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RiverWatch - Phil's Rambling Rants
July 21st, 2004
01:20 pm

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RiverWatch
About two weeks ago, my mom told me that she had a problem. She had volunteered to help with this stream monitoring study, which requires going to a particular site and taking some observations. She described it as being a two-person job, and her partner was sick. Because it was the end of the time interval when the observations were supposed to be done, she needed a substitute. I was somewhat intrigued, so I agreed to help.

I brought my camera along to take some pictures. The experience reinforced my understanding of how hard it is to participate in something and also get a record of it; I was too busy doing stuff to record as much of it as I would have wanted to. But anyway, I'm finally getting around to posting something about what I did on July 10.

The site is in rural Piatt county, about half an hour west of Champaign, basically in the middle of nowhere. I took this picture just after we parked the car to set the stage:
My mother and the car

The part of the stream we were working on is in the trees in the left side of the image. After we hiked through the poison ivy, this was the first view of the actual stream:
First view of the stream

We had a big Rubbermaid tub of equipment, plus a couple of other items (a long handled net and a big bucket) that we had to schlep from the car down to the stream, which is a large part of the reason it's a two-person job. Here's a shot of the "kit":
The kit

The first step on our checklist was to measure out a 200' length of the stream where we were going to work and mark it with flags. The tape measure the kit provided was only 160' long, so we marked a starting point, and I measured out 100' and planted a flag, and then measured another 100' from there and planted another flag. Then we recorded the air and water temperature. About this time, I noticed that we had a visitor in the kit:
Snail in the kit

After we removed the snail, the next thing we did was to measure the flow in the stream. This is done by marking a 10' section of the stream that seems to be about constant width and depth, measuring the width and the depth, and timing how long it takes a bobber to float through the 10'. Next, my mom asked me to take pictures that would actually be part of the report, looking both directions from the 100' point.
DownstreamUpstream

The left image is looking downstream; the red flags are the markers we used for the flow measurement. The right one is looking upstream.

The rest of the scientific part of the expedition consisted of using the net and the bucket to collect samples of "aquatic macro-invertebrates". This means that we scraped the bottom in several likely-looking places and dumped the net into the bucket. Later, we would go through the bucket, grab everything big enough to see with forceps, and dump it into a jar of alcohol to preserve it until my mom could take it to the lab where she would try to identify the critters. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the critters; partly, I was too busy trying to catch the creepy-crawlies to think about taking pictures, and partly, the largest creatures we found were still under an inch long, and I don't have the macro lens that would be needed to get good pictures of them.

The one further point of interest was this insect I found on a log as I was going to collect the marker flags when we were done. I think it is a mayfly laying eggs.
Mayfly (flash)Mayfly (no flash)
The left image is taken with flash, the right one in natural light. These images seem to have lost a lot being shrunk down this far, but I don't want to take more time to post this entry than I already am, so I'm stuck with them.

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From:chirosinger
Date:July 21st, 2004 12:06 pm (UTC)
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Sounds like an interesting project. The pictures of the Mayflies are cool.
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From:filkerdave
Date:July 21st, 2004 01:20 pm (UTC)
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Other than the poison ivy (to which I'm sadly all too sensitive), it sounds wonderful!
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From:tigertoy
Date:July 21st, 2004 02:52 pm (UTC)
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Other than being rather warmer than I like that day, it was fun. I am not usually sensitive to poision ivy, though I was wearing long pants and a jacket to minimize the exposure to the stuff.
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