I've been interested in natural history since the early 1980's.  My introduction was going on hikes in the Shenandoah National Park with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC).   It's a great way to see the woods, get some good exercise, meet interesting people, and and wonder what all these things were that I was seeing.  Soon, I started buying the Peterson Field Guides.  Then, I found out about the local Audubon Naturalists Society (ANS, NOT the National Audubon Society) and the Natural History Field Studies Program, cosponsored by  the ANS with the USDA Graduate School.  Suddenly, the world of nature was being laid out before me.  What tremendous resources exist here in the metropolitan Washington, DC area for anyone interested in natural history!  Excellent instructors, class selections and a great way to meet people of similar interests.  Not only was I able to find classes that taught me about the "real world", but I was introduced to many unique natural places that I never knew were so close at hand.  From PATC's many excellent hiking guides of the region, to Mark Garland's Watching Nature, A Mid-Atlantic Natural History and Cris Fleming's Finding Wildflowers in the Washington-Baltimore Area (co-authored with Marion Lobstein and Barbara Tufty), there's no shortage of great places to go or seasonal guides telling you where to find the regions' many natural resources.  

Shortly, I began leading monthly hikes for the PATC, calling them 'natural history hikes'.  Sometime in the early 1990's, I started taking notes once I got back home from hiking or camping trips, listing the plants and animals that I had seen. It would help me to learn the various plants or salamanders or whatever, and it was a way to provide a record of what, when, and where I saw these things.

Then, getting my first home computer in the mid 1990's.  I started sending out my field trip notes by email to some of my PATC friends.  Eventually, the webmaster for PATC, Andy Hiltz, asked me if he could post these notes on the PATC website.   Thus, the beginning of Bob Pickett's Trail and Field Notes.   

Then, there was the 1995 Appalachian Trail Conference, hosted by our own PATC.  In another case of a project expanding far beyond the original plans, I organized 64 hikes with hike leaders from the GW National Forest, the ANS and the Virginia Native Plant Society among others, and put together a booklet called "
Natural History Guide to Common Woody Plants of the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park

I even got into writing up some of the more interesting trips I had gone on for the PATC newsletter.  (These, and a few other trips, can be viewed as other natural history-related articles.)

Over the decade of the 90's, I accumulated about two file drawers of ripped-out articles from periodicals on natural history subjects.  And what an interesting bit of information was there.  Why not put all these articles in my computer, organized in phylogenetic order, and be able to reference them, first, by the six kingdoms (plants, animals, fungi, monera, protista and archaebacteria), and then further by phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.  

So, I started with the mammals file, and summarized all my articles by family.  But, I found there were many missing subjects; many species that I had no articles about.  I figured I'd add some information from the Peterson Field Guides on mammals and mammal tracks that I owned.  Then I added the Stoke's books.  Then, I thought I should add the several books on mammals that I had in my library.  Then, it seemed only appropriate to see if the public library had any good books that could add to my files.  And then, why not talk to some of the state game commission staffs and get some information from them on these animals, and, by the way, did they recommend any good reference books that I should be reviewing? My petal was to the metal, and I was off with it, wherever it took me.

Three, four winters later (or has it really been five?), it's time to stop.  Time to get this out on the web. 

I've actually enjoyed putting this together.  As you can see by the links, this project has taken me in many different directions.  The state game harvests was extremely interesting.  Just seeing how many little critters are "harvested" each year is awesome.  And every furbearer biologist assures me that our hunting has little effect on the populations.  In fact, many say,  please take more, so as to minimize disease and weakening of the local populations.  

And, definitely, if you've read this far, you need to check out the article about John James Audubon's efforts to duplicate his bird work in the field of North American mammals.  I attempted to present enough anecdotal stories to give you a flavor of life on the frontier of our country in the mid 1800's. It really wasn't that long ago.

Try the Other Links, Mammal and Carnivore Evolution.  It's all great stuff, at least to me. 

I hope you'll find the same is true for you.  That's why I've put this together.

FINAL NOTES:  I've put this together over a long period of time, with no proofreaders, no editors or critics, other than myself.  PLEASE,  if you see any errors, or things that don't make sense, let me know.  I will be continually updating this website. 

My email address is pickett@us.net    Or, you can call me at (303) 636-8744. 

Sincerely, Bob Pickett