Broken clouds
Broken clouds
37.4 °F
December 07, 2016
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River Talk

Reports from Mexico indicate that monarch butterflies have started to stream into their overwintering grounds at the volcanic hills near Aputzio de Juarez (about 100 miles west of Mexico City) during the latter part of October. There is a large number of monarchs in the U.S. that are still making their way south, and surveys to measure population will take place around the new year.

Photo caption: If you are concerned about the impacts of monofilament debris on wildlife, volunteer to maintain a recycling bin at your favorite fishing spot, marina or dock. Visit www.boatus.org/monofilament to view a simple video detailing how to build a bin like this one installed along Lake Wallenpaupack near the borough of Hawley, PA. The non-profit Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District is one of the local sponsors supporting this project.

With the arrival of colder autumn weather comes the honking of skeins of high-flying geese as they pass overhead. Not only geese are on the move, but a myriad of species of waterfowl make their way south for more favorable habitats. Many songbirds, too, are on the move south; some will winter as far as the South American continent. In autumn, many of the region’s raptors also make their way south for warmer climes.

While talking with an acquaintance at a recent gathering, the topic of trails came up. George lives in a 500-acre community where a series of trails weave through a large forested area protected from development. Our enthusiasm about trails throughout the Upper Delaware River region quickly launched a lively conversation about our favorite places to hike or walk. We traded tips about trails on both sides of the river for quite some time, waxing eloquent on the endless enchantments and bountiful benefits of a walk in the woods.

October is all but behind us, and the falling leaves tell of the upcoming colder weather on the way. However it is also the tail end of Indian Summer, when mild days bring out some late-season insect life and even some last-minute reptiles and amphibians.

I spent an afternoon in mid-October staking out my friend’s flower garden and the surrounding lawn and field; I spotted a variety of pollinators and a fair amount of other insects on a sunny afternoon that saw high temperatures in the high 70s.

“Myths and misunderstandings abound in nature and can lead to undesirable outcomes.”

I wrote that sentence in a recent River Talk column to bring awareness to the confusion many people have about ragweed, goldenrod and allergies. (Ragweed, not goldenrod, is causing your respiratory symptoms: riverreporter.com/column/river-talk/11/2016/09/21/clarifying-misconception).

How many times have you gone on a bird walk and happened across an otter, bear, or other animal that was not on the day’s agenda of expected wildlife to see. You might be in a bird blind and all of a sudden, a bobcat walks across a game trail in front of the blind (and too close to focus with your long birding lens). It’s always good to expect the unexpected. The time I was out trying to find a reported injured eagle and instead, found a few timber rattlesnakes (a group of gravid females basking on some rocks) was probably a good example.

Photo caption:
According to DCNR, Pennsylvania’s location between 40° and 42° North latitude and its varied topography from sea level to over 3,000 feet supports 134 species of trees like sassafras, sugar maple, red maple, birch, ash and cherry. Such species peak earlier, followed by species like hickory and oak, which ripen more slowly. Many more shrubs and vines, such as Virginia creeper, contribute to the brilliant autumn color display. Visit www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/pubs/leaves/leaves.shtm for a helpful explanation of why leaves change color.

A proposal was made before commissioners of the PA Game Commission (PGC) at its September 19th meeting to remove the osprey from the list of threatened species in Pennsylvania. The board of commissioners gave preliminary approval to an updated management plan for the osprey, and one of the items in the new plan is to change of the osprey’s status from threatened to protected. If the plan is fully adopted, the board will also heighten penalties for anyone unlawfully killing an osprey; this would be similar to the penalties adopted after the bald eagle listed as a protected species in 2014.

Myths and misunderstandings abound in nature and can lead to undesirable outcomes. Such is the case when it comes to two plants that flower at this time of year. One of them provokes an allergic response in humans. The other does not, but it is often blamed for the offense. Why?
Ragweed is responsible for the host of symptoms associated with respiratory allergies. But although we’re all familiar with its name, many of us haven’t a clue what it looks like. That’s because its unassuming appearance allows it to fade into the background of our perception, behind other more showy plants.