Tuning in to the shifting of the seasons is restorative on many levels. In the Upper Delaware River region, it’s time to shake off the shackles of the snow-laden season and wake up our winter-weary senses to spring’s arrival.
It should go without saying that this can’t be accomplished from the comfort of one’s couch. Reaping the benefits of interacting with the natural world requires that we actually go outside to experience the beauty and mystery of all that is happening now.
Opportunities to re-connect are all around, including two Earth Day festivals coming up this weekend.
Among the species of bat in our region is the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Also known as the Northern Myotis, this and other species of bats have been affected by white nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is a fungus that affects bats while they are in their hibernacula over the winter; in affected hibernacula, bat mortality rates of 90% or more have been observed.
At this time of year, the dingy snowbanks are slowly absorbed into the thawing earth, revealing the dregs of accumulated garbage along rural roadways in the Upper Delaware River region. The Pennsylvania road where I live is littered with unlovely, castoff crap like plastic water bottles, aluminum beer cans and strangely—empty cat-food cans.
The vernal equinox has arrived in the region, along with some subtle hints that winter is on its way out; temperatures in the 50s have occurred, but are still getting into the teens at night. March can bring all kinds of weather, mild one day and a blizzard the next.
Information is being sought on several matters concerning white-tailed deer in the Upper Delaware River region. In the first, researchers with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are asking the public how they think deer respond to changes in weather and moonlight. To explore the “truth in deer truisms,” they will then compare survey responses with data from movements of radio-collared deer.
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.
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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