#47: Field Guide to Field Guides with Cricket Raspet, Allen Fish, and Michael Hawk

#47: Field Guide to Field Guides with Cricket Raspet, Allen Fish, and Michael Hawk Nature's Archive


Warning – listen to this episode at your own risk! If you aren’t careful, you may find yourself out a few hundred dollars. Why? Today we’re talking field guides, you know, the books and apps that help you identify, find and learn about all kinds of amazing creatures.

There are so many amazing field guides out there – artistic, informative, innovative, and in some cases maybe even slightly irreverent. And with deep and diverse nature interests my guests are perfect for the topic.

Joining me are Allen Fish, who works at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy as director of the Raptor Observatory and as associate director of community science, and Cricket Raspet of the California Academy of Sciences. You might recognize Cricket from last year’s surprise hit episode on Dockfouling – or the art of finding unique marine creatures on floating docks.

We start with a lively discussion of our first field guides, which transitions into a short dissection of the nomenclature of field guides, identification guides, and natural history guides. Ultimately, we decided they’d all be on the table for this discussion!

Initially, our discussion was heavily bird-centric, but we quickly transition into all sorts of other interesting guides – everything from bumblebees to fungi to plant galls to lichen to desert holes! We also discuss apps and other technology that can assist, or dare I say, replace physical field guides. And that’s just the start!

In fact, we didn’t have time to cover everything in our stacks of favorites, so please follow my blog at podcast.naturesarchive.com, or follow me on instagram @naturesarchive, and I’ll profile a few additional guides that Cricket, Allen, and I love.

Be sure to follow Cricket @chilipossum on instagram and iNaturalist, and check out Allen’s organization, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory @goldengateraptors on instagram, or at ggro.org.

Grasshopper Close-Up Michael mentioned in the show – copyright Michael Hawk

Did you have a question that I didn’t ask? Let me know at naturesarchivepodcast@gmail.com, and I’ll try to get an answer! I’ll add these Q&As to my monthly newsletter, so if you aren’t already subscribed, go here. I promise, no spam. I share the latest news from the world of Nature’s Archive, as well as pointers to new naturalist finds that have crossed my radar, like podcasts, books, websites, and more.

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While you are welcome to listen to my show using the above link, you can help me grow my reach by listening through one of the podcast services (Apple, Google, Stitcher, etc) linked on the right. And while you’re there, will you please consider subscribing?

Digital and Online Resources

BirdNet – automated audio ID of birds


Feather Atlas – ID feathers you find!



Kathy Biggs Dragonflies of California field key

Leaf Miners by Charley Eiseman

Merlin – audio and photo bird IDs

Sea Slugs of Hawaii

Books and Other Things

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora

Beached Birds: A COASST Field Guide by Hass and Parish

Beached Marine Birds and Mammals of the North American West Coast

Bird Feathers, A Guide to North American Species by Scott and McFarland

Bumblebees of North America

Crossley ID Guides

Field Guide to Desert Holes

Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the United States

Field Guide to Manzanitas

Harmless Snakes of the West

Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America by Wade Sherbrooke

Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada

National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America – at $16, perhaps the best value of every guide mentioned

Natural History of Vacant Lots by Vesser and Wong – long out of print. Amazon has gone a bit crazy on the price.

Plant Galls of the Western United States, Ronald Russo

Plants of the California Desert (Backcountry Press)

Sibley Field Guide to Birds

The Coasts of California – Obi Kaufmann

Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates

Urban Lichens: A Field Guide for Northeastern North America

Note: links to books are affiliate links


False Knees – cartoons

Sara Leon Guerrero – Bee Biologist

Related Podcasts

Adam Kranz – Plant Galls

Charley Eiseman – Leafminers and more

Michael Kauffmann – Conifers, Manzanitas, and more

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/


Transcripts are automatically created, and are about 95% accurate. Apologies for any errors.

[00:00:00] Cricket Raspet: Do Not consume Amazon within an hour of this podcast.

[00:00:03] Michael Hawk: Cricket and Alan, thank you so much for joining me today.

[00:00:05] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. Thank you.

[00:00:06] Allen Fish: Thank you.

[00:00:07] Michael Hawk: So this is going to be a really fun one. Talking about one of my favorite subjects, field guides, as I was preparing for this episode, I really started to gain a greater appreciation for how nuanced and complicated field guides are. How many different variations there are.

[00:00:22] There’s almost an entire taxonomy of field guides that we could talk about. So it’s going to be an interesting one and we’ll see how much we can pack into the time we have today. So with that cricket, can you.

[00:00:32] give a short introduction?

[00:00:34] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. So my name is Cricket Raspet. I’m a curatorial assistant at the California academy of sciences in San Francisco. And I work in

[00:00:42] the ornithology and the knowledge of depression.

[00:00:44] Michael Hawk: So I think that gives A hint at the broad diversity of knowledge and taxonomical spaces that you work in.

[00:00:52] Cricket Raspet: I’m around A lot of nature people, for sure.

[00:00:54] Michael Hawk: And people, might remember you from an episode That we did last year on doc fouling.

[00:00:59] Cricket Raspet: Yes. That was me.

[00:01:00] Michael Hawk: And Allen this is your first appearance on nature’s archives. So welcome.

[00:01:05] Allen Fish: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:06] I am the director of the golden gate Raptor observatory, which is part of the golden gate national parks Conservancy, the friends organization that the GG NRA the Parklands all around San Francisco.

[00:01:18] Michael Hawk: I have commented here before how so many of my guests at one time or another have either volunteered with or worked for the golden gate Raptor observatory. So it’s nice to actually have the current director. So thank you for being.

[00:01:34] Allen Fish: Absolutely.

[00:01:35] Cricket Raspet: Yeah, I’m guilty of that as well. I’m a volunteer bander with a GGRO too.

[00:01:39] Michael Hawk: . I always love to hear from people that I talked to how they got interested in nature in the first place. And I guess in this situation, maybe more from the slant of field guides. Alan can you tell me a bit about your introduction to nature and.

[00:01:51] field guides?

[00:01:52] Allen Fish: I would have to say I was fortunate to be surrounded by a few relatives . My grandmother specifically, who was a botanical painter and had a few classical field guides around when I was a kid growing up. And it was clear to me these were some kind of portal to it, an exciting place.

[00:02:10] When I was seven, the other grandparents gave me my first golden guide to. And I spent hours looking through that thing. Just stunned by the colors and knew a handful of birds in the area. I grew up California down to south bay, but really just absorbed those pages.

[00:02:28] Like they were water and I was thirsty.

[00:02:31] Michael Hawk: Alan, I understand that you also have another early field guide story that

[00:02:36] you wanted.

[00:02:37] Allen Fish: just cause it, it puts me in such a an incredibly good light of being a an astute birdwatcher, but that golden guide the classic golden guide from the mid 1960s by Robbins also known as Robbins by Chandler. It was one of the first field guides that I found that had a checklist in the back.

[00:02:53] You could go through the index and check off all the birds you’d seen. So I got it when I was about seven. By the time I was about nine or 10, I realized that I had been a nature kid for a long time, that I had probably seen all of the birds that were listed as common. So common tern, common loon.

[00:03:12] In those days it was called the common bar now a lot of the common birds just clearly I had seen. So I knowing perfectly well with the word common mint, went through the back by field guide and I checked all those off with India ink. So it was permanent. A few years later, about 12, 13. I I realized that I had in no way seen.

[00:03:32] A common loon. I’d never been anywhere near a common loon nor any of those common species. So I lived for a few months of shame and guilt without telling anybody, and then realized that I obviously had to tear the back pages out of my golden guide. So to this day, my golden guide is lacking the last 20 pages of index.

[00:03:52] And I learned to live a more honest life. Let’s say

[00:03:55] Michael Hawk: To this day. So you still have that golden guide.

[00:03:58] Allen Fish: I absolutely do. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:04:00] Michael Hawk: All right. And cricket. What was your introduction to the world of field?

[00:04:05] Cricket Raspet: So I also had a botanical grandmother, so my grandma was a botanist and my grandfather studied bird flight behavior. And they were also academics, very bookish. So they pass that to my dad. So we always had a ton of books in the house and I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California.

[00:04:23] So it wasn’t, nature Wonderland. So a lot of the times the kind of scratch my nature itch. I went to books, so we had all kinds of field books and big glossy art books an Autobahn books and lots of national geographics, but specifically the field guides we had, we talking about early field guides.

[00:04:41] My dad had this book called the field book of natural history. It was published in 1949 and it was a compendium of all nature. So there were cultivated plants. Birds and slime, molds and Marine organisms. Like just everything. I think it was this kind of last gasp of Victorian naturalists that you could know everything in the natural world, but it had these beautiful line drawings.

[00:05:06] And it was so exciting because it was all of these. It was, there was a huge potential for things to find. I wasn’t seeing any of these things. It wasn’t a field guy in that sense. I could go out and find, and all of these strange organisms, but it was like Allen said it was a portal.

[00:05:21] It gave me the idea that there was more out there than just what I was seeing. And it was find-able, it was a field guide,

[00:05:27] someone had seen it in the field.

[00:05:28] Michael Hawk: Yeah, that sounds like an amazing book. And it reminds me as to why in this digital age, why I still love field guides so much because there’s sort of a symbol of what’s possible. You said that, you could look at it and you knew it was find-able. And when you see all of these organisms, depending on what the field. guide is covering in one place compared with maps, it really gives you a sense of inspiration that yeah, I could go see that someday.

[00:05:57] Maybe I’ll get to experience.

[00:05:59] Cricket Raspet: And I also grew up with the golden guide. That was the field guide, the bird field guide that I had when I was a kid. And I’m really happy that I learned to bird with a field guide with a physical field guide, because, and I’m sure you guys had this same experience where, you’d spend so much time with a field guide, just browsing and looking through it that you’d go out into the field and you’d be able to identify a bird.

[00:06:20] You didn’t know that. It would just come to you in a flash like, oh, I know that because you’d seen it, you just absorb it by that physical act of flipping through the pages and looking at the plates and looking at all the details. There’s a lot more knowledge that you get just from physically using a field guide, then a more directed search that you might get online or

[00:06:40] On a.

