River Talk


TRR photos by Scott Rando

A south-bound female common merganser is winging its way toward the Rio Reservoir in this image. Common mergansers are the most widely seen mergansers in the region and are also plentiful on the Delaware River.

Ducks steal the show during the mid-winter eagle survey

January 10 was my designated day to perform my part of the New York State Mid-winter Eagle Survey. The target day for New York has usually coincided with the “fly day” (or days), when the aerial portion of the survey was flown.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

One bird you won’t find at your backyard feeder is a bald eagle. However, it is eagle watching season in the Upper Delaware River region, as this majestic raptor returns to ply the open waters of our rivers for its sustenance. Seize the opportunity to look for eagles in their habitat by signing up for the Delaware Highlands Conservancy’s Eagle Photo Workshop Bus Tour on February 3, during which I’ll be offering tips on photographing eagles in the context of this special place. The Conservancy has also announced a new juried photo contest, “Sharing Place: Eagles and Their Environs,” open to professional and amateur photographers. Visit https://delawarehighlands.org/photo-contest/ for details.

Birds and bomb cyclones

Now that we’ve added a new term to our vocabularies and weathered the wild winds and brutal temperatures of the past week and its “bomb cyclone,” it’s time to reflect on the awe-inspiring survival strategies of our backyard birds and the role we can play in their welfare.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

A red-tailed hawk, one of the hawk species that can be seen all year in the region, is shown here flying next to a raven. Both birds did some maneuvering and talon displays before breaking off. It appeared that both birds did this in play.

Winter raptor watching

If asked about winter raptor watching, the first thing that would pop into mind is eagles. This region is one of the favorite wintering habitats for Canadian bald eagles in the Northeast, and that’s not counting the ever increasing number of resident bald eagles that stay in the area year-round.


TRR photo by Sandy Long

What can you do to support the natural resources of the Upper Delaware River region in 2018? Adopt a spot by regularly removing trash; volunteer for a non-profit conservation organization; redirect time spent on negative news toward fresh perspectives like those offered by DailyGood.org; subscribe to publications that consistently cover local environmental news; keep tabs on environmental agencies like the New York Department of Environmental Conservation or the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; or attend monthly meetings of the Upper Delaware Council. 
 

One small thing

I recently received an email message from The Wilderness Society highlighting the “biggest wilderness milestones in 2017.” Unfortunately, most were the dismal and disturbing actions taken by our nation’s current administration to dismantle or eliminate hard-won environmental policies and protections, beginning in January with “scrubbing” mention


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This bear, about 150 pounds, was tagged and released in Pike County, PA. Bears that repeatedly cause damage are usually trapped and relocated. There are a lot of steps (electric fencing, etc.) that the landowner can take to deter nuisance bears.

The 2017 bear harvest and the tale it tells

Among its many responsibilities, PA Game Commission (PGC) is charged with managing wildlife within the state.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

This dead tree serves as a smorgasbord for bird species such as woodpeckers, which have been feasting on insects that have also gained sustenance from it. 

Taking down the tree

For many of us at this time of year, the phrase “taking down the tree” refers to an activity we’ll find ourselves engaged in when the holiday season winds down.


TRR photo by Jane Bollinger

This is Sydney, the tame ruffed grouse that has been frequenting Jane Bollinger’s driveway and yard. When Jane took this picture, the grouse was about two feet away. One idea is that these “tame” grouse are hyper-territorial. Some of these grouse will peck your hand if you get it too close.

Sydney the grouse

The memories of ruffed grouse are usually of one or two birds at a time flushing suddenly from their hide and disappearing rapidly between the trees of the forest in a flourish of noisy wing beats. Hunters and other people who frequent the ruffed grouse’s habitat will say that the grouse is one of the most secretive birds in the woods.


TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

“No Apples Needed!” the recipe exclaims, and true to its word- tastes just like apple pie. IMHO.

You are what you eat

Uh oh. If that’s the case, then I am in big trouble. I’ve had food issues my entire life, stemming from the fact that I never really cared. Honestly, if I had my druthers, I’d take a pill three times a day to satisfy my dietary requirements. Since that’s not possible, I eat when I have to, but not necessarily because I want to.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

Our great niece, Sophia Gromalski and our new puppy, Raven enjoyed a recent hike at Shohola Recreation Area despite the chilly day. Children and canine family members can all benefit from adventures outside. Give your favorite young ones the gift of greater outdoor time together this holiday season. You will find yourself gifted with a healthier holiday season rich with priceless memories of your shared outdoor adventures.

"Opting out" with the kids

The holiday season is in full swing, and while that’s mostly a wonderful thing, our appetites for overconsumption can lead us astray at times.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This male turkey is very prominent in the sunlight with hints of blue in its iridescent plumage and red head and neck area. This male has a beard from its breast; a turkey’s beard grows about three to five inches per year, but starts wearing down as it gets longer due to the end dragging on the ground during feeding.

Turkeys: history and status

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.

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