Rural System
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

Observations in the Rural Outdoors

This is your special place to put your true, carefully-made observations of nature. Even if you are not adding observations, NatureSeen is still your wonderful place to read about what others have seen or otherwise observed within the rural outdoors.

NatureSeen is your place to:

You are welcome to read it all, or just use the standard "Edit" at the top bar of your screen and click on "Find." Type in the word of interest and then follow through on your search for other places where your key word was used. These reports are not organized in any way but assigned a number and then listed in the sequence received. Be sure to see the disclaimer.

In NatureSeen we have few rules. There is no cost to making an entry. The "rules and suggestions" are few and are available.

All of us thank you. Too many rare or unique observations of nature have been lost, ignored, discarded, or given no place in "modern scientific" publications. Hours afield making observations are few, expensive, sometimes dangerous, and often the result of a special convergence of factors. We think that unreplicated field observations and those of sample-size" one" should be reported, not filed away into the dark otherness. Enough is enough! Work with us. Share. Enjoy!

We also accept observations about observations. We welcome your comments and observations about making (or failing to make) good observations. (Attach them to an e-mail note to us. We'll cite you if you so desire.) The loss in studies of nature has been great over the past 50 years. Museums and libraries have been closed. Experts have retired. Creating this site, we hope, will mark the end of that loss and a new trend in sharing all types of field observations of wild animals and plants and the places and conditions where they live. Observations of pets, domestic animals, or gardens are not included.

We hope that you will make a $1 contribution for each entry, but don't let that stop you if it is not available now. Many contributors know the value of this web site even though they no longer work in the field. We'll add contrubutors' names to our list (if they wish). Major contributions are welcomed and we shall welcome suggestions for people and foundations to contact. Since we are affiliated with a non-profit group, tax deductions for contributions to this educational and conservation effort are available.

Here is where you make your entry. Fill in the form and send it automatically by clicking on the submit symbol. The words wrap. There are about 15 rows of space available. Observations are usually brief. Submit several, one at a time. Contact us if you need special help with your entries.

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My Observation for NatureSeen


  1. In relation to questions about deer swimming, in New York City Parks we had seen a deer or 2 in the Bronx that had come down from Westchester County, but found out about a rescue that had to be made on Staten Island. A deer had apparently forged the river from New Jersey to Staten Island. It was amazing to hear, in part because of the distance the deer swam against strong currents and because this was happened in New York City.
    email Oct. 28, 2000 from Vicki Hornbostel,
  2. E.T. Seton in The Lives of Game Animals (1929) wrote: "Richardson, in his overland journey, 1848, relates that on June 26, at Buffalo Lake, "a Canada Lynx was seen swimming across a strait, where the distance from shore exceeded a mile. We gave chase and killed it easily. This animal is often seen in the water" and elsewhere he remarks: "It swims well and will cross the arm of a lake two miles wide." Seton is citing Dr. John Richardson, author of Fauna Boreali Americana (1829).
    reported by Christopher Hoving via email, November 2, 2000
  3. I know of two other accounts of lynx swimming: one on a lake, and the other crossing a river.
    HAM, E. 1963. I remember...the Allagash lynx. Down East Magazine. 9(10): 87.
    DARLING, J. 1896. A lynx family. Forest and Stream 47(4): 64. (July 25).

    When considered in light of more recent studies of lynx ecology, an explanation for swimming behavior emerges. Kim Poole (JWM 61:497-505) has shown that lynx can disperse up to 930 km in the Northwest Territories. Given the number of lakes and rivers in boreal Canada, I hypothesize that lynx have evolved to disperse through water.

    Dispersal probably does not explain the orignal post of a deer swimming in Lake Erie. My guess is that the deer was frightened into the water, and simply continued swimming away from danger. In the nineteenth century, some hunters in Maine used dogs to chase deer into lakes where they could be shot from canoe.
    from email by, Department of Wildlife Ecology,University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5755

  4. In a thorough study of 9 techniques of estimating forest overstory cover, Vales, D. J., and F. L. Bunnell. (1985. Comparison of methods for estimating forest overstory cover. Research, Ministries of Environment and Forests. IWIFR-20. Victoria, B.C. 117pp.) tested for precision and accuracy. They concluded the most precise instrument was the spherical densiometer (analogous to a fish-eye lens), although the estimates obtained by this method were strongly biased. Techniques that projected wider angles resulted in higher mean estimates of canopy cover. The moosehorn was the most precise instrument among unbiased techniques. They concluded the 10 degree arc of the consentric grid from hemispherical photographs provided the most precise, unbiased technique.

    If projecting vertical canopy cover is your goal, you may wish to use a longer lens rather than a fish-eye, and sample from a grid of stations within your plot. Also, consider using a digital camera instead of film. Analyzing percent cover with digital photos doesn't require dot-grid overlays.
    email (Sept, 2000) from Matt Kirchhoff,, Research Biologist, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Box 240020, Douglas, AK 99824

  5. Yellowjacket note from Bob Jacobson, ( July 24, 2002 who had seen Dr. Ken Stein's chapter in Peculiar Manor: I thought you might be interested in knowing that Vespula acadica (called "forest yellowjacket" by Akre) occurs between Grayson Highlands SP and Mt. Rogers (Virginia). It has been found in Pendleton Co., WV, so it is likely to occur on the VA side near US 33. Whitetop Mt. would be another possibility but I haven't seen it there. It is also found in a few localities in western North Carolina.

