How to take a trip

How to take a trip

For those who rejoice in the reality of the world, the sadness of modern transportation is almost overwhelming. Literal myriads rush, every day, between thousands of places without noticing or recording what they’ve driven past, and even those who would rather move at a better-documented pace are often hurried along by pressing obligations. Unless in a serious emergency, a single-purpose trip is always partially wasted. Such a trip desecrates the places visited by burning fossil fuel and taking up human time for a purely ephemeral end.

As we all drive along, we each make hundreds of species-level identifications every minute, and we think, or should be thinking, about the landscape, biotic, and cultural patterns that these organisms are affected by or participate in. If these thoughts are framed, as they ought to be, as falsifiable hypotheses, today’s patterns and the changes the hypotheses predict need to be preserved so that the present distribution of species can be documented, and the usefulness of the hypotheses can be tested.  Every routine or repeated trip should acquire some long-term data, both to test hypotheses and to offset the human incapacity for noticing gradual change, and every irregular trip should explore and document the distribution of some species or phenomenon or the characteristics of some site. No one is likely to ever meet all these high goals, but if they are not kept in mind they are not going to be met accidentally.

In September 2006 I had the opportunity to take a relatively unhurried trip to Syracuse, New York, to visit family, and I’ve annotated the narrative of this trip as an example of our methods, continuing the series of Trail & Landscape articles outlining our techniques (Schueler, F.W., Aleta Karstad, Jamie Proctor, & Ryan Hawke. 2007. How to ‘do’ a bridge. T&L 41(1):38-49; Schueler, F.W. 2000. Navigating as Naturalists with the Global Positioning System. T&L 34(1):35-40; Karstad, Aleta. 2000. Drawing from Life. T&L 34(3):110-116).

Geographic co-ordinates in the following narrative (all in WGS 84 datum) are a combination of new waypoints (Garmin eTrex Legend) and previously recorded locations. The co-ordinates can be used to view the sites on google maps, or other internet map systems, by inserting the decimal degrees as the location (e.g. 44.87156°N 75.70095°W for a nice view of our backyard).
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EOBase Narrative: 1 September 2006 [1]

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(at home: Canada: Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills, S side (Schuelers) 31B/13, 44.87156°N 75.70095°W). TIME: 1707 (EDT). AIR TEMP: 22°C, sunny, Beaufort moderate breeze. HABITAT: rural village, shallow soil limestone plain. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad Schueler. 2006/173/d, Corvus corax (Raven) (Bird). 1 calling, heard, seen. ‘ark-ark-ark’ calls, seen flying low S of village.

* we never heard or saw Ravens in Grenville County until the early 1990′s, so in order to track patterns in their activities, both secular and seasonal, we record every Raven we see or hear.

(same location) TIME: 1743. AIR TEMP: 21°C, cloudy, Beaufort gentle breeze. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler. focuslog, departure (event). natural history, drive. 171406 km, to Syracuse. ROUTE: Buker, Bolton. Kyle, Branch, N. Augusta rds, Highway 401, I81, I481, I690, Midler Ave, etc

moved 3.4 km SSW.

Wolford: Bolton Road, 3 km SSW Bishops Mills.  44.84266°N 75.71578°W. TIME: 1755. AIR TEMP: 21°C, cloudy, Beaufort gentle breeze. HABITAT: road through Thuja woods & planted Jack Pine barrens. 2006/173/e, no observation (event). survey, driveby. NO:Lepus americanus AOR/DOR, road newly graded & gravelly.

