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July 30, 2014
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River Talk

Super spiders

As autumn approaches and temperatures begin to drop, it is increasingly common to see spiders in our homes, where they occasionally seek refuge at this time of year. One of the largest, and therefore potentially alarming, is the fishing spider.

Dolomedes is a genus of spiders of the family Pisauridae. There are over a hundred species of Dolomedes throughout the world, with nine species in North America. Also known as raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders, most are semi-aquatic.  Read more

Milkweed microhabitat

Anyone who has walked in a field or a roadside has probably at one time or another picked a leaf of a milkweed plant and observed its milky sap start to flow from the plant; hence its name. Like all plants, the milkweed contains a myriad of chemical compounds that are used by the plant in various ways.  Read more

‘Singing’ for their supper

The first few months of life present many challenges for wild creatures, not the least of which is receiving adequate sustenance to survive. Baby birds are particularly fetching as they gape with beaks open wide in anticipation of a meal. Where that meal comes from depends on circumstances.  Read more

Irene brings wild weather

As I write this column, I hear the hum of portable generators outside the window. I have power, but neighbors down the road are out and have been since Irene swept through the area on August 28. Tropical-storm-force winds blew down trees and caused widespread power outages throughout the area, and heavy rains caused flooding and washouts on roads. Several instances of residential flooding were reported, and many farm fields were flooded.  Read more

Contests for outdoor enthusiasts

We receive lots of positive feedback from readers about the photography that appears in the “River Talk” columns. Many of our fans are themselves photographers and very devoted to nature and outdoor recreation. Two upcoming photo contests may interest those who enjoy photographing their experiences in the natural world.

For those who like rambling with their favorite canine companion, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) announces its second annual statewide “Dogs in the Outdoors Photo Contest.”  Read more

March of the amphibians

The middle of summer is usually the dry time of year where watering is required to keep lawns and gardens in good condition. This August, however, we have had ample rain; enough to keep things somewhat moist. Rivers and streams are running a bit higher than normal too; it’s been nice to paddle the river without having to “ooch” over the shallower rapids and bars.  Read more

River talk: choose life

Talk throughout the river corridor lately has been focused on a series of preventable drownings in the Upper Delaware River—three within an eight-day period — and five since the season began. Had the victims been wearing lifejackets, they might be alive today.  Read more

Pollination: an important summer job

The warm days of midsummer bring forth many colorful blooms from ornamental plants and wildflowers alike. The brilliant colors of these flowers serve to attract many different species of critters; they feed or utilize the nectar present at the base of the petals. When animals harvest this nectar, they accidentally perform another important function: pollination.  Read more

Snow goose on the loose

For the past several weeks, a lone snow goose has joined a local flock of Canada geese in the Town of Tusten, NY. While the flock initially resisted the presence of the intruder, the mostly white goose persisted and has successfully been integrated into the flock.
According to the property owner, the snow goose has not yet attempted to fly. “It is funny to see it join the pre-flight practice stampede with the adult geese flapping their wings at a pitch run towards the pond, and there in the middle are all the gosling geese and one adult snow goose running for all they are worth,” she said.  Read more

The singing tree

It was a warm morning in early July when I took a walk to one of the beaches in Walker Lake in Shohola, PA. As I passed a small maple tree on the top of the footpath, I heard what sounded like a small bird calling continuously, except I couldn’t see the bird. A second look at the tree revealed a cavity about 15 feet high, and it was then I realized that I was listening to a begging call of a woodpecker from inside the tree.  Read more

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