The fall forests are full of fanciful fungi right now. Two common but interesting mushrooms that are easily encountered in the Upper Delaware region are puffballs and jelly fungi.
Puffballs are part of a class of fungi known as Gasteromycetes (stomach fungi) that produce spores inside their fruit bodies. They are most often spherical or pear-shaped with rough outer walls and smooth inner walls that act as pouches for the powdery spore masses contained within. Read more
Flocks of high flying geese can be heard and the first hard frost of the season is forecast for tonight as I write this column. Yesterday, on the 11th of October, was a clear day after a frontal passage with northwest to west winds at 10-15 mph, an ideal day to observe migrating hawks and falcons at Sunrise Mtn. in Stokes State Forest in NJ. Read more
For several weeks in late August, I had the pleasure of observing a young red-tailed hawk almost daily along Route 97 near Ten Mile River. The bird was usually perched on a wire with its back to the road as it steadily observed a meadow for potential meals—a practice known as still-hunting. One day I found it facing the road and managed to take several photos before it took flight. Read more
The leaves are changing color, and many insects are easier to find; they have reached full size and some species have just completed, or are in the midst of, breeding. For many insects and other arthropods, the fall season signals the end; they die after breeding or with the first hard frost. Read more
The stinkhorn mushroom, aptly named for its offensive fragrance and stalklike form, is a member of a family of fungi known as Phallaceae. Stinkhorns are characterized by very unpleasant-smelling sticky spore masses that occur on the end of a stalk called the receptaculum.
Likened to the odor of carrion or dung, the spore mass attracts flies and other insects. While feeding on the slime, the insects’ feet become coated with the spore-laden substance that they then transport to other locations, allowing the stinkhorns to grow elsewhere. Read more
The lower sun angles and the cooler temperatures of September trigger some changes in nature; for some birds, this is the cue to start heading for warmer climes. Hummingbirds exit the region this month, as well as many other bird species. This is the start time for some raptor species as well. In the right locations, this is a good opportunity to see high numbers and a variety of raptors. Read more
The River Reporter is fortunate to be housed in a building overlooking Little Lake Erie in Narrowsburg, NY. This small body of water provides excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife, many of which we have the pleasure of observing while they live their lives as our closest neighbors.
Because the building’s owners allow the banks of the lake to remain wild, they are lush with natural growth and provide abundant resources for birds, insects and amphibians. Read more
A bat, the only mammal capable of sustained flight, invokes many things to many people. Many fictional books and movies have maligned bats as evil creatures to be feared, and many of us have an underlying fear of bats when we encounter them. The truth is that the only thing that needs to fear a bat in our region is a mosquito: a bat can eat up to 50% of its body weight in mosquitoes and other flying insects per evening. It turns out that a bat is a highly beneficial critter that has picked up a bum rap. Read more
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett completed a two-day kayak tour on the Delaware River through Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties last week. Among his entourage were PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allen and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer. Read more
If you live near a hardwood, or deciduous, forest, you would have heard these by now; in fact, they may even be keeping you awake at night if you have a bedroom window open. The evening chorus is courtesy of the common true katydid (Pterophyla camellifolia).
True katydids are a key phenology species. Phenology is the study of timing of periodic events occurring in nature. I usually hear calls starting right around the last week in July to the first week in August; this year, I first heard katydid calls in Pike County around the second week in July. Read more