For those readers that have been following the monarch butterflies through the summer, you have probably been encouraged by the number of monarchs seen compared to the previous few years. In the August 16 issue, I did a River Talk column on the increase in monarch sightings, and that trend seems to have continued.
Fall foliage season in the state of Pennsylvania is a spectacular thing to experience. With more than 17 million acres of forested land throughout the state, there are abundant opportunities to enjoy the trees, brush, berries and vines that contribute to this deeply satisfying sensory treasure.
If you have been in or near the woods during this past summer, you may have heard a high-pitched single-note whistle. It is piercing and carries a fairly long distance, even through the forest. Occasionally, you may have spotted a stubby-winged hawk, appearing somewhat like a miniature red-tailed hawk, sounding this call.
As I was driving past my neighbor’s home recently, a white figure in the green grass caught my eye. The ghostly bird turned out to be a great egret, also called the American egret and sometimes referred to as a white heron.
Well, its September now; the kids are back to school and some folks have made preparations to close summer cottages for the season. It is still officially summer, and green still abounds in the environment, but there are subtle changes that can be seen that tell of a change of seasons.
When it comes to our knowledge of the natural world, what we don’t know (or what we have been misinformed about via social media or exaggerated claims often fueled by fear) can cause harm. These misunderstandings sometimes lead to unfortunate outcomes for the targeted species.
You’ve probably walked on a forest path or even a secondary road this summer in the morning when it was still cool and spotted bright red or orange newts on the trail or roadway. These are the commonly found red efts, or the immature stage of the red-spotted newt. Almost a florescent orange, they look as if they want to be found.
Forests of the Upper Delaware River region are currently filled with the sounds of summer insects. I enjoy hearing them signal the rising heat of the day, or falling asleep with the windows open as the mesmerizing calls bring the night alive.
I have been seeing something this summer that, for the most part, has been missing during the last few summers. The once plentiful monarch butterfly, which I did not see in the wild, or saw only one or two a year, has become easier to spot this year.
You are walking along a forested trail when a glowing orange mass among the trees catches your attention. Closer inspection reveals it to be a beautiful bracket fungus commonly called Chicken of the Woods.