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).
The fast-flying days of flaming fall foliage have held us in thrall lately as the Upper Delaware Region advances toward the cold and inward months of winter. Watching the leaves turn through exuberant expressions of vibrant color is almost dizzying and sets the mind’s eye spinning. It is almost a relief when gusting winds strip the trees of their fiery cloaks, laying bare the artful lines of form and branch.
A few weeks back, a neighbor told me he was finding what looked like berries on the ground, even though he said no berry trees were anywhere in the area. I asked him about the size and color, and he replied that they were around an inch in diameter and had a reddish hue.
Following two weeks spent in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park photographing its countless wild splendors for the inaugural Artist in Residence program, I returned to the Upper Delaware River region. My focus (pun intended) had shifted, and although the perspective was freshening, it left me with a sense of disconnection.
Some years back, I was riding a motorcycle on a sparsely traveled road in Pike County, PA when I saw what looked like a stick in the middle of the road. There was enough room in the travel lane to avoid the stick, and as I got closer, I took another glance at it. It wasn’t a stick at all, but a medium-sized timber rattlesnake, maybe three feet long or so. Neither snake or rider was the worse for wear, although it did find a quieter place to bask.
For nearly a decade, I’ve had the pleasure of contributing this column to The River Reporter and in the process, have continued to learn about the flora and fauna with which we share the Upper Delaware River region. The practice of interfacing with one’s “place” deepens understanding and fosters a sense of stewardship.
The days are getting shorter and somewhat cooler with Labor Day come and gone and fall just around the corner. However, even during the warmer days of August, there were signs of the impending seasonal change. During the last couple of weeks in August, common nighthawks were seen over lakes and rivers just around dusk as they circled overhead, looking for insects to fuel their southward migration. Narrowsburg had a good number during several early evenings.
Fifty years ago, on September 3, 1964, the Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, following 60 drafts authored primarily by Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society and eight years of diligent effort.
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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