Friday, July 13, 2012

Hellbender Hunting

We looked for hellbenders in the creek. We split up into two groups and flipped over big rocks on the bottom and searched underneath them. It took us a little while and a whole location later before a little one.was found. We took turns holding it and then let it go.

Canoe Trip!!

It was a great day in canoe trip. We did two stops. In the first stop we collected fresh water mussels and in the second stop we did a water fight. We had to row a lot. We saw some amazing the nature around the French Creek. At the end we were all tired and we had an awesome lunch.


On Thursday we went on a canoe trip and about halfway down French Creek we stopped to look for freshwater mussels. It was hard to find them and even harder to find ones that were alive. If you found a live one you had to make sure you put back with the dirty side facing up so they weren't upside down. It was a lot of fun!!


Laura showed us how the geocatching works on the computer, then we left our apartment in search of two boxes that were hidden in the campus of Allegheny College. We divided into two groups so we could start the hunting.
 The first box was hidden near the bridge of the crevice, and was very small and difficult to find because it was camouflage with some logs.
The other box was on a trail in some woods, it was protected by an army of bugs and mosquitoes, so it was difficult to get it.

Meeting Herps

Yesterday, after we took our canoe trip, we came back to the North Village to learn about Herps. Herps are amphibians and reptiles like frogs, salamanders, lizards, and snakes. There are a ton of different types, and April brought a bunch to show us, including a super enthusiastic milk snake, and a puppy that ran away from a turtle. We learned a lot about Herps, and we got to know a lot of cool things about field characteristics to identify them.

Trip to Bousson

Tonight we went to Bousson, a research facility that deals in herpetology. We looked under logs and under branches and rocks and found a couple different kinds of salamanders and frogs. We found a northern red salamander, mountain dusky salamander, northern dusky salamander, spotted salamander, green frog, and pickerel frog. We looked until it was dark and it was a lot of fun!    

1 foot and ice cream

This afternoon we ate at Eddie's and Casey's. We had a great time, we started with a foot long hot dog, which was delicious, we could choose from different toppings for our hot dog, the fries also tasted great. At Casey's we ate ice cream that was home made, it was a bit artificial but it was good. So many flavors to choose from but no one was brave enough to pick bacon ice cream, that was a bit gross. It was very hot and we had to sit on the hot benches. We had a great time it was a lot of fun! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


At Pymatuning, we immediately saw many common waterbirds such as geese, ducks, and gulls. There was a ton of carp as well there. The carp would all fight in the same place to try to get bread which was thrown by people at the side, the birds would also try to get bread. We fed them, and then a guy who was with us explained why this was a bad thing for the ecosystem, and how they couldn't stop people from feeding the fishes because that attracted tourism and the town wanted tourism.

Pitt Labs @ Pymatuning

This morning we went to the University of Pittsburgh laboratory located at Pymatuning.  There were a ton of kiddie pools and cattle feeders in which the scientists would fill with water and use to grow whatever they need for their experiments, typically tadpoles or plants.  Then there was a small building that actually held the lab equipment.  Most of the researchers were working on a joint project with scientists in Oregon involving a disease that is killing frogs in Oregon.  The egg masses were shipped from Oregon and have been grown in the pools.  Now the researchers are working with the metamorphlings and pesticides in order to find out if the use of pesticides is weakening the frog's immune system.  Later on we were allowed to feed some tadpoles to a drangonfly nymph.

Mining in North Village

This afternoon Wil Taylor came to the campus and taught us all about mining at the turn of the century, life in the mines, and abandoned mine drainage. We played a live board game where we chose cards to determine our fate. Some made it out of the mines but others, sadly, didn't. It was also really cool to see how mine drainage compares to other types of water. I liked learning about the different effects of mines.

Bat Counting!

Last night we went and saw spooky bats! We learned that they are actually not vampires around here and are not related to rats! Once he told us a little bit about the bats he showed us the clear boxes and there were 7 cubs(baby bats) in the box. Then we went and sat down and counted the bats as they came out and we counted 270 bats in only a few boxes! Even though they were kind of scary i enjoyed the experience!