* Numbers of Snowshoe Hares, Lepus americanus, wax and wane in the famous ten-year cycle of boreal wildlife.  It’s astonishing enough that Hare populations should cycle with this regularity. But it’s more astonishing that these cycles should be synchronous within 1-2 years all across boreal Canada and Alaska, and even more astonishing that they should be “highly positively correlated (P<.0001) with sunspot maxima 4 yr previously” (Sinclair, et al. 1993. Can the solar cycle and climate synchronize the snowshoe hare cycle in Canada? Evidence from tree rings and ice cores. American Naturalist 141(2)173-198. http://hdl.handle.net/1807/443 ) It seems that the cycles result from the Hares’ interactions with food supply and predators, synchronized across the continent by weather differences that result from the sunspot cycle.  Since we’ve been living in Bishops Mills, there have been sunspot maxima in 1979, 1989, and 2000, each followed by a decline in Hare populations within a few years. The best place to see Hares is on the south end of Bolton Road, through the Cedar woods and Jack Pine plantations of Limerick Forest, and we monitor their abundance by counting the number we see each time we drive this road on the way to North Augusta or Brockville.

moved 22.0 km S.

Ontario: Leeds County: Elizabethtown: Long Swamp at N. Augusta Road. 31B/12, 44.64468°N 75.70452°W. TIME: 1818. AIR TEMP: circa 20°C, cloudy, breezy. HABITAT: road through flooded Red Maple swamp. 2006/173/f, visit (event). survey, driveby. very green, including bed of pools with no visible water.

* this is the site where the late Mike Rankin first noticed terrestrial amplexus in Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica; Schueler, F.W. and R. Michael Rankin 1982. Terrestrial amplexus in the Wood Frog, Rana sylvatica. Canadian Field-Naturalist 96:348-349), and one of our long-term monitoring sites for the frequency of mid-dorsal striping in Wood Frogs. When the Wood Frogs aren’t breeding, we notice the level of the water in their ponds as an index of regional wetness. In May 2006, and again in 2007, we first saw Geese & goslings (Branta canadensis) here, standing right along the road only a couple of metres from the traffic.

moved 39.8 km SW.

USA: New York: Jefferson County: Orleans: Wellesley Is boundary bridge, US/Canada border. 31B/5,  44.34794°N 75.98413°W. TIME: 1910. AIR TEMP: circa 20°C, cloudy, breezy. HABITAT: US Customs toll gate. 2006/173/g, Homo sapiens (Human People) (Mammal). adult, male, drive. “do you own the car?”. A new class of Thousand Islands US Customs off-the-wall remark, followed by an inspection of popcorn bags in the back of the car, and an inquiry into the mechanism of action of a plant press.

* it has often been speculated, from the erratic questions they ask of travellers, that the US Customs office at the Thousand Islands constitutes an independent Republic of Comedy…

moved 22.1 km SSE.

I81/3.1 km S NY 411. 31B/4, 44.16375°N 75.87956°W. TIME: 1930ca. AIR TEMP: circa 20°C, overcast, breezy. HABITAT: superhwy roadside. 2006/173/h, visit (event). natural history, drive. wide stretches of roadside have recently been mowed by rotary blades on a tractor, as if making a hayfield into a lawn (though this has been going on for 40 yrs), leaving a tousled blanket of unruly clippings on the wide medians and margins of the highway. This gives a very different effect from the ‘let it go’ effect along Ontario series 400 highways, and I81 south of Syracuse, but I haven’t been paying enough attention to say what’s really happening along the Ontario highways. Here the mowing comes right up to the individual trees, leaving dense closely mowed-around patches of Typha (Cattail) and Phragmites (Reed) in the low areas — but there’s not much it’s safe to record when you’re a single driver four days late for an appointment, or, as my Mother would reckon it, a month or more late.

moved 126.7 km S.

New York: Onondaga County: Syracuse: Finlayson-Schuelers, 118 Shirley Road. 30N/1, 43.03592°N 76.10431°W. TIME: 2104. 2006/173/i, arrival (event). personal, drive. WAYPT/002, too whoofed to take an air temperature.

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2 September 2006

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USA: New York: Onondaga County: Syracuse: Finlayson-Schuelers, 118 Shirley Road. 43.03592°N 76.10431°W. TIME: 1135. AIR TEMP: circa 17°C, steady rain. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler, Theodore Finlayson-Schueler, Jeanne Finlayson-Schueler. 2006/174/-, departure (event). personal, drive. in Ted & Jeannes’s car to Cortland.

moved 50.3 km S.

