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Archive for June, 2012

Speaking of Eagles

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager


While I was on the Delaware Sojourn, Don Hamilton of the National Park Service, did a presentation on the Bald Eagles in the Delaware River Valley.  We watched a nest from an island some distance away as he spoke.  He told us that breeding pairs had a territory of roughly 5 river miles.  I found that pretty interesting. 

I often see Bald Eagles as I paddle my canoe between Easton and Riegelsville.  Spending time on the Towpath, the River, or even Mariton’s overlooks is a good way to see an Eagle.  Your odds are increased at this time of year, because the young are off the nest and adults are still mentoring them.

Another amazing number:  the Pennsylvania Game Commission knows of 206 active Bald Eagle nests this spring. Thirty years ago, they started an Eagle Recovery Project because there were so few nesting eagles in the state.  Now there are eagles nesting in 51 of the 67 counties.  That is a wildlife management success story for the books.  Thanks to the Clean Water Act, the banning of DDT, and a great fishery, the Bald Eagle has made a healthy return to our watershed. 


The Bald Eagle That Wasn’t Bald

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

Earlier this week, I was canoeing on the Delaware River Sojourn.  We saw lots of Bald Eagles each day, and even had a program on Eagles as one of the educational programs.

I saw an unbelievable sight involving an Eagle.  A few of us were paddling out front when an immature Bald Eagle appeared overhead.  It was being chased by Tree Swallows.  The most aggressive of the swallows landed on the Eagle’s head!  At first I couldn’t believe my eyes, but then I saw it disengage from the Eagle’s head, and land again… and again.  It was only 60 feet above us when it happened, so I got a very good look.  Each time, the swallow stayed attached for at least 10 seconds.  Even if I had doubted my eyes, there were five other paddlers who confirmed that I wasn’t dreaming.  We all turned to each other afterwards and said in unison, “I’m glad you saw that too.  No one would believe me.”

Mariton: Bluebirds Doing Well

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The Bluebirds are doing great.  In Box #15, there are 5 fledglings that should be gone within the next 10 days.  We also have 4 Bluebirds that hatched earlier this week. 

Box #22 has 3 Tufted Titmice that are ready to fledge any day now.  Tree Swallows have started a new nest and have layed 3 eggs so far.  It looks like we will be monitoring nest boxes throughout July this year.

Mariton: Butterflies and the Blues

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

(Pipevine Swallowtail by Carole Mebus)

We saw some wonderful butterflies on Tuesday’s Butterfly Walk.  This Pipevine Swallowtail is an uncommon visitor to Mariton.  The blue was irridescent and stunning.  It perched for several minutes and Carole was able to get several really good photos.

(Red Admiral by Carole Mebus

This mystery butterfly had us stumped for some time.  Virginia surmised (I am still not sure how) that it was a Red Admiral that wasn’t exposing much of its forewing.  She was right; as we  got closer it eventually opened its wings.

(Painted Lady by Carole Mebus)

We saw lots of Painted Ladies during the morning, but I like this shot that reflects a different beauty of this spectacular butterfly.  There is still lots of time to check out butterflies at Mariton. 

(Indigo Bunting by Carole Mebus)

Finally, to go with the swallowtail photo, I added Carole’s photo of a Indigo Bunting that we saw during the walk.  Compare the blues.

Chester County Town Tours and Village Walks 2012

This Thursday, June 28 the Chester County Town Tours and Village Walks will come to St. Peter’s Village, just downstream on French Creek from our Crow’s Nest Preserve.

Sponsored by the Chester County: Board of Commissioners, Parks & Recreation Department, Conference & Visitor’s Bureau, Historic Preservation Network, and Historical Society, the walks have been popular summer evening guided tours of historic neighborhoods and villages for several years now. The St. Peter’s Village walk is a new one this year. I know enough about the village’s history to say that this one will be a good time.

Reservations are required for this Thursday’s free village walk. Call 1-877-442-2476 #103  for more information and reservations.