Attempting to canoe

Learing how to canoe was interesting. Everyone was running into one another trying to go straight. Watching everyone attempting to canoe was pretty funny. Once most people got the hang of it a couple races broke out. Most people got the hang of it, but a couple were all over the lake. Hopefully the canoe trip tomorrow will go a little better.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We  got the nets and went into the water. We kicked around for 3 minutes then brought the net onto land. Then we looked for all of the macroinvertebrates but didn't find as much as yesterday. We loved finding all of the big crayfish.

French Creek

Today we went to the French Creek. While there we walked around in the creek and explored. We looked around and lifted up rocks and found crayfish, fish, and mussels. We all had a really good time.

Owl Hunting

We left our apartment with Doctor Mumme and went hunting for owls. We went to a small forest and saw our firsts owls, they were quite big and fast. Later we went to the campus and saw another species of owls, these were smaller than the others.These ones had yellow eyes and they were very small.

Water Chem

This morning we went to the Upstream of Woodcock! We had to take an A and B sample of the water by going into the water and scooping it up. Then everyone got into groups and picked a kit to use. Some of the kits tested temperature, pH, TDS (total dissolved solids), and turbidity. It was so fun and we found that our water was fair. 

Mad Boring Skills

Today, we went out to the woods with Penn's Woods reps Stacia and Nicole, to determine the age of some of the trees on their lot. It may not sound interesting at first, but it really was a blast! We pretty much ferociously bore holes into trees (they'll be OK, I promise!) and pulled out a little cylinder of tree matter. It's like when someone chops a tree down to count rings, except it doesn't kill the trees. And, it looks a lot more cool. And... we saw a fish. It was in the creek by the forest that we were in. We were plotting to catch it with our totallyunrelatedmadtreeskills.


Today, a guy named Jay took us up the creek to teach us how to shock fish and then catch them. We had a lot of fun slipping all over the rocks trying to catch them. It seemed like everyone was getting really into it, even though we killed a few... Luis even had the guts to let a crayfish latch onto his ear!

Having fun at the stream table!!

This afternoon we went to the Alden geology building and Professor Reiss taught us about different parts of the river and how it works, it was very interesting. The stream table had sand and water in it which we got to play with for a while. We made dams, mountains, islands and we had a lot of fun! We made a great dam and then we destroyed it. It was great!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Water Chemistry

This morning on July 9, 2012 we did some water chemistry in the creek. First we did some water sampling so we can do alkalinity tests or the water's ability to resist change in pH. Lastly, I thought it was a pretty nice expanding my Knowlegde in Chemistry.  (DS Creek Camp 2012)

Yay for Macroinvertebrates!!!

Today we went downstream of Woodcock Dam to check the water quality and chemistry in addition to searching for macroinvertebrates.  The diversity of macroinvertebrates signify how healthy a stream is.  We found some neat little critters.  There were a lot of cranefly larva, some water beetle larva, and there were even two small crayfish among other creatures.  There is then a system that assigns values to the different macros based on whether they live in healthy, fair, or poor water.  The value that we got told us that the water was of fair quality.  The tests for water quality also came back with pretty decent results.  We checked the temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, nitrates and phosphates.  Tonight we get to go hunt owls in a cemetery so wish us luck:)

Dam Time

It was cool learning about the dam and its functions. It was amazing how long and high the dam was. Walking out on it was fun. It was scary looking over the railings. It was so cool learning about how the dam works and how the creek flows through it. Learning about how the dam releases certain amounts of water for different times of the year was cool. Looking over the balcony at the lake was pretty cool, but scary.

Geocaching Campus Tour

For geocaching we were given GPS's and a coordinate to start. We used the GPS and coordinates to find a location where another coordinate was waiting to lead us to another location. We repeated this several times while guides informed us about the campus. The coordinates eventually led back to the start where we received a drawstring bag, headlight, shirt, and a towel.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Creek Connections would like to thank all the campers that came to Allegheny last week. We all had a great time and enjoyed getting to know the campers. We learned a lot from you!. This past week was another creek camp success!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Da nanananananana nananana... BATS!

Bats are really cool animals. They are even cuter up close. Normally, animals are made more adorable by drawings and stuff, but with bats it's the opposite. Drawings of bats never do them justice. The little squeaky noises they make are even cuter!! I want to get a pet bat that will sit on my head, that would be nice. I found it interesting that according to Terry people seem to have become less afraid of bats in recent years, and to be honest I have to think that that has something to do with the return of the batman movies, etc. In any case, I want some bats for my backyard. Especially the really pretty silver ones.

