|Recommended Field Equipment|
|1. Screening box - Made of pre-cut pine boards, nailed together to form a frame. Hardware cloth or screening is nailed securely to the bottom (and sides) using "A" nails. One-quarter inch hardware cloth is recommended, but smaller or larger screening can be used. Just remember that the smaller screen will catch more, so less can be loaded into the screen. Conversely, the larger screening is going to allow more of the sediment and other debris through the screen but will also let the smaller fossils through as well. Painting or waterproofing the wood can be done to make the wooden frame of the screen last longer. To make the screening box a little more portable and easier to use, rope handles can be nailed to the sides. The screening box can be as large or small as needed. One half to one meter (about 1.5 to 3 feet) square is recommended. This should allow adequate surface area to search for fossils. A large spaghetti strainer can be purchased at the local supermarket will be helpful in the recovery of the smaller fossils and for children to use.
2. Trowel or shovel - A regular garden trowel or an Army trench shovel works the best. A large long handled garden spade can also be used but may be cumbersome and heavy to carry.
3. Specimen and equipment containers - Empty 35 mm film containers, pill bottles, small plastic peanut butter jars, or even zip lock bags work well. Anything will work, as long as it can be sealed. If it is accidentally dropped, the fossils will not fall all over the place, especially back into the stream. No glass containers! They may break. A small to large (5-gallon) pail is useful for carrying other equipment (and hopefully large finds).
4. Field attire - Blue jeans seem to work the best to protect the legs from stickers and climbing over or under downed trees. Blue jeans also do not soak up water much above the actual water level and dry out quickly. Shorts are not recommended because of the lack of protection. No bare feet or flip-flops! There is sometimes glass and other sharp objects in the stream. A cheap pair of sneakers, old boots or hip waders works well. Wear a pair of old socks as well as they will probably get stained. The rest of the attire will depend on the season and weather. A hat is also recommended for those who sunburn easily.
5. Miscellaneous - A dry pair of socks and sneakers is recommended for the ride home. A jug of water to rinse off dirty feet and a towel to dry off is also helpful. During the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall the mosquitoes and ticks are out, so bring some bug repellent. One should be especially careful of the deer tick, which is rather abundant in the Monmouth County woods. They are very small and may cause Lyme Disease. Liberal use of bug repellent, wearing jeans instead of shorts, and avoiding the woods should be enough protection.
6. Safety - The most important item to bring along on any collecting trip is your mind. The authors cannot stress safety enough. The streambed unfortunately contains a small amount of glass, so watch where hands and feet are placed. Bring a small first aid kit on any collecting trip. Watch for auto traffic on the road between your car and the bridge and try to walk close to the curb. Watch for over hangs on the top of some of the bluffs over the stream because they may not be stable. Learn to "read" the stream. Slow moving water usually means deep water, sometimes above the waist. The formation banks are sometimes steep and slippery, especially when wet. Someone should keep an eye on the weather during the time at the brook. If heavy rain occurs, leave the stream immediately. The water level can rise surprisingly quickly, even in light rain. Above all use common sense!
|How to use the equipment and where the look|
|The nature of this locality makes the recovery of fossils relatively easy. A screening box and shovel are used to recover fossils from the streambed or the gravel and sandbanks. Simply dig into the streambed or the gravel banks and load it into the screening box. Then sift in the stream to remove the sand and look through the gravel for the fossils. If holes are dug in the gravel banks, please fill them in when done so other collectors do not fall into them.
After a good rainstorm, the surface of the gravel banks can be scanned for fossils that were deposited during the flash floods, especially on point bars (where most fossils accumulate). This requires the least amount of equipment and work.
The fossils can also be recovered from the formation banks. When the fossils are in formation it is referred to as being in situ. Down stream from the Hillsdale Road bridge, there are several formation banks that contain several oyster beds that can be seen and collected in situ.
In some locations the wooded areas on either side of the stream may be private property and posted, so stay within the stream.
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