Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Originally we were to go looking for Hellbenders in French Creek but the creek had risen too much from the rains the previous night. It was too dangerous for us to look for them. This, however, did mean we had more time to spend learning about them. Some of the animals we learned about were, milksnakes, timber rattlesnake, spring peepers, red-spotted newts and spotted salamanders. The information she gave us was extrememly interesting because not many of us knew about the creatures she told us about. April was also an entertaining as well as knowledgable person and she obviously loved her field. Often she would add jokes to her presentation to make it more interesting.
After we learned about these species came the fun part. She gave us a test using the information we had learned from her lecture, to identify and answer the questions that were asked on the living specimens of several species. We were even allowed to hold the cornsnake and milksnake. The cornsnake was a female that loved to wind herself in knots around your wrists and arms. the milksnake was constantly searching for a place to hide and had to be extracated from one of the boys hoods. The test was also difficult, there were many questions that we had to have been paying attention to answer and the stakes were high. The person who achieved the highest score got a prize. The classes highest score was thirty-five out of thirty-nine. There was a winner out of both boys and girls.
Overall, I had never thought that learning about amphibians and reptiles could be such an interesting and fun experience. I was proved wrong. It was an illuminating prelude to our final adventure for the week: a trip to Bousson, an Allegheny College environmental experimentation center. Though this was one of our final activities, I enjoyed it greatly even though I was starting to feel sadness from the impending departure the next day.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Once we got back to North Village, the dorms where we were staying, we spent a well deserved chill session listening to music, or at least the girls did. This didn't last long though. Soon we started to dance and got a dance party going. It was more fun than I've had in a long time. Most of us enjoyed it greatly, listening to everybody's favorites on the iHome one of the girls brought. One of the campers this week is from Costa Rica and we finally got her to join us and dance. She asked if any of us had salsa music. None of us did so we hijacked our counsellor's computer and found some online. She showed us the salsa and we were all extremely amazed. She was so good at it. We all started to try to copy her. Soon she started to teach us how to do it. We got a regular salsa lesson and then took it upstairs into the dorm hall where we attempted to get the boys to learn too. They were disinclined to aquiest to our request. Oh well, we still had a ton of fun and as a bonus we learned some basic salsa moves.
Unfortunately, we were exhausted this morning but it was worth it. We really did have so much fun and I'm sad that this week it almost over. We've all made such go friends.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
During our lunch, we met with a man named Brian from the County Conservation District. He had come with us on our canoe trip as a guide. He explained about conservation efforts for the French Creek watershed and taught us about how people could save river banks from pollution and erosion. We learned that a lot of conservation efforts are more that just "saving the planet" but it's also about human relations. To go into conservation, you must also be good at persuading people. We learned that agriculture plays a huge role in both conserving and polluting rivers and streams. People with jobs in conserving watersheds often must work with farmers and convince them to change their ways to newer, more eco-friendly ways. For instance, Brian explain to us that when people first settled the area, they placed their barns in low ground near streams, creeks, and rivers. This was so that their livestock, primarily cows, had access to a continuous water source. To do this, they cleared all the trees along the creek to ease their animals paths. This unfortunatly allowed for the cow and such to defficate and unrinate in the water therefore adding extra nutrients that the stream may or may not have needed. Now the watershed conservationalists, as well as others, are attempting to convince farmers to fence their cows away from water.
Brian also works to rebuild reparian buffers along the sides of creeks. A reparian buffer has trees on it and helps to protect from soil erosion. This shows how important it is to conserve banks.
There's still much more of the week to go and I am very excited to see what the rest of the week brings!!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Dr. Mumme, pronouced like "Mummy", took us to a huge ravine in the graveyard and took out a radio. At first I wasn;t sure what to expect; Dr. Mumme was obviously very knowledgeable in the field of birds. He explained to us about the calls of the different owls and even demonstrated some himself. His calls were amazingly accurate, no doubt he was practiced. After though, he took out a radio with calls of the three most common and began to play them.
We had just about given up when out of the blackness of the ravine there came the call of a Barred Owl. We couldn't believe it. At first we thought it was a dog, but suddenly the sound came from the tree directly overhead. We all turned on our headlamps and didi our best to spot the owl. We saw the owl fly back into the ravine and heard it call. To our amazment another call answered it. Suddenly we began to here the sound of two owls, presumably a male and a female, making the calls that signaled their familiarity. Both owls presented themselves to us briefly, and then one vanished. We didn't see it again. After the one owl had left we began to hear high pitched squealing shrieks that Dr. Mumme quickly identified as the calls of Juvinilles.
Instead of seeing just one owls that night, we managed to find and entire family. In all, there were four owls, two juvinilles and two adults. This was more than we would have ever anticipated or asked for. It was one of the most amazing, eerie, and, magical times I've ever spent in a cemetary. (also one of the few.)
I can't wait for the rest of the week!!! I personally hope that everything we do is everybit as exciting and intriguing as this.
Monday, July 20, 2009
When we were in the downstream we were supposed to use a net and go to the creek so we could get different kind of animals and identified them. It was really interesting and we could see many species like aquatic sowbugs and blackfly larvae!!
We had a great time doing this activity!!!