Canoeing in French Creek

     Yesterday we took a three hour canoe trip in French Creek. It was a great experience to be able to have a great time with friends while experiencing amazing wildlife. Although maneuvering the canoe became challenging at times, it was always enjoyable to slow down and take a look at the diverse landscape of plants and animals. We even spotted a couple bald eagles! Along the way, we stopped at rocky banks to look for and discuss freshwater muscles and invasive species. We also ended up finding a couple of mud puppies along the way! We then stopped to cool off for a squirt gun fight and a nice swim. We had a great time canoeing and I am sure we will always remember the fun times we had!

While on our canoe trip, we went searching for freshwater mussels! We scanned the banks for the 26 different types of mussels in french Creek. We kept an eye out for zebra mussels, which campers found last year. Zebra mussels are an invasive species that latch on to other mussels and often kill them. Unfortunately, we did not find any while canoeing, although we found some later when we went on our Herp Hunt.

Hellbender Wrestling

We hunted for Hellbenders and got 10 that were recorded and probably a couple that were not. They were cute and very interesting. We also found Mudpuppies and a load of crayfish.

herp intro

The herp intro was very interesting. We learned a lot about amphibians and reptiles. The best part was when we got to hold real snakes. The snakes felt very strange, but they were very cool and they did not bite. I also liked feeding the box turtle. when we gave him food, he would look at it curiously before eating it. The herp intro was very cool to me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Catching Hellbenders

At French Creek, we caught wild hellbenders, the largest species of salamander in North America.  We split into two groups for finding hellbenders.  We found them by lifting up large, flat rocks to see if there were any under the rocks.  There were a lower amount of hellbenders than expected.  Once a hellbender was located, we used nets to capture them, and we then examined them.  We learned how to determine a hellbender's sex.  Males have heads that are broader than their shoulders, and females have heads that are narrower than their shoulders.  We also noticed various scars on some of the hellbenders.  We learned how to hold the hellbenders properly, because their slimy bodies make it easy for them to escape from our clutches.  The hellbenders were then released.  After handling the slimy amphibians, we used bleach to sanitize our hands.  In total, around 20 hellbenders were caught.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Macro-invertebrates Day 2

Today we took a trip to the upstream (before the Woodcock Dam) part of Woodcock creek.The micro-invertebrates we found in this part of the creek were far different in variety and number compared to the downstream (after the Woodcock Dam) part. It was very interesting to see how a stream can be effected by a dam including the animals that live in and around it. To catch some of the micro-invertebrates in the stream we split up into groups of three. Then we held a kick net in the water and kicked up the water in front of it to loosen the dirt and rocks. This allowed the animals to swim right into the net so we could take it out of the water and observe them. We compared the animals to discuss which ones were more susceptible to pollution and how they would adapt to live in a stream. We found many different macro-invertebrates including hellgrammites, water pennies, and dragonfly nymphs.

Pitt Labs!

Today we went to the Pitt labs and saw some tadpoles. They told us how pestasides affect the ecology of a pond. We got to see dragonfly nymphs eat grey tree frog tadpoles. We saw several different cattle troughs filled with several different affects of the pestaside in water. It was cool that they got to see their hypotheses worked out. To me the highlight of this excursion would be the awesome tadpoles.

Canoe Skills like a boss

Today after lunch, we went to Woodcock Dam and pulled out our canoes.Everyone was eager to get on the life jackets or PFDs. It was very windy out and some of us had some trouble steering the canoe but thankfully no one flipped their canoe into the lake.

Lunch at Eddie's and Casey's!

Today for lunch, we went to Eddie's and Casey's! At Eddie's we got delish foot long hot dogs and  fries. After eating, we went across the parking lot to Casey's and got ice cream. It was so good! They had lots of cool flavors like Frog and Nerd Heaven. All their flavors were great, and we totally loved the ice cream. Lunch today was the best!


Today we traveled to Pymatuning state park to look at the spillway.  We watched the masses of fish try to climb over each other so that they could eat the bread that we threw into the lake.  After we fed the fish loaves of bread, we learned about how much damage the bread can do in the water.  In reality, by throwing bread into the lake we are adding nitrates and phosphates to the water.  Adding these things messes up the lake's ecosystem, and in the future this could eliminate most of the life in the lake.