[00:06:41] Michael Hawk: My first field guide was also the golden guide to north American birds. It was probably like an early age. Edition. And it really wasn’t mine. It was my parents or my dad’s, I’m not quite sure, but I always found it to be odd that they had it in the first place because they weren’t, they’d like to go on hikes but that was the extent of it. Yet we had this field guide to birds and, I know that my dad used to enjoy looking at it. And that’s actually how the guide met its demise. He was browsing it while taking a, bath one evening. Yeah.

[00:07:12] Cricket Raspet: Classic.

[00:07:13] Michael Hawk: Yeah. And it fell into the bath and they replaced it to my surprise.

[00:07:16] They replaced it with the national geographic guide to north American birds. I forget the exact title, but yeah, another amazing guide. And I think uh, personally, I didn’t purchase my first field guide till . Several years later in 1998 or so, and it was the national geographic guide to birds again.

[00:07:32] So I think before we go too much deeper, it’s maybe worth just talking about what is a field guide. As I alluded to at the beginning, trying to think logically about this topic today. I realized that there are identification guides. There are location centric, guides, there’s things called field guides, but they’re more like encyclopedias.

[00:07:51] You could never really take it into the field. So maybe we should give our own definitions of what we think a. field guide is in the first place. So cricket. Do you want to go take that big topic?

[00:08:04] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. I think it has a pretty a morphous category. I think generally it’s a guide to what you can see and find in the field. So that sounds redundant, that the information tends to be stripped down to information that would help with ID. So there’s not a lot of biology or ecology necessarily, unless that helps.

[00:08:23] It’s a sort of distillation of all of the pertinent information that you need to identify something when you are out in the field. So sometimes that’s location information sometimes that’s, because we’re visual creatures, primarily visual,

[00:08:37] generally. It should be a size that you can take in the field, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that you take in the field. I consider anything, a field book that’s a pattern recognition guide. So a pattern training system. So anything that trains the brain to recognize organisms in the field so that you can install that pattern in your brain so that you know it, when you see it.

[00:09:00] That’s not a very concise definition, but that’s my working one. If it’s a tool for training my brain to recognizing things, whether or not I have it in my hand, in the

[00:09:09] field, I consider it a field guide.

[00:09:10] Michael Hawk: So then I have to ask a question. Do you own any of the Crossley ID guides?

[00:09:16] Cricket Raspet: I don’t, I probably should. I was thinking a lot about crossly as we were preparing to record this, I think it’s an amazing system

[00:09:24] and I think it’s great, but I don’t actually own it.

[00:09:27] Michael Hawk: And yeah. Four is immense as my field guide collection is I don’t own any either.

[00:09:31] Cricket Raspet: Oh no.

[00:09:32] Michael Hawk: yeah, I know. I, so it’s a big gap that I

[00:09:34] have, but I saw Allen, you were

[00:09:35] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. Allen, has it right there.

[00:09:37] Michael Hawk: So Allen tell us about the Crossway guide.

[00:09:40] Allen Fish: Can I tell you my love,

[00:09:40] hate relationship with the cross, the guide.

[00:09:43] Michael Hawk: Certainly.

[00:09:43] Allen Fish: So the Crossley, the guides are were put together, right, I by a very east coast bird guy, Richard Crossley, who’s a Brit, but hangs out around Cape may, New Jersey, one of the great Raptor migration, bird migration spots in the world. and he did something. No one else really had done a as effectively. He put together big screen, double page spreads of photo shopped, bird images on one page. So you’re looking, let’s say at a pasture with a little fence and there’s about 60 American kestrels and they’re in every shape and form.

[00:10:17] So when the cross, the guide came out, my first response to it was, this is a lie who is ever going to walk into a pasture and see 60 kestrels that maybe has happened a few times in history, but it basically sets people up for imagery that really doesn’t happen at least in, in bird land. And unless you’re looking at, flooding.

[00:10:39] Spiros or shorebirds or something that’s numerous for sure. The Raptor guide came out sometime, maybe five years ago and Crossley did something very clever to bring me in the story, which is he hired Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan to do the text.

[00:10:54] And both of those guys just brilliant Raptor, naturalist, biologists, and top of their game. And I would have bought any book. Those two had coauthored. So that kind of warms me up a little bit, but I still didn’t like that people might think they would be out on a mountain side and would see 14 golden Eagles at once, unless they were at a golden Eagle migration site, which is there’s very few of them.

[00:11:19] The thing I do like about Crossley and I’m starting to warm up now to the whole process is the thing that I miss in a lot of field guides is. Variation is really variation of the theme and being a, both a nature boy, but also, so a Raptor specialist I’m really aware that there’s six D different kinds of red-tailed Hawks in terms of plumage and light morphs and dark marks and subspecies, and second years and adults.

[00:11:46] So once you start looking at all those, the two or three red-tailed Hawks in my old golden guide from childhood, just do not do the job. So Crossley stem, something wonderful, which is handed off a bunch of photos showing variation on the Kestrel theme so that we can see a bunch of different custodials and try and apply the bird that we just saw or are looking at to that possibly.

[00:12:14] Michael Hawk: Yeah, I guess I’m going out on a limb since I don’t own one of his guides, but as I understand it, one of his goals is to tie into some of the triggers that we have in or visual recognition system in our brain where the context of the situation is really important. So he gives you the context and that goes back to what cricket was saying about pattern recognition.

[00:12:35] So it’s an interesting thing. And I’m curious if you’ve had. Either of you have heard anyone pointing to that, pointing , to that layout in the Crossway guide is being helpful by having given that context beyond just the various.

[00:12:48] Cricket Raspet: I don’t know. I think it’s an interesting, For field guides, because I feel like most field guides and maybe the Sibley is the best example of this are about the platonic ideal of a bird. Which is why a lot of the, I feel like a lot of the field guides that use photographs aren’t necessarily as useful, or they just don’t click as well because, a Sibley illustration of an orange crown warbler is a distillation of all of the orange colored warblers that he’s seen and filtered through.

[00:13:21] A translation to create almost the ideal orange crown warbler as seen by a human, right? Not through the lens of a camera. And it’s all out of context, right? The classic field guide is a white background or, like the Peterson, sometimes it’s gray or greenish, but it’s usually.

[00:13:38] Neutral color, a blank color. So bringing back the context is a really interesting idea, but I’m not sure how well all of us who have been trained on that platonic type of field guide can translate that information. Like context is cool, but I’m not sure that it’s the best way to train the brain for patterns.

[00:13:58] I don’t know.

[00:13:59] Michael Hawk: , this is probably a lead into a topic in and of itself and that’s photos versus illustrations. And one of the nice things about what Sibley does or what a lot of these traditional field guides do. By using illustrations, not only can they show this abstract version of what you might see in the field, but they can show the same poses and you can compare very easily that way from bird to bird and with photos, it’s really hard to get the birds to pose for you and then you’re dealing with different. lighting and all sorts of other variances that come into play.

[00:14:29] Allen Fish: This danger in that though, too. And I can think of I’ll just say that the the most recent version still about 20 years old of the Peterson guide to north American Raptors, the painter, he messed up on some of the forms. And and so the shapes are enough off that for someone who’s keyed into shape is a really critical thing. One of the things that obviously we can talk about is some people are really colored focused. Some people are really shaped, focused. Some people were really pattern focused and sometimes those three people are standing shoulder to shoulder looking at the same bird, patting the elephant from a different angle or a different sort of mental point of view, but paintings.

[00:15:07] I have to say, I like to mix, I like the mix of photos and paintings working together. And I do agree that if I were on a desert island, I’d rather have the paintings, but I’d want the paintings done really well. And David Sibley definitely set a high watermark for that.

[00:15:22] Other painters, even recent ones, not as much and something to be a little skeptical and a little watchful about because. I think focusing on subtleties of Raptor shapes are really important. And of course, depending on whether the bird is gliding or stooping or soaring or leaving a branch or landing with full braking of all the feathers pulled out or stretched out can be a really different looking bird in different ways.

[00:15:49] So there’s some subtle differences there.

[00:15:51] Michael Hawk: I apologize. You said the feathers pulled out and I was like, wow,

[00:15:57] that That’s a totally different style of guide.

[00:16:00] Allen Fish: Actually one of the guides I was looking at this morning is the it’s called bird feathers, which is a I think has been amazingly under appreciated, but many of the people who’ve come to me with bird questions are often holding like a feather saying, what is this.

[00:16:15] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. I usually use the feather Atlas. Maybe that’s one example of a good online field guide is the feather up. Cause that’s a really useful tool and it’s just in the form of a field

[00:16:24] guide. But as far as I know, it’s only available online.

[00:16:26] Allen Fish: is a book for swim club called the bird feathers by Scott and McFarland that’s. Of course not as comprehensive that’s the beauty of the online stuff is it can be added to and modified and grown without buying into the copy of.

[00:16:40] Michael Hawk: Yeah. So my background has been in computer engineering and tech. And one of the things I’m always thinking about when it comes to trade-offs when making design decisions or most decisions for that matter is the velocity. Trade-off like, how fast can you get new information? Out to the world with with photos, for example, you can usually create a field guide much more quickly than with illustrations.

[00:17:04] You pointed to the fact how difficult a good illustration is. And and it’s an interesting trade off to consider because, I would like to see, say a field guide to Syrphids of the west or, something like that. And I can’t imagine how long it would take for a good illustrator to create something like that.

[00:17:20] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. I think that’s a good point too, is that the subject matter really does make a difference in terms of that. For someone to have a life’s project of painting. Every north American bird is difficult but possible for one person to do, either you’d have to have a lot of contractors out there, all painting syrphid flies, or, maybe I’m skipping ahead a little bit, but talking about the plant galls, field guide, it works to have photographs because like you said, you can’t have someone paint every single one that would just make it, in terms of the economics of field guys, you couldn’t do it.

[00:17:48] It would just be too expensive. So for that, the photos are useful and more functional. And I think that also plays into. Art of the field guide. I enjoy looking at the beautiful paintings in painted field guides. It’s, a lot of artists sharing those tend to be like the named ones, right?

