I usually take a hike through some nearby forest first thing in the morning when home, about a mile or so if the weather is not too severe. Most mornings over the last two weeks I have been hearing a flock of wild turkeys around the same spot. There is a field where they like to browse for food, and where there are many oak trees nearby.
As winter weather visits the Upper Delaware River region, the temptation to stay indoors can be overwhelming. We find ourselves becoming more sedentary, when what we really need is to gear up with layered clothing and head out into the bracing air and stark beauty of the season.
Our editor, Anne Willard, recently mentioned to me that she had seen concern expressed about the apparent lack of small birds in the a region via the online Upper Delaware network. People were worried because birds were not visiting their feeders, and they were not hearing many birds calling in the woods as they had earlier.
Most of us would recognize the fuzzy black-and-brown-banded woolly bear caterpillar or the distinctive monarch caterpillar and its striking bands of yellow, black and white. But there are many caterpillars we might encounter in the Upper Delaware River region that are more challenging to identify.
It’s mid-January in a conifer forest with a few clearings within. On the ground, at the edge of one of the clearings, sits an adult bald eagle. It’s not by choice the eagle is sitting on the ground; a few days back it started to experience awkwardness in flight.
While raking leaves in my yard recently, one suddenly leapt away from me. Similar in color to the foliage on the ground, the leaper turned out to be a wood frog, who probably didn’t appreciate my disruption. The truth is, most animals prefer their habitats to be ungroomed, and as unaltered from their natural state as possible.
For those readers that have been following the monarch butterflies through the summer, you have probably been encouraged by the number of monarchs seen compared to the previous few years. In the August 16 issue, I did a River Talk column on the increase in monarch sightings, and that trend seems to have continued.
Fall foliage season in the state of Pennsylvania is a spectacular thing to experience. With more than 17 million acres of forested land throughout the state, there are abundant opportunities to enjoy the trees, brush, berries and vines that contribute to this deeply satisfying sensory treasure.
If you have been in or near the woods during this past summer, you may have heard a high-pitched single-note whistle. It is piercing and carries a fairly long distance, even through the forest. Occasionally, you may have spotted a stubby-winged hawk, appearing somewhat like a miniature red-tailed hawk, sounding this call.
As I was driving past my neighbor’s home recently, a white figure in the green grass caught my eye. The ghostly bird turned out to be a great egret, also called the American egret and sometimes referred to as a white heron.