River Talk

TRR photos by Sandy Long

This red-spotted newt got a hand across the road to safety on a recent drizzly evening. While it is best to handle the migrators as little as possible, it is still better than the alternative. 

Road Tolls

It’s a rainy warmish night in the Upper Delaware River region, and while most of us are dry and comfortable inside our homes, other species are out and about, risking their lives while scurrying across roads toward their breeding grounds.

TRR photos by Scott Rando
The downy woodpecker is the most common woodpecker seen in the region as well as heard. One of its courtship calls is a “whinny.” Most woodpeckers can be attracted by seed or suet feeders. This is a male; the females have no red at all on their head.

Drumbeats in the woods

When March arrives and there are any trees at all around, many species of birds get an early start on breeding by trying to court a mate by means of calls. Calling birds are very apparent on even a short walk outdoors. If you listen, you can make out the tapping of woodpeckers as well.

TRR photos by Sandy Long
This black-capped chickadee was the victim of a window collision. There are various ways to make the windows of your home safer for birds. Visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/why-birds-hit-windows-and-how-you-can-help... to learn more and put at least one remedy into practice today.

The impact of windows

It’s a startling sound, the thud that occurs when a bird mistakes a window for clear flight space and strikes glass instead. Your heart sinks to think about the possible outcomes—at worst, the loss of life, at best, a temporarily stunned and disabled bird that could use all the help it can get until it recovers enough to enable flight.

TRR photos by Scott Rando
This pair of hooded mergansers were among the many waterfowl visitors saw last week in the river at Lackawaxen. The more brightly colored male is to the right.

Waterfowl Riverdance

The coming of spring brings to thought a diverse variety of events to different people. For some of us, the first thing to come to mind is the appearance of daffodils popping out of the ground. For others, the song of spring peepers calling in the early evening from wetlands and marshes.

Contributed photos by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
On March 10, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) forest rangers received notification of a 31-year-old male with a possible fractured femur near the summit of Whiteface Mountain in Essex County, NY. The subject was packaged into a litter and towed by snowmobile down the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway, then transferred to an ambulance for further treatment.

Rangers rock

I recently signed up to receive email news bulletins from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). One of the bulletins focuses on the important work done by DEC forest rangers, often with little public awareness of those activities. 

TRR photos by Scott Rando
This adult red-spotted newt was seen in a small pond along with at least 50 other individuals during the first week of March. The red spots that give this species its name are plainly visible on this adult.

Early sights of spring

Toward the end of February and the first few days of March, we had some mild weather with the temperature approaching 60° in some areas. Ice was completely gone or well on its way to being gone on most waterways, and I did a little hunting with eyes and ears for early frogs and salamanders.

Photos by Sandy Long

The Delaware and Hudson Canal was built between 1826 and 1828 by immigrant labor to transport anthracite coal, timber, tanners’ bark, animal hides, iron, cement, glass-making materials, finished glassware and bluestone to New York City. Today, while walking the cleared path along the canal, we can imagine the boats pulled by mules as they made their way, loaded with cargo from our region.

Trail time

As we enter the third month of 2017, it’s good to keep in mind how quickly time passes and how soon spring will be here. Connecting with the rising energy of spring is a great way to uphold those New Year’s resolutions for better physical and mental health.

TRR photo by Scott Rando
This summer roost of little brown bats was found in an abandoned building in 2014. During daylight hours in spring, summer and fall bats rest in attics, belfries, or even openings in tree trunks. Two years later, this same building was surveyed again during the same timeframe, and there were about one third of the bats that were counted during 2014.

The plight of the bats

During the cold months of winter, the average person doesn’t think about bats; there are none to be seen outdoors or in the attic, where they may roost during the day in the summer. Now is the season when bats in our region are literally fighting for their lives, as they attempt to survive the winter hibernation period.

TRR photos by Sandy Long
Twentieth century American poet Robert Frost, wrote his beloved poem “Birches” as a response to the beauty of the rural landscape he loved at his home in Franconia, NH. The poem was published in 1916, a year after he moved to Franconia. It concludes with the lines: 
“I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”

Poet-tree for thee

Fans of Robert Frost’s poetry and lovers of trees might be pleased to know they can now plant a piece of history on their Upper Delaware River region property. 

Contributed photo

TRR photo by Scott Rando

Northern harriers can often be seen foraging over Liberty Marsh as they fly low looking (and listening) for mice, voles and other rodents. Like an owl, they have a disk-shaped head so the placement of their ears enhances their sense of hearing; this enables them to hear the faint rustle of a hidden mouse in the grass.

Wallkill River NWR, a year-round destination

During the first week of February, I visited the north end of Liberty Marsh at the New York side of the border with New Jersey. It is located within the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, a roughly 12-mile-long area of federal refuge lands that surround the Wallkill River.



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