snakes and three frogs were salvaged, and a few invertebrates were collected, for the collections of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Many observational records for various species were added to the Museum’s files and the NC Natural Heritage Program’s database.
We dedicate this Wildathon to the late Edith Morgan; the late Jennifer Harris; all the early naturalists who came before us and left their invaluable legacies; and to all wild, free things everywhere.
We wish to thank everyone who pledged our team this year. At this point, our pledged sponsors include Sunny Allen, Ronn Altig, Rudy Arndt, Jeff Beane, Ann Bilobrowka, Art Bogan, Alan Cameron, Bob Cherry, John Connors, Ed Corey, Bob Davis and Judy Morgan-Davis, Kelly Davis, Paul DeAnna, Angie and Bill DeLozier, Janet Edgerton, John Finnegan and Stephanie Horton, Bob Flook, Jim Green, Jeff Hall, Diane Hardy, Andy Harrison, Roland Kays, Susan Kelemen, Rick LaRose, Jane Lawrence, Dave Lenat, Greg Lewbart and Diane Deresienski, Dan Lockwood, Gerry Luginbuhl, Ellen Lyle, Jeff Marcus, Theresa Moran, Bob Oberfelder, Linda Rudd, Annie Runyon, Tammy and David Sawyer, Jessie Schillaci, Melody Scott, Kim Smart, Dustin Smith, Dorothy Stowe, Rick Studenmund, Paulette van de Zande, Peter Vankevich, Jan Weems, Lori Williams, Gary Williamson, Kari Wouk, Bob Zappalorti, Steve Zimmerman, Stephanie Zuk, and almost certainly some others we may have inadvertently left out. Special thanks to Andy Walker and Nate Shepard for their participation and help with trapping and other logistics, to Ed Corey for the use of his vehicle, and to Jeff Beane and Bob Davis for providing their houses as bases of operation and lodging for the very tired. All monies raised will be used to support the same projects as previous years (Audubon’s Coastal Island Sanctuaries, local Wake Audubon projects, Project Bog Turtle, and Project Simus). Your generous support is greatly appreciated! You are the reason we keep doing it every year.
If you haven’t already done so, please send your pledges to the address below (or give them to any of our team members or to Wake Audubon Treasurer John Gerwin) as soon as possible. Make checks payable to “Wake Audubon” (or “NC Herpetological Society” if you want to donate only to those projects). You can also use the PayPal option on Wake Audubon’s website (under “donate” on the home page), but please indicate that your donation is for the Wildathon, and let us know that you’ve paid via that option. Please contact one of us if you have any other questions. If you didn’t pledge, it’s not too late to make a contribution. Just contribute as noted above.
We thoroughly enjoyed the event, and we are already looking forward to participating again next year. Sincere thanks from all of us!
Date: 12-13 May 2015
Species counted: Vertebrates
Time spent: 24 hrs. We officially began our count at 8:16 a.m. on 12 May and ended at 8:16 a.m. on 13 May. Beane and Davis participated for the entire 24 hours; Corey and Horton participated for all but about the last hour. Finnegan took about a 5-hour break (from ca. 1:00 to 5:00 a.m.) to sleep, and rejoined us for the finish.
Area covered: Our search included portions of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, New Hanover, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland counties, NC. We began at 1208 Canal Drive (ca. 1.0 airmi. NNE Carolina Beach) in New Hanover County and ended at McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery (ca. 3.2 airmi. WNW of Marston) in Richmond County.
Weather: Mostly sunny to partly cloudy and humid with some light showers; high temperatures in the low 90sºF and lows in the low 60sºF.
Techniques: Most species were observed via visual and auditory searches, while walking and driving. Binoculars and a spotting scope were used to assist in viewing many species. Several species were taken in dipnets, a 12-ft. seine, and minnow traps; and several were found by turning natural and artificial surface cover. One of two bat species was detected only via an Anabat detector. Several species were observed only as road-kills or otherwise dead specimens; these are noted by an asterisk (*).
Photos are at the end of the blog.
Reptiles (including crocodilians and chelonians)
Total Vertebrate Species: 244
Photos from our 24 hour trek