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September 01, 2014
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River Talk

Porcupines on the prowl

Lately, I have been lucky to encounter three different porcupines during walks in the Ten Mile River area. The passive and slow-moving woodland inhabitant is a treat to see, as its inability to flee quickly or to harm the respectful observer allow for close study of its unique characteristics.  Read more

Critters in the rain

During the middle of last month, a cut-off low-pressure system drifted over our area and became stagnant. This resulted in over a week of intermittent rain, clouds, low ceiling and visibilities, and the general absence of that bright thing in the sky we call “the sun.” As we either worked in the rain or waited for the drier periods to arrive, most plants throve. River levels rose several feet and lakes and reservoirs got topped off.  Read more

Bat plan released

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently unveiled a national management plan to address the threat posed by white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has killed more than a million hibernating bats in eastern North America since it was discovered in a cave near Albany, NY in 2006.

The deadly disease has since spread to 18 states, including Pennsylvania, and four Canadian provinces. It is believed to be caused by the previously unidentified fungus, Geomyces destructans.  Read more

The ‘snow birds’ are back

The arrival of April and May marks the start of nature’s spring concert with spring peepers and American toads singing near wetlands. Not to be outdone by the amphibians, many warblers and other passerines arrive to contribute to this concert. The melodic call of the wood thrush heralds its arrival from wintering grounds in Central America; this singer is shy and hard to spot, but its song is very distinct as it seeks a mate for the upcoming breeding season.  Read more

Tasty invasives

As the Upper Delaware region moves swiftly into spring, some of the earliest plants to appear are Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard. These invasive plants are bad news as they out-compete native plants for resources such as sunlight, nutrients and space, resulting in the decline or elimination of food sources for some of the region’s birds, rodents and insects.

Native wildflowers that share the same habitat as garlic mustard—such as trilliums, spring beauty, wild ginger and hepatica—are severely threatened by the aggressive growth of this plant.  Read more

Walking on water: pond skating in the summer

The spring emergence of insects is now well under way, benign and pesky alike. One of the more fascinating critters that are now visible is the pond skater, a member if the Gerridae family, which comprise several surface-dwelling insect species.  Read more

Road toads

Amphibians of all varieties make a habit of migrating across the road where I live, prompting my annual pilgrimages to the ribbon of pavement that runs in front of my home. The journeys begin after nightfall on rainy evenings, necessitating the donning of headlamp and reflective clothing for me.

I search for salamanders, frogs and toads, depending on the time of year. When I come upon a creature that has not yet fallen victim to a vehicle, I gently relocate it to safety.  Read more

The painted turtles of spring

After what seemed to be an endless winter, signs of spring are appearing in the woods and on the shores of rivers and lakes, and the singers such as the wood thrush and the spring peeper hail spring’s arrival. On the 9th of April, during a kayak trip on Walker Lake in Shohola, PA, I spotted some more signs of milder weather: many painted turtles basking on the shore.  Read more

Frogs afloat

Amphibians are appearing throughout the Upper Delaware Region with the return of spring. These wood frogs basked in a vernal pool in Pike County last weekend, emitting their characteristic “quacking” call in hopes of attracting mates.
Another frog sounding off from local lakes, ponds and wetlands right now is the tiny spring peeper, whose “eeping” call sounds much like its name.  Read more

Lucky ducky: wood duck in the woodstove

On the morning of March 23, I received a phone call from my friend and neighbor, John Keator, who told me that he had a duck in his woodstove. I asked, “You have a what in your woodstove?!” John is an avid and competent birder, and it was quickly determined that there was some sort of waterfowl in his woodstove. I grabbed a few items and left for John’s house.  Read more