For a five day period that took in last weekend we took part in a Canada-wide “Bioblitz” organized by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

We (and our little town of Baie-D’Urfé) came within a whisker of being the top species counters in all of Canada. In fact we reported the sixth highest number of species for the entire nation and half of them were in our own garden!

The challenge was to “be a part of a nation-wide citizen science event”. The idea being to just go outside and identify as many species as possible. Plants, birds, insects, mammals, fungi – anything. They used iNaturalist ( as the recording tool which hampered us slightly in that you have to submit a photograph of each species which is not always possible – birds singing in the trees for example – but sensible under the circumstances. This is meat and potatoes to us and the sort of thing we indulge in almost every time that we set foot out of the house, using eBird to record birds and iNaturalist for anything else.

Northern Crescent

I’ll get to the details in a bit, but the point to take away is that on behalf of this fairly average big city suburb we turned in almost the highest species number in Canada without a huge amount of effort. The “winning” entries came from people who went bioblitzing in nature reserves which naturally gave them quite an edge. All we did was step out of the door and look around. Many of the species we noted were in our garden already or were easily spotted beside the roads or in a couple of nearby parks. We also spent a couple of hours in the arboretum though many of the species we got there would also make a pretty good living in town.

Now, by no means is Baie-D’Urfé the Canadian community wth the greatest biodiversity – that question was intentional hyperbole. We are still a big city suburb, albeit with larger than usual gardens and lots of trees, so that hurdle has to be overcome first. Nevertheless I suggest that the variety of species we observed will surprise a good many residents.

The trick is to look – if you mow your lawn to within an inch of its life and fail to consider what is growing in the ditch beside the road you are walking along then you may be the guy I met a few years ago. “What have you seen?” he asked having noticed my binoculars. When I started speaking of over fifty bird species that morning (note – this was in peak spring migration) he said he didn’t believe me and muttered that “ … all I see are blackbirds and sparrows”. Which rather proves my point about the value of looking around you.

Joe Pye Weed

So – Baie-D’Urfé really is a remarkably biodiverse and a pretty green little town.

Some numbers:

  • Across Canada, west to east and north to south, a total of 4326 species were reported.
  • The highest Individual submission in the five days was 507 species and the second was 443
  • We came in at number six, having reported 217 species (or should that be 232?)this being mid summer the count for birds was not as high as we would have liked but we could add 120 species of birds that have been seen by us just in or over our own garden and more that we have seen by the river or in parks. This is a remarkable place really.
  • After that, numbers fell off quite rapidly with most participants’ submissions being fewer than 100.

Should you be interested in seeing (with photographs) what species comprised our town report please visit this link:

Footnote: on the bioblitz “leaderboard” our count is shown as 217 species but when you call up a list of the actual species they show 232. Not going to quibble over this but it’s curious.


Clover Looper Moth

Summer Oyster Mushroom

Fringed Loosestrife

Virgin’s Bower

Baltimore Oriole