New York: Cortland County: Cortland College football field, 1 km N Munsons Corners. 30K/9,   42.58926°N 76.20255°W. TIME: 1235-1316. AIR TEMP: 16°C, overcast, windy. HABITAT: small-stadium football field. 2006/174/b, visit (event). personal, sit. WAYPT/003, watched scrimmage including Brian Finlayson-Schueler.

moved 3.3 km NE.

Cortland: W Branch Tioughnioga River, just upstream NY 13 bridge. 42.60678°N 76.16980°W. TIME: 1655-1710. AIR TEMP: 15.5°C, overcast, windy. HABITAT: small clay-turbid gravel-bed river, dense-herb/wooded/parkinglot banks. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler. 2006/174/ca, Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) (Plant). codominant herb, in bloom, seen. dense stands in bloom along banks. This is the 24-hr shopping centre parking lot in Cortland, where we launched the canoes for our trip down the Tioughnioga in 2003. I walked along the banks looking for drift, in a greenness that hadn’t been much disturbed by the recent flooding, and to which my meagre notes don’t do much justice:

LIST: Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard), some among other vegetation at upstream end of area;

Solidago (Goldenrod), clumps in bloom on banks;

Dipsacus sylvestris (Teasel), scattered plants past bloom;

Arctium lappa (Great Burdock), the only burdock species here;

Convolvulus (Bindweed), in bloom draped over bushes;

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem Artichoke), clumps in bloom;

Impatiens capensis (Spotted Jewelweed), in bloom under NY 13 bridge;

Impatiens pallida (Pale Jewel-weed), in bloom under NY 13 bridge.

moved 0.3 km ENE.

W Branch Tioughnioga River, just downstream NY 13 bridge. 42.60746°N 76.16668°W. TIME: 1715. AIR TEMP: 15.5°C, overcast, windy. HABITAT: small clay-turbid gravel-bed river, dense-herb/wooded/parkinglot banks. 2006/174/d, Mollusca (Mollusc). shell, drift, specimen. WAYPT/004, small patch of eddy drift at foot of steep W bank. The noised-about flooding in the rivers south of Syracuse was mostly south of here, and while the water level is still seasonally high, it has fallen only 50 cm from the crest here, and this was the only patch of drift I saw. It was at the foot of a steep 6 m-high bank netted with Vitis (Grape) and Parthenocissus (Virginia Creeper) bank which I descended without mishap. No shells were seen in the sample at the time of collection.

* As the hosts of the Canadian Library of Drifted Material, we maintain that it’s an inexpensive and appropriate form of ecological monitoring to pick up, whenever possible, samples of shells and other material washed onto the shores of streams after floods and spates. Here we were upstream of the major recent flooding of the Tioughnioga, and there’s no great concentration of shells in the drift, but having climbed down this steep bank, I wasn’t about to climb back up without taking a sample.

moved 47.9 km N.

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4 September 2006

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USA: New York: Onondaga County: Syracuse: Finlayson-Schuelers, 118 Shirley Road. 30N/1,  43.03592°N 76.10431°W. TIME: 1104. AIR TEMP: circa 18°C, overcast, calm. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler, Louise S. Schueler. 2006/174/-, departure (event). personal, drive. in LSS’s car to Dot Fontaine’s to visit.

moved 1.8 km WSW.

Dot Fontaine’s, 115 Terrace Road. 43.03194°N 76.12535°W. TIME: 1130-1231. HABITAT: big-tree residential woodland on hillside. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler. 2006/174/e, cf Albatrellus ovinus (Sheep Polypore) (Fungus). circa 12 in fruit, specimen. WAYPT/005, grown from roots of dead maple in shaded lawn. Polypore type mushrooms, stalked but with a smooth underside at first, gradually developing a pored underside (which is white in both young and mature specimens). Initially they have the top of the cap recurved under the margin, cap a mid-brown, matte, stipe withy, cap spreading out to a wide Russula shape as it matures and is chewed by Chipmunks. Growing through soil up from the roots of a dead Maple.

