Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorite Photos of 2016

We've reached the end of another year.  Every year I post a sort of year-in-review of my favorite photographs from the year.  This is the 2016 edition.  My favorite photos from past years can be found here, here, and here.

The first photograph comes from a post I made back on January 13th.  It shows a miniature forest of Wild Leek stalks and tree seedlings poking up through snow at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant.  I like the stark, almost abstract quality that this image has.


The second photograph come from February 25th.  The night before saw about 8 inches of snow dumped on Mid-Michigan and caused all local schools to be cancelled.  I paused for a moment while shoveling out to take this photo of the sun trying to cut through the overcast sky.  The snow covered branches belong to a large Honey Locust tree right outside my back door. 


Some of my favorite photographs are a bit more abstract than others.  This picture was taken at Dow Gardens in Midland on March 30th.  Every year Dow Gardens hosts an exhibit called Butterflies in Bloom in their conservatory - the 2017 Butterflies in Bloom exhibit is scheduled for 03 March through 16 April.  Shara and I attend every year to see and photograph the butterflies.  There are often so many people packed into the conservatory that it is almost impossible to get good pictures of the butterflies.  I often find myself spending more time taking pictures of the tropical plants than I do of the butterflies.  I especially liked the fan-like leaves of this plant.

The next picture comes from Mill Pond Park on April 14th.  I don't spend a lot of time photographing birds.  I generally lack the patience required to be a birder (and frankly most birds don't excite me all that much) so I spend very little time looking for birds.  However, there are times a bird shows up that just demands to be photographed.  Although not a rare bird, and becoming quite a nuisance in many places, the Canada Goose is an attractive bird.  This goose was casually swimming around the pond and approached quite close, which allowed my to take a large number of portraits of it.


This next picture might be my favorite image from the entire year.  I frequently take students out into the woods to study trees and learn about forestry.  Although I have been bringing students from Winn Elementary to the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Audubon Woods Preserve for several years, this was the first year that I have ever brought students from the Saginaw Chippewa Academy to this location.  While measuring tree diameters, some of the students found this Grey Tree Frog hanging out on the bark of one of the trees.  I love how this frog just disappears on the bark - camouflage is an awesome adaptation!  This images dates from May 17th and appeared in a post the next day.

I take thousands of photographs every year.  Most of them never make it onto this blog.  That doesn't mean that I don't like them or that they aren't good photographs.  Sometimes I just don't have time to write about everything I want to.  This year a disproportionate number of my posts were about wildflowers so other subjects often went untouched.  Back on June I spent several days meeting students at various ponds and rivers to sample aquatic invertebrates.  None of the photos ever showed up on this blog.  One of my favorite pictures was this one from June 7th of a student from Shepherd Elementary holding a small Wood Frog that she found along the Little Salt River.  Why do I like this photo?  The contrast of the pink sweatshirt with the greens and browns of the frog - girls rock at science!

I spend a significant part of July away from Mid-Michigan.  I attended the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 2016 Academy of Natural Resources.  Later in the month, Shara and I traveled through parts of four states while on vacation.  My favorite photo from the month isn't necessarily a great picture, but it documents my favorite place that we visited during our travels - Great Serpent Mound.

Great Serpent Mound is what is known as an effigy mound - this means it is an earthen mound created in the shape of a person, animal, or symbol.  It is the largest effigy mound in the world.  It measures approximately just over a 1/4 mile long (1348 feet) and is several feet tall.  When you remember that this was constructed entirely by hand using wood, stone, and bone tools the achievement of its construction becomes even more remarkable.  The exact age of Great Serpent Mound is unknown.  Several burial mounds on the site date from Fort Ancient Culture (1000 - 1500 AD) and the earlier Adena Culture (800 BC - 100 AD).  Great Serpent Mound probably dates to one (or both) of these cultures as it was likely rebuilt several times over its history.

The next photograph was taken the morning of  August 22nd.  It shows a band of low clouds rolling across the landscape.  This unusual cloud formation is known as an arcus cloud and is usually associated with thunderstorms, but can also occur when a cold front passes through.  This specific type of arcus cloud is known as a roll cloud, because it appears to be rolling through the sky completely detached from all other clouds.


