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Grass Flats


The journals of Ralph Bernard Simpson are a meticulous documentation of his scientific observations of 218 species of bird life in Warren County, Pennsylvania, with additional observations of bird life at Presque Isle Peninsula, Erie, Pennsylvania. Ralph B. Simpson was a wildlife expert and a remarkable naturalist, particularly of the avian realm.

His observations of nature are so complete that it appears some years were spent entirely in the field surveying and collecting. R.B. Simpson puts it best:

“A few of my notes were taken prior to 1890, but mostly since. During the 1890s, also 1901-02-03 and 1904, I seldom missed being out a morning during the spring migrations in March, April, and May, and whenever there was anything like a flight I usually spent the day down the river. In this way I got very complete migration notes, especially in regards to dates of first arrivals and last seen.”

Simpson knew the terrain he traveled in great detail, and his uncommon powers of observation regarding nature were astounding. Simpson began honing these skills as a young man. At the time of his birth there were only 37 states in the Union—Ralph B. Simpson was born November 20, 1874, in Reading, Pennsylvania. He moved to Warren, Pennsylvania, with his family at the age of five.

The wild lands which became known as Grass Flats were the favored haunt of Ralph B. Simpson, a wildlife expert and a remarkable naturalist.

Ralph Bernard Simpson


Author's Note: (use canoe image here)

It is the author's intention that Grass Flats brings recognition to the life works of Ralph Bernard Simpson. It is also hoped that the information contained in the journals will benefit those working to preserve the natural world—and those recognizing the need for wild places. Simpson recognized early on, before there were any popular movements, that species became rare, some even extinct, through man’s destruction of habitat. He understood, as W.E. Clyde Todd believed, that education is the best way to do something for bird life.

Excerpts from the journals that are presented here were selected more for their narrative quality and subtle glimpse into the nature of the man who wrote them, rather than strictly scientific observation which are detailed and abundant.



“I have always found the Quail tame and easily approached. In my opinion the Quail is a fine, cheery, sociable bird, and I fail to see any pleasure or sport in killing it.”

~ Ralph Simpson