N. ABINGTON TWP. — When you go for a walk at the Lackawanna State Park, can you identify the trees, plants and insects you see there?
Scientists and other volunteers gathered at the park for a two-day Bio Blitz on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 23 and 24.
They were there to identify crawling, flying and night time insects, field and forest plants, stream macroinvertebrates, mammals and their tracks, bat signals, trees, amphibian and reptiles, and aquatic life throughout the park. Others banded birds in the park.
“I collected this that mimics ants. It is a kind of mantid relative of preying mantis,” said Marc Sied associate professor of biology at the University of Scranton who studies ants. He was going to identify insects in the park. “Ants are not nutritious to eat but their larva is good to eat. Bears like to eat the ant larva. I can share with the community what insects I find.”
“I was doing research at Fullers Overlook Farms in Waverly and someone there told me about the Bio Blitz,” said Margaret Rose Pasamen a senior Conservation Biology major at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She is from Troy, New York. “The Bio Blitz is interesting and a nice way to end the summer.”
A group was working on identifying and banding birds such as a red-eyed vireo, catbird, redstart, female cardinal and ovenbird
Birds to be studied were caught in mist nets. The nets are stretched over big poles and the birds fly into the nets.
“Blood samples are taken for the health of the bird,” said Dr. Meg Hatch, associate professor of biology at Scranton Penn State. “It shows how much fat the birds are putting on before they migrate.”
“I am recording the bird’s weight, measurements, sex and age,” said volunteer Debra Kibble.
“Helping with this is related to my major,” said Heather Zimba, a senior conservation major at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and from Cooperstown, NY. “It is fun to get outside and help with this.”
“Sometimes it is hard to tell if a bird is male or female,” said Dr. Rob Smith, biology professor at The University of Scranton, who was weighing, measuring and banding the birds. “If the birds are different colors then it is easier to tell their sex.”
“The Bio Blitz educates the community and can show the diversity of the park habitat,” said Angela Lambert, environmental education specialist at the park. “Records can be compared with historical records to see how things are changing in the park. If we are creating a new trail in the park, and know there is something rare or unusual, then we will take extra care in that area.”