If you haven't figured it out by now, I am sharing one photograph from each month of the year.  September is the time that the school gardens really their stride.  Almost everything is in bloom and many pants are starting to develop their seeds.  Back on September 14th and 15th I spent some time photographing the native pollinator gardens at the Saginaw Chippewa Academy and Winn Elementary.  This picture of Butterflyweed s my favorite garden photograph of the year and a strong contender for my favorite photo of 2016.  I love the full exploding fluffiness of the ripe seeds bursting from the pod to the right and how it contrasts with the still closed pods to the left of the photo.

October was one of the toughest months to pick a favorite.  I had lots of images of fall color to choose from.  Instead I picked this picture of the sunrise from October 26th.  I often lament the fact that Mid-Michigan does not have any dramatic landscapes, but if you look hard enough there is still drama to be found.

November was one of the most difficult months from which to choose a favorite photograph - photos of leaves and tree trunks, the full moon, Lake Michigan, etc..  The photograph I chose was an instant favorite.  It shows three fourth-grade students from Vowles Elementary posing during a woodland ecology activity at the school.  Why do I like this photo?  It reminds me of the painting The Son of Man by RenĂ© Magritte.  It shows the students, but the leaves hide their identities.  As soon as one of the students picked up a large leaf I thought of posing them like this.  I rarely ask people to pose in photos, but I like the results in this image.

December was probably my lightest month of the year for photography.  I hardly took any photographs - I know the month isn't over so I have a few more chances.  My favorite picture of the month is sort of an abstract one - it shows ice pans covering the surface of the Chippewa River at Mill Pond Park on December 14th.  Although I shared several photos from this date, this picture was not one of them.  Is it s great photograph?  No.  Is it even a good photograph?  Probably not, but I like how it shows how small pans of ice come together to eventually cover the river with a layer of ice.   I started this list with a winter scene and bookended the year with another winter scene.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Year end gifts

My wife and I are fortunate.  We have all of the things that we need and we make enough money to have most of the things that we want.  We even have some money left over to give to organizations and causes that we believe in.  We used to make small donations to a number of national organizations, but in recent years we have focused our giving slightly larger amounts to local organizations.

If you are reading this blog, it is probably plain to see that we care a lot about nature and the environment.  If you have any spare money and are looking to make a donation here are a couple of organizations that I know will put the money to good use.

Wings of Wonder
Wings of Wonder (WOW) is a raptor sanctuary and rehabilitation center located in Empire, MI.  WOW rehabilitates and releases injured raptors across northern Michigan.  In addition to rehabilitating raptors for return to the wild, WOW houses a flock of Ambassador Birds that WOW founder and executive director Rebecca Lessard uses in raptor education programs across Michigan. Rebecca and the WOW birds have been to Mt. Pleasant each of the past three years to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day at the Ziibiwing Center.  They will be back again on Saturday May 13th for the 2017 celebration.

Wings of Wonder operates entirely on donations and presentation fees - this year they seem to be struggling to meet their annual funding needs.  Every dollar that is donated goes directly toward the care of the Ambassador Birds and the care and rehabilitation of injured wild raptors.  Rebecca and the WOW board of directors (and volunteers) do an amazing job!  We are very happy to make an annual donation to support WOW.

To donate to WOW visit their website

Chippewa Watershed Conservancy
The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy is our local land conservancy.  Their mission is to protect natural habitat and open space in the counties of the Chippewa River Watershed (includes the Chippewa, Pine, and Coldwater River).  The CWC operates in five Mid-Michigan counties: Isabella, Clare, Gratiot, Mecosta, and Montcalm.  They currently protect almost 4,900 acres in those counties! That's about 7 1/2 square miles through a combination of privately owned conservation easements and Conservancy-owned preserves.

In addition to preserving land, the CWC works to educate the public about land and resource conservation, natural habitats, and the species that can be found throughout Mid-Michigan.  I donate my time as well as money - I lead many education walks such as this one coming up on New Year's Day.  I like giving to the CWC because I know that the money will be used in the local community.  You can even designate how you would like the CWC to use your money(operating budget/land acquistion/etc.).
To donate to the CWC visit their website.

Even if you don't donate to WOW or the CWC, please consider giving a small gift to another local conservation organization.  Groups such as these work in your neighborhood to protect and preserve local ecosystems and their inhabitants.  They often operate on a shoestring budget and every single dollar counts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A tale written in snow (attempt #2)

Some people probably noticed a blank post last night or earlier today.  I spent more than an hour last night working on this post, only to have everything disappear when I hit publish.  This is not the first time something like this has happened.  Every once in a while Blogger (in conjunction with my internet browser) likes to go nuts.