[00:18:06] Like Sibley or Peterson. They have their name on them. They’re also the author illustrator, which I think makes a difference, when you’re doing the whole thing together. But I love the physical objects of a beautifully produced field guide that has been painted by a human hand.

[00:18:23] Maybe

[00:18:23] that’s my art history background talking

[00:18:25] Allen Fish: I totally agree with you. And I think you touched two chords for me. One was there was something funny that happened when the Sibley guide came out, and noticed we call it the Sibley guide. We don’t call it field guide because it weighs over a kilogram. It’s huge.

[00:18:38] And it tests whether or not that should be called a field guide. And the simply people were smart enough to break it into a small Eastern field guide and a smaller Western field guide that I think are, right in there with the national geographic and Peterson guides and stuff.

[00:18:53] So it works. But what I love is that immediately after the Sibley guide came out, I started hearing people talk about getting my sibling or getting my Robbins or getting, and field guides became not so much a field guide to Western birds, but I’m going to go get my Peterson and look that up. And not only was it not a field guide, it was my, it was possessive that you would own this, which kind of cracks me up.

[00:19:18] And funny how we do that, but I, the gall idea of photos I’ve been working on lichens recently and I the liken, the lichens. Gosh, what is it? Western north America like of California? Wonderful book gorgeous photos, incredible labor of love. And I so wish there were painted illustrations next to it.

[00:19:38] Partly so I could see what the, there’s a whole lichen nomenclature for parts of a lichen and maybe I just need to sit down and learn those 83 words, but I really wish each new genus that I’m learning had at least a illustrate graded version that showed me what those things were and why a picked a pedia was different from something else.

[00:20:01] They’re just, they’re they’re such indulgent words. And I think it is valuable to use some of those jargonistic words, but it’s also really good to open the world up to a bigger public that are never going to learn all of the 23 words for hairiness that botanists have imposed on these species.

[00:20:20] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. And that’s another thing about illustrations, particularly for something like lichens, I feel like illustrations do a much better job of conveying structure. That there’s something about the way that you can you shadow and the way that it can be isolated from the background. And that’s much better at showing structure for something like a lichen where structures really.

[00:20:38] Michael Hawk: So speaking of the artistic value. Going back to that theme anyway, have you purchased a field guide just for the artistic beauty ?

[00:20:48] Cricket Raspet: For sure. Botanical illustration has such a long history and so many good practitioners. And so I’ve bought books on plants that I probably will never use and don’t really care about because illustrations are very beautiful know, even if some of the technical illustrations are very beautiful, but there are a few like the John Muir laws.

[00:21:08] So that was in my little favorite pile , his illustrations, especially are a little bit impressionistic. They’re not highly technical, but they’re incredibly beautiful. They give you a real good feeling for the creatures. I, in general, the more specific the subject matter, the better I like a field guide or in the more useful I think it’s going to be, I tend not to buy the ones that are the wildlife of various region, because they tend to be almost a little bit too broad to be that useful.

[00:21:37] But the laws field guide to the Sierra Nevada, I think is really beautiful. And that’s something that I might waste some backpack space on. If I was going back country didn’t have any, cell phone service or I net or anything. So yes, that one was one. I bought primarily for the illustrations,

[00:21:53] but it actually turns out to be a good field guide.

[00:21:55] Allen Fish: Can we just geek out on Jack Laws for a minute?

[00:21:57] Cricket Raspet: Absolutely.

[00:21:59] Allen Fish: Jack is a local bay

[00:22:00] area kid. And I can’t say kid we’re the same age, I think. But what he did was incredible. He did a bird version of the Jack law’s guide to the Sierra, Nevada plants and animals in the Sierra, Nevada, forget plants and animals.

[00:22:14] He’s got poop in there. He’s got stars in there. He’s done an amazing job , to distill that. I actually consider it a personal challenge and I’ve told him this, that I would find a species in the Sierra Nevada that he did not have in there. And I’ve only found one in about 10, 15 years now.

[00:22:33] And I don’t remember what it was at this point because it was pure ego driven. It wasn’t driven by the animal, but his ability I don’t, I’m not terrific at bugs and insects, but his ability to get this sort of top 10% of plants and bugs and things that there would be hundreds and hundreds of species in the Sierra Nevada was just awesome.

[00:22:56] And it really shows a deep connection that he has lifelong connection to the Sierra Nevada species. And I was very skeptical that someone could put all that into . One backpack size book and capture so much. But I think he opened up a really wonderful world for a whole lot of people that hadn’t really appreciated field guides or gotten deep into species identification yet.

[00:23:22] So Bravo Jack, wherever you are.

[00:23:25] Cricket Raspet: It’s a beautiful book. And I think that’s also one of the reasons that I tend not to buy those visitor center gift shop wildlife of this area books is they tend to like often they’ll only put the most charismatic organisms that you might see. So they’ll have, I don’t know, like a grizzly bear and maybe some kind of snake or something, but what I like about the law’s field guide is that it is the most common things you’ll see whether they’re very spectacular organisms or not. So there is a kind of general field guide that’s useful if it actually illustrates the most common things, you’ll see

[00:23:58] Michael Hawk: it ties back to what you were saying about how that might actually be a book you would take backpacking with you. And I could just see sitting down in the evening. Yeah, heating up your freeze, dried dinner on your back backpacking trip. And then there’s this like tussock moth that’s going by and that’s going to be in that book.

[00:24:14] So it sorta makes sense.

[00:24:15] Cricket Raspet: And there is also that sort of, we were talking about earlier that sort of iterative way of learning with field guides is you might be sitting around camp and filming through the book and see something. And you’re like, oh, I didn’t even know that was a thing. Maybe I should look out for that tomorrow.

[00:24:28] And then you might see it because now,

[00:24:30] It’s a possibility.

[00:24:31] Michael Hawk: and I don’t want to make this all about California but we are all in California. So, I guess we tend to think this way, but we’re so lucky to have not only Jack laws, but OB Kaufman creates some interesting guides as well that are also a unique and artistic and a different slant, a different view on nature and

[00:24:50] interconnected.

[00:24:51] Allen Fish: I’ve been late to warm up to OB Kaufman’s work. And I’ll just be honest about that. OB, if you’re out there, I love you now, but I didn’t at first. And I think because for me it was they’re so dense and they’re packaged like a field guide right there. They’re that small size, little bite books.

[00:25:07] But they’re actually quite beautifully artistically beautiful. They really are referenced guides and The coastal guide that just came out. I picked up a few days ago at a bookstore in Berkeley, and I was feeling a little like skeptical and arrogant, and I opened it up and I was completely absorbed in whatever that page was.

[00:25:27] And then I was just stuck and I went from, I’m not quite sure what to do with this, but I really asked it’s a crack it up and just read. So I wouldn’t call it a field guide so much, although his paintings are absolutely worthy of that. And I think he, in some ways we talked in toward the future of field guides, OB seems to be doing something launching from Jack’s work of saying, here is a geography that’s magnificent.

[00:25:55] And let me share why and connecting between hydrology and geology and plant life and animal life. And human patterns that are really wonderful way to introduce broad systems to people on a personal way. Bravo, OB Kaufman, I’m finding now.

[00:26:14] Michael Hawk: And you’ve revealed a bias I have when I was thinking about some of my favorite field guides, a common theme. I know. And I wasn’t considering OB Kaufman’s work to be a field guide per se, but I did have a theme of picking the guides that had more ecology and more natural history in them, which kind of goes against maybe what you would necessarily require in the field to identify something.

[00:26:37] But I really enjoy that. I think That’s why I have gotten so deep into nature over the years, as I like trying to understand why things are there and how they interconnect. So I had the same experience with OB Kaufman’s work, where it just seeing that sort of absorption in the environment really spoke to me.

[00:26:55] Cricket Raspet: That’s the interesting thing too, with the field guides and where the field guide shades into a reference book I feel like there’s two competing purposes to a field guide or one to competing impulses. One is the impulse to simplify.

[00:27:08] So the more you simplify the easier the pattern recognition. So you take this very complex subject, like Galls or Manzanita or Marine organisms, and you distill it into a consumable size, right? This is, you go outside and you’re looking at all the plants and it’s overwhelming, but if you distill it and you organize it and you translate it, then it’s usable, it’s knowable, but then you also want to complicate things.

[00:27:35] So you want to simplify things in order for people to be able to identify things, but then you also want to , convey some of the complexity of the ecology. You want to lead people into knowing more about a system, more about an Oak Savanna or more about tide pools, but you have to do that by simplifying first.

[00:27:51] And then opening it up. So those competing impulses are really interesting. Some field guides you’ll reference guide you look at, or I don’t know, can you imagine a surfeit fly one? There would be so much information there that it’s almost a little overwhelming. So you need this portal, this sort of simplify portal for people to get in, and then you can open it up with the ecology.

[00:28:09] So that’s a really interesting balance to strike though, in a field guide, how complicated do you make it? How

[00:28:14] much of that information do you put in there?

[00:28:16] Michael Hawk: And I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that most people, their first field guide is it usually a bird field guide there? I think the highest selling most popular in the United States or in Europe or Australia, we all have somewhere in the neighborhood of 800, to a thousand species of birds.

[00:28:35] And that might sound like a lot, but it’s a manageable number. And it’s not quite so complicated as many other taxa, The subject really drives a lot of how much simplification you can do and how much you have to do out of necessity. Like a field guide to beetles of the world. I, possible.

[00:28:52] Allen Fish: That’s interesting. I’ve been lucky enough to last during COVID. One of the parks, conservancies great projects is a bee survey of the GGNRA and Tamalpais area. And a wonderful be biologist. Originally from UC Berkeley, Sarah Leon Guerrero, who’s been working on. Out of our building. And just incredible to see her work on these samples and she’ll run in with this incredible blue Juul thing, the size of a grain of rice and show me, it’s just incredibly beautiful. And she’ll say it’s this genus and I’m, a bird person I’m waiting for the species name. she says, no, genus is important. And that’s what you get. Then it’s working on bees, working on so many insects. Family is often, you’re gonna just be stuck at family, but it’s really interesting to my birding mentality for just getting a good genus name is a really exciting moment in discovery.

