Friday, February 7, 2014

What have I been up to?

Sunset at SUNY Cobleskill on 1/27/2014.
The holidays have come and gone, winter break has ended, and I’m now back at SUNY Cobleskill taking classes. Over my “winter break”, I was hardly relaxing. I was taking an online statistics course and finishing up the last hundred or so hours of my internship at the DEC! It’s been busy for me and I haven’t had much time to update my blog. But today I found time!

This semester I am taking: Chemistry I, Fisheries Science, Evolutionary Biology, and Herpetology. It’s not a bad schedule, and they’re all pretty interesting. Although, Chem I is going to give me a run for my money!!!

I’m also an officer for our student chapter of The Wildlife Society on campus. We have a great club, and we’re really active on campus and in our community. It takes some work to manage the club because we are so active and our department faculty really impress on us the importance of an active chapter.

Last week in Fisheries Science we began learning about standard methods of “sampling” for fish. This is so an agency, for example, in Nebraska can conduct a research project similar to one running in New York, and we can compare data because it’s been taken in a standard way. Our first lab for the class entailed us driving over to Otsego Lake to conduct ice angler surveys. We’re interested in how much in resources (time and money) anglers are investing in their fishing trips, as well as what kinds/ages/sizes of fish they’re catching. We have the opportunity to go out on our own for extra credit, so my friend Ben and I headed out immediately after class, and spent all day Saturday on the ice of Otsego Lake.

A freshly caught Lake Trout on Otsego Lake, NY
Myself and classmate Ben attempting to measure the total length of this Lake Trout.

In Evolutionary Biology we’re reading this fascinating book, “The Naked Ape” by Desmond Morris.

The first text we’re reading
 in my Evolutionary Biology course, 
The Naked Ape.
Read this immediately.

It’s so interesting to read about ourselves in a totally different way. It was published in 1967, so it’s dated, and theories have changed. Regardless, read it. It will make you think about where we came from, how we got “here”, why we are the way we are.

I purchased it for the Kindle app and have it on my iPad, which is making for a whole new reading experience. Normally I like to read a physical book, but for my last semester, I decided to purchase as many books as I could via Kindle and just tote around my iPad. Six books cost me $63, and the iPad is less than a pound. I wish I had been able to do this from the beginning!

In herpetology last week we learned how to “probe” a snake to determine it’s sex. I have to say, I’m not a “herp” person. I like salamanders and turtles, I don’t mind frogs or toads, but I really don’t like snakes or lizards. It’s not that I’m afraid of them in the sense of getting bitten or scratched, it’s that I imagine them to be crawling with germs. I’m sure mammals have just as much or more germs, I just have this irrational thought in my head that I WILL get salmonella or coccidiosis when handling a herp. SO, when Dr. Losito asked who wanted to probe a snake first, I volunteered right off the bat. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could do it, and guess what: I’m still alive.

Here I am, with the help of classmates, probing an adult female pine snake.

Here I am, with the help of classmates, probing an adult female pine snake.

To be brief, a small metal probe is inserted in the vent of the snake, and you kind of feel around in there for resistance. If you meet resistance, it’s a female. If not, it’s a male. We have a nice collection of snakes and turtles at SUNY Cobleskill used for teaching and for community outreach. I’m eager to learn more about them.

I’ve had this beautiful Red-bellied Woodpecker visiting my feeders lately as well. I love watching the birds come!

Red-bellied Woodpecker in Cobleskill, NY
SUNY Cobleskill Fish and Wildlife Students at the SCCA Fishing Derby
Wildlife Students at the NYPA
Wildlife Students at the Huyck Preserve

(PS I just set up a camera trap in a really neat spot…hopefully I will have something cool to report in a few days!)


  1. You post some wonderful experiences and photos, and the next lot of subjects are so interesting & challenging. Is this your last year? Looking forward to some trap pics. Cheers from Jean.

  2. Congrats on your first snake probing!

  3. Nice Pituophis! My favorite Genus!!


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