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Todd Bruce

Adventures of an Amateur Naturalist in Mexico: The Imperial Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Revisited (NOW AVAILABLE)

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Adventures of an Amateur Naturalist in Mexico: The Imperial Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Revisited (NOW AVAILABLE)

Front cover of the newly released booklet authored in part by  The Devil’s Road  producer Todd Bruce

Front cover of the newly released booklet authored in part by The Devil’s Road producer Todd Bruce

Adventures of an Amateur Naturalist in Mexico: The Imperial Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Revisited

BY TODD BRUCE AND GEORGE B. WINTON

Buried deep within the archives of the Smithsonian Institution, a never-before-seen document was discovered by a team of film producers conducting research. This eight-page manuscript details the account of amateur naturalist and journalist George B. Winton, on expedition in the remote mountain ranges of Mexico’s interior.

Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman, two of America’s greatest naturalists, were dispatched to Mexico in January of 1892 under the employ of the U. S. Biological Survey. The pair’s assignment was to better understand this remote region of North America, providing studies on its flora and fauna and their corresponding geographical distribution. The findings of these field surveys were unprecedented, and would later be foundational to a conservation movement that helped solidify the work of conservationists like John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gifford Pinchot.

In October of 1892, Nelson and Goldman made a particularly important stop in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, where they were joined by George B. Winton for an expedition into the Nahuatzen mountain range. It was on this collecting trip that the group came across, for the first time, several individuals of the world’s largest woodpecker: the imperial ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis).

Winton’s written account excellently portrays the mindset of the naturalist in the late nineteenth century, and provides a rare, detailed record of the sighting and the behavior of this fascinating and relatively unknown bird.

Paperback: 28 pages
Publisher: Black Swift Press (September 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0991450398
Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.1 x 10 inches

 

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Guest Blog: "The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 9

Guest Blog by Lauri Bruce

Today marks the last day we will be traveling with JT and Todd.  Tomorrow Wayne and Eric will drive us back to San Felipe and Scott and I will wing our way to Sedona, and then home to Maryland.

What is it like traveling with five Bruce men, you may ask (one father-in-law, two brother-in-laws, a nephew, and my husband)? It has to be experienced to be believed. Much as JT tries to deny it, they are all cut from a similar bolt of cloth.  These are five of the most opinionated, high-energy, full-of-themselves men I’ve ever met. Yet, I wouldn’t want to go on an adventure with anyone else.  They challenge me to laugh at myself, be brave, and live life to the fullest.  Whether we are deep in a political discussion, comparing adventure stories, or one upping one another with who-done-its, these are the guys you want at your back.  Loyal to a fault and when you need them as loving and caring as any group you will find. So this is how I found myself on the fourth day of high adventure with the Devil’s Road crew at Mike’s Sky Ranch.

From left to right: Scott, Lauri, Wayne, Todd and JT

From left to right: Scott, Lauri, Wayne, Todd and JT

Today, after a breakfast of more beans and tortillas, salsa and scrambled eggs Mexican style, we set out on day two of the search for Nelson’s trout.  The day started out warm with clear blue skies.  Once again I over-packed as we had no idea what to expect weather wise.  I’m really glad it was warm and sunny.  Through broken English and bad Spanish on Todd’s part, we got the info that the higher up the stream we went the better the fishing.  Worms where suggested, as was a Zebco retractable spinning rod, but being the fly fishing purists we are, we used royal humpies and tufted grasshoppers. 

We hiked about an hour, fishing riffles and pools along the way and finally made it to the head of the stream with a lovely waterfall in a little canyon. 

I’m pretty sure Scott gave me a crappy fly and it was the reason I couldn’t catch a dang thing. Todd of course was pulling them in left, right, and center. Eric landed a large specimen that was a perfect match to the painting we had as a reference.  JT was kept busy hopping from pool to pool to film.  I gave up and went to do some drawing.  Filming was about as successful as the fishing.  For me some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug.

Scott came, gathered me up, and gave me his rod. I immediately caught a fish (see, I told you!) that may have been the largest of the day. We continued a day of catch and release, as the Nelson’s trout is rare and the population small. It was fun all around, and as we made our way back downstream the fish became non-existent. 

We stopped in the shade for a wonderful lunch and rest before heading back to Mike’s Sky Ranch. Scott, Eric, and I fished along the way and wandered back enjoying the amazing scenery.  The evidence of a fire and the renewed growth was inspiring.  We waded across the creek and cooled the toes in the rapidly rushing water. 

Back at the ranch, Gramps had met a new friend, Ted.  Ted is a 76-year-old dirt biker.  Yea, I feel like a wimp.  He was joined a bit later by three of his buddies who had been at the observatory while Ted waited at Mike’s.  When they joined us poolside they started their tales of adventures and it quickly became apparent to Todd and JT that taking their proposed route the next day would be impossible.  Ted’s friend, who was undoubtedly the guy with the most experience, looked at them like they were crazy.  And trust me if these guys said it was crazy, it was something you should pay attention to.  Scott, Todd, and JT hiked up the road a bit after that and made the command decision to change plans.  The mother in me was grateful.  With two months on the road, unnecessary risks make no sense.

So how is it to travel with these wild and crazy guys?  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I’ve been in this family for 36 years and we have been through a lot together—joy, sorrow, tears, and laugher, weddings, births, deaths, and a lot of beers under the bridge. Guys, I love you one and all.  Let’s not wait so long for the next big adventure.