[00:29:51] And I, and Sarah really taught me that I really appreciate that. And I’ve been cranking on dragon flies the last few years. Just completely in awe. I am in love with dragonflies. And finding that genus again is genus is pretty good. I can get to genus species some areas, some not.

[00:30:09] There’s an incredibly wonderful California pro centric guide by Kathy Biggs. And Kathy has Sonoma based, has launched a lot of dragon flight people. And it’s great cause it’s it is really distilled has a little bit of ecology, a little bit of range, but really distills down to the. and how to identify it and complimented really well by digital website media that she has with the kind of, again, back to the portal idea that she asked the portal to various references so that you can dig wider into the natural history and ecology and conservation biology and things like that.

[00:30:46] But really appreciate getting to explore a whole new area from a beginner’s mind, which is super useful for even going back to birds and seeing them do.

[00:30:55] Cricket Raspet: . Also, I feel like if you’re a person who started with vertebrates And moves into invertebrates. It’s like the wizard of Oz. Like it’s just, you come out the other side and there’s just so many colors and so many possibilities and so much unknown, which is difficult sometimes. That’s also the field guy thing, right?

[00:31:12] There’s a sense that it’s codified knowledge. It’s knowable, it’s in a book someone’s spent their time studying this and writing it down for you, but there’s still a lot. That’s not knowable. And I think this is where the digital resources come in, where, you can have what, you know, in a book, but then you can also have all these additional resources of research that’s currently being done.

[00:31:32] Or like you said, with variation, if you want to see every kind of red tail, you can go online and see every kind of Redtail. And so maybe there can be more linkage between that. Maybe a note in your field guide that says this species is highly variable to see all of the color morphs, here’s a link or

[00:31:49] here’s a resource that you can use.

[00:31:50] Allen Fish: In 20 years ago, if you’d asked me to find a Kali optimist to identify the beetle that I had just found, I would have been out of luck. I, maybe there was a USDA lab in Berkeley that might’ve had that opportunity. And, but, there might be three or four beetle experts across the country that deal with the family, for the beetle that I just found, bug guide.net and Inat what incredible opportunities now that we have to put our lousy little iPhone photos online and two or three weeks later, it’s like Christmas when some really intelligent taxonomists across the country or across the world, figures out what your beetle was.

[00:32:31] It’s it’s a thrilling timeframe. Learning different bird species.

[00:32:35] Cricket Raspet: Really, I can’t

[00:32:35] believe it took this long for a

[00:32:36] naturalistic.

[00:32:37] Allen Fish: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the whole program, right by itself. It’s an incredible phenomenon that our colleagues put together.

[00:32:45] Michael Hawk: I definitely want to talk about some digital resources, digital field guides or field guide, adjacent topics as well. But before we stray too far away from traditional bound paper guides, I wanted maybe to talk about some of the like cricket, you mentioned the the gall field guide, G A L L I think, , I sometimes make it sound like Gull, G U L L.

[00:33:10] Cricket Raspet: Yeah, that’s an I,

[00:33:12] that’s a common miss hearing. I always have to explain that.

[00:33:15] Michael Hawk: So tell me about that.

[00:33:15] guide and and why you had it sitting next to you here for this.

[00:33:20] Cricket Raspet: Okay. I have it sitting next to me in my favorite field guides pile. ‘ cause I think it’s also archetypical example of , how the effects that a field guide can have. It’s the plant galls of the Western United States by Ronald Rosso. And it’s all of the sort of insect generated goals on plants.

[00:33:38] And it’s just a really comprehensive guide and it’s got beautiful photos. And I think it, it was an example of co-leading all of this information that had been either scattered or inaccessible into one book that you could easily take into the field and was really useful to use in the field.

[00:33:55] You could tell, for example, watching on EyeNet the effect that its publication had because all of a sudden, everybody was seeing goals everywhere, and there was a gall

[00:34:03] week on iNaturalist.

[00:34:05] Michael Hawk: Yeah. Thank you. Merav.

[00:34:06] Cricket Raspet: Thank you for all. That was amazing. And we got cool gold, like t-shirts.

[00:34:10] But I think it really catalyzed all of these sort of nature oriented people to go out and look for these types of organisms. And they’re beautiful and they’re fascinating. And it was the perfect example of how a printed book can still have

[00:34:24] a big effect on the naturals community.

[00:34:26] Michael Hawk: And just to interject real quick. I, it’s also a really good example of some of the other themes you were talking about, where you look at the book and it’s a big book, and there are a lot of species, a lot of a lot of goals covered in the book, but it’s still just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much to learn.

[00:34:42] And as I’ve said before, galls are probably one of the quickest way to make a discovery new to science that there is in nature right now, at least in North America.

[00:34:52] Cricket Raspet: And again, coming from vertebrates, I’m not used to having a bunch of organisms in a field guide that are unknown, and he’s got a lot of illustrations of unknown species, undescribed species, and they’re in a field guide butts. Undescribed. And I think that’s really cool. And those are the ones that are already photographed.

[00:35:08] There are plenty out there that are probably not photographed. He’s also a really interesting guy too, because I was reading a little bit for this. And I had a a Hawaiian Reefs book that was also by Ron Russo. And I was like, is that the same guy? So apparently his two interests, primary interests are plant goals and shark biology.

[00:35:27] So he’s published a bunch of papers on the physiology of leopard sharks. And Kind of makes sense that he’s into like reef, organisms and goals. Like they’re both so strange manifestations of,

[00:35:38] life.

[00:35:39] Michael Hawk: Yeah.

[00:35:39] Allen Fish: Cricket remembering broad Risa was at

[00:35:41] east bay, regional parks.

[00:35:42] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. That’s

[00:35:43] Allen Fish: Biologists. Is that right? Yeah.

[00:35:45] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:35:46] Michael Hawk: And a funny side story on this university of California press, they have a really nice series of different guides, field guides and another naturalist books specific to California. And there was a plant calls book for California that Ron Russo had created. And it was out of print for years and it was selling until this latest updated expanded version came out from Princeton press.

[00:36:09] I think that old out-of-print book was sometimes selling for a hundred, $150. Yeah.

[00:36:14] Cricket Raspet: Yeah, Alan got to tell his field guide story. That was my field guide story is I, I buy too many field guides, especially when they show up in thrift stores or things like that, and they’re just pretty and I buy them. So I was in a non expansionary phase. I was trying so hard not to acquire new books.

[00:36:30] And I went to the big book sale for the San Francisco public library. The one where you can buy books with a shopping cart, It’s in a big warehouse and you just tool around with your shopping cart and buy books. But I found a copy of that gall guide and I didn’t buy it. I was like no, I’m not paying any more books.

[00:36:47] And so I didn’t take it home with me. And then about a month later, I was like, I really wish I had that gall field guide and I looked it up and it was selling for 150 bucks. So when I was so excited when I found

[00:36:58] out that this one was being published.

[00:36:59] Allen Fish: Yeah, I got to tell you, I, I have the old guide. I have that old expensive guide. And I’ve been seeing the new one thinking, do I need this? I think I need the new one. And I’ve been reluctant to buy it, but, you’ve explained to me, I need the cash in the old one and buy the new one, which covers all the Western states.

[00:37:16] And then I’m in better shape. So you know that the whole, sorry, the whole issue of advice, guides or bigger, better exciting guides, hard book addicts, but book addiction is a really serious affliction. And yeah, I admire you for being in a non-expansion phase, but what a hard thing to keep up with

[00:37:37] Cricket Raspet: I know.

[00:37:37] Allen Fish: now,

[00:37:38] Michael Hawk: We’re not here to give investment advice. So please talk to your financial advisor before investing in

[00:37:45] the UC press. Goalbook.

[00:37:46] Allen Fish: I got to tell you, there’s a really interesting analog that happened in Raptor world. About 20 years ago, there were a few Raptor guides out and they were just starting to come out with photo based guides and a big guide done by Brian Wheeler, very big book. I think also Princeton university, Princeton press and maybe a $50 as the cover price.

[00:38:09] And then there was a huge sweep where a bunch of the environmental consulting firms across the country started working on wind turbine locations. And because wind turbines and Raptors tend to be a little bit diametrically opposed, and create a bunch of problems. And those. Salting firms needed to train a lot of biologists, rapid identification, really fast.

[00:38:34] Suddenly the Wheeler guide went from being $50 a copy to being 200, $300 a copy. And you cannot find it now because it still has the most photos per species of any bird guide that’s out there. So it is really interesting. The the things that drive a sudden increase in a particular book. So you better buy all those books for kids.

[00:38:58] So you have an option on caching and later, right?

[00:39:02] Cricket Raspet: Yes.

[00:39:02] That’s the excuse I needed. Let me tell you about field guys. Cause you had the interview with Michael Kaufmann.

[00:39:08] Michael Hawk: Yes,

[00:39:09] Cricket Raspet: Yeah, so that was in my favorite pile too. Is the field guide who Manzanita is, which is a beautiful book, beautifully bound, beautifully illustrated. And the, a lot of the identification is still a little bit beyond my skillset.

[00:39:21] I’m not, there’s some things I need to learn to identify them like the lichens, but the book is so beautiful. It makes me want to learn. I really want to learn how to identify me. Anthony does just to justify such a beautiful book, but he was talking a little bit about the economics of field guide publications and how so many people are getting out of

[00:39:38] publishing fields.

[00:39:38] Guys. No sad to me.

[00:39:40] Michael Hawk: So he started back country press, and in fact he has a brand new field guide to I’m going to get the title wrong. I’ll have to correct this in the show notes, but it’s it’s plants of the California desert that just came out. Yeah. Like maybe a week or two ago.

[00:39:55] Cricket Raspet: Nice. The books are beautiful.

[00:39:56] These are books I would buy just for the.

