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Expeditions To New York City

An unexplored land of islands, steamy forests, and restless natives is explored for the first time in many years and its crickets and katydids documented.

Travel along with these scientists and naturalists (and their trusty bloggers) as they embark on a voyage of intrigue, mystery, and discovery in their search for the lost elfin tribes of singing insects that are thought to still inhabit a land filled with the temples and palaces of a people thought by some to be enchanted.

The Buffington Expedition. Matt Buffington heads up an expedition along with his trusted blogger Nif (Jennifer Minnick ) Matt's patron is the USDA Systematic Entomology Lab at the Smithsonian Institution where knights in shining armor seek out unknown species of insects from around the world and bestow upon them Latin names. Blogger Nif has inhabited the land of NYC for many years, where she has learned to speak their languages, and is facile of blog, mapping, and twittering. Together, armed only with cell phones and a high speed Internet connection, they will traverse the Island called Manhattan by bicycle listening for the quiet folk who continue to call and whisper at night from trees and the grasses of that island.

You can follow or read later the adventures of Matt and Nif as they survey and blog their way through the Island.

The Cricket Hunter's Blog

The Feller Expedition. Mike Feller is leading an expedition somewhere across the steamy Bronx and Queens forest primeval. Having been under long-term retainer as pathfinder and naturalist for his patron, the NYC Parks Department Mike no longer needs such things as maps or even plans. He can make his way be dead reckoning to any spot with rare katydids within his territory. Interestingly, Mike, having spent so much time in this region, has learned to speak a number of the indiginous tongues of the primitives who have settled between his beloved forests and now has safe passage anywhere in the region. If looking for Mike in this wilderness you may want to use his tribal name "Heyyewranguman" when asking for him. Now teamed up with blogging orthopterist Leo Shapiro, a katydid expert from Maryland, who, alas, due to his responsibilities can now only blog and is unable to count at this event, you can follow on their blog as Mike's nose for crickets and katydids points towards the best remaining places in the region.

The Sweet Expedition. Emily Sweet has put together a crack team of young crusaders from the Appalachian Mountain Club. Here instead of scaling the peaks of the ancient Appalachian Chain showing off their ripped calves and well-used gear from REI they will be ambling through Brooklyn in clean jeans and environmentally appropriate t-shirts to search for the glory, not of the mountain top, but of the ineffables that come with the discovery of the first Common True Katydid (Pterophylla camellifoli) in Brooklyn for nearly 100 years. Blogging for the Sweet Expedition is Erika Tucker, who is also developer of identificaiton keys to Bumblebees and Chrysidid Wasps.

You can follow the Sweet Expedition on their blog.

The Jones Expedition. Flying the Cub Scout Motto to "Do Your Best," Bardy Jones will be traversing the land of milk and honey that is Pelham Manor with a group of scouts. Not to be outdone by cry-baby intellectual scientists or 20-something, isolated from reality, Brooklynites, this steely band will seek out the beautiful Study Woods located in the northern part of the kingdom and travel south through Wilson Woods until they reach the safe harbor of Split Rock Golf Course in the Bronx. All this using only Scout issue compasses and jackknives and dressed in snappy blue and yellow Cub Scout issue expeditionary wear. Their patron, Siwanoy Elementary School, has promised, if successful, to bestow upon them the Glow in the Dark, Gold Point, Bear Paw, Weblos Orthopteran Badge. They are in the process of recruiting an expedition blogger from the ranks of their elders.

The Matteson and Clark Expedition. The Lewis and Clark expedition in the 1800's was famous for not only traversing the country from East to West, but of scientifically collecting and describing several new species (e.g., Clark's Nutcracker, Lewis Woodpecker). In a similar vein Kevin Matteson and J. Alan Clark will attempt to cross the Bronx and reach a suspected biodiversity hot spot known locally as The Bronx Zoo. Here they plan to rappel undergraduates down into what would appear to be from CIA satellite photos some sort of mini-African plains in the middle of the city! They suspect this could be a good place for crickets, but want undergraduates to go first to broaden their University experience. Inbetween the obligatory coffee stops to fortify their consitutions they will be seeking the Common True Katydid and its kin. Matteson and Clark have promised their patron, Fordham University, that they will, in exchange for tenure and a corner office, bring back new species and large NSF grants. At this point the M and C Expedition blogger is AWOL, but a blog has been created that once the blogger returns you can follow.

