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July 28, 2016
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River Talk

While working in the yard earlier this year, I became aware of an unusual and repetitive call emanating from the forested hillside behind our home. Uncertain whether the sound was coming from a bird or animal, I grabbed my camera and went to investigate. Drawing closer to the source, I discovered it was emanating from a football-sized opening in the upper reaches of a very tall oak tree. Soon, a petite furry face emerged, followed by a second masked creature. Baby raccoons!

On July 12, during its quarterly business meeting, the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) voted to delist the timber rattlesnake from candidate status. With this vote, this species is no longer a candidate for threatened or endangered status in PA. A news release of the quarterly business meeting by the PFBC can be found at fishandboat.com/news/2016pr/pfbc2016q3summ.htm

In recent River Talk columns, we’ve been sharing images of species identified during the third Upper Delaware BioBlitz held at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten, NY. The photos help to establish an important scientific record for the future of the region. But cameras also play a valuable role in fostering awareness of the beauty of our natural resources, as well as impacts or threats to them, such as littering and illegal dumping.

Photo enthusiasts have several opportunities to wield their cameras as tools for positive change—and prizes—in upcoming months.

As Sandy Long reported in last week’s River Talk, there were 759 different species counted at the 2016 Upper Delaware BioBlitz at Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camp in Tusten, NY during the last weekend of June. The BioBlitz was also held at this site during the spring of 2014, and this will present an opportunity for scientists to observe any significant changes of species counts that may have occurred during the intervening two years.

Last weekend, the 2016 Upper Delaware BioBlitz was conducted at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten, NY, becoming the third such event to catalogue as many species as possible at properties within the watershed. Preliminary results indicate that the nine teams comprised of scientists and naturalists identified 759 species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, fungi, fish, plants, mosses, lichens, mammals, aquatic macro-invertebrates and terrestrial invertebrates.

In last week’s Rivertalk column, Sandy Long told us that the 2016 Upper Delaware BioBlitz will be held this coming weekend at the Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camp in Tusten, NY. On Saturday, June 25, there will be many programs for the public by the various teams of scientists and volunteers that collected data and specimens, and you will be able to see flora and fauna of all types. There are even activities for children on Saturday.

In 2013, the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz launched an ongoing effort to catalogue as many species as possible throughout the watershed. This year’s event returns to the 2014 site at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten, New York. For the first time, the public will have the opportunity to interact with four regional photographers known for their focus on nature.

History has shown that rivers, in general, have been used as meeting places and places to settle. Even in pre-European settlement times, Indian tribes used rivers for both living areas and a food source. Locally, Lenape artifacts recovered near the Delaware River have shown that net fishing was greatly utilized and fresh water mussels were a major food source. Sometimes while walking near the river, a flint arrowhead could be found by a woodchuck burrow in the mound of excavated dirt.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” asserted author, naturalist and conservationist John Muir. Although Muir died in 1914, his legacy continues to influence and inspire us today.

During the year, I have been seeing a lot of turkey activity in area forests and fields as they scratch up the leaf litter, forage for food, or walk in the snow, leaving footprints with the toes perfectly aligned from one step to the next. Earlier this spring, a new sound could be heard; the loud report of a male, or “gobbler,” resounding through the woods as he tries to entice a female through ruffled feathers, fan-tail displays and strutting. These are the sights and sounds of the courtship and breeding season for turkeys, aka the spring gobbler season.