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Archive for July, 2015

Mariton: New Nest Box

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Kestrel box with bat box in the background

Kestrel box with bat box in the background

If you are up in the meadows you may notice a new addition. Last week, Josh and I put up a new Kestrel nesting box at Mariton. We used a dead Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) for the post. I keep track of locations of these trees as they eventually get shaded out in the forest, and are very rot resistant.  We kept the post above the box to provide a perch for hunting.

Josh setting the post.

Josh setting the post.

We used the truck and a ladder to install the box and a baffle.

We used the truck and a ladder to install the box and a baffle.

Kestrels were called “sparrow hawks” in the past, but they also feed on a lot of insects.  If a pair settles into the nest box, they should be able to find lots of food in the meadows.

Crow’s Nest: Plants we love, and compost

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


I am fond of the native trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans) growing in the barnyard garden. It has a reputation for being aggressive but we have had no trouble keeping its growth in check here. This year I am paying more attention to the insect life that visits it.


Below, tall coneflower (Rubeckia laciniata) is growing with a backdrop of New York ironweed (Vernonia novaboracensis). I love these spontaneous compositions.


Finally, I saw moveable signs at a community garden in Maine that identify which sections of compost piles are ready to use and those to which fresh material can be added. Cody executed a set with a wood burner for the new compost bins he built here. The signs can be slipped into the joints of the bins and moved as necessary.


Mariton: Wildlife Show

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Screech Owl

Screech Owl

The folks from the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center presented a program at Mariton on Friday night. Kathy and Eric are one of our more popular programs for good reason. People leave the program knowing a great deal about local wildlife. It doesn’t hurt that you can see owls, hawks, snakes, and even (de-scented) skunks only inches away from your face.

Red-shouldered Hawk about to be released.  Photo by Carole Mebus.

Red-shouldered Hawk about to be released. Photo by Carole Mebus.

They also brought a Red-shouldered Hawk that they released at Mariton. It will make its way to the east side of the Sanctuary to settle along the Delaware River.  I would like to thank Jim and Lisa Andrews for making this program possible.

Crow’s Nest Camp Week Three

By Daniel Barringer    Photos by Pete Smyrl



Week three is for kids entering into 1st and 2nd grades, two half-day sessions. We took a hayride each day to the woods near the wire bridge.


We played in Pine Creek, climbed fallen trees, had boat races, and just got comfortable in nature.



There were hammocks and rope swings and sticks and tarps with which the kids could build things. It was another great week!


Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Conference August 4 & 5

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

In just a few weeks there will be a two-day conference on invasive plants and their impacts, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Council and Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.

This conference is held every two years and this year’s theme is applying research outcomes to management and restoration at the species, community, and landscape levels. The keynote will be by Johnny Randall, Director of Conservation Programs, the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Other presentations will include a case study of adaptive management in the Linville Gorge Wilderness, the latest research in controlling Japanese stiltgrass, and techniques to promote native pollinators.

These conferences are a good chance to learn more about controlling invasive plants; there’s a lot of expertise in the room. You can read more about the conference and registration here.

Schuylkill Acts and Impacts trip to Crow’s Nest

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Fifteen high school students from communities throughout the Schuylkill River watershed are engaged on a week long journey down the river exploring water quality issues.


They camped overnight at Crow’s Nest Preserve on Tuesday night, and yes, they were out in these tents during the thunderstorm at 3 am. Some took shelter in the barn; all survived the deluge.

We held a campfire discussion about Natural Lands Trust’s conservation work, careers in conservation, and the challenges we face in land stewardship. (Good land stewardship is a necessary part of protecting stream quality.)

The group got an opportunity to bottle-feed our young calves (who will grow up to help us with habitat restoration), had s’mores around the campfire, and in the morning had scrambled eggs from our free-range chickens. Then we went on a hike in light rain to explore some of the preserve.

These kids were as engaged and intense in their questioning as any group we have hosted. It was great fun to have them visit.

Schuylkill Acts and Impacts is a project of the Schuylkill Headwaters Association.


Green Hills Preserve: Flowers & pollinators

By Daniel Barringer    Photos by Jim Moffett

Green Hills Preserve is proving to be a great place for wildlife viewing; the meadow planting is attracting lots of pollinators. The other day when I was mowing trails at Green Hills I saw Jim Moffett, Force of Nature Volunteer, who was shooting photos. Here Jim shares some of his pictures:


Above, a banded pennant dragonfly on Canada thistle. Below, sphinx moth and great spangled fritillary on bee balm, Monarda fistulosa, that we hand-seeded into the meadow.


Paunacussing Preserve

(*Click on image to make larger)

Diabase Farm Preserve

(*Click on image to make larger)


Crow’s Nest to Host Woman Farmer Day

On Friday, August 7 there will be a luncheon and lecture celebrating women in farming, held at the visitor center barn at Crow’s Nest Preserve.

Speakers will include Annie Hasz, Broad Wing Farm (Morgantown); Judi Radel, Yeehaw Farm (Duncannon); and Molly Morrison, President, Natural Lands Trust.

The event is a partnership of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape, and AgConnect, an Initiative of Chester County Economic Development Council.

Please register by August 1. To download the full flyer with details click on the link below:

Woman Farmer Day Flyer


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