So let's try this again...

Last week while photographing the river ice at Mill Pond Park I happened to look down and notice something interesting in the new snow on the bridge.

What do you see?  Who or what has left its mark in the snow?

Monday, December 19, 2016

The crow and the hawk

Last week during a stop at Mill Pond Park, I looked up and saw an American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) harassing a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii).  As the pair flew past, the crow dove several times after the hawk.  Copper's Hawk's are a predator that specializes in eating other birds and while a crow is probably a little too large for the hawk to handle, crows take no chances and routinely harass any and all hawks they see.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ice on the Chippewa River

The recent cold snap means that our local bodies of water are beginning to freeze over, including the Chippewa River.  Yesterday I stopped at Mill Pond Park to see the extent of the freezing.  I found the river partially frozen over with a jumble of icy blocks and ropes.

The deeper main channel of the Chippewa River covered with "pancake" ice

The surface of the river was beginning to freeze from the edges in toward the middle - this known as border ice.  Meanwhile the current continuously pushed blocks of ice and slush downstream.  The slush is technically known as frazil - it forms as semisolid ice in areas of the river where the current is too strong for the river to freeze solid. These blocks of frazil are usually referred to as pans. Some of the pans collided with and held fast to the border ice (and to each other) until the entire surface of the river was covered by ice.

A rope made of ice

One of the coolest features that I saw in the river was a rope of ice that formed along the edge of the accumulated ice pans.  This feature formed as new pans collided with the edge and pushed part of the frazil atop the solid ice.  Standing alongside the river, I could here the grating as these pans slid along the edge.

This rope of ice crystals marks the boundary between the immobile pans of ice and the freeflowing river

A semi-solid accretion of ice pans on the left with unattached ice floating by on the right

Parts of the river were completely frozen across from edge to edge.  Pans of ice continuously flowed against the edge of this solid surface.  Most of the pans stuck tight to the upstream edge, but others were pushed beneath the surface.  If these pans flowing under the surface freeze tight to the bottom of the surface ice they may form what is known as a hanging dam.  The formation of a hanging dam would potentially cause the current to back up and overflow the banks of the river.

Pans of frazil ice flow downstream until they encounter surface ice.
With temperatures for Mt. Pleasant forecast to remain below freezing for at least the next week, the river surface is likely to completely freeze over in all but areas with the fastest current.  The semi-solid pans of frazil that have accumulated on the surface will freeze solid and more ice will accumulate on their undersides.  If temperatures remain cold enough, anchor ice may form on the riverbed in the fasted flowing areas.  Areas with a slow current may even freeze completely solid.

A jumble of border ice, pans, frazil, and open water.

Next time you stop to look at a frozen river, examine it closely and you too might notice all of the unique features that went into crating that icy surface.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holiday field guide gift guide - 16 guides for 2016 (part 4)

Field Guides to Fungi and Lichen

14.  Mushrooms of Northeast North America (Midwest to New England) by George Barron
(ISBN 9781551052014)

If you have already mastered wildflower identification, tracks are no longer a challenge, and insects identify themselves, you might be up for the challenge of identifying fungi.  I am not a mycologist (mushroom expert), but this is the best and easiest book that I have found so far.  It was originally published  by Lone Pine Publishing in 1999 and currently retails for around $25.  It is slightly too big to fit in a pocket, but I often carry it in my backpack with other commonly used guides.

This book does not try to be the single source for fungus, there are simply too many species to adequately cover in a single field guide.  It does however list over 600 of the common species found within the region.  The species listed in the book are logically organized by their common characteristics.  For example, tooth fungi are grouped together in a section, as are bracket fungi, jelly fungi, etc.. Some mushrooms are grouped together by the color of their spores.

Each species in the book has a detailed description accompanied by a color photograph.  The descriptions in the book also mention the edibility/toxicity of species.  There is a separate section about that lists common easy-to-identify edible mushrooms and a companion section on toxicity.  A with any wild edible, I would always recommend consulting more than one source and making sure that you are 100% certain of your identification before consuming any food found in the wild.

