As the Upper Delaware region moves swiftly into spring, some of the earliest plants to appear are Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard. These invasive plants are bad news as they out-compete native plants for resources such as sunlight, nutrients and space, resulting in the decline or elimination of food sources for some of the region’s birds, rodents and insects.
Native wildflowers that share the same habitat as garlic mustard—such as trilliums, spring beauty, wild ginger and hepatica—are severely threatened by the aggressive growth of this plant. Read more
The spring emergence of insects is now well under way, benign and pesky alike. One of the more fascinating critters that are now visible is the pond skater, a member if the Gerridae family, which comprise several surface-dwelling insect species. Read more
Amphibians of all varieties make a habit of migrating across the road where I live, prompting my annual pilgrimages to the ribbon of pavement that runs in front of my home. The journeys begin after nightfall on rainy evenings, necessitating the donning of headlamp and reflective clothing for me.
I search for salamanders, frogs and toads, depending on the time of year. When I come upon a creature that has not yet fallen victim to a vehicle, I gently relocate it to safety. Read more
After what seemed to be an endless winter, signs of spring are appearing in the woods and on the shores of rivers and lakes, and the singers such as the wood thrush and the spring peeper hail spring’s arrival. On the 9th of April, during a kayak trip on Walker Lake in Shohola, PA, I spotted some more signs of milder weather: many painted turtles basking on the shore. Read more
Amphibians are appearing throughout the Upper Delaware Region with the return of spring. These wood frogs basked in a vernal pool in Pike County last weekend, emitting their characteristic “quacking” call in hopes of attracting mates.
Another frog sounding off from local lakes, ponds and wetlands right now is the tiny spring peeper, whose “eeping” call sounds much like its name. Read more
On the morning of March 23, I received a phone call from my friend and neighbor, John Keator, who told me that he had a duck in his woodstove. I asked, “You have a what in your woodstove?!” John is an avid and competent birder, and it was quickly determined that there was some sort of waterfowl in his woodstove. I grabbed a few items and left for John’s house. Read more
The plant depicted here belongs along the banks of the Delaware River, and in fact, has already emerged and fallen under the scrutiny of my camera lens last week. The other items appearing at top, left, do not, and appeared just upriver from this skunk cabbage.
The river’s borders can seem especially dreary at this time of year, as flooding and receding waters deposit all manner of trash on its banks. Although it might appear that very little is going on along those edges, the deep maroon and chartreuse clusters of skunk cabbage tell a different story. Read more
With the first sign of spring comes time for year-round resident birds to repair nests or build new ones in preparation for a new breeding season. For our resident eagles, that work has already begun over the course of the winter, and as of the beginning of March, a few pairs have already started to incubate eggs. Once incubation has started, the adults will share this duty until the eggs hatch about 35 days later. Rearing the young takes another 12 weeks or so until they are ready to fledge. Read more
The rewards of backyard bird feeding are many. While I frequently see chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, juncos, goldfinches and nuthatches just outside my kitchen door, a new visitor showed up sporadically this winter to take advantage of the black oil sunflower seeds offered there. Read more
Those of us who live in the Upper Delaware River valley are familiar with the flocks of large black birds that caw noisily from the forest, alight in ones and twos and (in lean times) peck the earth under the bird feeders. But most of us would have a difficult time discerning whether what we are looking at is a flock of crows or ravens. Read more