* a visit to a friend of my Mother’s to look at the collection of tourist shells she’s down-sizing, and to see these mystery mushrooms in her yard. They match description and internet images of Albatrellus ovinus — and smelled somewhere between rotten meat and rotten Potatoes as the specimen decayed.

moved 1.8 km ENE.

Syracuse: Finlayson-Schuelers, 118 Shirley Road. 43.03592°N 76.10431°W. TIME: 1830. AIR TEMP: circa 16°C, cloudy, sunset, Beaufort light air. HABITAT: knolly clay-lawn exotic tree & shrub residential savannah. 2006/174/fa, Thuja occidentalis (Eastern White Cedar) (Plant). 1 tree, in fruit, seen. tree in lawn so thick with cones that they cover 50% of crown when viewed from some angles.

(same location & time). 2006/174/fb, Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) (Plant). few herb, seen. 1st yr plants peeping out from under bushes and none in fruit on Finlayson-Schueler land, though there are a few stems of pods right across the boundary to the N.

* at Ted & Jeanne’s we’re tracking the status of the invasive Garlic Mustard, which we tried to wipe out on their lot during a visit in the spring, and it’s always interesting to record the cone crops of trees that have more-than-annual cycles of fruiting.

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5 September 2006

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USA: New York: Onondaga County: Syracuse: Finlayson-Schuelers, 118 Shirley Road. 43.03592°N 76.10431°W. TIME: 1421. AIR TEMP: circa 21°C, overcast, calm. OBSERVER: Frederick W. Schueler. focuslog, departure (event). natural history, drive. 171651 km, to Bishops Mills. This morning, Sandy, the rescued abused Dog of the house, ate my supply of anti-hypoglycaemic Fig Newtons. Jeanne went off to her first day of the fall as an itinerant school psychologist, Ted biked off as a graduate student & Teaching Assistant, Sophie went out to pedal around, and Kusan slept off the jet lag from Korea, as I got ready to head north. My Mother is overjoyed that I’ve been here for so long, though I can’t see what I’ve done to provoke any enthusiasm.

As I packed it became clearer and clearer that my wallet wasn’t in any of the places it might have been, and after three hours of meticulously re-searching every crevice in my effects, Jeanne (who’d been phoned in case I’d left it in the car we took to Cortland), sent Sophie to the basement laundry room to search a plastic bin of Brian’s clothes that Jeanne and Ted had removed from the vicinity of the couch I slept on. Voila! But it was too late to do US 11 for Unionids and also be back home by supper time, as I’d planned.

moved 22.0 km N.

Oneida Lake parking area, 0.2 km WNW I81/Bartell Road. 43.23281°N 76.13096°W. TIME: 1454-1620. AIR TEMP: 20°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: commuter parkinglot in Phragmites/brushy lakeside near superhwy & retail strip. 2006/175/a, visit (event). natural history, drive, walk. WAYPT/006, stopped to check out western Oneida L. This is 0.7 km S of the I81 Oneida Lake bridge. Phragmites australis (Reed) here are dense tall purple-headed SUBSPECIES:australis clumps mostly in the low areas or ditches along the highway and parking lot — none along the shores of the lake (yet?).

There’s a paved path down to the ‘fishing access’ which crosses a channel under the interstate — bare rocky bottom under the spans, but no visible Dreissena (Zebra Mussel) or other animal life – I didn’t enter the water, so all observation is from shore. The path branches out to end at little round circular areas, and fishing is evidently done from the slab and boulder armouring of the shores of the highway embankment. There’s paths along these that mostly follow the slabs, but sometimes detour up onto the slope where the bushes are particularly dense. I walked up the west (bay) side of the embankment, but didn’t go all the way to the bridge.

* Interstate Highway 81 clips off the western end of Onieda Lake, just above its outlet into the Oswego River. We’ve driven this causeway hundreds of times, but we’ve never stopped to see what the bay at the west end of this shallow eutrophic lake, reputed to be crowded by invasive Waterchestnut, is like. According to the map, the county boundary runs along the south shore of the lake, so I’m attributing this site to Onondaga County, and those on the causeway to Oswego County.

moved 0.5 km N.

