2003-2004 Pittsburg High School

Hastings Natural History Reservation

The Hastings Natural History Reservation is a Biological Field Station of the University of California. It is set in the open foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the upper Carmel Valley where habitats include oak woodland, streams, hillsides with dense chaparral, and abandoned agricultural fields, covering about 2,000 acres.

Half of Ms. Grisham’s Pittsburg High School Environmental Science class visited Hastings on April 30-May 2, 2004; the other half went on May 7-9, 2004.


On the way to Hastings, both groups stopped at the Carmel River, where they sampled aquatic insects in riffle, backwater, and pool habitats. They identified caddisfly and damselfly larvae, water boatmen, water striders, Western Toads, Bullfrog tadpoles, and a freshwater eel, among other animals.

A bullfrog tadpole was one of many exciting catches of the afternoon.

Students waded in the Carmel River and sampled aquatic insects using various types of nets . . . or bare hands!

On Saturday, students worked in small groups with the Grad Student Fellows to learn about the common plants and vertebrates of oak woodland habitats and the foraging strategies of different insects. They practiced navigating with compasses and GPS units, wrote field journal descriptions about a Dusky-footed Wood Rat nest, and set live traps to survey the small mammals found along Big Creek.

Anya, Kulvir, and Sabrina identify plant samples.

Students use binoculars to observe and identify local birds.

Joliet practices using a spotting scope to watch Acorn Woodpeckers.

Students made plaster casts of deer and bobcat tracks found along Big Creek.

A team of students takes a compass bearing near the barn.

That compass bearing guided them to the nest of a Dusky-footed Wood Rat, shown here by Emily.

Dr. Walter Koenig, a resident scientist, has been studying the breeding biology of Acorn Woodpeckers for over 20 years. Here he demonstrates how he checks the nests of Acorn Woodpeckers to monitor their breeding behavior.

On Sunday students collected their traps and identified the mammals they caught before releasing them back to their original habitats. Students also sampled insects with sweep nets to compare the species diversity in plots of native and exotic grasses.

A released Peromyscus mouse gets her bearings.

Tina identifies an insect she captured.

The students met many new “friends” while visiting Hastings.

Roberto caught a Western Fence Lizard using a noose made of dental floss.

Veronica holds a Gopher Snake.

A Sharp-tailed Snake curls around a students’ fingers.

Other Resources

For more information about the Hastings Natural History Reservation, please see the park's website: http://www.hastingsreserve.org

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