Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Today was the first day Bio Bootcamp 2.0. We met at noon at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis. To get to know each other, we associated people’s names with the names of animals. Omitting some details in our narrative, we then packed the vans, and headed out to Quail Ridge Reserve above Lake Berryessa, which—we all agree—is a great view, day, dusk, and night. We got to know each other throughout the day, from the downtime where we hung out, read books, talked, and cooked each other dinner, to the van rides and other shared experiences. We all get along, old friends and new. In fact, we got to know each other really quickly, even if we can’t quite remember everyone’s names! Tomorrow we will spend more time learning what each other’s given names are. Thanks, mom and dad, we are all thinking of you right now (with love!).

We went on two hikes, one during the day and one during the twilight. During the day, it was great to learn about the plants and trees surrounding us. I’ve always passed by plants without paying much attention. For example, I have seen manzanita wood and never actually seen the shrub that it comes from. During the twilight hike, we saw the silhouette of black oak, live oak, and maple against the darkly luminescent sky. We wondered about the mystery of the leaf shapes, and learned about the positions of the branches and how they compete for sunlight in the upper canopy within the canyon. We saw evidence of species which are here, but which we can’t see. These include scat (poop) or calls, be the calls cricket, cicada, bird, or otherwise. The biologists here set out boards on the ground so that reptiles, amphibians, insects, and mammals can make their homes. We flipped several of these “herp-boards” and found a number of species of darkling beetles, which spurred conversation about the processes by which species evolve.

Transitioning to a more personal note. Being a city kid, I’ve always listened to my music on my phone and watching the streetlights, never giving much of a care about my surroundings. I never payed attention to where people went, what they were doing, and what kind of sights I got to see. Just coming to this place has opened my eyes to so many new experiences. I never knew that, if I just take the time to stop and listen, I could hear details such as three different sounds being made at the same time by crickets. Seeing these things with my own eyes, and hearing these tiny little unique sounds are such new and different experiences it’s a little surprising to think that it’s only been the first day.

Tomorrow, we are heading back to U. C. Davis, where we will pick up gear for Sagehen Field Station near Lake Tahoe, and where we will have a tour of the Botanical Conservatory and campus.

This post was collaboratively written by three students and a graduate student field lead.

Good night!

KT, KH, RL

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