New York: Oswego County: W side Oneida L/I81 causeway, 0.6 km NNW I81/Bartell Road.  43.23715°N 76.13049°W. TIME: 1525. AIR TEMP: 21.5°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: slab-boulder armoured shore of superhwy causeway through shallow weedy lake. 2006/175/ba, Mollusca (Mollusc) (Mollusca). shell, drift, specimen. WAYPT/007, sparse drift along 500 m of causeway. I walked up the west (bay) side of the embankment, to a big Cottonwood here, most of the way to the main channel, but didn’t go all the way to the bridge. The waypoint is in a slightly sheltered nook, where the drift hadn’t been trampled, but much of the drift is from along the causeway to the south.

There were signs that there’d been a considerable quantity of drift blown up on shore in the spring, but also that the shells had dissolved substantially where it was even a bit moist — now what’s most conspicuous is Trapa fruits, which had ridden even higher than styrofoam and were large enough to lodge among the rocks. Plastic was mostly represented in the drift by styrofoam and other bait containers, with floats, monofilament line and other angling gear making up a second element.

(same location & time). 2006/175/bb, Trapa natans (Waterchestnut) (Plant). 1/common herb, in fruit, drift, specimen. fruits from spring drift & tiny washed up rosette plant. It’s possible that there’s more plants offshore (perhaps the dominant species over much of the bay), swathed in algae and Lemna minor (Common Duckweed), but if there was I couldn’t make them out, and didn’t wade.

(same location & time). 2006/175/bc, Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife) (Plant). common herb, in bloom, prey of predator, drift, specimen. stunted large shrubby plants among rocks. Plants riddled and stunted by apparent Galarucella herbivory.

* documenting that the “Loosestrife Beetles” are doing their work here, just as they are around home.

W side Oneida L/I81 causeway, 0.6 km NNW I81/Bartell Road. 43.23697°N 76.13049°W. TIME: 1539. AIR TEMP: 21.5°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: slab-boulder armoured shore of superhwy causeway through shallow weedy lake. 2006/175/ca, Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush) (Plant). 1 shrub, in fruit, specimen. WAYPT/008, a 2 m shrub & little outlying sprouts. This was the only one seen along 500 m of shore — the big leaves doubtless the result of some sort of trauma suffered, perhaps in 2004, either from ice or more likely from fisherpeople. The fruit seem to be partially fertilized — perhaps because there’s no others nearby for cross-fertilization.

(same location & time). 2006/175/cb, Lonicera (Honeysuckle) (Plant). 1 shrub, in fruit, specimen. branch from 2 m shrub blackened in both foliage & fruit, though others are in lush red fruit. These are the predominant bushes along the water’s edge, along something like 40% of the water’s edge.

(same location & time). 2006/175/cc, Apios americana (Ground Nut) (Plant). 1 vine, in bloom, specimen. densely swathing bushes along water’s edge, surface 50% bloom, in dense ruffled clumps. There’s 3-4 bushes swathed in this way along 500 m of shore.

moved 0.2 km S.

W side Oneida L/I81 causeway, 0.4 km NNW I81/Bartell Road. 43.23511°N 76.13015°W. TIME: 1557. AIR TEMP: 21.5°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: slab-boulder armoured shore of superhwy causeway through shallow weedy lake. 2006/175/da, Mikania scandens (Climbing Boneset) . 1 vine, in bloom, specimen. WAYPT/009, 1 plant noted, 50 cm-high mound of fuzzy bloom. There’s only one plant along 500 m of shore right at the water’s edge, with tufty little flowerheads covering most of the mound.

* This vine-Composite is one of those amazing uncommon species one never imagined existed!

(same location & time). 2006/175/db, Sagittaria cf latifolia (Broad-leaved Arrowhead) . 1/common herb, in fruit, in bloom, specimen. plants all along water’s edge, only this with fruit & few blooms. (flowers not collected).

