As I stabilize my kayak by grabbing an underwater branch to keep from spooking some basking painted turtles on the shore, one thing is readily apparent: the water is cold, numbingly cold. Someone falling overboard would be in real danger of being overcome by the effects of hypothermia if they didn’t exit the water quickly. But the turtles didn’t seem to be affected by the cold water, though they spend a lot of time basking in the sun this time of year in order to regulate their body temperature. Read more
Tuning in to the shifting of the seasons is restorative on many levels. In the Upper Delaware River region, it’s time to shake off the shackles of the snow-laden season and wake up our winter-weary senses to spring’s arrival.
It should go without saying that this can’t be accomplished from the comfort of one’s couch. Reaping the benefits of interacting with the natural world requires that we actually go outside to experience the beauty and mystery of all that is happening now.
Opportunities to re-connect are all around, including two Earth Day festivals coming up this weekend. Read more
Among the species of bat in our region is the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Also known as the Northern Myotis, this and other species of bats have been affected by white nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is a fungus that affects bats while they are in their hibernacula over the winter; in affected hibernacula, bat mortality rates of 90% or more have been observed. Read more
At this time of year, the dingy snowbanks are slowly absorbed into the thawing earth, revealing the dregs of accumulated garbage along rural roadways in the Upper Delaware River region. The Pennsylvania road where I live is littered with unlovely, castoff crap like plastic water bottles, aluminum beer cans and strangely—empty cat-food cans. Read more
The vernal equinox has arrived in the region, along with some subtle hints that winter is on its way out; temperatures in the 50s have occurred, but are still getting into the teens at night. March can bring all kinds of weather, mild one day and a blizzard the next. Read more
Information is being sought on several matters concerning white-tailed deer in the Upper Delaware River region. In the first, researchers with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are asking the public how they think deer respond to changes in weather and moonlight. To explore the “truth in deer truisms,” they will then compare survey responses with data from movements of radio-collared deer. Read more
Near the end of February, I had a call from Don Hamilton, resource specialist for the National Park Service (NPS) out of Milanvile, PA. It seems that during a sunny day when the temperatures approached the 30s, he was observing a stonefly hatch from Calkins Creek, which runs along the edge of the NPS property in Milanville. Not only were there stoneflies, but there were also some eastern bluebirds observed making a meal of these emerging stoneflies. Read more
With winter’s waning comes the promise of spring. While the calendar heralds its arrival on March 20, however, the Upper Delaware River region will still seem very winter-like for weeks to come. Meanwhile, here are a few suggestions to help reduce our impatience with this seemingly endless winter season with its ample supply of snow and ice and frigid temperatures. Read more
March is here, and with it some milder weather can be anticipated. Perhaps not too mild, but at least not the subzero temperatures that were experienced in the region during the latter part of February. During the last week of February, I experienced -10 F. for a low in Shohola, and Don Hamilton, resource specialist for the National Park Service (NPS), reported a low of -20 F in Milanville, PA for the same time period. Read more
As a fitting follow-up to my last column about the importance of a child’s early relationship with nature, some exciting opportunities have been announced at Lacawac Sanctuary, a nature preserve, ecological field research station and public environmental education facility located in Lake Ariel, PA. Read more