The new year is upon us, and with its arrival comes the opportunity to re-consider our commitment to the spectacular natural resources we are blessed with here in the Upper Delaware River region. Most of us already “walk our talk” at various levels on behalf of those resources; but there is always more that can be done.
Following are a few suggestions to launch your list of New Year’s Enviro-resolutions:
As I write this, it is a week before Christmas, and as I look out the window at 8 a.m., it is 36 degrees outside and the snow cover can best be described as “scattered to broken” here in Shohola, PA. Some mild weather has arrived since our last big snowstorm, and depending where you are, you may have more or less snow on the ground at your location.
When I was a child, my parents gave me a small plastic camera. Little did they know they were placing me on a path that continues to illuminate my life today as I shoot digital images throughout the Upper Delaware River region, some of which wind up in this column.
Last weekend, our 11-year-old niece Joei Shaller joined us for a hike at Shohola Recreation Area, where we plied our cameras in capturing images of animal signs along the trail we explored. The snow made the process very productive, with evidence of animal life all around us.
It was the last week in November, a few days before Thanksgiving, when I was driving in the pre-dawn darkness on a quiet road. A steady rain was ushering in a couple of days of unseasonably mild weather for this time of year. A few leaves were on the wet road, and all seemed normal until one of the leaves hopped. A look at the size of the hopping “leaf” and the length of the hop indicated that it could be an American toad.
On Thanksgiving Day, while most of us in the Upper Delaware River Valley enjoyed feasting in warm homes with family and friends, regional wildlife were suddenly faced with greater challenges than usual in finding adequate food. Thanks to an impressive amount of dense snow that quickly covered much of the available natural food sources, our avian neighbors resorted to pecking their way along the edges of cleared roadways, gathering up bits of seed, gravel and sips of melted snow.
As you read this, you may be getting ready for that big Thanksgiving dinner. Most people associate the Thanksgiving holiday with turkey and turkey will be on the menus of most households across America. Some folks may even partake of wild turkey due to a successful hunt during fall turkey season. Today, whether we are looking in the poultry section of the supermarket, or in the woods in back of the house, there are usually turkeys aplenty to be seen; but it wasn’t always that way.
A variety of afflictions affect trees in the Upper Delaware River region, ranging from those caused by insects, like the hemlock wooly adelgid to others caused by fungi like anthracnose. “River Talk” reader, Star Hesse contacted us recently regarding the appearance of black blotches on the leaves of maple trees along Route 97 in Barryville, NY.
Around Halloween, I spotted what first appeared to be a large spider on the side of my house. As I got closer, however, I saw that it had six legs, not eight as a spider would have, and it took on the appearance of a long-legged beetle with an iridescent gold abdomen. This bug certainly fit the bill for Halloween; it had long spidery legs with even longer antennae, a long proboscis that made it look like it meant business, and to top it off, it had what looked to be part of a cog sticking out of its thorax.
If someone were to seek your advice about the top three environmental concerns in Pike County, what would your answer be? That question is currently being asked in the form of a short survey by the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD). PCCD is in the process of updating its strategic plan for the future of Pike’s natural resources by seeking input from residents, visitors and other interested parties. The survey asks responders to identify the most pressing issues and to list examples of services PCCD should provide, along with potential audiences for those services.
A couple of months back during August, a concerned Pennsylvania landowner contacted the National Park Service (NPS), Upper Delaware to report that an owl was on the ground in his yard and had been there for several hours. NPS biologists Jaime Myers and Jessica Newbern went out to meet the property owner, and found a great horned owl with an apparent injury to its right foot. They captured the owl and turned it over to the Delaware Valley Raptor Center (DVRC).
Scott enjoys the outdoors and wildlife conservation; and is currently assisting NYSDEC with an ongoing eagle study taking place in the Upper Delaware corridor.
Email Scott Rando
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