Next Week in The Columbia Paper: "Celebrating Ourselves: The Romance of the Mundane"
on the roles of non-farmers in a new agrarian society in FEP's next
Perspectives on Place column in The Columbia Paper.
Deep Diving: Background Exploration
Until somebody publishes the complete field guide to the magic around
us, we'll need to make do with excellent field guides to more practical
My favorite book for literal deep diving (heck, the water's at least over one's boots) is Fish Watching
by C. Lavett Smith. This book gives you some hints on the behavior and ecology of fish in our area. Dr. Smith also wrote the Inland Fishes of New York State
probably our best state-specific reference for freshwater fish; you can
still get used copies for under $40. My favorite regional guide to
freshwater fish is Robert Werner's Freshwater Fishes of the Northeastern United States
it's illustrated by excellent fish paintings originally made for NY
State Department of Conservation (predecessor of the NYS DEC) over 80
Salamanders and other amphibians are covered by many good field guides. Of particular local relevance are Thomas Tyning's Stoke's Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles
(Dr. Tyning works in Berkshire County) and Kenney and Burne's Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools
, put out by Mass. Natural Heritage Program.
There are a couple of upcoming field guides that should help
substantially with the moths and ants - David Beadle and Seabrooke
Leckie have authored the upcoming Field Guide to the Moths of Northeastern North America
it is due out in April and, for the first time that I know of, will
show moths as they look live, rather than with their wings pinned open.
John Himmelman's Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in your own Backyard
isn't a field guide, but it's a great intro. to the world of moths. Aaron Ellison and colleagues have compiled a Field Guide to the Ants of New England
due out from Yale University Press in mid summer. Spiders have been too
daunting for a practical yet detailed field guide, but Spiders of the North Woods
by Larry Weber is a nice introduction. For ground beetles, there's no beating around the bush: Yves Bousquet's Illustrated Identification Guide to Adults and Larvae of Northeastern North American Ground Beetles: Carabidae (Coleoptera)
is as intense as it sounds, but it's a great reference. Ground Beetles and Wrinkled Bark Beetles of South Carolina
by Janer Ciegler doesn't cover all of our species, but it does hit most
of our genera, but it's much less expensive than Bousquet's book and,
in some ways, more accessible. For all around bug stuff nothing, in our
mind, beats Stephen Marshall's Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity
this book provides a nice overview of each group and has an extensive
photo collection of northeastern critters. Noah Charney and Charley
Eiseman's Tracks and Sign of Insects and other Invertebrates
is a great companion volume.
For night sounds, Michael DiGiorgio and John Himmelman's Guide to Night-Singing Insects of the Northeast
(complete with CD) looks like it should be a lot of fun, as does John Himmelman's book Cricket Radio
I haven't actually used either of these two resources, but have really
enjoyed John Himmelman's moth book (mentioned earlier) so I'd be
For a neat approach to the passing of the seasons, see Janice Goldfrank's Field Guide to the Seasons
An Austerlitz resident, Janice has divvied up the year into 19 new
seasons, which will help you sharpen your phenological eyes.
There are numerous good books about the theme of exploration and
discovery in one's backyard; I'll include only one here: John Stilgoe's Outside Lies Magic
more a dive into the human created world than the strictly natural one,
it is still a great example of really looking at what we see.