Well, its September now; the kids are back to school and some folks have made preparations to close summer cottages for the season. It is still officially summer, and green still abounds in the environment, but there are subtle changes that can be seen that tell of a change of seasons.
When it comes to our knowledge of the natural world, what we don’t know (or what we have been misinformed about via social media or exaggerated claims often fueled by fear) can cause harm. These misunderstandings sometimes lead to unfortunate outcomes for the targeted species.
You’ve probably walked on a forest path or even a secondary road this summer in the morning when it was still cool and spotted bright red or orange newts on the trail or roadway. These are the commonly found red efts, or the immature stage of the red-spotted newt. Almost a florescent orange, they look as if they want to be found.
Forests of the Upper Delaware River region are currently filled with the sounds of summer insects. I enjoy hearing them signal the rising heat of the day, or falling asleep with the windows open as the mesmerizing calls bring the night alive.
I have been seeing something this summer that, for the most part, has been missing during the last few summers. The once plentiful monarch butterfly, which I did not see in the wild, or saw only one or two a year, has become easier to spot this year.
You are walking along a forested trail when a glowing orange mass among the trees catches your attention. Closer inspection reveals it to be a beautiful bracket fungus commonly called Chicken of the Woods.
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.
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.
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?
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.