All posts by Josh

Josh’s Foraging Tip #4

Embrace Scientific Names

Knowing how to positively identify a plant is an essential foraging practice, and being able to name a plant precisely is a natural extension of this practice. As the common name of a plant can vary from region to region or even among people in a given area, utilizing the scientific names of plants can greatly assist you when conducting research* or conversing with others about a plant.

Photo of American Trout-lily
Erythronium americanum or American Trout-lily

My go-to source for both scientific and common names is the New England Wild Flower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae (2011) by Arthur HainesGo Botany is essentially a free, online version of this regional plant manual and features photographs of nearly every plant found in New England.

*As taxonomists receive new information about how plants are related, they update scientific names accordingly (e.g., switching a species to a different genus or family, splitting a species into two species, lumping formerly separate species together, etc.). Therefore, some field guides and resources may reference out-dated scientific names.

This post is part of a series of tips for foragers of wild plant foods.  For my core gathering practices, see Josh’s Guidelines for Foraging.

Quiz #99: Amphibian

Who is pictured in the following black-and-white photo?

Photo of Quiz #99: Amphibian

(Photographed in Plainville, MA on April 1, 2013.)

A. American Toad

B. Spring Peeper

C. Pickerel Frog

D. Wood Frog

When ready, scroll down for the answer...

...10...

...9...

...8...

...7...

...6...

...5...

...4...

...3...

...2...

...1...

...0...

The answer is D: Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). I photographed this creature in the middle of the night using a small camera and flashlight.  Even in poor lighting, the frog's characteristic dark face-patch is visible.  Another version of this photo appeared in New Moon Challenge: Wetland Loop Recap, along with an audio sample of Wood Frogs chorusing with one loud Spring Peeper.

--

I invite you to support Josh’s Journal by sharing this or any other post with friends, by leaving a comment below, or by making a donation. Thank you for reading!

Sorting Sparrows: Vesper Sparrow

Photo of Vesper Sparrow

ID Tips: Vesper Sparrows have complete, white eye-rings, white outer tail feathers (most visible in flight) and a song somewhat like that of a Song Sparrow (listen to the following example).

Though there are exceptions, locating a Vesper Sparrow requires visiting a specialized habitat.  During breeding season, Vesper Sparrows favor open grasslands with some bare ground, e.g., blueberry barrens and other sites managed by periodic burning.  In southern Maine, Kennebunk Plains WMA is home to a small number of Vesper Sparrows (including the individual featured here).

MassAudubon has a map of New England and New York Vesper Sparrow occurrences along with a more in-depth discussion of their habitat preferences.  And, eBird can help you locate Vesper Sparrow spots near you (click on this map, enter your zip code in the location field and/or zoom as needed).