Monday, August 1, 2011

Fun in the Field

So it seems my resolution of trying to post every week has degenerated to the point where I post once a month! Oh well, it is better than nothing I suppose.
We have been trying for several weeks to schedule our annual department field/collecting trip but it seemed every time we set a date the weather thwarted us. Firstly there were monsoon level thunderstorms, then there was excessive heat which our team member who harks from Alaska couldn't quite face, then there were various vacations to work round but finally, rather like the proverbial herding of cats we managed to all get together on the same day.

The primary objective of the day was to collect some more native fish species to replenish our tanks, on display in the 'Riverworks' exhibit. This is most successfully done using a seine net to scoop the fish gently out without injuring them and then selecting the species we need from the net before releasing the rest.

Another activity that I always encourage is the gathering of crayfish. There is a very aggressive invasive species throughout Illinois called the Rusty Crayfish which is out-competing many native species. We scoop up as many of these as we can because we have lots of aquatic turtles in our collections who like nothing more than hunting and eating crayfish! Boy did they get a big treat - a whole bucketload!

I have been particularly lucky to have some really fantastic interns this year so it's always a great pleasure to be able to give them the treat of a day out in the field. And as you can see they were extremely enthusiastic about joining in with whatever was going on.

Here is Alex proving that chest waders are optional!

And also proving that 'girls rock!!' Because Amy didn't feel the need for them either :)

So who the ones wearing the waders? Our two male interns!!! YOU GO GIRLS!!
It wasn't all water though. We did get the chance to see some beautiful butterflies mud-puddling along the shores of the river.

These are Giant Swallowtails Papilio cresphontes
and this is a Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax

A little less flamboyant but no less beautiful is this Hackberry Emperor Asterocampa celtis. Drove me crazy trying to get it to stay still enough for a photo though.

And of course, the damselflies were not to be ignored either.

Another highlight of the day? I finally got to 'christen' my new wellies on their first ever field trip :)

What a great day. We all came home hot, sweaty, muddy, tired and happy. What more could we ask for?

Photo Credits - CJT