Archives

All posts for the month September, 2013

By Carrie Scheick, Teen Naturalist Leader/Teacher Naturalist

What better view is there than a beautiful river stretched out in front of you from the seat of a canoe? This is what the Teen Naturalists got to enjoy for a full week this August.

Jealous? Photo by Dan Kenney.

Jealous? Photo by Dan Kenney.

 Every summer the Delaware Nature Society’s Teen Naturalists gear up for a weeklong adventure. This year, the teens and leaders (“Canoe Man Dan” Kenney, Hannah Greenberg, and myself) headed up to northeastern Pennsylvania to paddle through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This section of the Delaware River is generally slow and calm, with a few areas rated up to Class I rapids. The Delaware River is classified as a Wild and Scenic river and it definitely measured up to that classification.

We put in at Milford Beach eagerly wanting to get on the water. We had nothing but smiles on our faces as we paddled the 2 miles to Namanock Island, our first destination to camp for the night.

Happy Teens! Photo by Carrie Scheick.

Happy Teens! Photo by Carrie Scheick.

After the initial check of the campsite, we started unloading gear and noticed a Black Bear on the opposite shore.  This area is known for its sizable Black Bear population. We all were very excited for such a great wildlife sighting early in the trip. Cameras were out as we tried to capture the moment and observe this awesome animal. We were even more excited when the bear got into the water and was swimming around…until we realized he was swimming right towards us.

So what exactly do you do when a Black Bear swims towards you? Photo by Dan Kenney.

So what exactly do you do when a Black Bear swims towards you? Photo by Dan Kenney.

We quickly moved as far up shore of his projected landing site as we could.  We blew our whistles, thinking we would scare the bear because Black Bears usually spook easily. We successfully managed to scare this bear, but not to the point where he turned around to swim away from us, but to the point where he swam more frantically towards the island. We watched the bear scramble out of the water less than 100 feet from where we were standing and run up into our campsite and take off down the island. We ceased blowing our whistles and went to check the campsite for evidence of bears such as claw marks on trees or scat. We didn’t see any evidence, and decided to camp at this site despite the bear.  Thankfully, we didn’t have any other bear encounters that evening.

On Tuesday we paddled 12 miles from Namanock Island to Tom’s Creek. According to Hannah, we had a “peaceful, leisurely paddle on a beautiful river”. Some of us had a more leisurely paddle than others…

Paddling...leisure style.

Paddling…leisure style.

We spent the afternoon fishing and hanging out by the river, enjoying the time we had together in the wilderness.

One of the many fish we caught and released.  Photo by Carrie Scheick.

One of the many fish we caught and released. Photo by Carrie Scheick.

We paddled another 12 miles on Wednesday from Tom’s Creek to Tock’s Island . This day on the water was characterized by a lot of singing, and we paddled through the Walpack Bend, one of the prettiest stretches of the Delaware River. We took a break from paddling and got to (safely) goof around jumping off a large rock on the bank of the river. Check out these fun pictures!

We found a deep swimming hole and a high rock to leap into it.  Photos by Dan Kenney.

We found a deep swimming hole and a high rock to leap into it. Photos by Dan Kenney.

We mixed it up on Thursday and went for a hike in Worthington State Forest, NJ. We hiked a small portion of the Appalachian Trail to Sunfish Pond, a glacial lake that sits on top of the ridge overlooking the water gap.

Sunfish Pond view.  Photo by Hannah Greenberg

Sunfish Pond view. Photo by Hannah Greenberg

Highlights from the hike included picking and eating blueberries along the trail, exploring the pond bank and building rock sculptures, and seeing wildlife such as Northern Water Snakes,  Red Efts, and the largest Bullfrog I’ve ever seen!

We found rock sculptures along the Appalachian Trail.  Photo by Carrie Scheick

We found rock sculptures along the Appalachian Trail. Photo by Carrie Scheick

It stormed Thursday night, so we had the delight of packing up muddy, soggy gear the next morning. Despite the torrential downpour as we paddled to our take out at Kittatinny Point Access, our spirits remained high and the rain surprisingly subsided by the time we reached our take out. We loaded the canoes and gear and eagerly changed into dry clothes. We continued the Teen Naturalist tradition of eating at Five Guys on our way home. It was there we parted ways with Canoe Man Dan and the Water Gap, promising them both we would return soon for another great adventure.

