Goose Pond FWA Biodiversity Survey

Amos Butler Audubon Society (ABAS) was a primary sponsor of the Goose Pond FWA Biodiversity Survey that was held July 16-17. Other primary sponsors were the Indiana Academy of Science and the Rivers Institute at Hanover College. The event brought together the state’s leading scientists and naturalists to conduct a baseline assessment of the flora, fauna, and water quality of the 8,000 acre property. This was the first biological inventory of a state fish and wildlife property.

Besides providing financial resources, ABAS played an important role in field activities. Member Barb Simpson was the one who initiated and organized the event, board member Bill Murphy was the snail-killing fly expert, President Don Gorney was team leader for butterflies and moths and assisted with birds, and Ross Brittain, Director of Bird Conservation for Indiana, assisted with butterflies and birds.

Lee Sterrenburg, the Goose Pond bird expert, served as team leader for birds and oversaw a team of about a dozen individuals. Lee is still waiting to confirm all of the sightings but has a tentative list of 123 species. The list includes Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, King Rail, Black-necked Stilt and several other shorebirds, Black, Caspian, and Forster’s Tern, Barn Owl, Acadian Flycatcher (first property record), and Black-billed Cuckoo. Don Gorney witnessed nesting evidence by a pair of Snowy Egrets on July 16; only the second time this has occurred in Indiana (first time was in 1996 in Gibson) County.

The butterfly count went extremely well with 48 species and 2,705 individuals observed on July 16. This is an impressive tally and was only possible because of the knowledgeable people who assisted.  Helping oversee butterflies and moths was 14-year old Megan McCarty, who has had an interest in lepidoptery from a very early age (before she was five!). Megan oversaw the moth component of the survey and was working with university-based scientists into the late night.

There were experts on hand studying dragonflies and damselflies, beetles, other insects, mammals, herps, flora, mushrooms, fishes, mussels, water quality and sedimentation, and just about everything else.

Field work was tiring but fulfilling. The inventory catalogs what is on the property now and will be used for comparison when the survey is completed at some time in the future. The results, which will be published by the Indiana Academy of Science, will also help in managing the property.

Don Gorney