[00:39:59] Michael Hawk: I think I’m going to use your call-out of the. Manzanita field guide to delve into maybe a couple other topics that I know we’re on our radar anyway. And one is local guides versus national guides or broader geographies. And and this is an example of a type of book that you really do need to narrow down the geography to make it useful.

[00:40:22] And you also have a local expert that makes it all the better. So he adds in. County by county listings of what you can find in which county in California. And beyond I think he gets into Oregon maybe as well. And

[00:40:34] Cricket Raspet: And Mexico,

[00:40:35] Michael Hawk: yeah, and then not only that, but then there’s some some maps too.

[00:40:39] It’s very specific and he gives ideas for Manzanita hikes, or road trips, or, things like that.

[00:40:44] Cricket Raspet: A Manzanita road trip.

[00:40:45] Michael Hawk: yeah.

[00:40:47] Alan, how about from your perspective, cricket brought up a couple of really interesting, more, maybe more esoteric sorts of field guides. Do you have any in your

[00:40:56] pile that you’d like to talk about?

[00:40:58] Allen Fish: Let’s get away from those feathered animals that dominate our lives.

[00:41:02] Michael Hawk: You mean dinosaurs or.

[00:41:05] Allen Fish: Exactly. They’re all dinosaurs. Yeah. Actually I was thinking about this. So lichens and dragonflies have driven my field guide indulgences the last few years, but , two guides that kind of jumped into my head last part of the conversation.

[00:41:18] We’re the UC press folks have done some really interesting work along the way. And I say from grade school forward, I tried to collect all of the UC press books here and there. One of the interesting ones back in the, I think the 1980s and by I think he was teaching community college in the east bay, a man named Herbert.

[00:41:38] Well, W O N G was a book called field guide to vacant lots. I think cricket has it right there. I loved that. What a great portal again, what a great opportunity to say. You don’t have to go to Yosemite.

[00:41:51] You don’t have to go to the Joshua tree deserts. You can do this in Oakland, in a in a vacant lot and find some predictable species and exciting species, colorful species that are worth looking for us. The doc failing goes right to that same place, but the vacant lots book I thought was a wonderful innovation and something that we should see more of and get more close to.

[00:42:16] Cricket Raspet: And another one of those cases of an appreciating field guide, if you go and look for it now, I think the price has come down a little bit, but when I first learned about it and I looked for it, it was 80 to a hundred dollars. So I think it’s pretty desperately in need

[00:42:28] of republication or revamping.

[00:42:31] Allen Fish: Jack laws. Are you out there in the bay area? , vacant lots laws guide. That

[00:42:37] Cricket Raspet: I think there is, with naturalists and with all of these great sort of inclusive, nature movements, I think that

[00:42:44] Allen Fish: Citi nature challenges.

[00:42:46] Cricket Raspet: nature challenges, I think a good field guide slash ecology book about urban ecology would be really necessary. Right. And I think a lot of people would be really interested.

[00:42:55] I think people are really tuned to

[00:42:57] what they can see on their street corner.

[00:42:59] Allen Fish: Yeah.

[00:43:00] Michael Hawk: I a hundred percent agree. And one of the, one of the things that really catapulted my interest in nature at large, and I’ve been interested in birds for 15 years plus and then that led to butterflies and dragonflies and whenever I would see anything else, interesting, I’d always take a photo and I would use bug guide or something, you know? so I was learning a little bit here and there, but I really got focused at the start of the pandemic by just looking at my backup. And very quickly I realized that I would be able to easily see a new species a day on average, if not more for my tiny little not well landscaped backyard in south San Jose.

[00:43:37] And when I started telling that story to people, I volunteer at an open space authority even at work. I worked at Google, it’s a bunch of engineers, but when I tell the story of what I discovered in my own yard and showed them a few photos, I could really see the connection starting to form for people, so I, a hundred percent agree we need one of these guides.

[00:43:55] And speaking of urban stuff I’m just going to show one that I bought out of, partly interest, partly because I just want to learn more, but I bought this book here. I don’t know if you can see it urban lichens, but it’s for Northeastern north America. I guess I’m also countering the west coast bias that we’ve had so far.

[00:44:14] But it talks about urban lichens in Boston and New York and Chicago which is really interesting. And it’s an interesting approach , along the lines of what the Gol book did to help open people’s eyes to things

[00:44:26] that may just be right, there in front of them.

[00:44:28] Allen Fish: That’s a really hard challenge for me is when you see a great book. And I think there was a recent moth guide that came out for the Eastern United States and thinking, oh God, if it just said west, instead of east, I would spend $80 on that thing. But yeah, the urban light can guide. I noticed that one too, and I just couldn’t quite spring for it.

[00:44:47] I’d like to check your copy out of the Michael Hawk library. I was going to mention to one of the, one of the UC press books , I am an absolute inept herpetology person. It’s just an area I’ve never, ever gotten into, but I love the idea of horned lizards. They just are tiny little dinosaurs, have huge personality and UC press.

[00:45:09] At one point did a field guide to horn blizzards of north America. It’s got 13 species in it all within one genus and it’s all based on photos. I could stand to have a few painted plate pages would have been great. It’s pages dedicated to 13 species in one genus. And for me, that’s the, this is maybe jumping in ahead, but that’s the future of incredibly wonderful field guides.

[00:45:36] Isn’t a deep. Incorporating Michael, what you were getting at more of the total ecology, conservation biology, habitat, relationships, pollination, there’s so many inter-species relationships that each species could be hooked to. And this is where that guide goes. So maybe it’s not so much a field guide, but to dedicate so much space to a lay person, point of view on one genus of horned lizard is it, I love it.

[00:46:05] It’s a beautiful little book and I’d love to see more of that happen as specialists evolve in our community of ecologists and taxonomists and natural historians.

[00:46:16] Cricket Raspet: And that’s also a really interesting. Maybe feature of what makes it feel guide a field guide and not a reference book is that it should generally be accessible to amateurs. That, for example, if you pick up a lichen book, you might need to learn some terminology, but it should be useful.

[00:46:31] Even if you don’t that you should be able to sort of see some patterns and learn some things and be able to use it without a whole lot of technical jargon or, that kind of thing. So it’s geared towards someone who’s learning, maybe in someone who’s not a professional and not, it doesn’t have super deep knowledge or for a range of people,

[00:46:50] some who are beginners and some who are not

[00:46:52] Allen Fish: The microscope.

[00:46:54] Cricket Raspet: the microscope. Oh my goodness. So I just saw this on the top of my favorite pile too. It was a field guy that I wanted to talk

[00:47:02] about was all that the rain promises and more by David, which I think does something that I’ve never seen in another field guide with. It’s a pocket guide to Western mushrooms.

[00:47:13] So it’s a very truncated guide to mushrooms, which is a really complicated and sometimes difficult to ID group, but he’s got all of these little vignettes about mushroom people. Little colorful stories about people foraging or people, having mushroom parties or people selling mushrooms or commercial pickers.

[00:47:31] So it does this thing that I’ve never seen in a field guide, it would be if you had a bird guide that also talked about birders yeah. That talked about bird festivals and, Audubon societies and all that kind of stuff. So it gave the sense of okay, so you’re interested in mushrooms.

[00:47:44] Here’s why it’s fun to be a person who’s interested in mushrooms. And the cover is amazing. So the cover is the man holding, I think it’s chicken in the woods in a tuxedo me with the little fluffy shirt and he’s got like a wispy mustache and.

[00:47:57] I don’t know why, but it was just maybe my favorite field guide cover ever. Like I just want to know more about it. So that was the thing I liked about that one particularly is it’s just, it’s fun. It’s

[00:48:09] super fun. It has a lot of character.

[00:48:12] Michael Hawk: I still chuckle when I

[00:48:13] see that cover.

[00:48:13] Cricket Raspet: Every time I love it. It makes me so happy.

[00:48:16] Allen Fish: Cook and I thought

[00:48:17] immediately you were going to go to it’s humorous, and it’s light and it’s I’m sure you guys are tuned into there’s. There’s a variety of scientific illustrators now who are publishing online. And the cartoon false knees comes to mind that are incredibly lovely scientific illustrations, but put into a cartoon fashion to be funny and troll and picking at, high standards of respectable biology.

[00:48:42] And it’s an awesome time right now to have. Everybody, acknowledged that this stuff, is it ultimately, it’s fun. It’s life affirming and engaging in a way, and to take all of this species identification stuff down a notch so that we can realize our human weirdness in all of it is it’s a really lovely trend right now.

[00:49:05] . I find I have to be really careful because I tend to make fun of birders and especially Raptor people who are so dedicated, but there’s a lot of humor in it. Ultimately, there’s a level of scientific documentation and work that needs to be done, but there’s also an incredibly sweet and hilarious.

[00:49:24] Side to all this work. That’s that’s really fun to be playful and fun to let that part out. So cricket, thanks for bringing that up.

[00:49:32] Cricket Raspet: No exactly. That’s the word, actually, that exactly came to mind when you were talking was playfulness that there’s a lot of playfulness creeping back in, and I feel like the, I naturals community does a pretty good job of this like bioblitzes, right? It’s a bunch of grownups go into a park and basically being kids playing in a Creek.

[00:49:47] Oh, look at the book. I found, look at this lake, like you seen this name look this cool thing. I love that playfulness is there and that sort of child, the wonder and the curiosity, and that’s like field guides. That’s what you do when it’s raining and you look, like, Thumbing through your field medical look at that thing.

[00:50:01] What did you see this thing? I want to go find that thing. And it’s all of this curiosity, just like you said,

[00:50:08] it’s a lot of having fun and being kids in the Creek.

[00:50:10] Michael Hawk: That just gave me an idea for a new type of field guide, actually. So you said field guide, just like what you do when it’s raining, but actually we should be out looking for the organisms that only come out in the rain when it’s raining, we need a field guide to organisms of the rain.

[00:50:24] Cricket Raspet: Oh, like tiger. Salamanders.

[00:50:26] What you can see when it’s pouring.

[00:50:28] Michael Hawk: Yeah. We’ll get back to some

[00:50:30] Books here in a minute, but as promised earlier let’s talk about some of the new digital resources that are out there. And I say digital resources because there’s just such a huge array of options there. Apps there are websites. And maybe to kick it off, I’m going to mention one that I really enjoy, and that is Charley Eiseman’s field guide to leaf miners, which is a PDF that you can purchase from him.

