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September 20, 2014
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River Talk

A precursor to autumn

The days are getting shorter and somewhat cooler with Labor Day come and gone and fall just around the corner. However, even during the warmer days of August, there were signs of the impending seasonal change. During the last couple of weeks in August, common nighthawks were seen over lakes and rivers just around dusk as they circled overhead, looking for insects to fuel their southward migration. Narrowsburg had a good number during several early evenings.  Read more

Celebrating public lands

Fifty years ago, on September 3, 1964, the Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, following 60 drafts authored primarily by Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society and eight years of diligent effort.  Read more

Bamboozled over bug I.D.’s?

Many people who venture outdoors will recognize the red-winged blackbird for what it is; a black bird with red or yellow shoulder patches. However, if the same people see a streaky brown bird nearby, many will not associate it with a red-winged blackbird. It probably is the same species, but is a female. The dull-colored female has none of the contrasting black-and-red plumage of the male.  Read more

Boardwalk trail opens at Darling Preserve

A new 2.2-mile trail and boardwalk were dedicated earlier this month, providing easy public access to a 2,500-acre tract of special Pennsylvania property known as the Thomas Darling Nature Preserve at Two Mile Run, pieced together over time and through partnerships.  Read more

A purple problem

A few years back, some friends and I went to a seafood restaurant in eastern Long Island for dinner. As we walked through the entrance, I noticed a rectangular planter in which were growing some pretty purple flowers. These flowers caught my eye for a different reason though; they were all of the invasive plant species purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Perhaps the owner or an unwitting landscaper saw the pretty flowers along a roadside and decided to transplant them, not knowing the undesirable qualities of this plant.  Read more

Time out (together)

Earlier this year, I heartily enjoyed serving as an environmental educator at the Lackawanna College Environmental Education Center (LCEEC) in Covington Township, PA. Traipsing through the forest, followed by children ranging in age from pre-school to fourth grade, peeking under rocks, poking along a stream bank, exploring a meadow, we focused on learning about habitats and the various species typically found in each.

It was wonderful to see the children absorbed in these outdoor experiences as their senses came alive. Often, we would hear one exclaim, “I wish I could do this EVERY day!”  Read more

Possible changes in store for eeling on the Upper Delaware

Anyone who has paddled or fished the Upper Delaware River has probably spotted one of the dozen or so eel weirs in the river. Located in shallow rapids, these weirs are v-shaped with a trap at the downstream side. Boulder-sized rocks are used to construct the v, and the rock obstruction channels eels down to the trap. Operating an eel weir is hard work and involves some risk due to river flooding during late summer and fall, when the eel harvest takes place. To gain an insight on eeling on the Delaware, visit Sandy Long’s October.  Read more

Magical mushrooms

As summer heat and rains combine, the Upper Delaware regional forests become a marvelous landscape of mysterious fungal life forms that bring to mind the magic of fairyland and folklore. Poking from moss-covered decaying trees, sprouting under the frothy wings of ferns, lifting the old leaf litter from the forest floor, mushrooms capture our imagination with their varied shapes, colors and textures.  Read more

Snakes in the lake

With the arrival of warm mid-summer days, many of us are taking advantage of the swimming and fishing opportunities in nearby natural waterways, and many people encounter wildlife of all types while in or on the water. The more interesting descriptions come from encounters with snakes—sometimes heard for example: “I saw a water moccasin on my dock yesterday.” The fact is that in our region, only two venomous snake species are found: the timber rattlesnake and the northern copperhead. Neither is particularly attracted to aquatic environments.  Read more

Turtles and leeches

While walking at Shohola Recreation Area in Pike County, PA recently, I came upon an Eastern painted turtle crossing a dirt road. I bent down for a closer look and noticed that she was sporting a leech brooch on her plastron, just below her neck. She certainly couldn’t observe the unattractive adornment, and I decided to relieve her of this parasite.  Read more

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