* from here, I head north to the gap in the known distribution of Unionid mussels that’s revealed by the maps for many species in The Pearly Mussels of New York State (1997. David Strayer and Kurt Jirka.  Memoirs of the New York State Museum 26:113pp). You’ll notice that my activities don’t do anything to diminish the gap: Mussels really seem to be scarce in the streams that drain the Tughill Plateau.

moved 49.8 km N.

* my first stop is a stream we visited several times in the mid-1980s…

“The brook runs over a smooth bed between low bars of glacial cobbles and sand.  It speaks with the bright rapid sound of shallow riffles as it winds between stones and spreads over bedrock shale.  The bottom is velvety with a fine brown sediment, and the current ripples short filaments of pale algae.  It flows past mossy walls of crumbling rock and leaning trees, roofed with cicada song against the leaf-dappled sky. The shade of the tall broadleaf forest prevents heavy algal growth, so the bottom is not slippery under the glass-clear water. Schools of minnows zig-zag through a shallow pool. A Brook Charr hides under a flat rock.  Longnose Dace shelter among shingles, and a sharp-nosed darter, flexible as a blenny, with finely black-lined fins, presses itself into shadows among the rocks.  Young parr of introduced Coho Salmon and Rainbow Trout flicker and dart on the edge of vision. Under stones are larval Eurycea salamanders, juvenile Cambarus crayfish, and Cottus sculpins.

“The silky shale above the pool is decorated by patches of black dots: the oval, black-horned pupae of blepharicerid net-winged midges. Old faults run diagonally across the brook, catching pebbles and cobbles.  In places the layers of rock are paper-thin, like a sloped deck of cards. Elsewhere the water slides over the petrified dimples of a Paleozoic sea floor, or flows among square joints as regular as a sidewalk.  Beneath a wall of crumbling shale the brook is fed with ground water falling from curtains of mosses, soaking through algae, and dripping from flat green liverworts.  The shale chips and seeping sand below the cliff are insinuated by dusky salamanders, Desmognathus fuscus and D. ochrophaeus, and penetrated by the burrows of adult Cambarus bartonii crayfish.  In places the brook cuts into a 1.5 m bank of sand that was so recently deposited that there are blocky-rotten logs embedded in it against the bedrock. Within the decay-time of a log this valley has been flushed full of eroded sand and the present forest has grown up on it.”  (5 June & 8 Aug., 1987).

…now I’m checking for any evident change in conditions or biota here, though I’m just downstream of the stretch described in 1987.

USA: New York: Jefferson County: Ellisburg: Lindsey Creek at Hwys 11/I81 bridge. 30N/9, 43.68140°N 76.07242°W. TIME: 1720-1805. AIR TEMP: circa 19°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: shallow shale-bedded stream in ravine at grassy roadside & dual highway overpass. 2006/176/a, visit (event). natural history, walk, wade. WAYPT/010, waypoint at US 11 shoulder at centre of intersection. The stream is so deep under the double underpass that it’s invisible from either road — the interstate goes so far overhead to be more like a meterological than a surface feature. I walked down a grassy slope around the huge northbound bridge pier which is right in the creek where it emerges from the culvert. There’s a jam of logs against it which may hold useful drift in the spring. The creek is fairly high, but not flooding.

After the following downstream records — in habitat very similar to the upstream sites we’ve previously visited — I waded through the 8 m high culvert (bedrock and shallow sediment bottom with flat stones), pushed aside a dangling Vitis (Grape) veil on the upstream side, and waded upstream to the next record. There’s patches of Tussalago (Coltsfoot) along the banks. With only been a few square metres of sediment where Unionids might reside, finding them here would require a long search. There’s lots of stones to turn for Crayfish, and burrows under some turned stones that suggest Cambarus.

(same location & time). 2006/176/aa, Phragmites australis SUBSPECIES:australis (Common Reed) (Plant). 1 stand herb. bloom, seen. extends between I81 overpasses & down along creek to edge of woods, on the east bank of the downstream extent of the clearing.

(same location & time). 2006/176/ab, Rana clamitans (Green Frog) (herp). 1 juvenile, under cover, captured. dark, ca 35 mm juv under flat rock at water’s edge.

moved 0.1 km W.

