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December 11, 2017
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River Talk

In August, I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a walk into the heart—or “eye”—of the Tannersville Cranberry Bog in Monroe County, PA. In addition to experiencing the “quaking bog mat” that is at the center of this special place, we also were able to observe the unique habitat characterized by sphagnum moss, carnivorous plants, black spruce, orchids and more.
Some exciting news has been announced about the Bog, and the public will have the opportunity to celebrate it on October 18 at the Tannersville Bog Day event.

People think of fall and for many, the first thing to come to mind is geese flying high overhead and winging their way south. This usually starts in earnest during the first part of October; the first frost usually occurs sometime in this timeframe and seems to reinforce the thought that it is time to head south.

The calls of common loons are some of the most wonderful wilderness sounds to be experienced, ranging from yodels and hoots to long mournful wails. While this intelligent bird is not frequently encountered in the Upper Delaware River region, it is possible to spot the occasional loon set low upon quiet undisturbed waters, or to hear the unmistakable chortling call described as “maniacal laughter.”

During the last day of August, I walked past a Russian sage plant in Shohola and took a close look for any interesting insect life. Russian sage blooms well into the fall and will attract a wealth of pollinators and other insects. Almost right away, I noticed a honey bee. This was noteworthy, because it’s rare that I see honey bees in the wild anymore, and I hadn’t noticed any honey bees in the past in this particular area. As I continued to watch, I saw more honey bees and soon saw that they outnumbered the more common bumblebees and any other pollinators present that day.

The Upper Delaware River region is rich with a variety of wildlife. Some species are quite commonly encountered, while others are fairly elusive. I saw two of the latter recently—one in my backyard and the other along a nearby dirt road.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) have announced that they are seeking public input on the draft 2015-2025 Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan. The purpose of the plan is “to conserve Pennsylvania’s native wildlife, maintain viable habitat, and protect and enhance Species of Greatest Conservation Need.”

In July, I shared some photos of early summer’s flowered finery (www.riverreporter.com/column/river-talk/11/2015/07/01/flowered-finery). As the season has progressed, a different set of regional beauties has seized the stage. Along the banks of the Lackawaxen River, an assortment of flowering plants are now competing for resources such as light, water and nourishment to sustain their showy blooms. Some are faring better than others, but all are putting on a lively display, guaranteed to satisfy our senses and restore our spirits.

It’s a hot day, and you hear a sound in the trees that can best be describes as a buzzing, or a gourd being rattled at a high cadence, lasting about a half a minute, and finally fading into nothing. The same sound might immediately be followed by an identical sound from another tree, perhaps farther off. We associate this sound with the heat of summer, because it is usually heard during the hottest part of the day. The singers we hear in the trees reinforcing the fact that it is very hot outside are none other than the dog-day cicada.

Lately, it seems I frequently encounter wild turkeys throughout my travels. As proof of their pervasiveness, I was joined by a young turkey that ambled out of the brush near the picnic table where I had perched to listen to the festive music at the Appalachian Fiddle and Bluegrass Festival in Wind Gap, PA last weekend.

Every spring, fisherman flock to the Upper Delaware River to try their luck in catching migrating American shad; from May into June, shad migrate to the upper reaches of the river in order to spawn. After spawning, many of the adult shad die, but some survive, to migrate downstream and back to the sea. Meanwhile, the fertilized shad eggs hatch, and the tiny shad fry spend the summer in the river. In the fall, these two-to-three-inch young-of-year (YOY) juveniles start their own migration to the sea.