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  1. #1
    Registered User DrRichardCranium's Avatar
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    Default Where can I find Wildlife/botany lessons?

    I'm planning to thru-hike next year & would like to blog from the trail. I would like to write about the plants & animals I find on the trail, but it would help if I already knew as much as possible about identifying the plants & wildlife. You cannot really know a thing if you can't name it.

    I've been learning a lot from field guides & other books, but does anyone know of any classes or seminars/other events that teach about botany or wildlife? I live in Frederick, Maryland, if that's any help.

    I've read Thoreau's Walden & Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and I really enjoy how intimately they describe their observations of nature.

  2. #2
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    Try your nearest state college. They likely sponsor community education courses and courses for teachers that would help you. You might also audit "for credit" classes in the science or agriculture departments.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  3. #3
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    I commend your efforts. Begin your quest by reading Mountains of the Heart by Scott Weidensaul. Odds are good you can borrow a copy from your local library.

    You can learn much about the natural world simply by observing. However, once you are able to put a name on something, it's possible to learn much more.

    Without special training and the vocabulary necessary to use keys, the best way to make positive identification often involves photographic documentation in the field and matching images with others that have the correct name associated with them at a later time.

    A digital SLR camera with macro capabilities would be a desirable addition to your outfit, but you will pay for the weight with sweat on your brow.

    There are many online references to assist with identification. We should do a better job of calling attention to them.

  4. #4
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    Default Online Resources

    Read Chuck Fergus's Wildlife Notes on PGC's website. You can find other information about mammals and birds by using their search engine.

    The best online source of information about birds may be Cornell's All About Birds.

    USDA's Plants Database is a useful online resource which includes images and links to other sources. Virginia Tech has created a website for its dendrology students that's quite good.

    Butterflies and Moths is a thread I started which links an excellent online reference with county-level maps.

    Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has lots of information about fish, reptiles and amphibians online including their article I've linked on copperheads.

    Snakes of Georgia and South Carolina is linked here often. University of Florida has good online snake information too.

    That ought to keep you out of trouble for a while.

  5. #5

    Default Learn to identify scat

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRichardCranium View Post
    I'm planning to thru-hike next year & would like to blog from the trail. I would like to write about the plants & animals I find on the trail, but it would help if I already knew as much as possible about identifying the plants & wildlife. You cannot really know a thing if you can't name it.

    I've been learning a lot from field guides & other books, but does anyone know of any classes or seminars/other events that teach about botany or wildlife? I live in Frederick, Maryland, if that's any help.

    I've read Thoreau's Walden & Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and I really enjoy how intimately they describe their observations of nature.
    While you are studying, learn to identify animal scat. By identifying the animal scat along the trail, you will know what kind of animals are in the area. Some animals intentionally leave their scat in the middle of the trail to mark their territory.

    Here is a link to a lesson on "Scatology" -- http://zoology.suite101.com/article.cfm/scatology
    Shutterbug

  6. #6
    “Only two things are infinite; The universe and human stupidity,
    And I’m starting to wonder about the universe.”
    Albert Einstein

  7. #7
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    It's easier to learn to identify birds by sight and sound in the field with an expert birder as a guide.

    A formal university course in field ornithology likely wouldn't have any prerequisites but would be a good investment providing a lifetime of pleasure.

    There may be local clubs or less formalized groups in your area too. Often they are associated with museums, arboretums or public or private nature centers which may also offer lectures, courses, workshops, guided walks or field trips.

  8. #8
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    This is a good book on AT wildflowers. The author is local here in VA. I have been to his presentation; lovely photos.







    Hiking Blog
    AT NOBO and SOBO, LT, FHT, ALT
    Shenandoah NP Ridgerunner, Author, Speaker


  9. #9
    Registered User Fiddleback's Avatar
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    Take a look at iTunes and its iTunes U. There you'll find courses and commentary about botany and wildlife (listed under Science). iTunes U also has a list of colleges/universites that provide podcasts/online classes.

    iTunes is free, no Apple device required for use on a computer. The courses and podcasts I've found are free too.

    FB
    "All persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights. They include the right to a clean and healthful environment..."

    Article II, Section 3
    The Constitution of the State of Montana

  10. #10
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Our town land trust has a dozen or more guided walks each year. All the field trips -- well except the one I lead -- have leaders with a lot of knowledge of plants, birds, fungi and other wild stuff, which they love to tell others about. I've learned a lot from them over the years. Sometimes I'm almost good enough to impress the people who take part in my walks.

    When I worked for the newspaper and volunteered stories on the mountains of Maine I would take notes and photos of things I found interesting and look them up after I got home in flower, bird, and other wildlife guides.

    I got so good at faking knowledge, I once was invited to a graduation at Unity College -- a school that specializes in such things -- and given a citation that proclaimed me the Henry Thoreau of Maine.

    The reality. I've always had trouble remembering people names, right alone flowers.

    Anyway. Go on every field trip you can find and you will learn a lot. Even if the leader doesn't have answers, someone on the walk is likely to be knowledgeable. On trail walks take notes of interesting things and try to identify them later from books you have at home, or can find in book stores and libraries. On my walk north in 1993 I visited a book store or library at almost every town stop to identify things I saw on the trail while they were still fresh in my mind.

    Weary

  11. #11
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    Library.

    Audubon Field Guide to XXXX.

    Insects.
    Wildflowers.
    Trees.
    Weather.
    Birds.

    Probably more, those I just saw.

    Pretty fine print, but enough general info on say leaf shape to stifle a botany prof, if you can retain any of it. It is a Maine thing, stifling pompous fools from away. We prepare for it during the winter.

  12. #12
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    So that's what you do to keep warm?

  13. #13
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