By PATRICIA SIMPSON
April was a strange time at Mission Trails Regional Park and… oh yeah, pretty much for the rest of the world as well! While some of the trails were reopened for the local population to be able to exercise and enjoy nature while social distancing, the park was closed for most of the month due to the COVID-19 pandemic — perhaps to the benefit of our wild residents.
This year, the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge (CNC) was held April 24 through April 27. While normally cities across the globe compete to get the most observations, the most observers and the most species, this year was not considered a contest but instead observers were encouraged to catalog plants and wild creatures in their own neighborhoods, respecting stay at home orders.
This year, MTRP neighbors found 269 different species of living organisms in the park and surrounding neighborhoods, from plants, insects, mammals to fungi, lichens, and reptiles. The species documented during the CNC offers scientists a snapshot of the most common ones encountered on the trails. Congratulations to milliebasden who found 144 species and docprt who tallied an impressive 93!
Surprisingly, the Coast Morning Glory (Calystegia macrostegia) was the most reported plant, perhaps readily capturing people’s attention with its delicate white trumpet-shaped bloom. Even more surprising was the Northern Mockingbird and California Towhee taking second and third places to the first place Rufous-crowned sparrow in the bird category. Of course, when it comes to reptiles, the Western Fence Lizard was sure to impress his audiences with push-up displays and once again took first place.
For a complete list of species spotted at MRTP during the four-day bioblitz, visit bit.ly/2U1fOoU. If you would like to learn more about all of our county’s residents, big and small, hairy and smooth, striking and odd, please visit the San Diego City Nature Challenge page at bit.ly/300SHij and browse through the 17,000 plus observations that have been posted there! This is a great way to “travel and visit” the county right from the comfort of your own home.
Stay healthy everyone and see you at the 2021 City Nature Challenge!
—Patricia Simpson is a trail guide at Mission trails Regional Park.