Near the end of February, I had a call from Don Hamilton, resource specialist for the National Park Service (NPS) out of Milanvile, PA. It seems that during a sunny day when the temperatures approached the 30s, he was observing a stonefly hatch from Calkins Creek, which runs along the edge of the NPS property in Milanville. Not only were there stoneflies, but there were also some eastern bluebirds observed making a meal of these emerging stoneflies.
With winter’s waning comes the promise of spring. While the calendar heralds its arrival on March 20, however, the Upper Delaware River region will still seem very winter-like for weeks to come. Meanwhile, here are a few suggestions to help reduce our impatience with this seemingly endless winter season with its ample supply of snow and ice and frigid temperatures.
March is here, and with it some milder weather can be anticipated. Perhaps not too mild, but at least not the subzero temperatures that were experienced in the region during the latter part of February. During the last week of February, I experienced -10 F. for a low in Shohola, and Don Hamilton, resource specialist for the National Park Service (NPS), reported a low of -20 F in Milanville, PA for the same time period.
As a fitting follow-up to my last column about the importance of a child’s early relationship with nature, some exciting opportunities have been announced at Lacawac Sanctuary, a nature preserve, ecological field research station and public environmental education facility located in Lake Ariel, PA.
Along the river this time of year one can find a myriad of waterfowl; anywhere that has ice-free, flat water, there are likely to be ducks, geese, or gulls trying to find a meal. Having access to the water is the key. Open water enables them to feed on plants or fish, depending on the species. Herbivores, such as Canada geese, can feed on grass in fields and golf courses, but the snow cover of winter usually shuts off that food source. The geese must then forage shallow river bottom for aquatic plant growth.
A lifelong love of the natural world, and a willingness to act on its behalf, is believed to originate in childhood, as youngsters explore the wild world around them through the simple activity of play. The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association (PALTA) recently published a 40-page booklet that explores this important relationship and offers an array of actions targeted to restoring nature play to children’s lives.
I’m writing this near the end of January, and it’s cold out; 9 degrees in Shohola with a 15-mph wind and some higher gusts. There are some hardy souls that are out ice fishing, catching the last part of hunting season, or maybe eagle watching or some other form of birding. If this cold weather is making you feel more like a “snowbird” with a yearning to head south, there is an event just around the corner that won’t give you a case of the chills.
Two of the most selfless and dedicated individuals serving the Upper Delaware River region have unexpectedly found themselves in need of support following a fire at the Delaware Valley Raptor Center (DVRC) in Milford, PA on January 8. The fire occurred at the home of raptor rehabilitators Bill and Stephanie Streeter. While no people or animals were injured, an indoor clinic and equipment located within the house sustained damage. Outdoor facilities and the resident birds were not affected.
Find a high-quality cold water stream that supports a brook trout habitat, and chances are that the stream is shaded by many eastern hemlock trees. In shading the stream, the hemlock trees are helping to keep the water temperature cool enough in summer so that the trout survive. In many areas though, these riparian ecosystems are in peril due to a die-off of eastern hemlock trees. There are several pests that are a threat to hemlock forests, but the main cause of the die-off is the hemlock wooly adelgid, a non-native insect that was first reported in Virginia in the 1950s.
In my last column, “Enviro-resolutions,” I recommended getting to know the agencies involved in natural resource management in the Upper Delaware River region. Another organization that can help you keep your commitment to greater outdoor experiences throughout the new year is the non-profit Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF).
The official partner of the Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests, the organization strives to support the state’s natural and cultural resources through leadership in recreation, education, conservation and volunteerism.
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.
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