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Archive for August, 2012

Mariton: Another Hickory Horned Devil

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

A month ago, there was a Blog Post about the Hickory Horned Devil that Jarrod Shull found at Binky Lee.  Since I had never seen one, I was pretty impressed by its appearance. 

Today I found one crossing the driveway by the Black Walnut tree at Mariton’s entrance.  This caterpillar is huge!  I should have known from the photo with Jarrod’s hand for reference (Jarrod has big hands!), but until I saw one in person I couldn’t appreciate its size. The caterpillar that I found was a good 5 inches long and over a 1/2 inch in diameter.  I think most birds would think twice before tackling this creature, but it would feed them for a long time.

Crow’s Nest: Sedge

Here’s a photo of a sedge, Carex intumescens, with a small spider on it. Species identification of sedges is not a place I normally go but I am reasonably confident of this one. We will be taking an inventory of species at the preserve over the next couple years and I am excited to have a more comprehensive list.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on August 30, 2012.

Crow’s Nest: Harmonyville Road open

The final bridge on our local section of Harmonyville Road has been completed and the road is open. This bridge was built in State Game Lands #43 between Crow’s Nest and Route 345.

Although this bridge over Pine Creek is much higher and longer than the one it replaces, this one was designed well to fit in with the natural setting.

Visitors can now reach Crow’s Nest from Route 345 via Harmonyville Road without detour. Perhaps the best part is that I no longer have a detour sign our front yard to mow around.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on August 29, 2012.

Crow’s Nest: a good year for wild lettuce

This has been a good year of growth for a species of wild lettuce that we see at Crow’s Nest: blue lettuce (Lactuca biennis). It is a biennial that sends up this tall shoot its second and final year of growth, setting seed for new plants.

This native species is supposed to grow up to two meters (not including the flower inflorescence which is almost a meter itself—see arrow), and this one is easily that. Here Owen (at 39″, he’s conveniently about one meter) poses next to one.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on August 28, 2012.

Mariton: Moonlight on the Lake

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Last night we had the perfect night for a kayak trip on Lake Nockamixon.  With our kayaks marked with glow sticks, we paddled off under the Rt. 563 bridge and saw several Great Blue Herons along the way.  While we were not in a position to watch the sun set on the lake, the reflection on the clouds was beautiful.

Darkness descended quickly after we turned around and headed for the main part of the lake.  The moon was high in the sky and the night air was very soothing.  The reflection of the moon in the ripples behind our kayaks was mesmerizing. 

Whenever you are responsible for people on the water it is difficult to relax.  You are always counting boats, watching for signs of fatigue, etc.  Last night, we had a really nice group of folks.  Things were laid back, so I was able to talk with almost everone.  I really enjoyed myself.  Thanks to Jim Andrews and Maureen who also keep an eye on things while we are afloat.

Unfortunately, this was the last kayak trip of the year.  Because of my schedule, I couldn’t find any open dates to schedule other trips before the water gets cold.

Crow’s Nest: Native fern diversity

Now that summer is ending I am finally getting around to compiling data that was gathered at the beginning of the season. On June 9 the Philadelphia Botanical Club and the Delaware Valley Fern and Wildflower Society visited Crow’s Nest with a plan to document the flora of a small part of the preserve. They will make several field trips over the next couple years to further inventory the diversity of plants that grow here. Below: the New York fern, Thelypteris noveboracensis. Top: Northern lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum.

We found fifteen species of fern here that day, a few more than I realized we had:

  • Bracken fern – Pteridium aquilinum
  • Sensitive fern – Onoclea sensibilis
  • New York fern – Thelypteris noveboracensis
  • Lady fern – Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum
  • Spinulose Wood fern – Dryopteris carthusiana
  • Evergreen Wood fern – Dryopteris intermedia
  • Christmas fern – Polystichum acrostichoides
  • Marginal Wood fern – Dryopteris marginalis
  • Marsh fern – Thelypteris palustris
  • Silvery Glade fern – Deparia acrostichoides
  • Hayscented fern- Dennstaedtia punctilobula
  • Cinnamon fern – Osmunda cinnamomea
  • Interrupted fern – Osmunda claytoniana
  • Royal fern – Osmunda regalis
  • Ebony spleenwort – Asplenium platyneuron

Here is a view of the sori of the marginal wood fern, Dryopteris marginalis:

And those of the silvery spleenwort (silvery glade fern) Deparia acrostichoides:

A photo of royal fern, Osmunda regalis, winding through other vegetation:

A view of marsh fern, Thelypteris palustris:

And sensitive fern, Onoclea sensibilis:

Posted by Daniel Barringer on August 24, 2012.

