Author: Campbell, Bruce

Grass Valley Field Guide, Second Edition

Last year, I pointed out that the annual Father’s Day Festival was not just a great place for pickin’ and grinnin’. It’s also a great place to enjoy observing some of the unique fauna only found at Bluegrass Festivals. I presented a handy Field Guide to some of these Grass Valley denizens, to wit:

* The Thick-Skinned Jambuster (Inappropriatus Usurptus)
* The Festival Dandy (Exoticus Finerium)
* The Aluminum Apartmentite (Winnebagus Wanderum)
* The Patchouli Wood Sprite (Dreadlockus Hirsutis)
* The Spam Campers (Hormeli Brandlicus)

I know a lot of folks kept their eyes peeled at Father’s Day 2009 and crossed these species off in their books. A few folks also reported spotting some new species, and we’re going to share these with you now, and increase your biological observations next month while at the 2010 Father’s Day Festival.

The Two-Tune Jamhopper (Flitterus Monosongica) – Not an uncommon species, but it takes some time and effort to spot them. At first, they are difficult to distinguish from many other local fauna, but look carefully for the telltale behavior: flitting from jam to jam, and always suggesting the same two songs. Their call is often tuneful and melodious, but it never varies from the two song repertoire.The Southpawed Bower Bird (Tanktoppus Fiddlerum) - One of the rarest of all species in the area, but is generally spotted at least once each summer. While their numbers are small, the brightly colored plumage and refusal to play anything in the key of B reveals their location every time. Experienced stalkers of this species also know to listen for the strains of “T is for Texas” to get a chance to glimpse this affable Grass Valley dweller.

The Still-Bottomed Chairsquatter (Steadfastus Inertia) – This creature is thought to be related to barnacles or starfish, yet lives on land exclusively. Grass Valley has one of the largest populations of this species, and they vary greatly in appearance, but share the common characteristic of planting themselves into a chair early in the weekend, and then remaining in that chair for the duration of the festival. There are two main varieties – one type attaches itself to a particular camp and sticks there, and emits a wide variety of calls, while the other type prefers to be anchored to a lawn chair in the main stage area, and communicates mainly by clapping or cheering sounds.

The Bentbacked Bassbug (Hernius Sisyphus) – This lumbering organism seems to be increasing in numbers, although it’s a mystery why this would be so. Like hairshirt wearing monks, the Bassbugs seem to revel in suffering. They strap huge, heavy instruments to their backs, and trudge all over the Nevada County Fairgrounds, looking for jams to feed upon. They do perform a valuable service for the ecology of the jamming, which sounds instantly better once the Bassbug joins in. Often, the other species in the jam will take pity on the Bassbug and offer food and drink to the wretched creature, in a heartwarming display of interspecies symbiosis.

The Midnight Grillbird (Cheesicus Snackiii) – Another species that seems to serve a symbiotic need for the Grass Valley ecology, the Grillbird is entirely nocturnal. It remains out of sight during the day, and only becomes active around midnight, when it fires up a campstove and instinctively makes grilled cheese sandwiches. The maternal instinct seems to drive this behavior, and other nocturnal species will flock around the Grillbird nest to receive sandwiches, which recharge their energy for a night of foraging for jams. What does the Midnight Grillbird get out of the arrangement? Biologists are puzzled.

I can’t wait to get out there and start the Wildlife Watching!

Posted:  5/19/2010

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