    The name "hybrid yellowjacket" was given to Vespula flavopilosa by Akre; no one probably ever called it anything but a "yellowjacket" before its description. Some people apparently feel that a common name must be tagged to every species (a practice perhaps encouraged by USDA?)whether or not anyone but the person assigning the name ever uses it!

  6. A follow-up note to the above note from Vespula acadica can occasionally be found at lower elevations. I've been in western North Carolina for 7 years, and the first year I was here, I saw a queen here (Lenoir, at 1350') but was so skeptical I didn't take it seriously. This year, I managed to collect one here! However, I suspect it's a "stray" that doesn't get established this low. In Virginia I've found workers, and at high elevations of NC (5500' +) queens, a worker, and a male.Bob Jacobson, July 26, 2002
  7. A note from Bob Jacobson, On 7 September 2002

    I discovered a colony of Vespula acadica in the Pisgah National Forest along the bridle trail close to NC 128, a short road which runs from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Mitchell State Park. The nest, located at perhaps 5800 feet elevation, was slightly exposed above the mossy ground in which it was located. When collected the following day, it turned out to have over 250 inhabitants, including many males and new queens along with the workers and foundress. Including the fragile gray envelope, the nest is about 8 inches wide but only 3 inches deep, its downward expansion having been restricted by gravel. The combs are very irregular in shape, being somewhat a collection of small pieces, due to this gravel.

    A couple weeks later, males and a worker of this species were found near the Black Balsam Trailhead (off the Blue Ridge Parkway S of Mt. Pisgah) visiting flowers of what is probably

  8. Aster lateriflorus. This aster consistently attracts workers and males of various Vespula and Dolichovespula species. Thu Oct 31 19:09:55 EST 2002
  9. Response of Dr. Ken Stein 03/25/03 to Brian Johnson 23 Mar 2003

    I am looking for a vespula vulgaris nest I am willing to buy one. I am a hornet nest and yellowjackets nest collector

    I am not sure that you could find a nest of Vespula vulgaris that you would like to keep. Unlike the genus Dolichovespula that has very tough papery nests, the nests of the genus Vespula are papery, thin, and very brittle. If you do find one, I'd be curious to know how you obtained it. Stein

  10. An email note from Brad Rimbey, Temple Terrace, Florida, July 7, 2003
    I saw my first Florida Coyote today. It ran across the road ahead of me this morning on S.R. 60 near Yeehaw Junction (appropriately enough). I had read that they had migrated into Florida. There have even been reports that a pack of Coyotes lives at Tampa International Airport. I also read about local coyotes eating cats.
  11. Email note from Dr. Ken Stein, Friday, Dec 24, 2004, a reply to Chris Walker
    I read in your article that the aerial yellowjacket can spray venom. Can the baldfaced hornet also spray venom? Yes, they can. many of the yellowjackets can, but this behavior is much more pronounced in arenaria.
  12. Images of a humming bird (Allen) nesting success

Comments from Users and Observers of NatureSeen

  1. Sometimes anecdotes are true; sometimes they're not; sometimes they're in-between somewhere. Anecdotes do not make science, but they are useful for good storytelling, education, environmental interpretation, and sometimes even in research -- given that their truth-content is high. And there's the rub! I'm reminded of this every time I heard a uniformed naturalist or ranger tell me about how all rivers run south, or when they read the Chief Seattle speech to me with a tear.
    email from Matt Zuefle,
    Ohio University, November 1, 2000
  2. It's my belief we have become overly smug with our computer models and statistics and thus tend to disregard these early day naturalists (Seton et al.) as emotional amateurs when in truth they were doing what we should be doing (and don't anymore); observing nature with an unbiased eye and trying to make sense of what was happening out there rather than trying to prove some preconceived view of how things SHOULD be. I also firmly believe that those who really understand nature are born with that ability, not taught it.
    from email by Dean Carrier
    November, 2000
  3. "Amen" to Dean Carrier's comment about our field's apparent de-emphasis on simple natural history. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with statistics, mathematics, modeling, pretty GIS maps or the like. In fact, I firmly believe it is vital to advancing our understanding of nature. However, to the extent that it occurs at the expense of simple observation, I believe our field (and nature) will ultimately suffer. In my opinion, there has been too much departure from natural history in our education. Field trips for classes get dropped because of expenses (or lack of appreciation), etc. We have lots of people (though some could reasonably argue not enough) who can recite theory, develop models, and conduct complex mathematical and statistical evaluations. All of this is VERY good. Unfortunately, however, we now have too few people who can tell the difference between a raccoon track and a 'possum track, let alone people who actually get excited about observing such things. Part of this reflects the overall trend in society away from a so-called 'rural lifestyle'. But it is also true that the 'atmosphere' in which many of us work tends to make us feel guilty if we want to take a day and just go 'play in the field'. Of course we can, and should, do this on our personal time as well.
    from email by John Erb, e-mail:
    Wildlife Research Biologist, Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, RR1 Box 181, Madelia, MN 56062, November, 2000

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