Mine Drainage & The Environment

We met Miranda Crotsley ,an environmental educator, and learned about mine drainage and its affects on the environment. We played a mining game and learned how the miners mined for coal. We learned about Jennings park and an endangered rattle snake native to PA prairies.


Last night we went to the Newton Observatory on campus. The building is really cool, it has a green dome on the roof. The observatory is really old, so you had to move the dome by hand. You had to repeatedly pull a rope attached to a pulley, this would rotate the dome. The telescope and the dome are over one hundred years old! Professor Lombardi showed us the Moon, Mars, stars, satellites, and my favorite of all Saturn! all of this was through the old telescope and this new high tech telescope at the observatory! Saturn was my favorite because you could see the planet with the rings really good. you could also see one of Saturn's moons! I had a really good time at the observatory.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Creek Chem, Part Deux

    This morning, we partook in our second day of running water tests at Woodcock Creek. This time, we ran tests above the dam.Today, I ran the alkalinity test with Elizabeth Siefert. the the name suggests, this process tests the alkalinity of the water running through the creek, or in other words the water's ability to resist change in pH. This was a quick and easy test where in we simply add drops of a chemical until the waters color stops changing, and then multiply the number of drops by 17 to get your answer. Woodcock Creek averaged 42.5 mg/L. Elizabeth Siefert and I got some of the chemical on our hands, which turned them blue when we went to look for critters.


Today we headed down to Woodcock creek to go electrofishing! Three biologists came down to join us with the electrofishing equipment. First we learned about the different organizations that help to keep the streams in Pennsylvania healthy and stocked with fish. Then, using the equipment, the biologists sent electric currents through the water to stun the fish. When the fish are hit, they roll over and expose their lighter colored bellies, which makes it easier to see them. Campers followed the biologists with nets and buckets to scoop up the stunned fish.When all of our catches were gathered together, the biologists told us about the different kinds of species. Then, we released all of the fish back into the water. It was really fun!

tree coring

We cored trees by drilling into them and then pulling the sample out of the tree. We stored the samples in straws and taped both ends so that the wood from the trees stayed stored safely. We also measured each tree to see if it was big enough for someone to cut down. If the tree was at least 16 units around 4.5 ft from the ground, it was big enough to cut. I learned about four different kinds of trees and I thought it was very interesting.

Owl Watching

Last night at nine o'clock sharp we went owl watching.  It was very cold, the temperature was 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mr. Mumme took us to many different places in the cemetery.  To attract the owls, Mr. Mumme played owl calls on a CD player.  Unfortunately, we were only able to see one owl.  We tried many places but did not see any owls.  We finally saw a Screech owl when we arrived back on campus.  Overall the trip was a lot of fun and very exciting. 

French Creek

We traveled to French Creek via car, and were there from around 2:30 to around 4:00.  While we were there, we did not do any experimentation.  We were just there for fun.  While there, some people tried to find and catch fish and mussels in the creek.  A snake was also caught.  The stream had a riparian zone consisting of forest and land covered by grass.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We had a DAM Time

Today we visited the Woodcock Dam on Woodcock Creek. We walked out half-way and talked about how "cool" it would be to ski and slide down the sides of the Dam into the lake and the grass on the other side. We were all amazed at how long it was and how it works. Sahar, one of the girls counselors, was having fun playing around with her hat and acting like a nerd making the campers smile. It was windy today when we were up there and we stopped to talk about the Dam and its function. 

Geology Streamtable!

This afternoon, we went into the Alden geology building on campus and learned about stream tables. The stream table looked like a giant bathtub filled with sand and water. It represents the environment and how streams and rivers evolve over time. A hose at the top fills up a "lake" and you can let the water flow and represent erosion in streams. It was a lot of fun to make rivers and dam up the water! We built mountains and watched them collapse, saw the groundwater fill up, and played with sand! Our dam failed miserably, but we had a blast playing in our mini beach with the little cowboys and dump trucks. It was great!

Allegheny College

Today we went on a tour where we learned about the green and sustainable elements of Allegheny college.  We explored the different ways in which the college has grown to be environmentally friendly.  These ways include adding geothermal heating and cooling systems, using recycled materials, installing dual-flush toilets, and taking advantage of alternative energy sources to power the college.  Here are some photos!