Crow’s Nest: Beach reading

In addition to spending some time on the beach this summer with a good old-fashioned paperback novel, I read some nonfiction related to my interests in nature and community.

In the book trailer at Recycling Services Inc. earlier this summer I had picked up a fifty-cent copy of John McPhee’s 1971 book, Encounters with the Archdruid: Narratives about a conservationist and three of his natural enemies. I’ve read many of John McPhee’s books and have always enjoyed his relating of the cast of characters who inhabit the places he explores.

This book follows David Brower—former president of the Sierra Club and leading conservationist—and McPhee as they explore three natural landscapes with three other men who have different, frequently adversarial, views about those places.

With Charles Park, a mineral engineer who wants to ensure that our society can maintain its standard of living by extracting minerals—even from wilderness—Brower hikes in the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the Cascade Range. They spar over what is worth protecting—or not— but each man respects the other’s knowledge of the outdoors and they find some common ground.

Charles Fraser, an influential developer who built communities that capitalize on the natural beauty of their setting but who also lends the label “druids” for conservationists that appears in the book’s title—drives Brower and McPhee around Cumberland Island, Georgia after Fraser bought some of it and begins to plan how he would develop it. The island is among the most remote places on the East Coast of the U.S. and they discuss the mounting pressure to make it a unit of the National Park Service, protected as a National Seashore (as it is today). Even that limited recreational development makes the wilderness there different from when it was privately owned and mostly inaccessible to people. McPhee is there at the closing of that era and recognizes that things will change.

Brower had faced off with the Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Floyd Dominy in hearings and in the public theater: Dominy was the great dam builder and Brower fought against them and won some major victories for free-flowing rivers. (But as McPhee points out, environmentalists’ victories are battles that often need to be won again and again—it takes only one action to destroy something and that threat can be renewed may times.) McPhee managed to get Brower and Dominy into an inflatable raft together going down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and documented what happened over the next few days of camping and traversing rapids.

[By the way, I always wondered how McPhee manages to capture the detailed dialogue in his books. A recent NPR interview with Peter Heller (poet, adventurer), revealed the answer: Heller met McPhee at a wedding once and asked him how he did it. He said McPhee replied that he wrote it all down as it was happening, even while—as he is in this book—hiking, rafting, or riding off-road. If you wait until the end of the day, he said, you might get the story right but the words will be in your own voice, not that of the people who said them.]

What struck me most about the people in this book is how, while arguing their different opinions, they remained civil to each other, respecting the other person and even enjoying each other’s company. It was a good read and a useful snapshot of conservation of the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on August 23, 2012.

Mariton: Rubs Me Wrong

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Just a little reminder, it is time to protect your trees and shrubs against buck rubs.  Deer antlers (which grow back each spring) are usually hard by Labor Day.    As the nights increase in length, testosterone levels in bucks increases, leading to more territorial behavior.  One of those behaviors is rubbing their antlers on young tree trunks along their favorite travel corridors.  A buck can completely girdle a young tree in a few minutes, which can be an expensive lesson for a homeowner. 

The fencing in the photo above won’t deter deer from browsing on the tree, but it should keep antlers away from the trunk.

Fencing with stout posts works.  I have also had good results driving several posts around the tree (without fencing).  The posts have to be far enough from the trunk that the buck would rather rub the post.  They must also be spaced close together, so the buck can’t reach in between them.  Either way, now is the time to do that chore, especially if you know of a deer trail that passes near your yard.


Crow’s Nest: Thank you interns

As the summer winds down we bid goodbye to our summer interns, Ryan Byrne and Jessica DePaolis. We couldn’t run summer camp and manage the preserve without them! We wish them both well as they return to college. Near the end of their stay here they got to hold a monarch that had just emerged from its chrysalis:

Posted by Daniel Barringer on August 9, 2012.

Mariton: Wonderful Volunteers!

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Mariton couldn’t run the Nature Camp without the help of two very dedicated and talented volunteers. 


Virginia Derbyshire is an excellent naturalist.  Virginia has ample knowledge about birds, wildflowers, insects, and amphibians.  Having her leading the children is invaluable.  A natural teacher, she boosts the children’s self esteem and helps them learn things on their own.

Carole Mebus is a familiar name to readers.  She takes most of the photos that I use for my Blog postings.  As well as her photographic skills, Carole is an excellent birder and butterflier.  Her enthusiasm for nature is contagious and inspiring.  While she thinks of herself as “just the photographer”, when she gets excited about a “find”, the children get excited also. 

So, I send a heartfelt “Thank you” to two wonderful ladies that make Mariton’s educational programs so successful, and a cut above the rest.




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