Swat finds: a definitive ranking

When the scavenger hunt finds you

Going to school in an arboretum certainly has its perks. Our proximity to nature makes it so that anyone has a fair shot of finding something cool. My love for show-and-tell hasn’t gone anywhere since kindergarten, but rather it has evolved into a love of photographing my findings to share with anyone who will look. You don’t have to venture far from your dorm to find a weird bug or an unfamiliar flower. There’s no need to make a list for a Swarthmore scavenger hunt — your discoveries will find you. I’ve decided to rank some of my most ~interesting~ findings. I will be be using the following criteria to inform my ratings:

Uniqueness: It’s not every day that you see a deer in front of your dorm (this has really happened) but some creatures are a dime a dozen. That said, the more usual suspects are in no way inferior to the entries in this article (keep doing you, bunnies!).  

Visual Impact: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and “visual impact” felt a lot more fitting for this essential category.

Wow factor: Distinct from visual impact, this category deals with an animal’s charisma. Bonus points for posing for the camera will be awarded! 

Now with that out of the way, it’s time for the rankings: 

Heart-shaped leaf

Uniqueness: Arboretum=trees=leaves everywhere Score: 1/5

Visual Impact: This leaf really stood out against the path and its heart-shaped design literally stopped me in my tracks. That said, it is just a leaf. Score: 3/5 

Wow factor: This leaf wasn’t even crunchy enough to step on, so deductions will be taken. That said, I have to give it props for pursuing its own path. Score: 2/5 

Final Score:  2/5

This Mushroom

Uniqueness: Swarthmore’s campus is home to a wide variety of mushrooms (with those at the Sharples salad bar being my favorite variety). That said, I’ve never seen a mushroom like this one. Score: 4/5

Visual Impact: Mushrooms aren’t necessarily renowned for their beauty. That said, this fun-gi is a feat of organic architecture. Score: 4/5

Wow Factor: This mushroom definitely stopped me in my tracks. That said, it didn’t have mush-room to really impress me. Score: 3/5  

Final Score: 3.6 

Spotted Lanternfly 

Uniqueness: When I met this little fella in Crum Woods, I had never seen anything like it before. That said, I have since met several of its friends and family on subsequent walks. Score: 3/5

Visual Impact: Black and white polka dots layered over a vibrant red scream haute couture. This little bug has given me major outfit inspiration. Score: 4/5

Wow Factor: This little guy landed on my friend and wouldn’t fly away, even as we oohed and ahhed. Score: 5/5 

Final Score: 4/5

Swallowtail Butterfly 

Uniqueness: One huge perk of being surrounded by flowers is the butterflies (this perk almost outweighs the sneezing!). That said, I haven’t seen many swallowtails before. Score: 4/5  

Visual Impact: I love butterflies, and I love the way this one staged its portrait among these striking purple flowers. Score: 5/5 

Wow Factor: Did I mention that I love butterflies? Score: 5/5 

Final Score: 4.7/5 

Red-tailed hawk 

Uniqueness: I don’t know about you, but it isn’t every day that I make acquaintance with a red-tailed hawk. Score: 5/5 

Visual Impact: This was truly a majestic bird both in air and on land. I mean, look at that stance! That bird can pose. Score: 4/5

Wow Factor: Making prolonged eye contact with a red-tailed hawk is an experience I will never forget. This bird stayed within my vicinity for over ten minutes! That’s a friendship invite if I’ve ever seen one. Score: 5/5 

Final Score: 4.7/5 

This Toad 

Uniqueness: If you enter the Crum Woods, you’re bound to see toads. Toads on campus walking paths are a little bit more rare. I spotted this one on my way to my dorm (and was honestly a bit startled!). I have personally never seen a toad this large, so additional points will be awarded for scale. Score 5/5 

Visual Impact: “Visually impactful” is exactly the pair of words I’d use to describe this toad. Score: 5/5  

Wow Factor: This toad did not flinch, even as I squatted to take a close-up portrait. Extra points will be awarded for being found at night. Score: 5/5 

Final Score: 5/5 

Congratulations, Mr. Toad! You won this competition without even being aware that you were participating. Very impressive if I do say so myself. 

I hope you enjoyed getting acquainted with some of our neighbors as much as I enjoyed arbitrarily ranking them. I can’t wait to add more unusual findings to my photo collection!   


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