River Talk


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This mink was rolling around when I first saw it, maybe trying to bask in what little sun was trying to sneak through a low-level stratus layer. They are more active at night and early mornings but can be seen during the day. 

The mind of a mink

I was walking along a lake on a Pennsylvania Game Land tract a few days back when I saw a dark furry shape in some grass not too far off. It was rolling around on its back in the dew-laden grass, seemingly without a care in the world.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

This beetle got a lift back to its natural habitat after finding itself stranded in my home. To relocate an insect, grab a cup and a card, or a sturdy piece of junk mail. Calmly place the cup over the insect, carefully slide the card underneath to gently trap the bug, then relocate it outdoors. As frightening as insects can sometimes appear, they are usually harmless and would like to be left alone. 

Don't bash that bug!

A big black beetle crawls across your kitchen floor as you patter past in your bare feet. A sense of panic sets in. What to do? Smash it to smithereens? NO! NO! NO! Despite their sometimes frightful appearance, insects are fascinating and wonderful creatures, often harmed out of fear and a lack of knowledge.


This green frog has ridges down each side of its back, evident even under water. Both green frogs and bullfrogs share the main indicator of sex: in a male, the tympanum (ear) is much wider than the eye, and a female has a tympanum of equal size or slightly smaller than the eye. This is a female.

True frogs and ‘bull’ frogs

A month or so back, I was on a bird walk and we passed a small shallow pond. A frog was spotted on the far side of the pond, a little too far for a close look with binoculars. It looked like it could have been a green frog. Someone said, “That’s a bullfrog, it’s got a green head and brown back!” Was he right or wrong?


TRR photos by Sandy Long

This Northern Water Snake is preparing to shed its skin, as indicated by the cloudy bluish appearance of its eyes, due to the old skin and lymph fluid secreted to enable shedding.

Know the Northern Water Snake

With summer in full swing, many of us are spending as much time as possible enjoying recreational activities on regional waters. This increases the likelihood that we might encounter one of the Upper Delaware River Valley’s common reptiles, the Northern Water Snake.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This bear is waking up from the amnesia drugs used in order to safely process it. A 225-pound male, it was trapped near bear damaged bee hives and deemed a nuisance bear. (Note: No electric fence was present when the bear breached the chain link fence and did the damage.)

Just the ‘bear’ facts

Now that summer is here and the kids are out of school, there are a lot of folks up in our region who are enjoying the mountains, lakes, rivers and all things that come with it. We share nature’s amenities with a very diverse variety of wildlife.


TRR photo by Sandy Long

Snapping turtles are a large aquatic species which can be found in most fresh water habitats such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and swamps. Adults typically weigh between 15 and 45 pounds and can reach a shell length of 12 inches. The dark upper shells feature tones of brown, black or olive, with off-white or gray undersides. Many accumulate mossy layers of vegetation. The skin is typically brown, black, or gray, and their tails are large and serrated. Legs are thick and the feet have pronounced claws. The face is often characterized by a wizened appearance. Powerful jaws are used to capture prey, and to defend if provoked, but snappers will usually attempt to avoid confrontation if possible.
 

Turtle primer

The Upper Delaware River region is blessed with interesting reptiles, among them the turtles we see moving about right now. Some, like the snapping turtle, have healthy populations and are commonly observed, while others, such as the wood turtle, are infrequently encountered due to declining populations.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is a close-up of the American goldfinch caught early in the program, a male in breeding plumage. This bird weighed in at 11.2 grams (about the weight of 2 quarters). If you want to attract these birds to your feeder, thistle seed is a favorite.

Bird banding and breakfast at Lacawac

On the morning of June 10, Dr. Rob Smith of the University of Scranton and Dr. Meg Hatch of the Penn State Worthington Campus gave a demonstration of bird banding at the Lacawac Sanctuary in Lake Ariel.


TRR photo by Sandy Long

This fishfly was found along the Lackawaxen River in Pike County, PA. Like many other aquatic insects, fishflies are bioindicators of good water quality, an important reason to appreciate their presence here. Visit bugguide.net/node/view/4156 for more information about the fishfly depicted above. 
 

Drama on the Delaware

As Delaware River water levels recede after recent rains and the river returns to its clear flowing nature, an evening stroll and scan of its serene surface reveals an interface alive with an unfolding drama.


TRR photos by Scott Rando
In midair, a male peregrine falcon, right, hands off a small bird to his mate. The male still has feathers on his beak and right talon.

Peregrine

Imagine for a moment that both you and your spouse are trained pilots, and you each have identical aircraft.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

The month of June is a busy time for turtles. This one lost its life when it encountered a vehicle while crossing a road in the Upper Delaware River region. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles as they migrate to their nesting areas. Make it a point to drive more slowly during the upcoming weeks, especially while traveling on roads near rivers and marshy areas.

Wildlife welfare

One of the most wonderful aspects of spring is the refreshing energy of new life. But with that rise, the risk to regional wildlife increases as well, putting many species in harm’s way as their paths and purposes interface with ours.

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