The NYBG Expedition. Over the years, tales have filtered back to civilization that within the cloistered center of the City That Never Sleeps existed Valhalla, a woodland spared the ax and still sheltering sprites, dryads, and rare katydids. This Limberlost, called by natives the Botanical Garden, while a well-kept secret, is to be studied by a team of naturalists so powerful that their papers are accepted without peer review! Team members include Jessica Arcate, Edgardo Rivera, Tom Andres, and Rob Naczi all of whom do not accept the theory that Nature took the Cross-Bronx out of here long ago and have studied this Shangri-La now for several years. Blogger, Ann LaVigna, will track the minute by minute observations, moods, and findings of this team, expect that this expedition will be distratcted by the beetles, snails, moths, ants, slugs, and myriads of other animals they encounter in this refugia for the tiny. Follow them through the night on their blog.

The Gowanus Expedition. There is no historic precident for an expedition of artists. Period. Yet arising from Brooklyn's industrial underbelly (where all area artists are required to live) is a small band of thin, wane, post-beatnik interpreters of nature. Through elan rather than any special expeditiononary skill that would earn them a decent wage if they weren't artists, they will trace the route of the ancient (but certainly not quaint) Gowanus Canal where crickets and katydids engender a sort of a mini-penache to what others might just call ugly. Here they will do what the rest of us neglect, reflect upon not just the fact that Oracharis saltator occurs here as a data point, but occurs as a metaphor, a point of beauty, a short set of trills that lifts us as we walk home at night when we are tired. For this we should all support their expedition and their patron, the Proteus Gowanus Gallery. The PG team now has now brought in a Chilean strawbale earthplaster master blogger, Eric Hempstead, and you can follow their expedition on their blog.

The Moskowitz Expedition. While most of the orthopteran expeditions to the New York City area appear to be of the mind set that the best places to explore are the places with the most concrete, renegade Naturalist Dave Moskowitz has chosen a different land to conquer...EAST BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY. Woodlands and fields are known to still exist here, despite invasions by the kind of people who build large box-like shelters out of some sort of white shiny flexible material that appears to come from no known living thing. A social sort of expedition leader, Dave has invited along on his expedition all of the members from the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission. Another talent of Dave's is his ability to self-blog and so he will be his own blogger on his blog.

The Phillips Expedition. The only team to give itself a handle, the Counting Criketeers, have formed around their swashbuckling leader, Kim Phillips. Known as Kimsect by her crew (who, by the way, were press-ganged into service after being plyed into a rum induced stupor at a Calypso Bar in The Meat Packing District) she stikes fear in all who have ever crossed her path on one of her many cricket and katydid expeditions. In this same manner the Counting Criketeers will cut a wide swath from Tompkins Square Park up to Union Square Park stopping traffic enroute so that they can properly listen while they hunt for orthopteran treasures amidst the seedy districts they haunt. Serving at Kimsect's pleasure is the humble blogger Jen, who longs for the day in which she may escape her literary dungeon for the fair skies of cricket fame. Her faithful interpretations will be posted at Audubon's Perch.

The Runfola Expedition. Like a laser, The Runfola Expedition, is targeting one high value target: The Bronx River Forest. The BRF is but 0.51 acres, but contains that rare commodity - Old Intact Forests. So this poised and mobile team managed by Anne-Marie Runfola will be traveling light to seek their target: the elusive Common True Katydid. After hearing of their mighty neighbor the Botanical Garden's find of this species in their woods they are quietly tweeting their troops Bronx River Alliance in hopes of capturing some of the glory for their woodland!

The Explorer
Rudyard Kipling

"There's no sense in going further -- it's the edge of cultivation,"
   So they said, and I believed it -- broke my land and sowed my crop --
 Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
   Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop:
 
 Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
   On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated -- so:
 "Something hidden.  Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges --
   "Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and wating for you. Go!"
 
