Fall and winter water recreationists should be aware of a new regulation that applies to all Pennsylvania waters. Passed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) in September 2011, the regulation went into effect on November 1, 2012 and continues through April 30, 2013. It requires boaters to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak. Read more
A week or so after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the northeast U.S. and our region, the sun has returned. Leaves that were left on the trees before the storm were blown down, along with a few of the trees. The trees have been cleared from the roadways and power has been restored, but many homeowners have blown-down trees or branches to contend with. Some of this blown-down debris has its own hidden hazard. Read more
While many animals weather unusual events like last week’s hurricane better than humans do, there are impacts nonetheless that affect wildlife in various ways.
In addition to potentially dangerous factors such as toppled or dangling trees and downed powerlines, some species, such as tree-nesting birds, may lose the shelter of their homes. Others may be forced to adapt to serious habitat destruction. Read more
Our region is blessed with many diverse habitats. Moving from mountain to valley will bring a whole different range of fauna and flora that can be seen. The arrival of fall brings much change as animals hibernate or migrate, and we see many visitors that are passing through or overwinter here.
Many people have become familiar with various species to the extent of knowing which ones are “good” or “bad” due to such things as what they eat, where they nest or roost, or even what they look like. Read more
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