Lindsey Creek, 0.1 km WNW I81/US 11. 43.68143°N 76.07391°W. TIME: 1730-1745. AIR TEMP: circa 19°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: shallow shaded shale-bedded stream in a ravine. 2006/176/ba, Eurycea bislineata (Two-Lined Salamander) (herp). 1 adult, under cover, captured. WAYPT/011, under 50 x 50 x 4 cm slab, the best rock on the bar.

(same location & time). 2006/176/bb, Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) (Plant). 2/few herb, specimen. Big-leafed plants from shaded shore of creek & shingle bar. The first of these was a single plant on a shingle and sand bar with

LIST: Eupatorium cf rugosum (White-snakeroot), codominant in bloom;

Arctium (Burdock), a few sallow plants;

Polygonum cf persicaria (Lady’s-thumb), codominant with pinkish flowers;

Pilea pumila (Clearweed), codominant.

Then I found a few similar plants on the other side of the stream, and collected two of them. I wonder how far Garlic Mustard will penetrate into rich cool woods like these?

* fear, and local experts, suggest that “these woods are toast,” and that nothing will prevent Garlic Mustard from spreading into any forest where it becomes established.

moved 0.2 km ENE.

Lindsey Creek, 0.1 km NE I81/US 11. 43.68178°N 76.07198°W. TIME: 1803. AIR TEMP: circa 19°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: shallow shaded shale-bedded stream in a ravine. 2006/176/ca, Juglans cinerea (Butternut) (Plant). 1 tree, sprout, seen. WAYPT/012, sprouts along cankered ca 30 cm DBH tree across creek. These are palm-like 30-60 cm sprouts coming out of the trunk of this fallen tree all along the trunk.

(same location & time). 2006/176/cb, Arctium lappa (Great Burdock) (Plant). common herb, in fruit, seen. the only Arctium on slope of ravine.

* I’m interested in the idea that this species is replacing Arctium minus (Common Burdock) at many sites. The former motel above the brook here is falling into ruin, but there’s an “81/11 Motel” up the road a bit which seems to be prospering.

moved 3.2 km NNE.

Skinner Creek/US 11, Mannsville. 43.71007°N 76.06218°W. TIME: 1809-1818. AIR TEMP: circa 17°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: stream with dam under highway in village;rocky & forested below, small weedy pool above dam. 2006/176/d, visit (event). natural history, wade. WAYPT/013, NO:Unionidae seen above or below dam. Mannsville is a village that looks like it’s near economic equilibrium. If one were to descend to the round-bouldery stream below the dam there might be a good chance of finding Unionids, but above the dam, near the entrance to Maplewood Cemetery, I waded on a sandy sediment fan and a few metres of shore less brushy than the rest, and then under the bridge to the old dam, and didn’t see any.

moved 7.5 km NNE.

Highway 11/Sandy Creek, 4.0 km SSW Adams (NY 69). 30N/16, 43.77453°N 76.03664°W. TIME: 1831-1848. AIR TEMP: 16°C, overcast, calm. HABITAT: broad shingle/boulder streams, small-field agriculture. 2006/176/e, Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) (Plant). dominant herb, in bloom, seen. WAYPT/014, stands all along shores above bridge, fewer downstream. Confluence of Sandy and Fox Creek is just above the bridge. There’s a fair amount of Tussalago (Coltsfoot) along the shores. I waded around quite a bit above and below the bridge and saw NO:Unionidae — perhaps the myriads of ideal blade-thin skipping stones would make life hard for a Unionid.

* Japanese Knotweed, or Bambooweed, spreads vegetatively, and it’s common along streams in many parts of New York. It seems not to be as delectably palatable to Deer as it is to domestic Goats.

moved 63.9 km N: The sky had been clearing spectacularly to the north, and a wink of the Sun gleaming redly through a western crack in the clouds and wanly pinking the undersides of the pillows of the overcast as I came north towards the River.

