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.
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.
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.
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.