I had a goal a couple of years ago to really increase my field botany skills: to remember all of the stuff I had learned from classes and naturalists over many years and add to my knowledge base. I wanted to be able to walk into a Northeastern forest and know all of the trees and the wildflowers. I am almost at that level of competence and I have become quite handy with a field guide so I can look up easily what I am not sure about.
My efforts involved lots of time spent outside in the woods, investigating roadside plants and muddy trips into the Salt Marsh. I took a couple of field botany classes at the Botanical Garden. In the middle of my class last fall, I took a trip to Portland and the young women sitting next to me on the airplane asked me what I was reading and I told her, "A Key to Fruits and Nuts." I must say in my defense that I don't just like terminology and plant physiology, I also really like the history of how plants and people interact known as ethnobotany.
Jove has been along side me on my plant world adventures and I have accompanied him in his search to know, understand and collect insects. Jove is a great collector of detritus, dead things on the ground, and I can always count on him to bring home pockets full of forest nuts in the fall and discarded bud scales, flower petals and catkins (long drupy, male flowers) in the spring.
Right now is actually a great time to go on a Spring collecting walk in the Northeast or Midwest. Many trees have shed their flowers, the flowering trees are dropping their petals and some bud parts lie piled on sidewalks.
I feel a sense of accomplishment in terms of my botanical pursuits and I have decided that my next goal is to become a good amateur birder. I know about as much as any non-birder about birds, but I long to be able to recognize them by their calls and know more about them. I have announced my plan to Jove and he tells me that we need books, pictures and recordings of what they sound like and we should draw and write down everything we see. Sounds good to me.
Here we go "Summer of Birds." I will be chronicling some of our birding adventures here.