Walk near almost any patch of forest, or even your backyard now, and you will either see or hear one or more chipmunks. As they dart around foraging for seeds or nuts and chattering, and perhaps eating sunflower seeds out of someone’s hand, the “cuteness” factor is up pretty high for this small member of the squirrel family. But is there another side to this friendly little critter scurrying back and forth on the lawn? All may not be what it seems.
We are fortunate to have the largest wetland in Southeastern New York in our midst here in the Upper Delaware River region. Its lushness is almost indescribable at this time of year, with many flowering plants approaching their peak and providing a great show, in addition to their many benefits to the abundant species that thrive in the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area (BKWMA).
Located just south of Wurtsboro, NY, the wildlife habitat and recreation area is managed by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which purchased over 2,000 acres for the BKWMA in 1972.
Wetlands are usually nature’s gathering point during the heat of the summer. Green frogs and bullfrogs can be seen and heard as various species of turtles ply the water or sun themselves on a log. Also present, though, are many creatures winging their way in and about the wetlands. Whether they are foraging or breeding, they provide a good air show.
It has been written that anglers go through several stages, beginning with catching the first fish. It does not matter whether it is a big one or a small one. The trick is to repeat that catch again and again. “I got my first rainbow today!” or “I caught a small-mouth bass on the Delaware!” Maybe it will be your first brook trout on a small Royal Coachman wet fly. There are a lot of opportunities to fill out your “dance card” of firsts.
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.
Scott enjoys the outdoors and wildlife conservation; and is currently assisting NYSDEC with an ongoing eagle study taking place in the Upper Delaware corridor.
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Sandy Long has a lifelong interest in the natural world and has explored this in words and images through the River Talk column since 2005.
Email Sandy Long