 So I went, worn out of patience; never told my nearest neighbours --
   Stole away with pack and ponies -- left 'em drinking in the town;
 And the faith that moveth mountains didn't seem to help my labours
   As I faced the sheer main-ranges, whipping up and leading down.
 
 March by march I puzzled through 'em, turning flanks and dodging shoulders,
   Hurried on in hope of water, headed back for lack of grass;
 Till I camped above the tree-line -- drifted snow and naked boulders --
   Felt free air astir to windward -- knew I'd stumbled on the Pass.
 
 'Thought to name it for the finder: but that night the Norther found me --
   Froze and killed the plains-bred ponies; so I called the camp Despair
 (It's the Railway Gap to-day, though). Then my Whisper waked to hound me: --
   "Something lost behind the Ranges.  Over yonder! Go you there!"
 
 Then I knew, the while I doubted -- knew His Hand was certain o'er me.
   Still -- it might be self-delusion -- scores of better men had died --
 I could reach the township living, but.... He knows what terror tore me...
   But I didn't... but I didn't. I went down the other side.
 
 Till the snow ran out in flowers, and the flowers turned to aloes,
   And the aloes sprung to thickets and a brimming stream ran by;
 But the thickets dwined to thorn-scrub, and the water drained to shallows,
   And I dropped again on desert -- blasted earth, and blasting sky....
 
 I remember lighting fires; I remember sitting by 'em;
   I remember seeing faces, hearing voices, through the smoke;
 I remember they were fancy -- for I threw a stone to try 'em.
   "Something lost behind the Ranges" was the only word they spoke.
 
 I remember going crazy. I remember that I knew it
 When I heard myself hallooing to the funny folk I saw.
 'Very full of dreams that desert, but my two legs took me through it...
 And I used to watch 'em moving with the toes all black and raw.
 
 But at last the country altered -- White Man's country past disputing --
   Rolling grass and open timber, with a hint of hills behind --
 There I found me food and water, and I lay a week recruiting.
   Got my strength and lost my nightmares.  Then I entered on my find.
 
 Thence I ran my first rough survey -- chose my trees and blazed and ringed 'em
--
   Week by week I pried and sampled -- week by week my findings grew.
 Saul he went to look for donkeys, and by God he found a kingdom!
   But by God, who sent His Whisper, I had struck the worth of two!
 
 Up along the hostile mountains, where the hair-poised snowslide shivers --
   Down and through the big fat marshes that the virgin ore-bed stains,
 Till I heard the mile-wide mutterings of unimagined rivers,
   And beyond the nameless timber saw illimitable plains!
 
 'Plotted sites of future cities, traced the easy grades between 'em;
   Watched unharnessed rapids wasting fifty thousand head an hour;
 Counted leagues of water-frontage through the axe-ripe woods that screen 'em
--
   Saw the plant to feed a people -- up and waiting for the power!
 
 Well, I know who'll take the credit -- all the clever chaps that followed --
   Came, a dozen men together -- never knew my desert-fears;
 Tracked me by the camps I'd quitted, used the water-holes I hollowed.
   They'll go back and do the talking. They'll be called the Pioneers!
 
 They will find my sites of townships -- not the cities that I set there.
   They will rediscover rivers -- not my rivers heard at night.
 By my own old marks and bearings they will show me how to get there,
   By the lonely cairns I builded they will guide my feet aright.
 
 Have I named one single river? Have I claimed one single acre?
   Have I kept one single nugget -- (barring samples)? No, not I!
 Because my price was paid me ten times over by my Maker.
   But you wouldn't understand it. You go up and occupy.
 
 Ores you'll find there; wood and cattle; water-transit sure and steady
   (That should keep the railway rates down), coal and iron at your doors.
 God took care to hide that country till He judged His people ready,
   Then He chose me for His Whisper, and I've found it, and it's yours!
 
 Yes, your "Never-never country" -- yes, your "edge of cultivation"
   And "no sense in going further" -- till I crossed the range to see.
 God forgive me! No, I didn't. It's God's present to our nation.
  Anybody might have found it, but -- His Whisper came to Me!

Katydids are not Optional

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