May 1, 1833
1 May: Early in the morning, rain; sky very dark and overcast. The forest dripping with water. Last evening a swarm of flashing insects (Lampyris) had been seen flying in it. This morning, wood ducks (Anas sponsa) came very close to us, as [did] a Tringa like the one we obtained yesterday. Swallows of two kinds had arrived in great numbers and flew around the ship. We saw large, numerous groups of them; they had just arrived. At 7:30, 65 1/2°F [18.6°C]. On the nearby trees, one saw flights of blackbirds. Despite the extraordinary wetness, one heard shots from our hunters ringing from various directions throughout the forest. The river had fallen even more during the night. The clerk soon returned with four wood ducks he had shot. About noon, no more rain, but dark overcast sky. Interesting plants were brought in, including a Convallaria.
At twelve o’ clock, 71°F [21.7°C]. The direction of the river at the place where we were situated was W 5 S. The forest in our area now stood in the full beauty of its springtime apparel. Swarms of swallows suddenly flew around us. They seemed not to have arrived in flights until now and were of two different varieties: a large one and a small one. At noon we no longer saw them; they had disappeared. The pilot brought in a wild goose. The big osprey and the common raven were flying around us. Dreidoppel had lured the latter with the bird call for the European common raven; unfortunately, the man who shot at it failed to hit it.
At 12:30 a heavy catfish (white catfish) got caught on one of our fishing lines; another one tore off the strong line. Soon a second catfish, somewhat heavier still (the first weighed 60, this one 65 pounds), got caught, and then the largest of all, weighing about 100 pounds. This one had the torn-off hook in its jaws, with which it had returned to feed. In its stomach and in those of the others [we] found large pieces of pork, chicken bones, goose feet (refuse from the ship), the extremities of a raccoon, big bones, and the entire gill system of a large fish (see Natural History Diary). The white catfish grows this large only on the lower Missouri; farther upstream, only smaller ones are caught. Its white color underneath and the light blue-grayish [color] on its upper parts have provided the fish its name. The length of the largest fish caught was 53 3/4 inches. Its body was very thick, the belly swollen, and the head very broad and smooth with eight whiskers around its mouth. A great many leeches had attached themselves by suction to its gill openings. Soon a smaller catfish with an olive-brownish color on its upper parts was also caught. All these fish were attracted by the considerable refuse from our kitchen.
In the afternoon a new storm came up in the west. Dreidoppel returned at just the right time. He had shot but not retrieved a rabbit. He had seen a shrew and heard a new bird call. The captain went out and found a deer antler. The face of the man who had touched the Rhus radicans was still very thickly swollen today. Food, consisting of pork and corn, was [taken] to the fifteen woodcutters on the other side of the river during the heaviest rain. Mr. Bodmer returned from the hunt soaked by the rain; he had not been able to shoot anything. Toward evening the sky cleared somewhat in the west; we have reason to expect good weather tomorrow. Of the few birds in the nearby forest, we obtained nothing except the Fringilla erythrophthalma, which is common here.