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Arundel Field Notes #3: 4/28/01
Well, it's next week already! My how time flies!
For a change of pace, I decided to make a Saturday trek to the site. The
weather had been fantastic all week with cool-warm, sunny days. I could just
'taste' those fossils baking on the outcrop, waiting for me to pick them up!
I awoke early and decided to make a full day of it. There were a number of
things on my itinerary to do while I was there but I did not get to them all.
And despite what the weather man had predicted (i.e. 80's for a high), I
awoke to a blustery (15-20 MPH, NW winds), and a quite chilly morning -- only
in the upper 40's peaking by quitting time to barely 65 with the winds still
quite strong. However it was sunny and almost cloudless all day.
The drive up the ~3/4 mile long winding dirt road to the site is quite
beautiful considering the fact that urban sprawl is now all around! The
quarry owners opened up a few settling ponds in the older parts of the
quarry. These ponds have really been a boon for the local wildlife. Some of
these ponds are flanked by natural swamps which these ponds and their man
made feeder streams and overflows now feed. Year round now, I have flocks of
Canada Geese and mallard ducks making the place home. On this trip, I even
noticed a Canada goose hen sitting on her nest right beside one of these
ponds, her mate was just a short distance away and keeping a close eye on my
truck as it motored on up the road. A box tortoise was basking in the sun
nearby. Fox buzz by and occasionally stop to bark at me when they notice me.
Deer sign is everywhere including on the fossil site. Red tail hawks are off
in the distance issuing challenges to competing males and/or calls of love to
potential mates. One of them even uses the scarp atop the breakfast bench to
dine and I often find bits of rodent carcass strewn around there. And the
most comical wildlife noted are the turkey vultures. nearly every trip,
without fail but especially during the summer months, these birds circle over
head while I am crawling or lying face down picking fossils. I can see their
large, looming shadows they cast streaking by me on the ground. They think I
am either dead or dying! Or, maybe they are just hoping. I'd hate to
accidentally doze off up there!
The site has now virtually fully dried and drained out. The erosion channels
were almost completely dry except for underneath large rocks and boulders and
below ~2-3" of the surface. These are ideal conditions for collecting surface
float if there are any to be had!
I spent most of this trip's allotted time prospecting in areas that I did not
get to on last trip. One drawback I have now noticed since "expanding" the
areal extent of the outcrop is that where it once took me about 5 hours to
decently prospect the entire site, now that is not enough. based on the time
it takes to prospect the newly opened parts of the site (2-3 hrs) , I
estimate it would take 8+ hours now to do the whole quarry! This is far too
much time given all my other constraints. I now have resolved to do this in
two parts (visits) per week where possible and pick up where I left off on
the previous outing. Next trip is scheduled for after work on Wednesday (my
birthday!) with follow ups on Sunday morning (after another graveyard shift
at my "day" job) or the next day. Long range weather forecasts warm and dry
conditions! Let's hope they are reasonably accurate!
Quantitatively speaking, about as much material were recovered as had been on
previous outings. A rather _low_ amount. At least I did recover a few things!
I usually always do and have not been skunked in years of hunting there!
No fresh sign of poacher activity either!
Of the finds resulting from this trip the most salient finds of this day are
two croc teeth; 1 small <1/4" long and a larger one about 1" long. After
several hours of crawling on sharp rocks, I wrapped up the prospecting
portion of the trip. While I still had the energy left to do it, I also
bagged up about 5 burlap bags of matrix from our 1997 Discovery Channel dig
that will be wet screened and picked for microverts later this year. As
conditions were now very dry at the site, I was able to drive my truck up the
newly cut "road" onto our newly created "breakfast bench." This was also a
planned for by product of expanding the site and it brought me to within 50
ids of the dig area and at about the same level. it makes my job allot easier
especially in light of the fact that >90% of the time I am there alone!
After completing this task and loading up the truck, it was time to head
home. I had wanted to remap the site using my GPS, a laptop, and recently
repaired Brunton transit but I was fairly well wiped out by then. I will give
it another go this weekend.
Also during the week, I received a phone call from a woman working for PBS
who wants to do a video shoot at my site for a kiddy show on paleontology
that she tells me regularly airs. I have never heard of it but I will
certainly look out for it now. I have been busy coordinating this with the
quarry operator and her. They expect to shoot later this week. More details
on this when I get them.
thanks M. B-S for the referral!
1) 2 Croc teeth cf. 'Goniopholis'
2) A number of nondescript bone fragments
3) 2 small, ~1" segments of bone resembling either gastralia, ribs or
possibly ossified tendon.
4) 10 Taxodiaceous cones
Thomas R. Lipka