[00:50:58] And you get monthly updates from him as he makes new discoveries or as the community makes new discoveries. So I found that to be really innovative and and more comprehensive than you could ever get in a book. I think right now it’s up to something like 1800 pages, something like that.

[00:51:14] So that’s been a really unique digital form field guide that shows both the power of the media, it enables people to create in new ways and new formats that there is a significant barrier to entry for previously. So with that which direction who wants to jump in with with their favorite digital resources,

[00:51:33] Cricket Raspet: Oh, I can. So I, naturalist is the obvious one. In terms of ID and species and, keeping lists and stuff like that, I tend not to use apps that much. I do have the Sibley on my phone and I find that I use that now because I always have it on me. And it has some really nice features, like being able to compare species.

[00:51:52] It has a split screen function where you can put one bird on top and the other bone on top and you can change the images or this or the sexism. I really like that one. I know a lot of people use Merlin. I don’t really use

[00:52:03] Merlin. Do you guys.

[00:52:04] Michael Hawk: I don’t. ,

[00:52:04] Allen Fish: Yeah.

[00:52:05] Cricket Raspet: has some really nice features like packs for different regions.

[00:52:08] So you don’t have to get a whole new app if you’re going to Columbia or something, you can just download the Columbia pack. And I know it has some audio recognition though, so you can try to ID songs, but, maybe I’m too old

[00:52:20] school, but people seem to really like Merlin.

[00:52:22] Michael Hawk: If I could just add a note on that. like I admit I haven’t looked at Merlin. closely in a while, so, it may have progressed much beyond now the last time I looked at it.

[00:52:31] Cricket Raspet: I think it has. I think that’s men, my experiences. Like I put it on my phone and it wasn’t that useful to me, but I think it’s gone leaps and bounds in the way that I naturalist has. If you looked at five years ago, it’s a totally different place than it is now

[00:52:42] in terms of how the AI is trained and things like.

[00:52:45] Michael Hawk: Yeah. And it’s going to continue to grow exponentially. Just the nature of AI is that’s what it does. And I was just going to say one other thing about Merlin. The other thing I think that has kept me from using Merlin too much is I installed this app called bird. A couple of years ago, it’s only on Android last I saw, and it’s also an audio recognition app.

[00:53:04] And I found that to be very beneficial for me. And it prevented me from having any sort of desire to seek out any other audio recognition app. That’s another one to look at from a bird ID standpoint.

[00:53:15] Allen Fish: I’m pretty old school too, books, or where I’d like to go, but there are definitely some wonderful avenues I mentioned before bug guide.net, which I appreciate both because it’s great to open up a page. That’s all of the BW, Preston Beatles, and that the fact that you get just I love the explosion of photographs of one genus or one species.

[00:53:38] That’s just an incredibly wonderful thing I use. Google images, a lot for that as well. Going back to the idea of variation, that it’s really hard to express in a book form 800 species of birds with variation on all those birds.

[00:53:54] You’d be looking at thousands and thousands of pages in many volumes. So to be able to go to Google images and put in something like Bewick’s Wren, and there’s some variation of your x-ray and getting to see all of that in 50 photographs, and then shifting through that and looking and looking, there’s a lot of educational opportunities there that I use a lot.

[00:54:15] And so it’s not as fine tuned as an app, but it works. Recently I was walking in Berkeley and her. Ran that I had never heard before, and I’m not very good at house rent calls. I’m like Buick’s rent Pacific rent. I could do those. This was really Flutie and liquid in a way that sounded really wrong.

[00:54:34] Ran back home, put on a YouTube house wrens. And I scrolled through YouTube house wrens for probably an hour. And I’m pretty convinced that’s what I was listening to, but also there’s that problem of, the internet for me. And maybe this is less about apps, but I think it works through the apps too.

[00:54:52] We don’t often think about geographic variation and often there’s a placelessness , that happens where you don’t always see that this is a house wren from California as opposed to a house from, from mass choose it’s.

[00:55:06] And that for me is one of the most interesting parts of. Of all these animals is that there’s these variations, what’s a species today may get split tomorrow and maybe analyzed in a different way. feel like the internet is changing rapidly and just what you both have said about Einat Merlin.

[00:55:24] I need to go back and explore those a little bit more depth, but I love the sort of Wiki approach that I now has in bud guide.net have that I can be engaged in a conversation over time on photographs and animals that I’m seeing or plants that I’ve seen. To me that’s super exciting and the possibilities of pretty endless.

[00:55:46] I love learning about new possibilities in this area.

[00:55:49] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. And the persistence is nice too, as the AI gets better, your observations are all recorded there. I’m sure you guys have had this experience on bug guide or on net of having something that you posted three years ago. And someone just happens to be combing through it.

[00:56:04] And it turns out to be something really interesting. Which is cool that you could just park it there, wait for someone to come along and to find it

[00:56:11] Allen Fish: Do you guys know

[00:56:11] it? To NEMA T I M E M a is that’s a genus of bug. It’s a, it’s actually a walking stick. You think of a walking stick is this fabulous leggy thing. That’s in some tropical forest and moving really slowly and freezing. And you think it’s stick. There’s a whole bunch of Western us walking sticks.

[00:56:31] They’re about an inch long and they look almost like green ear wigs. They’re really pretty well understood. As far as individual species ranges go. will find like one to me. In Berkeley or in the Sierra Nevada, about every five years, my learning curve is really slow.

[00:56:48] So it’s really exciting to get, to take a photograph of these inverts cause they’re so they’re slow that they’re easy to capture and then have had this same experience somebody has called me up three years later and said, oh my God, you have these on your Redwood tree in Berkeley.

[00:57:04] And I’m like, I had one, three years ago. Don’t ask me to go find it again. But just the fact that you get to insert that little bit of data into the data bank. And there’s someone who actually knows what your photo is super that’s thrilling. That’s great stuff.

[00:57:18] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. And I just wanted to put one plug in here for a resource that I was using a lot lately, which is the sea slugs of Hawaii, but Corey Pittman and Pauline fine, I think. But this is where the digital can be really good. This is probably not you might be able to publish a book on it.

[00:57:33] It’s so wonderful. Like I recommend going there just because the organisms are so beautiful, they’re these gorgeous nudibranchs and sea slugs, and it’s good because the thing that’s a little tough sometimes about naturalists is if you have a bunch of undescribed species, that are recognized as individual species, but not described yet , that are in the same genus.

[00:57:52] I know doesn’t do a good job of distinguishing them. It’s kinda hard to filter out for this own known species. Number one and unknown species. Number two, like for example, there was a sea slug that I saw in Hawaii and it was the genus tinea and it was the 26. Unknown species of teenagers.

[00:58:08] So there are 27 recognized species that are all undescribed. And the nice thing about this resource, as people find new species, then you can just add them very quickly and then you can have the photos right up there. So that was a really good resource in a place where, for example, the eye naturalists, AI, wasn’t very well-trained.

[00:58:24] So I couldn’t put those photos up and have my naturals recognize them because it just didn’t have enough information. So I could go to this digital resource and then correspond with the person. And that’s also the nice thing is that there’s someone you can talk to, you can’t

[00:58:35] necessarily call up sibling and tell them about your, the law.

[00:58:37] Michael Hawk: Well, Alan probably can.

[00:58:39] Cricket Raspet: Alan probably

[00:58:39] can’t.

[00:58:40] Allen Fish: He doesn’t take my calls.

[00:58:41] I do have a funny sibling story. It’s slightly bird identification related. About 20 years ago, I was going to be a TA on a bird trip to Veracruz where the biggest Raptor migration happens in the entire world. It was fall migration here at gold gate.

[00:58:57] I was racing to get out of town and there was an American redstart hanging out up at the hawk hill site that all the hot birders were coming around from the bay area to see. American red start. And I knew I had about three hours of work to condense into an hour before I raced down to San Francisco airport to get on a plane to Mexico city.

[00:59:17] And I thought, I just don’t have time for this. And I got on the plane. I went down to Mexico city, took a puddle jumper over the hill to Vera Cruz. Got to the hawk watch site at Vera Cruz who should be there, but David Sibley and I had never met David Sibley and he said, hi, nice to meet you.

[00:59:34] His second line was, did you get the American redstart? I became about two inches tall. As I real, I realized that I might as well have said am not a real birder across my forehead. And that was my introduction to Mr. Sibley. So he didn’t seem to hold it against me, but I felt like I was pretty small with that.

[00:59:54] Michael Hawk: For what it’s worth over the last like year, I have really gotten away from chasing the rarities. So to me, it’s nothing lost in that you had other priorities it’s okay, but I’m not David Sibley. So I was going to mention a bit ago when in Cricket you were talking about the sea slugs of Hawaii.

[01:00:11] It reminded me of this other website called gallformers. We were talking about plant galls before, and it’s kind of the same thing. It’s a repository for all the undescribed species and the host relationships and things like that. And you can. Email them hop on Twitter to interact with them or even through I Nat, so it’s a really nice resource that’s filling in those gaps.

[01:00:32] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. And I think there are, some of golfers is actually going through the net observations and finding a way to collate all of those unknown species into one searchable so that you can search for things.

[01:00:43] And it’s not just all in genus.

[01:00:44] Michael Hawk: Adam Krantz from golf formers was on the podcast last year. And that turned out to be a surprisingly popular episode. I think it just goes to show the popularity of plant calls at the

[01:00:55] Cricket Raspet: Yeah. And I think that book was instrumental in that. I don’t think it would have happened without a handy

[01:00:59] field guys.

[01:01:00] Michael Hawk: All right. Why don’t we zoom through some other quick lightning round recommendations how about a most

[01:01:07] recent field guide purchase that you’ve made.