Canada: Ontario: Leeds County: Hill Is boundary bridge, US/Canada border. 31B/5, 44.34794°N 75.98413°W. TIME: 1910. HABITAT: Canada Customs toll gate. 2006/177/a, Homo sapiens (Human People) (Mammal). adult, male, drive. officer just reached down for identification without asking, but never asked me where I lived, or for documentation of my landed status (he did ask if, when I said “landed immigrant,” I meant in Canada) though he did enquire about guns, Mace, and pepper spray.

moved 54.2 km NNE: along the Thousand Island Parkway, and up along Butternut Bay, Highway 2, and Lyn Road, rather pointlessly, as it was too dark to see anything, and the simple Hwy 401/North Augusta Road route would have been quicker.

Ontario: Grenville County: Augusta: 4.5 km NNE N. Augusta, Branch Road dogleg. 31B/13, 44.79762°N 75.72029°W. TIME: 2103. HABITAT: low Thuja bush. 2006/177/b, Erethizon dorsatum (Porcupine) (Mammal). 1 adult, driveby, AOR. large adult stolidly in midroad, requiring an abrupt zigzag to avoid it. NO:Rana AOR/DOR on 10 km of Branch Road.

* in the last 3 years we’ve seen 3 Porcupines crossing the road here, and one up in a tree nearby, so this seems to be a movement corridor for this species. We survey Branch Road for frog movements to and from the creek from the first emergence of Leopard Frogs in April, to their last straggling into the creek in December.

moved 5.0 km N.

Wolford: Bolton Road, 3 km SSW Bishops Mills. 44.84266°N 75.71578°W. TIME: 2111. AIR TEMP: 13°C, clear, calm. HABITAT: road through Thuja woods & planted Jack Pine barrens. 2006/177/c, no observation (event). survey, driveby. NO:Lepus americanus AOR/DOR.

* here we are again, and again no Hares on the road — still in the low stage of the 10-year cycle.

moved 3.4 km NNE.

(at home) TIME: 2111. AIR TEMP: 13°C, clear, calm. HABITAT: rural village, shallow soil limestone plain. 2006/177/d, arrival (event). natural history, drive. 25% high mackerel clouds.

* so a trip by a natural historian isn’t just a visit to “point B.” The trip journal is natural history, and its accounts include interactions with People and People’s interactions with the landscape as well as phenomena commonly called “natural,” such as weather and non-human species. It consists of revisits to, and comparisons with, places that have been visited before. Added to discoveries of new localities, these accounts will take their place in the history of trips. They will be baselines for future revisits and comparisons, whether kept together in a narrative, or dispersed to taxonomic or conservation databases.

In a trip journal, observations are collected , word pictures preserved as if they were specimens.  But if the text of the journal account is preserved, it needs no extra curation, as museum artifacts do. Like specimens, they will be available in the future, part of the precious history that gives our very existence a rich cultural context. Every record is “where we’ve come from” and whoever is patient enough to record it as it happens, enriches our future.

We’ve recently heard confirmation that the Haida’s verbal history preserved accounts of events that occurred  along the Pacific coast 13,000 years ago. Even though they didn’t know the reason for post-Pleistocene sea level changes, the stories were preserved, and geologists and archaeologists are now using the remembered history to find sunken village sites, and refine their models of Holocene history (Aleta Karstad, 1 September 2007).


[1] This narrative is recounted as slightly edited output from what’s become my personal database system (though we’d named it “‘EOBase’ both as a contraction of ‘Eastern Ontario Database…’ and in the hope that it [would] represent a dawning of ecological and biotic awareness among the People of Eastern Ontario.” — F W. Schueler & Anita Miles. 2000. Establishing EOBase, a Database of Eastern Ontario Natural History Collections & Observations, at the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum. Unpublished report to the Eastern Ontario Model Forest, 8 April 2000).  The expected fellow users of this system haven’t materialized, and the “system isn’t ready for publication yet, but if you’d like to be a fellow-user, contact us” (Schueler, F.W.,  and Aleta Karstad: 2004. theNatureJournal Handbook. 42 pp. Bishops Mills Natural History Centre and Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo).