As winter’s grip begins to loosen, wildlife start to emerge and our encounters with them increase. Such was the case for a small opossum that appeared at my door one recent evening as it scrounged for sustenance.
Well adapted in terms of diet, opossums are omnivores and enjoy a variety of foods such as fruits, seeds, meat, eggs, insects and carrion. Although they often den in hollow trees, logs or brush piles, opossums are also well adapted to human environments and will sometimes seek shelter in culverts and beneath outbuildings. Read more
As I look out the window, it is snowing; there is already 12 inches on the ground from a previous storm, and now another foot or so is forecast to fall. Most of us have already stocked up on groceries. Schools have closed for the day and the kids are likely looking for something to do. Will mid-February be the onset of cabin fever for the region? Read more
Ice is interesting and beautiful, as Scott Rando showed us in last week’s River Talk column. Ice can also be deadly, if not approached with respect. Read more
The ongoing cold snap of the last month or so has been great for skiers and ice fishermen, but not so great for homeowners fighting high heating bills, or people who have had to travel in the many “nuisance storms” during the course of the winter. Municipalities along the river have been keeping a close eye out for ice jams and the resulting flooding that can occur during very cold weather. Not all the frozen water has been bad, though. Read more
Those who love birds and want to support their welfare will be eager to know of two bird-related developments in which citizens have played important roles.
Recently, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released its new app, Merlin, designed as a birding coach for beginning and intermediate bird watchers. Using a series of questions, Merlin helps identify which birds are most likely to be seen, based on location, date and a brief description. Drawing upon more than 70 million sightings submitted from birders across the United States and Canada, possible species are listed. Read more
As people are riding up and down New York State Route 97 to look for eagles or check out the ever changing ice conditions, other sights are there to see, too. A close look at the water might reveal a dark brown mammal, one to two feet long with a square looking snout and a long muscular tail. It may be in the water, on the ice, or along the river bank. This sleek looking critter would be the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis). This aquatic mammal, although very elusive, is spotted frequently along area waterways, but this was not always the case. Read more
While the medications we consume are meant to help us, when it comes to their potential impact on other species, the news is not good. In the past, we have been instructed to flush unwanted medications down the toilet. That strategy is no longer advised in Pennsylvania, where a better alternative is being put into place. According to Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Executive Director John Arway, even low doses of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs can ultimately harm fish. Read more
A walk out in the woods during winter usually doesn’t yield a lot of sounds or bird calls; certainly not as much noise as springtime when birds and frogs are in the midst of courtship and breeding. Nuthatches, pine siskins, or the occasional tapping of a woodpecker foraging on a dead tree is the norm. The other day, however, there was the raucous cacophony of a flock of at least two dozen crows calling, while perched in some nearby trees. I checked the trees and others nearby for any interlopers. Read more
At first glance, the winter landscape can appear to be devoid of life. But for the observant person, nothing is farther from the truth. All around us are clues to the existence of animals, and the stripped-down landscapes of winter provide opportunities to learn more about the activities of wildlife in the Upper Delaware region. Read more
This month saw a couple of storms with accumulating snowfalls, and there is a foot on the ground in most areas of the region, give or take a few inches. This is good news for skiers and the area ski resorts, but if you are shoveling your driveway or have to get to work in bad weather, maybe this is not so good news. Read more