15.  Lichens of the Northwoods by Joe Walewski (ISBN 9780979200601)

The last two field guides that I would recommend are sort of companions, both to each other and to the mushroom field guide listed above.  Lichens are something that I know very little about.  They are a symbiotic organism - a beneficial partnership between a fungus and a photosynthetic algae living together as one organism.

Lichens of the North Woods is one of a series of naturalist books published by Kollath+Stensaas Publishing.  Published in 2007, this guide includes photographs and descriptions of  111 lichen species that can be found in the Great lakes and Ontario.  I like how the book is divided into sections by the surface that the lichen grows on (soil, rocks, or trees).  Each section is further divided into subsections based on the growing pattern of the lichen (crustose - in close contact with the substrate, may look like spray paint; foliose - looks leafy, like "foliage"; fruticose - branching or shrublike, may stand erect or drape downward).   There is a good (approximately 20 page) introduction to lichens at the beginning of the book that is helpful for understanding lichen biology and the terms used in the descriptions.  The book currently sells for under $20.  I would recommend any book in this series for someone looking for a good regional guide for beginners.

16.  Michigan Lichens by Julie Jones Medlin

Published by the Cranbrook Institute of Science in 1996, this book focuses entirely on lichen species that can be found in Michigan.  This is the major reason that I would recommend this book - I like the limited scope of the book. 

The book depicts over 80 species with descriptions and color photographs.  The species are arranged in alphabetical order by their scientific name so it is not as user-friendly as the previous book. Unfortunately some of the scientific names listed in the book are out of date, but this is a good starting point to understanding lichens.  The descriptions are easy to understand and the photographs clearly illustrate diagnostic features of the different species.  The best thing about this book is the price - a paperback version costs less than $10 and an electronic version can be downloaded for less than $5!  At these prices it is hard to pass up. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday field guide gift guide - 16 guides for 2016 (part 3)

Slightly delayed, but here is part three of my holiday field guide gift guide.  If sorting through hundred of plants or thousands of insect species is not your thing, perhaps you might enjoy a guide to a group of animals with less members.  If you like fuzzy animals try a guide to mammals, if you prefer your animals scaly or slimy try one about reptiles and amphibians.

11.  Mammals of the Great Lakes Region (Revised Edition) by Allen Kurta (ISBN 9780472064977)

Published by the University of Michigan Press (1995), this book is an update of a guide that was originally published in 1957.  It's probably no surprise that I own a copy of the earlier publication as well.

If you are looking for a guide to the mammals of Michigan this is the book to buy.  The book focuses on the entire Great Lakes Basin, so some of the eighty-three species listed in the book are not found within the boundaries of Michigan.  The species listed with are grouped by the order to which they belong - for example all rodents are grouped together in one section.  This makes it relatively easy to find an individual species in the book.  For each species there is a list of measurements; a detailed description of the animal; a range map; and a natural history that explains such things as diet, mating habits, and habitat requirements.  There is also a black and white photograph of each species.  There is also a key at the back of the book for identifying mammal skulls.

The author's preface to the book neatly sums up why you should buy this volume for yourself or another nature lover.

     This book is not intended to be a coffee-table book, ponderous tome, detailed listing of 
     relevant literature, or an in-depth treatment of geographic variation.  It is intended to serve 
     as a quick reference for teachers, students, naturalists, and professional biologists, and to be 
     a concise guidebook, still small enough to be tucked into a backpack and carried in the field.

This edition is currently available for under $20, but I did notice that a as yet unpublished 3rd edition is available for pre-order for $24.95.  The 3rd edition will have color photographs and a section on the tracks of common mammals.  It looks like I will be buying a new field guide soon!

12.  Animal Tracks:  Midwest Edition by Jonathan Poppele (ISBN 9781591933243)

This book would be a good compliment to Mammals of the Great Lakes.  A true field guide, this book measures 5 inches by 7 inches and easily fits in your pocket.  The book includes images of tracks and gaits (walking patterns) for nearly 100 Midwest mammal species - not all species in the book can be found in Michigan.

I like this book because it is so extensive.  It covers a wide range of species, but does lump many similar species together.  Each entry includes images of their footprints, a description of the footprints (both front and rear tracks), a description of the animal's gait, a description of habitat types, and other notes on the animal including other signs to look for.  It is also helpful that the tracks in the book are life-size.  There are range maps included for each species, but some are inaccurate - for instance the book fails to show bobcat as present in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

This book was published by Adventure Publications in 2012.  It retails for under $15.  Despite the few gripe that I listed above, at this price, you really can't go wrong.

13. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great lakes Region by James H. Harding (ISBN 9780472066285)

This is another book from the University of Michigan Press.  Originally published in 1997, it also has an update coming in 2017.

Organized in much the same way as Mammals of the Great Lakes Region, this book gives lengthy descriptions of all species of reptiles and amphibian found within the Great Lakes Basin as well as for several species that closely approach the limits of the basin.  Each species depiction includes a detailed physical description (with a color photograph), notes on similar species, information on range (with a map) and conservation status, a description of habitat and ecology, as well as conservation requirements/efforts.

The 2017 edition will include updates range maps and more photographs.  Both the currently available edition and the forthcoming retail for under $25.  If you are a herp (reptile and amphibian) lover this is the book you need.  It is slightly large for a field guide at 5 x 8 inches, but it often finds its was into my backpack when I know I will be encountering snakes, frogs, or turtles. 

If you are looking for something completely different to study stay tuned for part 4 of my gift guide.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Astronaut John Glenn (1921-2016)

Former Astronaut John Glenn has died.

Born 20 July 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio, John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was a true American hero.  He served in the United States Marine Corps as a fighter pilot during both World War II and the Korean War.  After the Korean War, he remained in the service as a test pilot.  In 1959, we was named as one of the first seven American astronauts (the Mercury Seven).

On 20 February 1962, Astronaut John Herschel Glenn, Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth in the "Friendship 7" spacecraft.  Two Soviet cosmonauts had previously orbited the earth in Vostok spacecraft.  The first human in space, Yuri Gagarin made one orbit in the Vostok 1 and Gherman Titov made 17 orbits in the Vostok 2.

Glenn was the third American to be launched into space as part of NASA's Project Mercury - flights by Alan Shepherd (Freedom 7) and Virgil "Gus" Grissom (Liberty Bell 7) each lasted approximately 15 minutes. 

When John Glenn safely landed he instantly became a national hero.  His flight was commemorated by dozens (probably hundreds) of different souvenir items.  The buttons in the photograph above are from my wife's collection of space memorobilia.

In 1964, Glenn resigned from NASA to run for the United States Senate.  He withdrew from the race due to symptoms of a concussion that did not allow him to campaign.  After losing a second senate campaign in 1970, he was finally elected to the office in 1974.  Glenn would go on to serve in the Senate until 1999.

While serving in the Senate, Glenn returned to space one more time aboard the the Space Shuttle Discovery.  As a trained engineer, Glenn's role during STS-95 (29 October - 07 November 1998) was to participate in experiments that tested the effects of weightlessness on the elderly.  It also allowed NASA the opportunity to study the effects of space flight on an individual at points in life more than three decades apart.

With this flight, John Glenn added another milestone to space travel.  In addition to being the first American to orbit the Earth, he is also the oldest person to travel into space.

John Glenn passed away today in Columbus, Ohio at the age of ninety-five.  He was an inspiration to millions and is already missed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holiday field guide gift guide - 16 guides for 2016 (part 2)

Field Guides to Insects

5.  Pollinators of Native Plants:  Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants by Heather Holm (ISBN 9780991356300).

If you already own a bunch of field guides to plant you probably spend a lot of time looking at plants.  If you spend a lot of time looking at plants you probably see lots of insects.  You might even wonder what the insects are and why you see different ones on different flowers.  If this describes you, then you want to own this book.

I heard the author of this book speak at the 2016 Wildflower Association of Michigan Conference and bought the book the same day.  It is the first book that I am aware of that talks specifically about the associations between native plants and their pollinators.  Although the book is limited in scope with only sixty-five plant species being featured, it includes more than 1600 photographs of flowers and insects!

This flower species in this book are arranged by habitat type.  Each species of plant is given a spread of two (or more) pages that includes a description of the plant, range map, flowering period, and habitat requirements, as well as a list of pollinator species (with photographs).  If you want to plant wildflowers as habitat for bees and butterflies, this is a must-have.  The book was published by Pollination Press LLC and retails for about $30.

6.  Butterflies of Michigan Field Guide by Jaret C. Daniels (ISBN9781591930983)

At some point you might want to know more about a specific group of insects.  Butterflies are a great place to start - there are only 147 species that are likely to be found in Michigan. 

