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Archive for August, 2011

Crow’s Nest lost & found

We have spent some time over the last couple weeks cleaning up from summer camp. If after camp you are missing a hat, shirt, towel, or creek shoes belonging to your kid please give us a call…

Mariton: Bats

The bats have been very active lately.  This bat was perched on the Nature Center, near the office, one day last week.  I am no bat expert, but I think it is a Big Brown Bat Eptesicus fuscus.  I have also been seeing bats daily in the bat box on the Nature Center, in the Bird Blind, and under the shop where I park the truck.  The bats were even foraging just before and after Hurricane Irene blew through .

While many people are not comfortable around bats, those that I have talked to are very concerned about the population declines attributed to White Nose Syndrome.  Scientists are still baffled by the cause of winter mortality of millions of bats across the northeastern United States.  One thing they have discovered is that species, like the Big Brown Bat, that don’t hibernate in large tight groups of individuals have less mortality than other species. 

 While they may be creepy to some, bats are truly remarkable creatures.  Unfortunately, it may be awhile before we can learn enough to help their populations stabilize.  In the meantime, many insect species will go on a spree.

Crow’s Nest: Waters recede

We received about 6.5″ of rain this weekend from the storm, but were spared a lot of the high winds. We had one tree down across the trail to the French Creek culvert. (We were scheduled to begin replacement of the culvert this week, but that’s going to have to wait). This tree that came down fell due to “root failure”—that is, the ground was so soft that the roots could not support the tree. I still have a couple more miles of trails to inspect, so there could be other blockages.

Roadsides and barns are okay and the power is back on. The creek trail was under a foot of water but is now only muddy. In the photo below, that’s not a duck box, its a bluebird box in an admittedly wet meadow…

Starfest Postponed to October 1

The StarFest scheduled for this weekend at Hopewell Furnace has been postponed until October 1. Star watching will be much better if not done during a storm. The program will be identical and will still feature speaker Dr. H. John Wood.

Of course that means there will be starwatching in one part of the Big Woods while there’s foot-stomping in another (Contra dance at Crow’s Nest, see below). You could try to do both…

Contra dances at Crow’s Nest

In addition to the contra dance we host annually in October, the Elverson Dance will also be coming to our barn this September. Mark your calendars for September 3 and October 1 for some good old-time music on our floorboards.

No need to bring a partner, just wear comfortable, soft-soled shoes. In September Ridge Kennedy will be calling to Rumpus, and in October Mark Widmer will be calling to  Dr.Twamley’s Audio Snakes.

Beginner instruction is at 7:00 and the dancing begins at 7:30. Admission is $9 (there are discounts for students, seniors, and members of the Conestoga dance).

See you here!

Bike Fresh Bike Local comes to Chester County

On September 25 the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture will be hosting its 4th annual Bike Fresh Bike Local ride through the rolling hills and farms of Chester County. Riders can choose from 25, 50 and 75 mile routes and the ride benefits PASA’s work on behalf of family farms in southeastern Pennsylvania. Lunch and rest stops are included in the registration. The ride will pass through some of the landscapes protected by Natural Lands Trust; the 75-mile loop will pass through the Hopewell Big Woods.

Mariton: Buckets (of rain)

The rain this weekend was unbelievable at Mariton.  However, it varies quite a bit across the area.  We received 3.88 inches by Sunday morning.  We received another 0.83 inches during the next twenty-four hour period.  And it is still raining. 

So far for the month (half way), we have received 6.53 inches of rain.  Average for August is 3.98 inches.  Even that average is skewed a little high, because in 2009 we received 11.31 inches of rain at Mariton during August.  Although it is unlikely, with more than two weeks left in the month that local record could be broken.

Fortunately, on Friday we installed some new water bars along the Main trail.  They did a great job of holding soil in place on a steep section of the trail.

Starfest in Hopewell Big Woods

The Chesmont Astronomical Society will be holding its annual Star Fest at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site on August 27 from 4 pm until midnight. The venue is at the center of of the Hopewell Big Woods (and next to our Crow’s Nest Preserve) and celebrates the dark skies made possible by the the protected natural areas of the Big Woods. Come for any part of the program that interests you:

The program begins at 4 with solar observations and telescope setup with kid’s activities from 6 – 7. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and picnic supper if you like. Then Stan Stubbe, President for the Outdoor Lighting Council will give a short presentation about the Hopewell Big Woods Dark Sky Reserve—an effort to keep light pollution at bay. Karl Krasley, founder of the Chesmont Astronomical Society will speak about the group’s 25th anniversary. Then the keynote speaker, Dr. H. John Wood from NASA Goddard Flight Center, will give a presentation; he is the optics lead engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope Project . By then the skies will be dark and the observations will begin.

Mariton: Waiting to Fly

The last brood of Bluebirds are leaving the nest.  Two birds have already left.  The one standing on its siblings has been looking out the entrance and contemplating taking that big step.  The two other birds don’t seem to be in a rush, but they will eventually succomb to the coaxing of their parents and siblings.

Mariton: Kayaking in the Moonlight

We enjoyed the perfect night for the Moonlight Kayak Trip.  We launched in time to watch the orange glow of sunset on the water.  Erich Boenzli took the photo above. 

We also saw an Osprey perched in a snag.  It is too dark to see the Osprey in the photo, but it stayed motionless as we watched it.  We also saw a Great Blue Heron standing like a statue on the pilings along the lake shore.

The lake was smooth.  The temperature was comfortable.  The sky was placid.  The moon was bright.  The group of people was wonderful.  We even saw shooting stars.

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