[01:01:10] Allen Fish: My most recent was. And I was trying to, I unfortunately don’t have the authors in my head. But it was a, it’s a bumblebee guide that came out about 2014 . love it because again, going back to the idea of it, it deeply explores a small group of insects. to me, it goes back to something cricket mentioned earlier in the show about pattern formation and enough patterning that you can, you feel like you can actually start to absorb it by osmosis and experienced into your brain and you might have a chance at seeing it.

[01:01:43] And although it’s, got photos in it and a few illustrations, getting back to the idea of patterning. There’s a few guides that have done something that I’m excited about, which is to create almost a geometrical representation of a birder Ubud, and then quite a abstractedly. Thinking, go out of Bumblebee’s back and looking at the head markings and the abdomen markings and the thorax markings as they wrap around the bug and then you get yellows and blacks and different patterns and showing those in a kind of almost geometric format.

[01:02:17] I’m really fascinated by that. And I’ll just admit to you late at night I’ve drawn geometric Raptors. So where are the lights and darks are? And I’ve been doing that for years and playing with that. I’ve never really exposed the the Raptor observatory faithful to it. Cause I’m not quite there yet, but years ago I was, co-teaching a class on Hawks and my teacher who is a person I’ve known for 10 years I was talking about the vividness of the red shoulder Hawk. Rust color, the Rufus color and the chest. And George turned to me and he said, I’ve never seen that color. And I said, what do you mean he studied Raptors for a decade? He said, I’m colorblind. I see strictly lights and darks. And I look at the black and white tail pattern to see a red shouldered Hawk and then also shape.

[01:03:02] And then we started talking about shape and he taught me things that I had never been bucked up. Cause I use color as a crutch. So I’m really fascinated by how different people perceive in different modes and really interested in, as you narrow down a kind of a pattern on a species moving away from pretty pictures, but weren’t a geometry of pattern.

[01:03:24] How far can you go to reduce those to a particular. Color scheme and look. And there’s an artist recently whose work I haven’t seen, but who’s taken bird plumages, just say Rosebreasted grosbeak and just done them as a bar graph stack in the different colors that are featured in that particular species, say as an adult male.

[01:03:47] And I’m really excited by that. There’s something interesting about that reduction distillation of patterns in animals that I think is super interesting.

[01:03:57] Michael Hawk: I just wanted to comment on the bumblebee book. It’s called bumblebees of north America by Williams Thorpe, Richardson, and Cola. And I had it sitting on my desk here because I have a love, hate relationship with this book. For some of the same reasons you mentioned. I like the pattern abstractions and they basically.

[01:04:13] I said, break down the B into a bunch of little segments with different colorations and they can also then compare the variance among a given species or male and female. For that matter. The reason why I said a love, hate relationship is you walk away from it thinking it’s very understandable and that you should be able to identify, everything that you see until you get in the field.

[01:04:34] Of course, and you realize how complicated bumblebees are. And then when you look a little bit more closely, that each species account has a microscopic characteristics section two, which really should have been the clue that, that you probably won’t really be able to identify to species anyway.

[01:04:50] So that’s my story of bumblebees of north America. I like the book I do recommend it. So cricket, a recent field guide purchase.

[01:04:57] Cricket Raspet: Okay. So I had to, so I was recently down in the desert, so

[01:05:00] I got the field guide to desert holes,

[01:05:03] Allen Fish: Oh, so cool. Wow.

[01:05:06] Cricket Raspet: which is, I got for novelty purpose, but is actually really cool because it a place like a desert, where obviously temperature and heat is a problem. Lots of animals use holes and, shelter underground.

[01:05:17] So it’s really cool to be

[01:05:19] able to tell something about what kind of creature, just from a hole in the ground.

[01:05:22] Allen Fish: Do you have to put your hand in the hole

[01:05:24] Cricket Raspet: I think that’s probably not highly recommended, but I haven’t gone through all the, those. And then the other one I got was harmless snakes of the west. I love

[01:05:33] snakes. And I also thought it was a great title.

[01:05:35] Michael Hawk: So cricket, you’re taking this like to a entirely new level. I so many books now are on my list. I’m going to have to put a warning. I think at the beginning of this episode , take care when listening, because you may be out a few hundred dollars by the end of this episode.

[01:05:47] Cricket Raspet: tempting there. And it’s, that was why I hadn’t come across this before. And I just happened to be in a desert where the visitor centers were very desert

[01:05:55] oriented. And how could I not buy harmless snakes of the west?

[01:05:58] Allen Fish: It is a great title. I like

[01:05:59] it too.

[01:06:00] Michael Hawk: about, does anything come to mind as a most esoteric or niche field guy that you own? We’ve hit a few. I think I like some of these here, I think would meet that criteria.

[01:06:10] Cricket Raspet: I have a couple, actually, there are probably interestingly enough, the field guides that I use most in the field that probably have the least amount of commercial appeal. And one is a coast field guide to beach. I taught Hasson Julia parish. Which is actually a really beautiful book. So it has really thick pages.

[01:06:28] So you can take it on the beach. So this is specifically for identifying dead birds that you find washed up on the beach, which can be a mess. So they have all these really interesting features like silhouettes. So the other one I have is the beached Marine birds and mammals of the north American west coast.

[01:06:45] And again, this is probably not a coffee table book. Like I don’t think anyone’s going to buy this for aesthetic values. I don’t think anyone wants to look through a bunch of photographs of dead birds, but they have all of these outlines of feet and of bills so that you can actually take the bill of a bird that you find on the beach and match it up onto the book, which is really cool.

[01:07:06] That’s not a feature that’s going to be useful for many things, but it’s an actual size outline of feet and of bills and of sternums. I, you can, like I said, especially if you have three cormorants or something, right? Three species of currents that are pretty common, and then you have the outlines of bills.

[01:07:20] So even if it’s not identical, identifiable by

[01:07:22] plumage, you can just line up the bill right. On the page,

[01:07:25] Michael Hawk: That’s really crazy.

[01:07:27] Cricket Raspet: which is what I like about these books is, like I said, they’re not anybody’s idea of what a beautiful field guide looks like in terms of the illustrations, but they have all of this really cool information abundance what time of year are you likely to find this?

[01:07:39] They have all kinds of measurements, like rulers integrated into the book. So in terms of like how you design a field guide and what kind of tools you can put into the physical book,

[01:07:51] I think they’re really interesting examples.

[01:07:53] Michael Hawk: Alan. Any other esoteric field guides that spring to mind for

[01:07:57] you?

[01:07:58] Allen Fish: Yeah, I have two things jumped to mind. What is it? There’s a series that I only have the bird one in my head, but the title is bird tracks and signs. And I believe there’s one on insects and one on mammals as well. And Michael’s gonna pull his copy for it.

[01:08:13] Cricket Raspet: I know. I feel like I should have line at

[01:08:15] Allen Fish: We got to do this in

[01:08:16] person next time.

[01:08:17] Yeah. I love that. I love the series. There seems to be a trend right now in nature books toward going beyond tracks, looking for evidence of of anything from beetle peel, choose in trees to places that that pileated woodpeckers have been excavating. Just a whole range of stuff that talk about how you might recognize those things.

[01:08:41] And it’s I’m fascinated by it. Cause I think it’s partly also that The kind of intergenerational transfer of knowledge that we might’ve gotten a hundred years ago when we walked with grandma, down the town through the Aspen forests. And she would say, look, that’s where a black bear scratched and you would get that information and you would pass it on.

[01:08:59] And that kind of stuff, those those outdoor word of mouth, grandparent to grandchild things that kind of information is, disappearing. And so to get some of it into books as course and not necessarily a specific as it could be to your own particular habitat is really exciting to me that.

[01:09:19] More of that stuff is coming out. And it’s not a replacement for time in the field with someone who knows more than you do. When people tell me they want to learn Raptors, I say, find someone who knows more than you do and spend time outside with them. , that’s the best field guide there is.

[01:09:34] I think that’s a trend that I’m really liking right now. And again, being new to insects the insect material is really exciting to me because it’s opening up my brain to an eyes. So whole areas that I hadn’t really thought about .

[01:09:48] Michael Hawk: Yeah, Traxon sign of insects and other invertebrates. That was an eye-opener for me when it came out.

[01:09:53] And also that’s Charlie Eisman again. And

[01:09:55] Allen Fish: Oh really? Oh, neat. I didn’t know.

[01:09:57] Michael Hawk: Noah Charney is the coauthor. Speaking of esoteric, a chapter in the book is, so it’s tracks and sign. So sign could be anything. It could be chew marks or pupa, or, whatever the case might be, but they have a chapter about bites.

[01:10:11] There’s actually photos of, what a bite might look like from different insects. Very different

[01:10:16] Allen Fish: I love that because any time somebody gets a bite of any kind in my family it is proclaimed to be a spider bite. And I feel like spider bite is the biggest cop-out in the world. It’s just, it’s too easy to say and quit spider. We talking about it to me, it’s like one of those I have no clue, but we’re going to call it a spider bite.

[01:10:37] Cause that’s, sometimes those family lineage diagnosis, they’re not necessarily spot on

[01:10:43] Michael Hawk: So true.

[01:10:44] Allen Fish: Yeah. Have either of you seen there, there was incredible guide on field guide to grasp. And crickets of the United States that came out about 10, 15 years ago. And the author is captain naira, John captain era, C a P I N E R a.

[01:11:00] And the I’ve struggled to try and figure those. The orthoptic ones are just they’re so primitive and they’re so bizarre. And they looked like piles of granite shoved into a, an inspect form. And then they fly and they have these butterfly colored wings that just are stunning for a second.

[01:11:20] And you try and catch them, but they’re really hard to catch and they’re way smarter than I am. Just the range of brutal looking animals with magnificent craggy. Beauty is really thrilling to me.

[01:11:32] Michael Hawk: I was extraordinarily fortunate. Recently, there was a grasshopper on my property and my yard. And for some reason it didn’t care about me. It didn’t fly away when even like, when my shadow went over a lot of times, you they’ll take off. So as is often the case. I had my macro camera with me all ready to go.

[01:11:50] So I laid down flat on the ground and got as close to it as I could and got this wonderful head-on shot of this grasshopper that your description of it’s like granite squeezed or forced into some sort of insect exoskeleton. That’s perfect. And my God, the size of those mandibles. Yeah. I’ll have to include that photo.

