River Talk


TRR photo by Sandy Long

This juvenile American woodcock was photographed at the Shohola Recreation Area in Shohola, PA. Woodcock primarily breed in the northern United States and Southern Canada and overwinter in the southern United States. 

Woodcock whereabouts

One of the most interesting birds with which we share habitat in the Upper Delaware River region is the American woodcock. With its long needle-like beak, plumpish rounded body and peculiar bobbing gait, it is undoubtedly also one of the most adorable birds to behold.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

Many bald eagles can be seen migrating past ridges during October and November. At Sunrise Mountain, in Stokes State Forest in New Jersey, windy days with a northwest wind offer the best days to spot eagles.

Late fall raptors on the move

Thanksgiving is here, and most birds that migrate are where they have to be for the winter. People may have noticed tiny ducks on area lakes; these are buffleheads that came down from Canada in late October, and they will stay until lakes start freezing over.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

The weight of the turkey that left these tracks, in combination with snow conditions, may have produced the interesting circular pattern. Tracks laid in snow expand as the snow melts, providing clues as to how recently the animal was there. 

Tackling tracking in the snow

The first snows have dusted the Upper Delaware River Region. Other than giving everyone something to crow about on social media, some areas saw just enough accumulation to provide early opportunities for tracking animals and learning more about their “hidden” lives.


TRR photo by Scott Rando

This is Walker Lake in Shohola, PA looking north. Many trees are still green or pale yellow, with a few red trees, which are probably maple. There is some fall color evident, but paler than in normal years.
 

The reason for those dull fall colors

Fall is here, and most of us have already been raking or blowing a few leaves off the driveway or walkways. A couple of things are evident with the colors of the autumn leaves this year: a lot of the leaves are still green (or took longer to change color), and the leaves that did turn color seemed to be a duller red or yellow.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

These reproductions of, from left, a coyote skull, a white-tailed deer skull and an opossum skull will be used by students in Pike and Wayne county high schools to study mammals inhabiting the Upper Delaware River region in preparation for the 33rd annual Pike/Wayne Envirothon.
 

Studying ahead with skulls

With Halloween fading in the rearview mirror, we’ve certainly seen our share of skeletons, skulls and bones adorning houses and businesses in the Upper Delaware River region.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

Against a contrasting background such as water or snow, deer are pretty easy to see; but if they are near the side of the road, they may be concealed by mountain laurel, rhododendron, or similar understory vegetation. These deer won’t be visible until out in the roadway.

Be careful: deer are afoot

When the leaves start to turn and the need arises to burn the first fire in the woodstove, hunters are afield for whitetail deer, either by archery or muzzleloader. The rutting season for deer starts this time of year, and rutting-age bucks are on the move, sporting antlers to spar with other competing males as they seek suitable females.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

True to its nocturnal nature, this Eastern red-backed salamander was on the move past midnight, making its way through the rain-dampened leaf litter. Though the stripe along the back in this species is usually more reddish, this specimen sported a pale orange coloration.

Fall afoot

As fall advances in the Upper Delaware River region, signs of animal activity remind us that winter is on its way. For now, the colorful foliage claims our attention, and it’s easy to spot the heightened movement of squirrels and chipmunks as they prepare for the leaner months.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

A male eagle is seen in its flight enclosure at the Delaware Valley Raptor Center just before being taken to a release site. Various types of perch are placed in the enclosure for eagles to fly back and forth to. This is also a tool for rehabilitators to assess the ability for eagles to perch from flight and “hit its mark.”

Storm-injured eagle goes back into the wild

During the spring of this year, the region experienced an outbreak of severe weather in the form of thunderstorms that spawned tornadoes in a couple of locations and damaging winds in many other areas.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

Guttation is the secretion of watery droplets from the tips of the leaves of plants that have vascular systems. The result can be quite beautiful to observe, as in the glistening pearls depicted on this strawberry plant.

Water wonders

When water is scarce, when wells run dry and rivers run low, we are reminded of the essential value of this irreplaceable natural resource.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is a close-up of a broad-winged hawk perched on a telephone line near my home during mid-August. This species breeds in our region, and many have been seen or heard during the summer months.

Early migrants of fall

Fall has just arrived, and with it comes the start of the fall migration for many birds.

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