Scattered clouds
Scattered clouds
71.6 °F
May 30, 2015
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River Talk

It was an early June day, one of those perfect sunny days with temperatures in the high 70s; I decided I could no longer sit at the computer and work on whatever report I happened to be working on, so I took a break in the form of a late morning walk. I walked to a nearby lakeshore and thought in hindsight that I should have packed a lunch. When I arrived at the lake, I observed that I wasn’t the only hungry one there.

As their name indicates, snapping turtles can inflict a powerful bite if threatened. But that’s no reason to fear or harm these impressive reptiles. Enjoy them at a safe distance and thrill to their fascinating physique.

As the largest turtle species in the Upper Delaware River region, “snappers” are can reach a shell length of 12 inches and typically range between 15 to 45 pounds. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, an exceptional snapper found in Wayne County, PA in 2006 weighed in at over 60 pounds.

A year ago, I received a phone message from a homeowner in reference to an eagle that seemed to be stuck in a bush near his home. I called the homeowner back and, after a few minutes of conversation, it was determined that the eagle was in less peril than was first thought. It turned out to be a fledgling young eagle that just picked the wrong landing spot; it extricated itself to find a more suitable perch.

It’s turtle time in the Upper Delaware River region—time to watch out for dark disc-like shapes along area roadways as turtles move about seeking areas of dirt and gravel in which to deposit their eggs.

This common and attractive turtle exhibits a combination of deep green, black, bright red and yellow coloring. It is often seen basking on logs and rocks in ponds, lakes and wetlands to regulate body temperature. Like snakes, turtles are “poikilothermic,” meaning that their body temperature is largely affected by the temperature of their surroundings.

People who come to visit the Upper Delaware region frequently want to know where they can see eagles. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) can be found year round in the region, with winter being the better time due to the influx of migrant eagles from Canada. They can also be seen in the summer, but most of these are resident breeding eagles and their offspring, which fledge in early July.

For an otherworldly experience within a manageable drive of the Upper Delaware region, a visit to the Tannersville Cranberry Bog in Monroe County, PA is in order. Designated a National Natural Landmark because it is the southernmost low-altitude boreal bog on the eastern seaboard, this bog resembles those found at much higher elevations such as New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

It’s been a couple of weeks now that I have heard a lot of trilling from nearby lakes and wetlands. The first thought from someone not familiar with the local habitat may be that there is a swarm of crickets or other insects that frequent waterways during spring. This is not the case however; the trilling is the courtship call of the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). This is a recent scientific name change as the old genus name was “Bufo”. Calling toads can be heard here: http://www.twcwc.com/toadsong.html.

On June 29, the public is invited to experience the diversity of life on a property owned by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation in the Northeast corner of Wayne County, during the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz.

At a BioBlitz, biologists and volunteers gather to collect, identify and catalogue as many living things as possible on a demarcated property in a 24-hour period.

If you have visited a lake, swamp or other wetland lately, you have probably heard the arrival of spring in the form of spring peepers, pickerel frogs, or maybe the honking of Canada geese. If you look closer, you might see some painted turtles basking on a log or some red-spotted newts swimming by the shore. Soon, other amphibians such as green frogs and American toads will add to the chorus of wetland habitats.

A sure sign of spring in the Upper Delaware region, particularly near waterways and boggy wetlands, is the green rising of skunk cabbage plants. So named for the repugnant odor of decaying flesh that the plant emits when bruised, this hardy perennial is also commonly referred to as polecat weed and hermit of the bog.