I like this book because each species has its own two page spread.  The information provided includes detailed description, as well as a range map, a list of larval host plants, a calendar showing when it can be encountered, and a list of comparable species.  There are also pictures of both adults and larva - several entries in the book to not have larval photographs.  Another feature that I really like about this book is that the butterflies are divided by color - if a species has more than one color morph it is listed in more than one section.  This sensible approach to identification is something that you usually do not see outside of wildflower books, but it works well for butterflies.

Unlike some of the other books on this list, this is a true "field" guide.  It is small enough (about 5 inches by 7 inches) and light enough to stick in your back pocket and carry all day. The book was published by Adventure Publications in 2005.  It retails for under $20.  I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Michigan's butterfly species as well as anyone interested in observing the relationship between insects and native plants.

7.  Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America by David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie (ISBN 9780547238487).

If butterflies are too easy (There are only 147 Michigan species after all!), it may be time to try your hand at moth identification.  I was really excited back in 2011 when I found out that this book was in development.  I was so excited that I asked for it for Christmas in 2012 - Thanks Shara!

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the moths in this book are arranged by family.  There is a color photograph for each species, with arrows pointing to distinguishing marks.  There is also a brief description and range map for each species.  If you are not familiar with all of the different types of moths, the book can be daunting to use - there are nearly 1500 species depicted in this guide.  Even so, this guide is worth having because of the breadth of species that it covers.  At $29 it is a reasonable price for such an extensive resource.

8.  Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History by David L. Wagner (ISBN 9780691121444)

Published by the Princeton University Press in 2005, this book has all the qualities of a book you would expect from a guide published by a well-renowned university.  It is extensive (more than 700 species), well illustrated with photographs of both caterpillar and their adult forms, and well researched.  Each species description includes information information on range, season, and host plants as well as a detailed description of each species.

The book is slightly too large to carry in your pocket (5 inches by 8 inches).  It is also quite heavy - it is printed on a heavy paper and runs more than 500 pages.  It is however the best guide to caterpillars that I own, so I do frequently carry it in my backpack while out in the field.  Priced at under $25, this is a great edition to the bookshelf of any nature nut or gardener who wants to know what is eating their plants.

9.  A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell, Jr. (ISBN 9780939923878)

If you would rather wade in swamps and river than chase butterflies through fields, this might be the book for you.  I spend much of the spring working with students to catch and identify aquatic insects (and other macroinvertebrates).  Although I can identify most of the things that we find by sight, this is the book that I use if I want more detailed information.

Although much of the book is devoted to aquatic insects, there are also sections on mollusks (clams and mussels), gastropods (snails), annelids (worms), crustaceans (crayfish, shrimp, etc.), and more.  The book starts with a discussion of aquatic ecology and the roles, life histories, and pollution tolerance of various groups of aquatic invertebrates.  It also provides a  description of collection methods for various organisms and habitats.   There is a separate section of color illustrations which is useful for identification.  The main part of the book is devoted to detailed descriptions of the various organisms.

Published by the McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company in 2002, this book currently sells for nearly $40.  It is a valuable resource for citizen ecologists, fishermen, and anyone interested in what is going on beneath the surface of any body of freshwater.  Despite the hefty price, I highly recommend this book.

10.  Beetle of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans (ISBN 9780691133041)

Among other things, I am a beetle fanatic.  When I heard that this book was being published in 2014 I could hardly wait to buy it.  I was not disappointed.

Another book by the Princeton University Press, it is simply the best beetle identification book available for the eastern United States and Canada.  By no stretch of the imagination is this a field guide - it measures 8 inches wide by 10 inches long and has over 550 pages.  Photographs and description of more than 1400 species are included in this book.  It is almost as much a coffee table book as it is field guide - the photographs of the individual beetles are often stunning.  I can admit to looking through this book for hours.  At $35, this book is an incredible value for its size and scope.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Any naturalist would be excited to receive this as a holiday gift.

The species in the book are arrange by family - all 115 families found east of the Mississippi River are represented in the book.  Each section of the book begins with a general description of the family and is followed by detailed descriptions of individual species.

That's it for field guides to insects and other invertebrates.  Look for Part 3 (field guides to other animals) later this week.