River Talk


TRR photo by Scott Rando

This orphaned bear cub is being re-introduced to an existing family of cubs by PA Game Commission staff. It is hoped that the mother will accept the new cub as one of her own. It is unknown how the cub became orphaned in the first place.

Youngsters in trouble

Spring is looked upon as the renewal of life; in the wild, most animals are breeding, and many species have young walking along with parents or in the nest, in the case of birds. Newly born or hatched young are much more vulnerable than the adults, and nature typically provides some protection for these young.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

A blaze of bright yellow along regional roadways at this time of year typically signals the presence of the cheerful flowers of coltsfoot. This sunny bloomer favors gravelly roadsides and waste places. Flowers precede the appearance of leaves thought to resemble a colt’s foot.

Harbingers of spring

Much to our collective relief, the local landscape is brightening with color as spring sweeps her painterly brush across the lackluster view we became accustomed to while wintry weather lingered a little too long.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

Painted turtles are among the first reptiles to be seen in the spring. They can frequently be seen basking on logs or on the shore of lakes and ponds. A suitable log may host a dozen turtles as they seek the warm rays of the sun.

If you don’t like the weather, blink

April is the first full month in spring, and she can be one of the most changeable months of the year weather-wise. A few days of balmy, sunny warmth can be followed by near blizzard conditions.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has identified trees as a top tool in addressing climate change. The agency is urging citizens to plant native tree species along streams to improve riparian buffers, as well as in backyards and community spaces. Riparian buffers are the trees, shrubs and grasses that serve as transitional zones from land to water. They act as filters for sediments and pollutants and help to keep them from reaching the water. Find helpful information in Common Trees of Pennsylvania (https://tinyurl.com/ya526lkf) or through the riparian buffer initiative (https://tinyurl.com/yd6n643c) or from TreeVitalize (https://tinyurl.com/y79amt9d). 

Trees please

The Upper Delaware River region experienced excessive damage to and loss of many trees during intense winter storms that delivered heavy snow and powerful winds during the final weeks of winter. Evidence of those impacts can still be seen in Pennsylvania’s Pike and Wayne counties, and in Sullivan County, New York.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

Two wood frogs are in amplexus; the male is above the female with his forelegs locked together. They will remain so coupled until the female deposits her eggs, usually on an under branch or other object, next to egg masses of other wood frogs. Color phases of wood frogs can be dark brown to a light tan, with the lighter colors seen during the summer when they are out of the water.

Hearable herps

April is usually the month when you can count on hearing the first frogs of spring. Sometimes, they start in late March, but this has been a colder spring than usual.


TRR photo by Sandy Long

Tick populations are soaring throughout the Upper Delaware River region, and ticks that were once uncommon, such as the lone star tick depicted here, are increasing in number. According to the PA Department of Health, Pennsylvania has led the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease for three straight years. The black-legged deer tick is the species most likely to transmit Lyme disease and has been found in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Visit https://bit.ly/2HtmxTJ to learn more. Download the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society’s helpful informational brochure on ticks at https://bit.ly/2HC3nIL. The PA Lyme Resource Network offers additional information at www.palyme.org.
 

Tick time

Although I’d prefer not to be the bearer of bad news, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s tick time in the Upper Delaware River region. My dogs have already had several, and I came home from a 30-minute photo ramble in Pike County recently with four blacklegged tick nymphs making their way up the legs of my pants.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

Robins are considered by many to be the first sign of spring, as flocks of them arrive in the region. However, some robins are present all winter here, if they can find a reliable food source; leftover berries or fruit on bushes are favored.

Some of spring’s arrivals

It’s hard to think of the coming of spring as I write this, because it is still snowing outside. No, not the 15 inches of snow we got a few weeks ago, which, with the wind, caused widespread damage throughout the region. No, this is just a dusting of wet snow that promises to melt with warming afternoon temperatures.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

Learn more about wood frogs and other amphibians at Lacawac Sanctuary in Lake Ariel, PA, during Vernal Visitation on April 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. East Stroudsburg University professor Dr. Thomas LaDuke will probe the waters of the sanctuary for amphibians. Also, In Search of Spring Migrants is scheduled for April 28 from 8 to 10 a.m., during which experts from the Northeast PA Audubon Society hike through the sanctuary seeking spring migrants. Call 570/689-9494 or email info@lacawac.org for more information. At the Pocono Environmental Education Center in Dingmans Ferry, PA, explore breeding pools during Salamanders, Frogs and More, slated for April 8 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon; or look for tiny tree frogs during the Spring Peeper Search on April 21 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Assisting amphibians

After seeming like it might never arrive in the Upper Delaware River region, spring has finally sprung. While walking in a forested area in Pike County, PA last week, I heard the unmistakable “quacking” calls of wood frogs emanating from a vernal pool. Soon these will be followed by the riotous “eeps” of spring peepers.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

These cubs, about three months old, need to be kept warm during their processing, so there are usually a few extra people along on the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) den surveys to act as “cub warmers.” These cubs, which weighed about five to eight pounds. are growing as they nurse from their mother. Mom, however, loses about 30% of her body mass during the hibernation.

Counting cubs in PA

During the third week of March, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a PA bear survey in Pike and Monroe Counties. Every year around mid-March, the PA Game Commission (PGC) surveys known bear dens and checks on the litter of young cubs that were born in January. By mid-March, the cubs are big enough to process.


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.

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