St. Peter’s Village is a gateway community to the Hopewell Big Woods, a place that helped shape the region historically and today offers the restaurants and sightseeing stop worth making on any visit to the Big Woods.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on June 26, 2012.

Crow’s Nest: Chicken TV

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a television, and I have to say I don’t miss it much (we do have internet, however). Most summer evenings we sit on the porch eating dinner and then watching dusk fall over the yard. It’s not exactly an action movie, but there are a few songbirds still active, the fireflies, and an occasional bat flying past the barn.

Now we have comedy and melodrama to watch too. Our chickens (egg layers) live in a portable pen—a chicken tractor—most of the time. But while we eat dinner we let them out to roam around the yard, and they are funny and beautiful to see.

We have a Java, Plymouth Barred Rock, Gold-laced Wyandotte, and a Black Australorp.

And… there are no commercials.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on June 26, 2012.

Mariton: Butterfly Census

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

(Painted Lady by Carole Mebus)

We held our annual butterfly cenus on Saturday.  In all, we counted 22 species and 212 individuals.  Some things surprised me.  We saw lots of Painted Ladies (pictured above), Monarchs and Red Admirals.  Red Admirals appeared uncommonly early this spring, then basically disappeared.  Perhaps this is a second brood?

Another surprise was the lack of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails.  These are generally very common at Mariton due to a great source of food plants.  I am still scratching my head on this one, and will be watching the fields for the rest of the summer to see if they eventually appear.

The Milkweed still has lots of blossoms, so butterflies will abound at Mariton for some time.  We will have our last scheduled butterfly walk on Tuesday morning.

Great American Backyard Campout this weekend…

This weekend is the Great American Backyard Campout… so put up the pup tent and get out there!

Crow’s Nest: Genista broom moth caterpillar

Yesterday on the blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) plants I saw this pretty caterpillar. I had left my camera at my parents’ house over the weekend so I borrowed Pete’s camera for this closeup:

These caterpillars are the larvae of the genista broom moth (Uresiphita reversalis), also known as the sophora worm moth. I’ve never seen any damage on our Baptisia before, and its perfect foliage is one reason people grow it. No longer the case, though I am okay with the damage if the caterpillars provide some bird food. After all, we plant native species to support indigenous insects to feed local birds.

The webbing you see in the photo will become the pupa for the moth. This caterpillar is also commonly found on non-native broom plants (Cytisus sp.) or on bluebonnets (Lupinus) and is found from Nova Scotia south to Florida and Texas, though I suspect it’s more common to the south. Its population also reportedly irrupts in cycles so I don’t expect it will be a constant pest. I have several options for managing the damage if it becomes too great: picking off the caterpillars, cutting back the plants (they need it anyway), spraying with a sharp stream of water to see what that does…but the bottom line is that we have planted a diversity of species so that a pest on one of them does not ruin the garden.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on June 19, 2012.

Crow’s Nest Teen Workday

We had a great workday today with emeritus (“classic,” “vintage,” or perhaps “aged-out”) campers who came back to help set up for the younger kids at Crow’s Nest Camp that starts next week. Among other tasks, the older kids moved wood and other supplies from storage into the woods where the campers will use them to build a giant ant hill, painted a new set of towel racks to dry wet towels for when the kids return from the creek, put together the “exoskeletons” of giant ants made out of plastic bottles we are temporarily diverting from recycling, unbuilt a shelter made from “found” materials in the woods (so that the kids can build it again), and did some major earthmoving with this bulldozer.

Okay, that last bit is not true. The bulldozer is here to do some grading around the Jacob house renovation, but it made for a good photo op.

Thank you to the teenagers, and to Molly Smyrl for organizing the workday, for all that you accomplished.

By the way, there is now a Crow’s Nest specific FaceBook page specifically designed to reach this teenage constituency. There will be some unique content as well as some overlap with the Natural Lands Trust FaceBook page. Bookmark both!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on June 18, 2012.











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