March 31, 2009
A couple weeks ago, Jim Thompson and I took our boats on the Tohickon Creek during the Lake Nockamixon release. Jim is the Preserve Manager for NLT's Paunacussing and Diabase Preserves in Buck County. We had done this trip in November and had so much fun that we vowed not to miss the release again. (Jim's expression in this photo is why we don't want to miss the release again.)
Of course, the water had cooled all winter, and was much colder than when we paddled in November. We wore cold water gear and high flotation PFDs (personal flotation devices). The Tohickon is famous for its technical whitewater, but neither Jim nor I have the equipment or skills for the lower section of the Creek. So, we ran about 6 miles of the Upper Section from Lake Nockamixon to Ralph Stover Park. It is mostly Class I and II, and within our skills.
In November we were treated to a great ride with wonderful colors. We didn't have the fall colors this trip, but we did paddle through some scenic farmland and sections of the narrow creek valley. I realized when I downloaded the photos that it looks pretty docile. We were having so much fun during the rough sections that I forgot to take photos. Another reason to do the run again.
March 31, 2009
Last week I was in the Poconos monitoring Conservation Easements. Easements are one tool for protecting property from future development, while still retaining ownership. The easements that I monitor in the Poconos exemplify the value of conservation easements. They protect headwaters of streams, and they protect land that would otherwise have been gobbled up by developers for Pocono communities. For the most part, they are undeveloped tracts of wilderness and I have the privilege of visiting them once a year to confirm that the owners are abiding by the easement restrictions.
A few photos from last week.
A trail through abandoned farm land that has returned to forest, overlooking the Delaware River.
A dead tree being recycled by Pileated Woodpeckers.
The headwaters of a Pocono stream that is protected by a conservation easement.
March 31, 2009
In the last few days I have seen a pair of herons in the creek, heard owls hooting and sighted a woodcock. This last is a rare experience for me here at the preserve.
Reports are coming in on the status of the spring amphibian migration. The dry weather meant there were no mass migrations to wetlands; the wood frogs and salamanders trickled in gradually. By this weekend's rain, some were still journeying to the wetland, others had already mated and were leaving. Chester County Parks will be holding a program
on Frogwatch U.S.A.—a citizen monitoring program—this Saturday with Glenn Nelson and Jay Erb at Warwick County Park.
March 30, 2009
We now have more than 500 field guides, children's nature books, and selected periodicals in our Crow's Nest library and a cozy corner of the barn in which to sit and browse. The barn is open by chance or appointment, so if you'd like to spend some time with the books just set up a time to come by (610-286-7955). We don't usually lend the books so that they are always here for reference by our classes and programs.
One periodical that no longer will be showing up on our bookshelves is now available online: The Keystone Wild Notes—a wild plant and wildlife magazine—will now only be published on the internet. Anyone can subscribe, click here
March 30, 2009
My wife Denise is organizing a group of parents with babies to get out and walk at the preserve on Wednesday mornings from 10 – 11:30 (older preschool children are welcome). She'll meet them at the visitor center barn here at 201 Piersol Road. The length of the walk and the kinds of trails taken will be determined by the group that shows up. Bring a sling or carrier for the best mobility. After a walk she'll return to the barn for tea. Call us at 610-286-7955 for more information or to confirm the morning's walk.
March 24, 2009
On Saturday, April 4 we will hold our annual cleanup/volunteer day, 7:30 am to 11:00 am. Come when you can and meet us in the field—we'll leave a coffeepot and directions to where we are working in the garage across from 201 Piersol Road.
Bring work gloves, pruners, and loppers or a hand saw. If enough people arrive with hip boots we'll be working in a wetland. Otherwise, there's plenty of vines to cut in other places. Please call me at 610-286-7955 for more information.
March 23, 2009
This Saturday, March 28 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. there will be a worldwide demonstration for energy conservation: a symbolic hour of turning lights off. Many cities are turning off streetlights. Here at the preserve we don't use many lights unless there is an evening event, but we'll be sure to turn off everything we've got! I look forward to seeing more of the night sky, resting my eyes in the darkness, and pausing to consider the implications of widespread night lighting.
March 19, 2009
The spring peepers are calling now, steadily when it is warm enough. And the wood frogs have begun making their "grabble-ing" sound (I made that word up). It sounds a bit like ducks quacking or turkeys gobbling, or the "hubbub" sound used to simulate a crowd of people talking in old radio shows. You can hear it a little in the beaver wetland downstream from Harmonyville Road—and therefore from the visitor center here—and much louder from the far end of the creek trail, where the sound carries up out to Piersol Road again. Just remember that if you walk too close they will clam up for a few minutes.
We have had only a trace of rain so far this month and are down about 4" for the year so far. I'd say it's the driest spring I can remember, but I don't really remember and I didn't write it down. In any case, gardening season has arrived because the soil has dried out and is warming up. We'll just need some rain for anything to grow.
The lack of rain means there has been no dramatic mass migration of frogs and salamanders. They have crossed when it was only damp, though I did find two spotted salamanders smushed on our road—despite this being a lightly traveled road.
The red maple trees have started blooming, and alder catkins are dangling from their branches.
March 16, 2009
The end of winter will not spell the end of this igloo made of plastic milk jugs. Kids at Crow's Nest spring and summer programs will play in it as part of the natural homes projects we'll be working on. (Think of the possibilities: sod house, teepee, collier's hut, straw bale home, log cabin…) We'll use nature's homes—wildlife's examples—as a guide.
The spring sessions of WebWalkers (grades 4 – 6) will be held on Thursday afternoons from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. from April 16 through May 21. A similar program for homeschooled kids will be held on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 17 through May 22.
Spring WebWigglers (grades k – 1) will be on Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., April 15 through May 20.
And spring Spiderlings (grades 2 – 3) will be on Friday afternoons April 17 through May 22.
The cost for each six-week session is $30/child. For more information please call us at 610-286-7955.
And thank you to all the families that brought us their milk jugs. At the end of summer we will be taking these to the recycling center!
March 14, 2009
I walked the trails this morning and remembered to take the camera. From the Chimney Rock Trail, the view of Raub's Island is great. The Delaware River is high right now as snow pack in the Poconos and Catskills melts. The high water visually outlines the island from the distance. The camera (or rather this photographer) cannot capture what you actually see. In other words, the view in person is better than the photo.
When I turned around, there was the Chimney Rock formation. I have photographed this outcrop many times in all seasons, but this morning I took the photo from a different angle.
On the North Fox Trail, a Pileated Woodpecker sounded off. While looking for the bird, I found its recent excavation in a Tuliptree.
I made the loop around the Pine Circle and walked through the meadows. I admired the new bluebird boxes. Ryan built about 20 boxes this winter. Last week, he replaced many of the older boxes with his work. The new boxes are built of Austrian Pine. The pines had died a few years back and were milled. I will be checking the boxes in the next few weeks looking for nesting activity. It is Spring – just pre-Equinox.