River Talk


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.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is an aerial shot of the west shore of Walker Lake in Shohola, PA that was taken on the morning after the March 5 storm. Most of the trees in this image are white pine, and most of them have a significant amount of snow on them.

March roars in like a lion

Hopefully, by the time you read this, it will not be by candlelight or the light from a Colman lantern. As of March 9, there are still a few spots on both sides of the river without power. On the 2nd of March, a heavy, wet snowstorm hit; this caused trees to come down across power lines and even a few houses were damaged by fallen trees.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

These tracks indicate the passage of a human and two dogs. But what is that curious arc appearing to the left of the first dog’s tracks? The human tracks are mine and the middle tracks, displaying a normal gait, were made by my dog Ziva. My new pup, Raven, has a waddling side-to-side swish. As her hind feet move forward, they swing outward, creating the crescent shape seen here. Domestic dogs provide good opportunities to hone your tracking skills.

Surviving the times

Severe weather events like the one that struck the Upper Delaware River region recently throw us suddenly out of our normal routines. Priorities shift to survival activities like securing adequate shelter, clean water and ample nourishment.


TRR photo by Jane Bollinger

The brown color patterns of ruffed grouse make them inconspicuous in their forest habitat and helps keep them from being detected by predators. Some good news has come from the PGC study; if a grouse comes into contact with West Nile virus and survives, it then develops antibodies which prevents them from contracting the disease in the future.

Trouble for the ruffed grouse in PA

Hunters in PA have always looked forward to going afield with a dog and pursuing the elusive ruffed grouse. You can hunt this species without a dog, but it is a lot more difficult, as these well camouflaged birds flush out of cover and provide the briefest of targets before they rapidly disappear in forest cover.


Photos courtesy of PA Dept. of Agriculture

Almost clownish in appearance, the spotted lanternfly is no laughing matter. This exotic insect poses a major threat to many of our region’s native plant species and hardwood forests. Adults are approximately 1 inch long and one-half inch wide at rest.

Meeting to target spotted lanternfly

As noted in our news story of February 8, the latest exotic insect invader to threaten our native plant species is the spotted lanternfly (SLF). Despite its eye-catching appearance, this is a seriously bad bug that was first discovered in Berks County, PA in 2014 and has expanded to affect approximately 3,000 square miles by the end of 2017.

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