The common merganser is a fairly large and attractive duck that is frequently encountered in the Upper Delaware region. Many will recognize the deep green head of the male and tufted cinnamon head of the female. Both sexes sport long narrow bills with serrated edges that aid these diving ducks when hunting the small fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans and other invertebrates they prefer. Read more
The month of January saw mostly cold temperatures through to the last few days of the month, when unseasonably mild weather arrived. During the cold weeks, snow covered the ground and it got cold enough to freeze over lakes and much of the Delaware River. Much time was spent checking out bobcat and coyote tracks in the snow, or observing frozen waterfalls and seeps from rock outcrops. Not much thought was given to plant life, but that changed during one hike when I visited a few of these places where water flows. Read more
I recently enjoyed observing a 9-year-old girl wake to the pleasures of bird watching. Joei Marie is the recipient of an introductory birding kit I purchased from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Using the birding log and identification materials included in the kit, Joei began her “life list” by observing the birds that visited our feeders. Read more
Around the 10th of January, a number of people throughout the country brave the cold and go out in the field to count eagles. The counting can be done from a fixed location, or by traveling a route by car, aircraft, or even by boat in ice-free areas. The counts are collected by state or federal agencies and the results are compared with previous years. Read more
When the winds howl and sleet sheets across the landscape, our fellow feathered residents adapt to challenging conditions in a variety of ways.
Some of the most visible can be observed by paying attention to the trees we see, inspecting their trunks for openings and peering up at their tops for collections of leaves, branches or twigs.
Cavity nesters, such as red-bellied woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, excavate holes in trees, thereby providing shelter and nest sites. Read more
January usually heralds the first ice fishing activity for the region; historically, the ice is usually thick enough on most lakes by this time for people to venture out onto the ice. The milder winters of recent years, however, have been a challenge to ice fishing and other outdoor activities that take place on the ice. For most of last winter, the ice was too thin to safely be on the ice on most lakes. Read more
Many species of mammals abound throughout the Upper Delaware River region. One of the most abundant, and likely the most popular in terms of game animals, is the Eastern cottontail rabbit.
Ranging between 15 to 19 inches in length and weighing between two to four pounds, cottontails are so named for the white puffy tail that characterizes this appealing animal. Brown or grayish soft fur tapers to a lighter tan on top, with a white underbelly below. Read more
“O Tannenbaum” is the German version of the song “O Christmas Tree” that we hear so often during this holiday season. Tannenbaum is also the German translation for a fir tree, a very popular conifer to have indoors as the traditional Christmas tree. There are a number of varieties of conifers and evergreens in our region, some of which make suitable Christmas trees, but all have some impact on nature and wildlife.
Here are a few of our most common conifers: Read more
Acrobatic artists of the treetops, gray squirrels navigate their habitats with skill and grace, leaping from branch to limb in an aerial circuit that is both impressive and entertaining. Technically a rodent, the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is Pennsylvania and New York’s most common squirrel. Other native squirrels are the fox, red and nocturnal flying squirrels. Read more
As the warm spell of the first week of December ends, there have been quite a few species of fall and winter birds spotted. Buffleheads, common and hooded mergansers, and ring-billed gulls are present on the nearby lakes, while passerines such as pine siskins partake at bird feeders. There have already been snowy owl sightings in New York State. Read more