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September 21, 2014
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River Talk

Carpenter bees: Unwanted home improvements

In May, a friend had quite a few bees flying around his barn; they appeared like bumblebees and frequently could be seen chasing each other around, occasionally meeting in a mid-air grapple. I looked around the upper part of the structure and found a few round holes about the size that a .38 caliber bullet would make. These were not bullet holes; the bees chasing each other were male carpenter bees defending their territory.  Read more

Another invasive comes to the valley

As if the number of invasive plants and insects becoming established in the Upper Delaware River Valley weren’t already ample enough, a new plant is creeping into the local landscape.

The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the discovery of “mile-a-minute vine” (Polygonum perfoliatum), which gets its name from the astonishing growth rate of the annual vine—up to six inches in one day and over 20 feet in one growing season.  Read more

Crazy as a loon

When spring arrives, a varied assortment of waterfowl transits the region on the way to summer breeding grounds. Some are local breeders but others are on their way north; the spring period gives an opportunity to sight species that we won’t see for the rest of the year.

One of these visitors may not be too noticeable at first. They are usually on larger lakes; from a distance they have the silhouette of a merganser, but they appear larger and darker. If you hear one of these waterfowl call, though, you will probably recognize the unmistakable yodel of a common loon.  Read more

Walk the Wallenpaupack Creek

HAWLEY, PA — The Wallenpaupack Creek Trail (WCT) in Hawley highlights the history of the hydroelectric project constructed in the early 1920s and managed by Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL) today. Interpretive panels along the footpath highlight the history of the lake and dam.  Read more

Amphibian drama: prey and predator in a pond

Along the Delaware River, there are many small ponds fed by springs or streams, or left over from floods. Also present are remnants of the D&H Canal, with many sections still holding some water. All these ponds play a role in the diversity of the riparian habitat along the shore of the river. A variety of fauna and flora are present in or near these ponds that would not otherwise be present on the river shore.  Read more

Have you seen a fisher?

HONESDALE, PA — The latest taxidermy mount to be added to an ever-expanding display of animals at the Wayne Conservation District (WCD) is the fisher, a mid-size carnivore characterized by a long darkly-furred body, short legs and a full tail.

Also referred to as tree otter, tree fox and fisher weasel, this mammal sports an appealing triangular face topped with wide rounded ears and oval pupils that produce a green eyeshine at night. Adult males weigh seven to 12 pounds; adult females weigh four to seven pounds.  Read more

Spring: the start of new life

Spring is the time of year when all aspects of nature seem to come alive; buds and sprouts are appearing on bushes, trees, and out of the ground, and bears make their appearance after wintering in their dens. Birds are heard in the forests and fields chirping and trilling away; many of these calls heard are breeding and territorial defense calls.  Read more

Watching a wonder unfold

For the past week, I have fallen under the thrall of a mesmerizing event that is being streamed live via two webcams hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A pair of herons are tending five beautiful blue eggs in a nest built in a dead white oak in the middle of Sapsucker Woods pond outside the Cornell Lab’s Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in the Ithaca, NY region.  Read more

Harbinger of spring

I was on a hike on a trail in Shohola during mid-March when I spotted what appeared to be a butterfly flying in the distance. I waited and watched as it landed nearby. What butterfly flies around in March when it is still cold and several weeks from “greening up” time?

The answer was soon obvious as I got close enough to identify this dark-colored butterfly with a yellow fringe around its wings. I was looking at a mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiope) on a late winter jaunt. One of the nicknames for this species is “Harbinger of Spring.” It did indeed make an early appearance.  Read more

Bear awareness

I awoke at 2:30 a.m. earlier this week to the sound of garbage cans being dumped onto their sides. This was followed by 20 minutes of rustling and tearing, as a black bear snacked on my neighbor’s garbage. The bruin then strolled down the road and repeated the activity at another neighbor’s driveway. The next morning was garbage day for residents of our rural road. Morning light revealed the remnants of the raid scattered around.  Read more

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