August is upon us, and nature’s clock is letting us know in the form of nightly katydid serenades and blooming cardinal flowers along streams and wetlands. If you have seen cardinal flowers in the wild, you may also have seen many hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies near the brilliant red blooms of the cardinal flower. This striking trait of the cardinal flower is an adaptation of the plant to help attract pollinating fauna; the birds and insects, in turn, exhibit behavioral adaptation when they are attracted by brightly colored plant inflorescence when gathering nectar or pollen. Read more
Experiencing the natural world through the eye of a camera lens is a satisfying activity that comes with plentiful rewards. For shutterbugs who enjoy spending time photographing on Pennsylvania public lands, two upcoming photo contests might be of interest. Read more
People in certain parts of the region may have noticed a familiar looking caterpillar early this summer. It seems that the gypsy moth is back. An egg mass survey done last February in Pennsylvania by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) indicated that egg mass density was light (40 to 200 egg masses/acre) at most sampling points in Pike County and isolated sampling points in Wayne County (see map at centrecountypa.gov/index.aspx?NID=217). Read more
An Illegal Dumpsite Survey (IDS) of Pennsylvania has been completed, and the results aren’t pretty. From 2005 to 2013, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB) performed the county-based survey of the Commonwealth, identifying 6,487 illegal dumpsites containing an estimated 18,516.83 tons of trash.
The results only capture sites that are visible from the public right-of-way and do not include farm dumps or dumps on private lands. For this reason, KPB notes, “It can be presumed that there are significant numbers of illegal dumpsites out of sight on private property.” Read more
Anyone who learned how to fly remembers their first solo flight. In a light, primary training aircraft without 170 pounds of instructor (“official” weight, mileage may vary), the aircraft seemingly leaped into the air. For most people, it was an exhilarating experience, and maybe you left the traditional shirt tail with your name and solo date on the flight school office wall.
For young bald eagles that are now as large as an adult, their first solo is imminent, and with a bit more risk factor than a first-time pilot who follows a simple square traffic pattern around the runway. Read more
All of the reptiles and amphibians identified last weekend during the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz (www.UpperDelawareBioBlitz.com) will have the double honor of being counted twice, first as residents of the Norcross Wildlife Foundation’s property in Starlight, PA, and also in the recently launched Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey (PARS). Read more
It was an early June day, one of those perfect sunny days with temperatures in the high 70s; I decided I could no longer sit at the computer and work on whatever report I happened to be working on, so I took a break in the form of a late morning walk. I walked to a nearby lakeshore and thought in hindsight that I should have packed a lunch. When I arrived at the lake, I observed that I wasn’t the only hungry one there. Read more
As their name indicates, snapping turtles can inflict a powerful bite if threatened. But that’s no reason to fear or harm these impressive reptiles. Enjoy them at a safe distance and thrill to their fascinating physique.
As the largest turtle species in the Upper Delaware River region, “snappers” are can reach a shell length of 12 inches and typically range between 15 to 45 pounds. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, an exceptional snapper found in Wayne County, PA in 2006 weighed in at over 60 pounds. Read more
A year ago, I received a phone message from a homeowner in reference to an eagle that seemed to be stuck in a bush near his home. I called the homeowner back and, after a few minutes of conversation, it was determined that the eagle was in less peril than was first thought. It turned out to be a fledgling young eagle that just picked the wrong landing spot; it extricated itself to find a more suitable perch. Read more
It’s turtle time in the Upper Delaware River region—time to watch out for dark disc-like shapes along area roadways as turtles move about seeking areas of dirt and gravel in which to deposit their eggs.
This common and attractive turtle exhibits a combination of deep green, black, bright red and yellow coloring. It is often seen basking on logs and rocks in ponds, lakes and wetlands to regulate body temperature. Like snakes, turtles are “poikilothermic,” meaning that their body temperature is largely affected by the temperature of their surroundings. Read more