[01:12:15] I’m sure there’s better ones out

[01:12:16] there, but this is my photo. So I’m going to include it.

[01:12:18] Allen Fish: You get to do that. I’d love to see that.

[01:12:21] Cricket Raspet: I understand. Yeah. I saw you posted that.

[01:12:23] Michael Hawk: I did. Yeah.

[01:12:24] Cricket Raspet: Great photo.

[01:12:25] Michael Hawk: Okay. I’m going to get both of you one more, shout out to a field guide that you didn’t get to talk about. Cricket. You ready? It looks like you’re reaching for one.

[01:12:34] Cricket Raspet: I was trying to see if I think I’ve, I think I’ve actually covered all of

[01:12:37] them or the ones that I had in my pile anyway,

[01:12:40] Michael Hawk: All right. I’m gonna give you a different question then music don’t get off that easily. We talked about a few missing field guides in the course of the discussion. What would you like to see? And I’m going to, first of all, say we need a dock fouling field guide. So I hope you’re working on that.

[01:12:53] Cricket Raspet: not yet, but that one, I think we could also combine the question a little bit too. I think you had asked earlier about field guides that we’re excited about, that we excited about being published. So what I desperately want for California or for the Western United States is a field guy to snails and slugs.

[01:13:09] So terrestrial gastropods are not terribly welcome. I don’t know of any field guide that really covers them. And certainly not in a comprehensive way. There’s some like illustrated checklists, but then it’s just basically a page of, 45 snail shells that all look exactly alike. But I’ve heard that Barry Roth is working on one, so supposedly in the works, there is a snail’s of the Western United States.

[01:13:30] It’s in the works. And I’m super excited about that one. And I think also Liam O’Brien’s butterfly guide that I think we’ve all been waited and waited with bated breath for that to be published so that, talking a beautiful illustrations is making all those beautiful illustrations of butterflies.

[01:13:45] And I can’t wait to see that one. And I recently saw a post that he had done about the different gender of the genders of the butterflies and how the mail is always more prominently displayed in the female is always shoved in the corner and described as drabs. He said in this post that he’s making a conscious decision.

[01:14:02] To foreground the female of the species and, or at least give them equally as the males, which is also another issue with field guides, that always there’s the big, beautiful indigo bunting and oh, here’s the little female over here. So I thought that was a really interesting move on his part.

[01:14:16] And I’m more excited now to see that book published because of that decision or at least,

[01:14:21] That sensitivity that he has.

[01:14:22] Michael Hawk: Yeah. And just objectively about the purpose of a field guide, why not? Like you’re going to see as many female. Some organism as you will a male, so yeah, absolutely. They and then Allen,

[01:14:34] Your one last pass on another.

[01:14:36] Allen Fish: I was going to go somewhere

[01:14:37] else, but I saw that posting from Liam too. And he’s a wonderfully eclectic and interesting Lepidoptera thinker. And I’ve really appreciated being out in the field with him and learning from him. I was intrigued by that because what he’s really saying is that field guides, as they exist right now are a real product of a whole sort of structure and culture of science.

[01:15:02] And to acknowledge that field guides carry cultural and social justice, weight and information and bias is a really exciting thing. There’s really an important time happening right now in science and conservation biology and access to science. And who gets to describe it. I suspect that both of you were listening carefully in the last two years as the discussion of who should get an animal named after.

[01:15:31] And why should you get up a bird named after you, because you were the person who shot it 300 years ago. And it happened to ended up at a museum . The whole idea of honorific names is really interesting. And for me bears into the same area of what our species names all about and how do we apply them.

[01:15:51] And how do we recognize the immense cultural bias that has gone into establishing those names over the last hundreds of years without necessarily pointing at a field guide, I think there’s a super interesting conversation happening broadly about where species guides and species names are being challenged and rethought about what they need.

[01:16:14] And how they’re presented. And I’ve been lucky lately to be asked to present at some indigenous conferences. And , with a community of people one of these was up in the Yurok nation and to be with people who’ve been on their land for three to 5,000 years and they have names for stuff and they don’t show up in my Sibley and they don’t show up in the field guides that we’re talking about, and they’re not given the recognition that of age and often ecological relationships and the depth of information that might be contained within those.

[01:16:51] So for us to start to relax the cultural and social impositions that field guides have been contained in for the last 30, 40, a hundred years. And see a kind of blooming of a broader landscape of those aspects I think is really exciting . And I wish I had a, book I could point to in that respect, but I don’t think that book has been out yet or that I’ve seen.

[01:17:13] So I think we’re looking at a time where imagine that sea slugs of Hawaii with all of the names and if not all instruments of as many indigenous stories that could be told about those sea slugs could be out in the world would be really exciting.

[01:17:27] Michael Hawk: That was also well said, like I’ve been thinking about things I can say to amplify , or so forth, my short little comment a moment ago about what’s the purpose of these guides? If we’re talking about identification it makes sense that you want a guide that helps people identify things.

[01:17:43] The second layer, the naming layer. That’s such a big topic in and of itself. And when I hear people that are complaining or upset about the name changes that have been proposed or enacted, I really too much engineer in me, I think, , I always go back to first principles and I’m like, really, if you were designing this system, this is what you would have chosen.

[01:18:05] You would have chosen to name it after McCowen or whoever I’ll prevent myself from

[01:18:11] going on a soap box. Diatribe

[01:18:13] to wrap things up then I’d like to get both of you a chance to highlight any projects or upcoming work or, anything that, you’d like to point people at. It could also be your website or social media so cricket, why don’t you take.

[01:18:26] Cricket Raspet: Okay. Most of my online presence is social media stuff. So I’m chilipossum, C H I L I possum, on Instagram and I’m I naturalist and I naturalist is where I spend most of my time these days. And if I could also just put in a quick work plug for people in the bay who are also I naturalist users if you’re ever walking on the beaches and you come across stranded Marine mammals dead ones, especially if you could post those on I naturalist, it’s really helpful for us in terms of building a database.

[01:18:54] And we also have someone who comes the, I naturally looking for those observations. So that’s my workflow guy. I snuck in there, but yeah,

[01:19:01] I know, and Instagram mostly

[01:19:03] Michael Hawk: Just a quick question on the thing. So they come observations looking for this, but is there a way to make it easier? Is there a project or anything that they can tag or a person

[01:19:12] Cricket Raspet: you can tag me so you can tag me at chilipossum. And then I can either deal with it myself or hand it off to a person who knows. But , if you’re in the bay area, there’s not so many observations that we would miss them. we will see them. But it’s really helpful if those get posted and even if it’s something that you think has been seen before, it’s really useful for like persistence and stuff like that, that we know that it’s still there.

[01:19:34] Michael Hawk: And how about.

[01:19:35] Allen Fish: Yeah, I’ll just close up

[01:19:37] around. One of the things I love about this conversation is I’ve been really fortunate to work in the Marin Headlands for almost 40 years. And the privilege of getting to be in one place and see the biology and the plants and animal species changing and finding new things and learning new things.

[01:19:55] Even outside of the Raptor migration is wonderful. Some of the most incredible work that’s being done in natural history is not being done by paid people. It’s being done by people who are committed to it. What the Brits call a patch that you go to a patch, whether it’s a dock or the Marine Headlands, or a pond that you go to a patch a lot, as many times a week as you can, and you keep data on it and put it into iNat and take photographs where you don’t know something patch natural history even, and maybe especially in an urban area, I think is super important.

[01:20:32] I don’t know if there’s a, national or even international resource on that, but there should be the Raptor observatory is the golden gate. raptor observatory. We have a 40 year database on the Raptor migration through the Marin headlands, which work as a population trend tool for understanding changes in Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, vultures, kites harriers, Osprey populations and you could find us on line at ggro.org.

[01:20:59] The Raptor observatory is part of the golden gate national parks Conservancy, which has a variety of community science projects from bees to bats, to wildlife picture indexes and the Raptor observatory as part of the family or suite of projects. We’re currently setting up for the fall migration spending 22.

[01:21:19] Although we had some limitations. How we operated the hawk count in 2021 and 2020 . Everybody is available always welcome to come up to Hawk hill for the peak of fall migration, which is September, October, November, every year. And the big secret at hock hill is that it’s way more than hawks.

[01:21:40] It’s not just the birds of prey, but we have some of the most magnificent swift and swallow flights band tailed pigeon flights variegated meadowhawk, migrations just a lot of really interesting stuff going past us in the sky. As well as cetaceans and pinnipeds down in the golden gate.

[01:21:58] So just a lot of stuff to see from this beautiful vantage point in the middle of the golden gate, national recreation area. Look us up in line and feel free to contact us if you have.

[01:22:08] Michael Hawk: And I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve yet to get to go there. I have. Like mental block of driving through the city that far I’m way down in the south bay. I’m in south San Jose. So it’s a pretty

[01:22:19] good track to get up there.

[01:22:21] Allen Fish: I thought you were going to say you had a mental block because being Michael Hawk on Hawk hill is just too predictable. And you have to defy, you have to divide predictability somewhere,

[01:22:31] Michael Hawk: I just can’t take the puns anymore. So that’s the real reason I did just realize when you were talking about this, that we talked about field guides to Hawks and to crickets, but not a field guide to fish. So

[01:22:43] Allen Fish: Ah,

[01:22:44] Cricket Raspet: no.

[01:22:45] Michael Hawk: we missed that. All right? So I guess with that terrible joke that’s probably enough for today that maybe as a signal that we’re done.

[01:22:53] Thank you both for making the time for going way over time. I guess I should have seen that coming, knowing the topic that we had and the enthusiasm that you all have for it. So thank you again, and I

[01:23:03] hope.

[01:23:04] Cricket Raspet: Yeah.

[01:23:05] Allen Fish: Yeah, it’s been terrific. I learned a lot. I’ve got a whole page of books to buy. Thank you, cricket. Thank you. Bye.

2 thoughts on “#47: Field Guide to Field Guides with Cricket Raspet, Allen Fish, and Michael Hawk

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