April 25, 2019

Field Journal 3

The third and last day at the farm was the best out of all my visits despite it having rained. I was glad I checked the weather and wore my raincoat and brought my umbrella.

When my group arrived to our vernal pool site, we split up again. I teamed up with Hongli and we proceeded to sift through the cold, dirty water and mud to look for insects and other living organism. We did not try to catch any spiders in the hay fields because there were none that day. It was probably because it was cold and rainy at the time.

We took the little net and found mainly water beetles and the occasional spiders. However, we had to disturb the waters in order to find these little bugs. One of us would step into the water and stomp around to kick up mud and other debris in the water. The beetles were the easiest to spot because they were brown, ovular and moved around with their legs. The spiders were trickier to spot. They would curl their legs into their body which produced a small form.

All the spiders we found could walk on water and we captured more than one species of spider. One was small with white dots on its thorax and some others were yellow and a bit transparent in appearance.

My favorite discovery was that of a small worm I found while poking and digging around in a mud mound near the water. All the other previous mud mounds yielded no results until this one. When choosing which mud mound to disturb, I would see if there were any neat-looking holes that might have resembled the kind that a bug would make. An example of such holes, would be the ones made by ants in the sand.

The worm was about as long as my pinky and had a brown body. I placed it on a lid from a small container and left it alone to go hunt for more organisms. I was dismayed when I came back and saw it had escaped. That would be the only worm I encountered during the rest of the time at the farm.

The BioCube actually had a bit of moving life in it today. I saw some beetles float through it and even spotted a spider here and there. Other than that, the surroundings of the cube remained the same and only had some stalks and trees in it.

During my 15 min of silence, I observed almost the same bird calls as the last time I was at the farm. Although, there was one particular bird call that stood out to me and not because it was a beautiful sound. It was actually the opposite. It was the most obnoxious bird call I had ever heard.

The first thing I thought when hearing it was, "Someone's not finding a mate this spring. Not with that call". It sounded a bit like a seagull, but with a slightly higher pitch and not as grating in color.

Overall, this was a pleasant last day at the farm. Hongli and I captured about 6 spiders and even some tiny snails. We stored them in containers and hopefully we will see them alive when we return for them.

Posted on April 25, 2019 03:49 by lduong lduong | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 18, 2019

Field Journal 1

I was apprehensive about going to the farm with only sneakers to protect my feet. I prayed to the farm gods that I would not encounter any deep bodies of water or would be able to finesse my way around them if I could.

When I got to the farm, it was a lot colder and windier than I expected. I was glad that I decided to wear a sweatshirt and long coat that day. The farm was also larger than I thought. I did not expect the tour to take 30 min. I thought that was an overestimate.

It was also my first time on a farm. I did not know that the ground would be made of dry, hay-like plant matter. While it was nice to see the stream and vernal pond, which is the location my group would be studying, I found the bike trail and the knowledge of nearby beaver dams to be the most exciting part of the tour. The bike trail was neatly paved and scenic trees lining both sides of the trail. I also was impressed by how much the beavers could affect water levels in the pond.

When it came time to explore the vernal ponds, my group shoved the BioCube in the first acceptable spot we could find. We wanted to hit the ground running as soon as possible and capture our needed pictures for the day. We nestled the cube under some trees and plants with half of it submerged in the dirty water.

We then took the little blue net and tried to fish in the water to find some moving organisms like bugs or salamanders. Sadly, we did find anything of the sort in the net. There was only mud and leaves that was scooped up in it.

At this point, my sneakers were soaked and I could not feel my toes. The cold wind also froze my fingers. I entertained the possibility of getting frostbite in the back of my head, but pushed on and vowed to buy boots the moment I got back on campus.

I tried to take the binoculars to spot some birds, but did not see any. Meanwhile, my group mates looked around and took pictures of the plants nearby. One plant that we were able to identify was called "Pussy Willow". It grey and fuzzy puffs at the ends of the tree's branches. We collected a sample from it.

During my 15 in of silence... there was literally silence. The only thing I could hear was the rustling of the wind and not much else. There were no birds calls in the distance. I was a bit disappointed and hoped to hear more things next visit when it will be warmer and birds will be more likely to come out to play,

Overall, this was a decent first visit to the farm. I could have lived without frozen feet and the freezing wind though.

Posted on April 18, 2019 03:58 by lduong lduong | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Field Journal 2

From the start, this second visit was better than the first. Unlike last time, I woke up with 15 min to get ready instead of 3 min like last time. Also, I had tall, waterproof boots this time! I would not be walking around with cold feet in soggy sneakers.

Once we got to the farm, my group and I trekked to our BioCube and to our joy we found it in the same place and same condition. We then split off into smaller groups to gather more pictures of new species or to get better pictures of the species we found last time. I definitely needed to do the latter.

I found that using the "Selective Focus" mode on my camera allowed me to take more detailed photos of plants and insects up close because it was programmed to take pictures of objects 20 inches or closer to the lens. This also added an effect that blurred the background which allowed for more focus on the subject.

While walking around the area I was excited to find little bugs scurrying about the dried hay I walked on. However, my excitement immediately died when I asked Professor Riley what they might be. Turns out they were spiders... and I am terrified of spiders. Luckily, she confirmed that they were not venomous, but I was still worried that I would find one crawling in my boot or on my person. I was surprised at their sheer number. They seemed to be everywhere!

I managed to not only retake pictures of plants I found, but found more. A few that were worth noting was this tree that had yellow puffs on it, a tree stump with some sort of fungus on it, and a plant that had a bunch of red, bead-like structures on top of it. I made sure to talk pictures of these and look forward to seeing if someone on iNaturalist will be able to identify them.

The boots came in handy when crossing deep waters. Although, I did come closer to having water go past the height of my boots a few times.

During my 15 min of silence, I was happy that there was more going on than last time. Besides the wind chilling my ears as it blasted by, there was only silence. This time, I could hear a cacophony of bird calls. I made sure to note the different variations in bird calls. The most notable traits I heard was the direction of pitch of each call and its rhythm. I wrote down my observations in my notebook and described the rhythms with music notation. I also made sure to compare the sounds to sounds I already know. For example, I described one bird call as sounding like a slide whistle with a descending pitch that was reminiscent of a "falling bomb" sound effect that is used in cartoons.

I also managed to spot my first bird on the farm and did try to record it. However, it flew around from branch to branch too fast for me to get close to capture it. With my eyes, I observed that it had a yellow-green belly with a grey main body that may or may not have been spotted. I hope to see it again next time to get better footage of it.

When I checked on the BioCube, I was disappointed to see that not much changed since last time. I still could not see any organisms around the cube besides the plants in it. I hoped to spot some bugs in the water, but there was none. I am crossing my fingers for the chance that next lab visit will show more insects in the water because it will be warmer and maybe more insects may appear.

Overall, my second visit to the farm was more productive than the first and provided me with more follow-up opportunities for the next visit.

Posted on April 18, 2019 03:19 by lduong lduong | 0 comments | Leave a comment