River Talk


TRR photos by Sandy Long

A grandmother and her grandchildren explore the lowland area and its wetland, where we spotted amphibians, insects and a host of spring ephemeral wildflowers and ferns.

Capturing the confluence

The Delaware Highlands Conservancy hosted an educational walk last weekend focused on native plants at the Milford Experimental Forest, a 1,191-acre property in Milford, PA. Amanda Subjin of the Conservancy and Garrett


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This immature red-spotted newt is commonly called a “red eft.” A few appear on shaded forest floors in late April, but many more come out during the first part of May. This species spends a few years in their immature stage on land before changing to a green color, growing a keel on their tails and returning to a pond as adults.

Spring’s clock is ticking

Now that May is here, the weather promises to be milder. By now, it is usually safe to put the more tender plants out without danger of frost. In fact, over the last week of April at lower elevations, trees have started to bud.


 TRR photos by Scott Rando
This loon is a study of intricate patterning as it spreads its wings next to my kayak on Walker Lake in Shohola, PA in early May. Its red eyes stand out even though it was cloudy with intermittent rain.

Loons: just passing through

One May afternoon, I happened to be working in the yard when I thought I heard the mournful call of a loon. I was almost done with my work, and when I was finished, I headed down to Walker Lake with a pair of binoculars to see if I could find what had made that noise.


TRR photo by Sandy Long
The McDade Recreational Trail ranges through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and features gravel pathways for hiking and bicycling, views of the Delaware River, farm fields and forests.

A trail to try

Spring has finally sprung, beckoning us outside with its beguiling charms. Taking to a trail is a wonderful way to connect with what’s happening as temperatures climb and daylight lengthens. One interesting option to consider is the long and winding McDade Recreational Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

One of the frogs, which was likely feeling the effects of its recent emergence, is seen sitting on the ice for a period of time. Amphibians become somewhat torpid at very low temperatures, making them very vulnerable to predation, but I did not see any attempts by crows or other birds.

Frogs on ice

This time of the year I get into the habit of checking for the first signs and sounds of the spring peepers and wood frogs in local ponds. In our region, the last week of March through the first week of April is a great time to hear those first emerging for the season.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

Lighten your spirits with a good laugh at the creatures we share our lives with—even those who, at times, test our patience!
 

A dose of delight

By the time this column goes to press, the few lingering lumps of crusty snow-ice in my yard will hopefully have seeped into the soggy earth. The transition from winter’s slow fade to spring’s invigorating rise sometimes


TRR photos by Scott Rando

Spring peepers can be heard in wetlands and ponds and may be seen nearby on grass or roads. Their scientific name, Pseudacris crucifer, describes the cross pattern on the spring peeper’s back. Where one spring peeper is heard, you will hear many more. Male spring peepers call for several weeks during the breeding season.

Amphibians on the move

Over the past few weeks, you may have seen notices in social media and newspapers (including The River Reporter) regarding certain roads being closed down some nights in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation


TRR photo by Sandy Long
Switch off your lights in honor of Earth Hour on March 30, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Plan an appropriate activity highlighting this year’s focus—the biodiversity of life on Earth. Pen a poem or write a letter to the mighty Delaware River or your favorite animal or plant species.  Afterwards, share it through social media or send it to your local newspaper for possible publication to raise awareness of the tremendous natural resources that sustain our lives here.
 

An hour for the Earth

In an effort to inspire people around the world to take action in support of the planet and the natural world, a grassroots movement known as Earth Hour was launched in 2007.


Photo provided by Scott Rando

This is a bear cub from one of last year’s den visits. When they first emerge from the den in April, they weigh from four to six pounds, but grow close to 100 pounds as a yearling. As the latter part of March approaches, there should be more activity visible from the PGC bear-cam.

The bears’ live debut

Okay, so the groundhog may have lied, or, at least, led us slightly astray regarding the end of winter. It seems that March came in like a lion with some moderate, ice-laden storms followed by cold days with lows in the single digits.

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