Monday, August 11, 2014

Crazy "Vacations" of Biologists

I'm a Biologist.

I'm not normal.

Last week I went to Down East Maine for a week long course on aquatic invertebrates.

Down East Maine (the coastal area north of Acadia) is one of the most beautifully scenic places I've been. It's not easy to get to and it doesn't have a big tourist infrastructure but if you don't mind going without Starbucks for a week it's a nice place to visit.

Unfortunately most of my time was spent look at stuff like this:

This is a larval stone fly in the family Perlidae. Not that you probably care...

I did get to enjoy some of the local (mostly native) plants.

Solidago, a not-so-great picture of a great plant for native pollinators

Wild Maine Blueberries, growing just outside of the building our classroom was in, easy to sneak out and have a snack during lecture. 

Bunchberries (actually a low growing dogwood - Cornus canadensis) and a small conifer in a bed of moss. Moss grows everywhere in this area.

It is just the start of fall mushroom season. That class starts this week.

There are also lots of interesting lichens. These were found on a rock outside our classroom building.

And there were LOTS of fuzzy caterpillars like this one. Those spines tell me Don't Touch.

My days didn't leave much time to appreciate the local environment, though. A typical day was breakfast followed by lectures until lunch, followed by a collecting trip, then time at the microscope identifying what we had found, followed by dinner and another lecture.

Notice the free time? Yeah, I didn't either. But I learned a lot.

If this sounds like fun to you. You're crazy. The place I stayed is called the Eagle Hill Institute and they have classes all summer on all different aspects of natural  history.

Not all of them are as intense as the class I took.

Now I need to take another nap.

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