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Ocmulgee park photography ‘blitz’ will help count this awesome little flying critter

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Artbeat of Columbus hosted Friday morning an event dubbed " Breakfast Under the Banners" to unveil the "Welcome the Dragonflies" artwork created by artist Michael Vaughn Sims They are the newest addition to ArtBeat Walk and are now permanently i
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Artbeat of Columbus hosted Friday morning an event dubbed " Breakfast Under the Banners" to unveil the "Welcome the Dragonflies" artwork created by artist Michael Vaughn Sims They are the newest addition to ArtBeat Walk and are now permanently i

If you’ve ever felt like chasing dragonflies — Saturday is the day for it.

Park rangers at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park are planning a BioBlitz focusing on the flying insects, plentiful in both Middle Georgia and the park this time of year.

“The five previous years we’ve done this we focused on butterflies,” said Park Ranger Angela Bates. “This year, we decided to change it up and concentrate on dragonflies. We’ve never done dragonflies so we really don’t know just what we have here.”

Bates said participants will become citizen scientists to help collect data and identify dragonfly species at the park.

“We won’t catch or hurt them, just take their pictures,” she said. “That way we can identify them later and get an idea of the number. We encourage people to bring their cameras or cellphones with cameras or get here early and get one of the few cameras we have to loan. People can turn in pictures or send them to us electronically. There’s even an app called iNaturalist you can download and load pictures in and we can just get them from it.”

Bates said she expects to see plenty of pictures of blue dasher dragonflies, the area’s most common with recognizable blue, skinny bodies.

“But we hope to find out a lot of different things and a have a really fun day doing it with families getting the chance to get outside together and people who are really into it getting to do something worthwhile in terms of exploring and helping catalog our park’s ecosystem.”

BioBlitz hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with craft-making for kids available from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Bates said there are also be a limited number of field guides to loan for those getting there while supplies last, plus until supplies run out there are T-shirts and dragonfly water bottles.

Author and butterfly/dragonfly expert Marc Minno will be on hand to help participants discover and learn about dragonflies throughout the day, including at a 10 a.m. dragonfly and damselfly orientation.

Minno, who lives in Florida, holds a Ph.D. in zoology and has more than 20 years of professional experience as an interdisciplinary scientist and ecologist.

Damselflies are similar to dragonflies and most often are mistaken for them.

Have you heard of a damselfly before?

“Most people aren’t aware of them,” Bates said. “I wasn’t until recently. In fact, I personally knew very little about butterflies when we started doing BioBlitzs but I’ve learned so much since. I expect to learn much more about dragonflies — and damselflies — and hope people across Middle Georgia will join in and learn more with us. And though the blue dasher is the most common dragonfly, I have a list of more than 50 types found here. Since we discovered butterflies on BioBlitz days that were never thought common to the area and indicated a change in migration, we might just be adding a few new dragonflies to that list.”

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Dragonfly BioBlitz at Ocmulgee

Where: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, 1207 Emery Hwy

When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 31

Cost: Free

Information: www.facebook.com/ocmulgeemoundsnps

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