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December 11, 2017
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River Talk

The Upper Delaware River region is riddled with water bodies, ranging from rivers to lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands. Those who spend time near such waters are likely to encounter the northern water snake, a large colorful snake that ranges in size from 24 to 50 inches at maturity.

This non-venomous snake is sometimes mistaken for the northern copperhead, a venomous species that prefers drier habitats featuring rocky terrains. Generally speaking, venomous snakes in our region have flattened triangular-shaped heads. But head shape can be misleading.

It’s July, and this is the time when young birds of all types are reaching the point where they are leaving their nests and learning to fend for themselves. Among the myriad of species of young birds that are leaving their nests is the bald eagle.

Bogs are one of nature’s most mysterious and intriguing ecosystems. We are fortunate to have a spectacular bog in the Upper Delaware River region, where the public can experience the unique plants, insects, birds and other life forms that thrive in this special habitat.

The Tannersville Cranberry Bog in nearby Monroe County is protected by The Nature Conservancy and open to the public. Environmental educators from the Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center lead guided tours along a floating boardwalk on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, spring through fall.

Anyone who remembers the British rock band Mungo Jerry may also remember that around 1970 they came out with a single titled, “In the Summertime;” the song’s idea was to celebrate the carefree days of summer. Somewhere just past the middle of the track, a couple of the band members imitated bullfrog calls. To this day, whenever I hear that song, I think of summer and also, of frogs and toads as they call during a tranquil summer night.

Sometimes, I want nothing more than to offer up expressions of the incredible beauty we are privileged to share in the Upper Delaware River region. Adding words seems to restrict what is best experienced with a walk or hike or paddle, all senses engaged and an open heart for receiving what is out there, ready for our interface.

Right now, our region is bursting with flowering plants, offering a spectacular array of colors, forms, fragrances and textures. Make it a point this week to get out there and see how summer is unfolding. And enjoy the show.

With summer’s arrival, more cold-blooded creatures are making themselves noticed. All of the frogs and toads have started or finished their courtship calls, and some waterways have tadpoles from earlier breeding species. Snakes of all types have been basking and hunting for prey. Also visible this time of year, especially to fishermen and motorists, are snapping turtles on the water or crossing roads.

A new trail was officially opened to the public earlier this month in honor of Louis Arthur Watres, who founded Lacawac Sanctuary in Lake Ariel, PA, along with his mother, Isabel, in 1966. Born in 1922, Arthur passed away in 2014, leaving a legacy that will benefit generations to come. The trail allows visitors to walk the land that Arthur dearly loved and to visit compelling features like the Wallenpaupack Ledges Natural Area.

This is the time of year when new born-fawns make their appearance; once they get strength in their legs, they are frequently seen along country roads with their mothers. This is where they have a tendency to get in trouble. The white spots on these young fawns should serve as a warning to motorists that these newly arrived critters have no concept of moving vehicles.

In recent weeks, a trilling call emanating from wetlands, ponds and lakes has been a clue to the presence of toads, most commonly the Eastern American toad (Bufo americanus) and their efforts to attract mates. The sound is just as lovely to the ear as the ensuing strands of bracelet-like eggs are to the eye.

Since May 19, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been accepting public comments on three regulatory proposals for hunting and trapping of wild turkey, deer and fisher. Comments will continue to be accepted through June 29 The proposed changes for all species are a result of a combination of field research, harvest reporting and hunter/landowner feedback.