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September 16, 2014
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River Talk

Feather identification

While walking in the forest recently, a friend of mine came upon a small pool of feathers on a fallen log and found herself wondering what bird had become sustenance for another creature. Utilizing a wonderful website and database established by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) through its Forensics Laboratory, we were able to determine that the mottled black and white feathers had most likely belonged to a downy woodpecker.  Read more

Early fly hatch on the river

After visiting a friend at the hospital in Port Jervis during late February, I saw that it was turning into a fairly decent day outside; the weather was partly cloudy and the temperature was climbing into the high 40s. It was a good afternoon to drive up Route 97 and scout the river. I was mainly looking for eagles and other raptors. The first flying critters I spotted, however, were not birds at all, but a mass of flying insects. I had encountered one of the first fly hatches of the season on the river; the emergence of the black stonefly.  Read more

A beaver abode

A five-minute walk from The River Reporter office on Erie Avenue in Narrowsburg, NY leads to a site where a beaver has constructed a lodge from nature’s building supplies gathered along the banks of the Delaware River. Although ice has threatened the structure several times, the mild winter has largely left the water in a fluid state, allowing the mound of saplings, branches and brush to remain intact.  Read more

Critters on the air: keeping track of who’s where

Since the 1950s, researchers have been using telemetry to study the movements of animals in the wild. One limitation back then was that only large animals, such as elk or bear, could be telemetered, because the technology of the day was vacuum tubes and relativity short-lived battery packs. But then came the age of the transistor, then the integrated circuit, and finally, hybrid chips containing millions of transistors. One desktop PC would have filled up an average town meeting hall in 1975 for a system of equivalent capability.  Read more

A peek at a peregrine pair

It’s probably fair to say that, were she alive today, scientist and author Rachel Carson would be thrilled to find that a pair of peregrine falcons has again elected to build a nest on a ledge of the state office building in Harrisburg, PA that bears her name. Fledging young peregrines from the Rachel Carson State Office Building is especially fitting given Carson’s role in raising awareness of the terrible impacts of DDT on species such as peregrine falcons through her 1962 book, “Silent Spring.”  Read more

A peek at a peregrine pair

It’s probably fair to say that, were she alive today, scientist and author Rachel Carson would be thrilled to find that a pair of peregrine falcons has again elected to build a nest on a ledge of the state office building in Harrisburg, PA that bears her name. Fledging young peregrines from the Rachel Carson State Office Building is especially fitting given Carson’s role in raising awareness of the terrible impacts of DDT on species such as peregrine falcons through her 1962 book, “Silent Spring.”  Read more

A cure for cabin fever: The Great Backyard Bird Count

About this time during the winter, many people yearn for spring; it’s cold, the holidays have passed, and trout and spring gobbler seasons are many weeks away. Fortunately, there is an event coming up real soon that the whole family can participate in, and in doing so, can also provide scientists and researchers with a real-time snapshot of which birds are where. The event is the 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).  Read more

Kids who care

Readers of this column will not be surprised to learn I’m a big fan of the Lorax, the miniature mustachioed character created by Dr. Seuss and beloved for his impassioned environmental messages as put forth in the book of the same name.  Read more

Winter eagles arrive--after a slight delay

One thing that can be counted on in the region is the arrival of hundreds of wintering bald eagles to the Delaware River and other waterways. Typically starting in late December or early January, eagles arrive from Canada as they seek open water to forage for their favorite food: fish.

With the milder than normal winter so far, the eagles have been slow to migrate to the upper Delaware. Many of the northern rivers where eagles forage were still open as of the New Year, so that eliminated the need for them to migrate all the way to the wintering ground of our region for a few weeks.  Read more

A gap in trapping regs

As currently regulated in Pennsylvania, trapping presents certain hazards of which outdoor recreationists should be aware.

I discovered this the hard way when our 15-pound Miniature Pinscher, Beetle, stepped on a foot-hold trap set along a public multi-purpose trail in the Delaware State Forest in Pike County, PA.

What started out as a healthy hike on Commonwealth land turned into a harrowing experience that resulted in a $230 veterinary bill, a set of questions and some unsettling answers.  Read more

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