River Talk

TRR photos by Sandy Long

Pike and Wayne counties are blessed with abundant and beautiful waterways like the Lackawaxen River, which was named River of the Year in 2010 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The annual recognition raises awareness of the important recreational, ecological and historical resources associated with the state’s rivers and streams and underscores the importance of maintaining healthy waterways.

Water wellness awareness

According to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Wetlands, the Keystone state has more miles of streams and rivers than any other state except Alaska. Those waterways are of prime importance to the human and non-human lives that depend upon them.

TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is an aerial shot of the west shore of Walker Lake in Shohola, PA that was taken on the morning after the March 5 storm. Most of the trees in this image are white pine, and most of them have a significant amount of snow on them.

March roars in like a lion

Hopefully, by the time you read this, it will not be by candlelight or the light from a Colman lantern. As of March 9, there are still a few spots on both sides of the river without power. On the 2nd of March, a heavy, wet snowstorm hit; this caused trees to come down across power lines and even a few houses were damaged by fallen trees.

TRR photos by Sandy Long

These tracks indicate the passage of a human and two dogs. But what is that curious arc appearing to the left of the first dog’s tracks? The human tracks are mine and the middle tracks, displaying a normal gait, were made by my dog Ziva. My new pup, Raven, has a waddling side-to-side swish. As her hind feet move forward, they swing outward, creating the crescent shape seen here. Domestic dogs provide good opportunities to hone your tracking skills.

Surviving the times

Severe weather events like the one that struck the Upper Delaware River region recently throw us suddenly out of our normal routines. Priorities shift to survival activities like securing adequate shelter, clean water and ample nourishment.

TRR photo by Jane Bollinger

The brown color patterns of ruffed grouse make them inconspicuous in their forest habitat and helps keep them from being detected by predators. Some good news has come from the PGC study; if a grouse comes into contact with West Nile virus and survives, it then develops antibodies which prevents them from contracting the disease in the future.

Trouble for the ruffed grouse in PA

Hunters in PA have always looked forward to going afield with a dog and pursuing the elusive ruffed grouse. You can hunt this species without a dog, but it is a lot more difficult, as these well camouflaged birds flush out of cover and provide the briefest of targets before they rapidly disappear in forest cover.

Photos courtesy of PA Dept. of Agriculture

Almost clownish in appearance, the spotted lanternfly is no laughing matter. This exotic insect poses a major threat to many of our region’s native plant species and hardwood forests. Adults are approximately 1 inch long and one-half inch wide at rest.

Meeting to target spotted lanternfly

As noted in our news story of February 8, the latest exotic insect invader to threaten our native plant species is the spotted lanternfly (SLF). Despite its eye-catching appearance, this is a seriously bad bug that was first discovered in Berks County, PA in 2014 and has expanded to affect approximately 3,000 square miles by the end of 2017.

TRR photos by Scott Rando

These yearling immature bald eagles were above the Lackawaxen confluence early in February. As is the case with the young of many species, the play instinct is strong. Many immature eagles display talons to each other, but it is mostly play; they are also honing skills they will need to survive.

Winter eagles and air shows

This is the time of year when ice is plentiful on the lakes and rivers, a central factor in explaining why we see so many bald eagles over-wintering in our region. During these cold months, many eagles migrate from northern New England and Canada to spend the winter here.

TRR photos by Sandy Long

Participants on the Eagle Photography Workshop Bus Tour visited the Barbara Yeaman Eagle Observation Area on Route 97 along the Delaware River. At the age of 70, Yeaman founded the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, which has protected nearly 15,000 acres of eagle habitat that benefits both wildlife and human inhabitants of the Upper Delaware River region.

'Capturing' eagles

For fans of the bald eagle, the future is looking much brighter, thanks to the efforts of regional heroes whose love of this iconic raptor and its habitat has led to legacies that will last well beyond their lifetimes.

TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is hoarfrost forming from moist air just above the water level of a small stream during a cold winter morning. A closer look shows some smaller tendrils growing off the main stems of ice; these form at exactly a 60-degree angle, or one sixth of what you see in a snow flake. This is an example of the crystalline molecular structure of water at work.

The ice of late winter

The season of winter has slightly less than two months to go before it officially ends; as to what winter does from now on weather-wise, that’s anyone’s guess. We’ve had some mild days in the 50s and also some sub-zero days and a moderate amount of frozen precipitation so far.

TRR photos by Sandy Long

The remains of a football-shaped bald-faced hornet nest ended up in my driveway recently. Its former residents don’t overwinter here, so a new nest is constructed every spring. According to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, bald-faced hornets are not true hornets; they are yellow jackets. They help to reduce populations of unwanted insects and pollinate flowers when seeking nectar.

A world of wonders

The other day I came upon a wonderful thing in my driveway. It lay in a tousled clump and resembled a shaggy rag. Bending to retrieve it, I discovered a beautiful gift from the natural world—the slightly weathered remains of a bald-faced hornet nest that had broken free from a nearby tree.

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.



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