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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.