Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rock Flipping Day coming up!

It's that time of year again; here in the north, the summer heat is dissipating, the rains are coming (YMMV). Back-to-school sale flyers are showing up in our mailboxes. And the rocks are beckoning!

It's time for the annual International Rock Flipping Day (IRFD), this year as usual, on the second Sunday of September, the 13th.

I love rock flipping day, in part because people find classes and even subphyla of critters that they've never encountered before. (Sara Rall, commenting after last year's RFD.)

No-one has volunteered to host it this year, so we're back here for another year.

I'm getting lazy: I'll post, again, the instructions and history as before.


Rock Flipping Day was started by Dave Bonta and Bev Wigney in 2007. The idea is simple; in Dave's words,
... we pick a day for everybody to go outside — go as far as you have to — and flip over a rock (or two, or three). We could bring our cameras and take photos, film, sketch, paint, or write descriptions of whatever we find. It could be fun for the whole family!

37 bloggers joined in that first September.

On 9/2/2007, people flipped rocks on four continents on sites ranging from mountaintops to urban centers to the floors of shallow seas. Rock-flippers found frogs, snakes, and invertebrates of every description, as well as fossils and other cool stuff.


If you're joining in for the first time, here's a quick rundown of the procedure.

  • On or about September 13th, find your rock or rocks and flip it/them over. 
  • Record what you find. "Any and all forms of documentation are welcome: still photos, video, sketches, prose, or poetry." 
  • Replace the rock as you found it; it's someone's home. 
  • Post on your blog, or load your photos to the Flickr group. (Even if you don't have a blog, you can join.) 
  • Send me a link. Or you can add a comment to any IRFD post. 
  • I will collect the links, e-mail participants the list, and post it for any and all to copy to your own blogs. (If you're on Twitter, Tweet it, too; the hashtag is #rockflip.) 
  • There is a handy badge available for your blog, here. (Or copy it from this post.) 

Important Safety Precautions:

A caution from Dave:

One thing I forgot to do in the initial post is to caution people about flipping rocks in poisonous snake or scorpion habitat. In that case, I’d suggest wearing gloves and/or using a pry bar — or simply finding somewhere else to do your flipping. Please do not disturb any known rattlesnake shelters if you don’t plan on replacing the rocks exactly as you found them. Timber rattlesnakes, like many other adult herps, are very site-loyal, and can die if their homes are destroyed. Also, don’t play with spiders. If you disturb an adjacent hornet nest (hey, it’s possible), run like hell. But be sure to have someone standing by to get it all on film!

About Respect and Consideration:

The animals we find under rocks are at home; they rest there, sleep there, raise their families there. Then we come along and take off the roof, so please remember to replace it carefully. Try not to squish the residents; move them aside if they're big enough; they'll run back as soon as their rock is back in place.

Previous Rock Flipping Days:

  • 2007 (In the halls of the mountain millipede) 
  • 2008 (IRFD #2) 
  • 2009 (The early bird gets the worm.) 
  • 2010 (Mongoose Poop?) 
  • 2011 (We Haz Critters) 
  • 2012 (Great Expectations) 
  • 2013 (And in 2013, I totally forgot until it was too late. Never again!) 
  • 2014 (At the Edge of the Ordinary) 

Last year, a total of 18 Rock Flippers posted their findings; a collection of four-, six-, eight-, and multi-legged critters. What will we find this year? Put it on your calendar, go flip some rocks, and we'll see!

Random stones, White Rock beach

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