Tuesday 11 February 2014

Big S-Rank Challenge!

Ever heard of a "big year" for birds? This event is where a birder tries to see as many bird species in a year within a given area.  At my work we have a friendly competition to see who can see the most birds, herps (reptiles and amphibians) and mammals in a given year.  This year, a few of my friends decided to make things even more interesting by including all organisms in a game that we like to call the Big S-Rank year.  Here's how it works, rare species get you more points.  The beauty of it is that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources assigns each Ontario species with an S-Rank or sub-national rank ranging from S1-critically imperiled to S5- secure.  For the purposes of our little game, S-Ranks of S1-S3 get you points, because these species are considered critically imperiled, imperiled or vulnerable and are tracked by the OMNR.

Here is a little summary of the scoring system from least to most points:

S3- 1 point
S2- 2 points
S1- 3 points
SH or SX (extirpated from the province)- 5 points!

In addition to being good fun, it will motivate you to get outside and find rare species.  Government agencies rely heavily on observations submitted by citizen scientists and other biologists.  All sightings can be submitted to relevant agencies, so it's like charity work, but more fun!

Here are some photos I have taken of animals that I have seen in previous years that would get you some points!

Incurvate 'war-paint' emerald. S1=3 points!

Cyrano Darner. S3=1 point.

Ski-tailed Emerald. S3=1 point.

Wilson's Phalarope. S3B=1point if seen during the breeding season

Snapper! S3=1 point

Blanding's Turtle giving the thumbs up for the S-rank challenge. S3=1 point.

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