Howard G. Smith, Hunting Tiny Creatures

Heather from Beloved Books introduced these to me years ago, and what fun they are! Howard G. Smith's two books combine vivid stories of high adventure with tracking guides for each creature, including common and scientific names, physical descriptions, and habitats. The books are well-illustrated by Anne Marie Jauss.

Tracking the Unearthly Creatures of Marsh and Pond--

If you enjoy science fiction stories about strange creatures prowling the foggy marshes of distant worlds, you are probably the adventurous sort of person who would enjoy capturing such creatures and bringing them home. They are closer than you think. You don't have to charter a spaceship to find them because many different kinds of unearthly creatures lurk in the weedy shallows of a city park pond or lowland march near your own home....

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Almost before I realized it, I found myself eyeball-to-eyeball with a ten-legged, armored creature skulking in the watery pit at the back of his cave. He angrily waved one pair of legs at me, which wouldn't have been so disturbing except that the armored pair of toes on each foot were barbed, crushing pincers. His eyeballs peered nearsightedly at me from atop a pair of long stalks as his several pairs of antennae waved back and forth in the humid air. But he didn't have any teeth in his mouth--instead they were lining his muscular stomach. The only thing about him that really bothered me was those fierce-looking pincers, but after all the trouble I had gone to in finding this crayfish, I was determined to take him home and eat him.

It had taken me a long time to get to the back of the mud cave, not because it was dark and slippery, but because it was so small. When I first saw a roughly constructed, red clay chimney in the wet, lowland meadow, I knew what sort of creature had built it.... I had never seen the inside of one of these caves before, though I had poked sticks into them in an effort to locate some craeture living in the bottom of the tunnel. But each time I had been disappointed at not finding anything there. This time I decided to dig to the bottom of the tunnel to try to find out what had happened to the owner....

Hunting Big Game in the City Parks
Tracking the Unearthly Creatures of Marsh and Pond