350 Species...and so much more

What We Did On Our Book Tour Today 
by kimberly kaufman 

We began our day in Portland, Maine, where we did a radio show by phone with Jack Holcomb from Jack's Backyard on WEEU in Reading, PA. We then headed northwest towards North Conway, New Hampshire, where we led a nature walk at 3:00 PM sponsored by Tin Mountain Conservation Center.  Following the walk, we gave a program and book signing at White Birch Books

---And it was AWESOME!  

The radio show was great, the walk at Whittaker Woods was incredible, and the program tonight at White Birch Books was really fun. It was such a pleasure to meet Laura Lucy, owner of this lovely store. 

Our walk today was a real highlight of the trip for us, for a number of reasons.  
When we arrived for our walk, we were at 339 species, having picked up British Soldier Lichen and an Ichneumon Wasp at an information center just south of North Conway.  We hadn't set any high hopes for finding lots of things on the walk this afternoon as we'd never hiked these particular trails and had no idea what to expect.  And besides, we really just wanted to enjoy being outside with nice people on a gorgeous day.  

I love-love-love British Soldier Lichen!  
It's like a little world growing on top of this stump! 

The trails at Whittaker Woods are beautiful.  
On one section, the path perfectly frames a stunning view of Mount Washington. 
The photo doesn't do the view justice,
but you can see the pinnacle of Mount Washington in the distance.

While we hadn't set our expectations high, as soon as we set foot in the woods we started finding new and wonderful things for our 350 species list.  Partridgeberry, Yellow Birch, Indian Pipe, and American Witch-hazel. 
Bracken Fern, Common Juniper, and under a rotting log, this adorable creature...
...a Red-backed Salamander!
Oh, I was just so tickled to share this with everyone.  Many of the people on our walk had never seen a salamander, despite the fact that they walk these trails on a regular basis.  What fun to introduce them to their special little "neighbor!" 

The species kept coming: Red Pine, Bigtooth Aspen, and Beech Drops. It wasn't long before we realized that we were just one species away from 350! And then, in the fading light of late afternoon, in the shadows of a giant White Pine,  we found the lingering leaves of Starflower -- and we had done it!   350 species in 12 days - and in the midst of an ambitious book tour, no less!  

Our group of new friends pauses to celebrate our 
350 species accomplishment with us! 

Nature is so accommodating, so giving, so bountiful.  We needn't travel to pristine wilderness to find nature's gifts.  They are everywhere. On the edge of parking lots where the tough and rangy wildflowers refuse to yield.  Along the highways where Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels eke out a living.  Outside a school yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a class of 6th graders discovered the lovely heart-shaped leaves of Shepherd's Purse. At the lights of the local convenience store where interesting moths and insects frequently gather. There is treasure out there - if we just go out looking for it. 

This quest for 350 species was nothing more than a silly game, of course, but it got us out there looking and searching at every opportunity. And ultimately, we found more than just the species we needed to reach our goal. We found hope and joy and new friends. And we learned a lot, too.  As my favorite person in the universe once said, "It's good to go on a quest. But it's better to go with an open mind. The most important thing we find might not be the thing we were seeking." 


  1. Well done! Your challenge made it all the more fun to follow your book tour.

  2. Thanks so much, Robert! It's been fun to share this experience with everyone. The pressure to reach 350 species is off now, but we're still going to try and get out a bit each day to see what else we might encounter!

  3. Bravo! you two for hitting your mark of 350. I look forward to all extra things you find along your book tour. Marvelous to see you both in CT. Have a great time on your last leg of your trip! Travel safe.

  4. Well done! We are big fans of yours, here in Michigan.

    On Nov 3, there was a brown Pelican in Lake Erie just off Marblehead Lighthouse. Awesome. just wanted to let you know.

    Julia B


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