Audubon International’s BioBlitz 2018 recorded over 2,000 unique species of animals, plants, fungi, and insects living on golf courses. Thousands of enthusiastic community volunteers, ranging from school groups to birding clubs to professional naturalists, gathered at local events April 21-May 13 to discover and document the species inhabiting these important green spaces. This year’s program was sponsored by the United States Golf Association.
(Pictured: Best Photograph Winner, The Hummingbird, Bay Oaks (Texas) Country Club, Deborah Repasz)
“It’s wonderful to see so many golf courses embracing BioBlitz as a fun and exciting way to help people spend time outdoors and learn about their local environment,” Audubon International CEO Christine Kane said.
Now in its fourth year, Audubon International’s BioBlitz creates an opportunity for school children, community members, golfers, and more to take a closer look at the habitats provided on golf courses. In addition to demonstrating the large diversity of species on golf courses, the competition also engages local interest and support of the green space and recreational opportunities they provide to their towns. Participants competed for three awards for most species counted, most participants, and best photo. BioBlitz 2018 generated an 85 percent increase in golf course participation compared to 2017.
Naples Lakes (Fla.) Country Club received the Biodiversity Award for the greatest number of species counted. The course has participated in Audubon International’s BioBlitz each year since the program’s inception in 2015. Volunteers at this year’s event spotted, identified, and listed a total of 496 species, including the federally threatened Wood Stork, and the Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, both state threatened species in Florida.
“Naples Lakes Country Club is extremely honored to win the Biodiversity Award for the 2018 BioBlitz,” said Bryan Roe, general manager at Naples Lakes Country Club. “Our residents truly look forward to participating in the annual event and coming together to enjoy the natural habitat that surrounds our community. Our course and community have experienced a remarkable recovery following the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma last September, and the amount of species that remained in the area following the storm speaks volumes to the environmentally friendly atmosphere we foster.”
The Community Engagement Award for having the most participants went to Southwinds (Fla.) Golf Course, with a total of 242 volunteers assisting with their species count and identification. “We are honored that Southwinds Golf Course is the winner of the Community Engagement Award for most participants as a part of the 2018 BioBlitz campaign,” Southwinds general manager Sharon Painter said. “Our team enjoyed creating activities to engage golfers from juniors to seniors in recognizing the rewards of environmental stewardship.” The course’s BioBlitz activities included both Ladies’ Night Out and Junior BioBlitz events, as well as BioBlitz themed drink specials during the event dates.
Bay Oaks (Texas) Country Club won the Best Photograph contest with a spectacular photo of a hummingbird. “The need for a Biodiversity count is very important to the ecology of a golf course or any area for that matter, and I was very excited to help our course’s superintendent, Kyle Brown, with the Bay Oaks count,” said Deborah Repasz, the BioBlitz volunteer who took the hummingbird photograph. “Every time I go out birding or in nature I take my camera with me. We were identifying plants when I saw a hummingbird getting nectar from a Bottlebrush. I did not have much time, so I switched on my camera, focused as best I could for the circumstances, and started photographing the hummingbird. Luckily, several of the photos turned out. I am definitely looking forward to next year’s count and more help to identify and count an even larger numbers of species.”CLICK HERE for a list of winners in each category.