Here we are...warm, dry, happy, and full after our 5-day adventure on the Delaware River.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Here we are…warm, dry, happy, and full after our 5-day adventure on the Delaware River. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

If you know someone who is 13 to 17 years old who would likes to study nature, be adventuring outside, and might like a trip such as this, tell them about the Delaware Nature Society’s Teen Naturalist group.  Find information here about registering for the 2013-2014 season.

Link “here” to: http://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/seasonal_progs.html

By Sally O’Byrne, Teacher Naturalist

In August, five intrepid boys joined intern AmandaWerner and I for a week of camping, conservation, and science at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for the Summer at Hawk Mountain camp.  We arrived and set up camp at one of their Adirondack Shelters, our home for 3 days and nights.

Our Adirondack Shelter at Hawk Mountain.

Our Adirondack Shelter at Hawk Mountain.

We met Dr. Goodrich, one of the biologists at Hawk Mountain, on our first afternoon, and learned of the international raptor research taking place.  Wednesday was devoted to our ‘service learning’ project – in other words, doing some grounds maintenance to pay for our week.  Cutting back road vegetation to comply with county requirements was our job, and the boys grabbed the clippers and chopped and bagged for the morning.

Working on our service project at Hawk Mountain.

A trip to the river for a swim was the afternoon refresher.

We swam in the Little Schuylkill River.

We swam in the Little Schuylkill River.

 Thursday was the first day of the Hawk Mountain Fall Migration count, and we were there, helping to see the first raptors traveling south along the Kittatinny Ridge.

We watched the skies for migrant raptors on the first day of the fall migration count.

We watched the skies for migrant raptors on the first day of the fall migration count.

 We then hiked one of the most challenging trails, tackling boulders along the ridge-top and then downhill to the River of Rocks.  We found it was a super snake finding day, and we spotted 3 different species along the trail.  Here is the Copperhead we found, the first one documented at Hawk Mountain for many years.

We found a copperhead on the trail, the first documented at Hawk Mountain in years.

We found a copperhead on the trail, the first documented at Hawk Mountain in years.

After that ‘athletic day’, everyone slept well.

We were exhausted and slept-in after all the activities!

We were exhausted and slept-in after all the activities!

 And after campfire breakfast of leftover chile and black beans, we cleaned our site and headed back to Ashland.

Here we enjoyed a late, leisurely breakfast.

Here we enjoyed a late, leisurely breakfast.

 I hope to see some enthusiastic Raptor counters and campers next year for another Summer at Hawk Mountain trip!

 

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

Here at The Nature of Delaware, we have never reviewed a book, but that was before The Warbler Guide was published.  The book is so good, I just had to tell you about this groundbreaking field guide.  The Warbler Guide, by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, published by Princeton University Press, raises the bar by several notches above just about every field guide on the market.  Just like in the Tractor Supply & Co. commercial, I like warblers too, and most other birders seem to put them near the top of the list of favorite birds as well.  For me, The Warbler Guide really hits the spot, thoroughly and beautifully covering the identification of every warbler north of Mexico, and then some.

WarblerGuideCoverSquaresmall

The Warbler Guide is not your photo…range map…short description formula field guide.  This book will stretch your understanding of warblers in many ways, and if you want, will force you to take on new skills like learning sonograms.  In all, this book is going to make you a better birder.  Sections in this book include migration maps, topography of a warbler that is easy to use, 28 pages of what to notice on a warbler and full of photographs, aging and sexing warblers, how to read a sonogram, and a visual quick-finder to all the species from all angles of the bird. Species descriptions have bullet points for easy identification tips, distinctive views photographs, comparison species, information and photos on the age and sex plumage variations within a species, migration timing charts, and more sonograms than you can imagine.  The book comes with a downloadable audio file that you can use to learn songs and goes along with the sonograms in the book.

There is a lot to digest in The Warbler Guide.  Sometimes there is too much information, but that is why I keep going back to it.  The only part that is going to be foreign to most birders will be the sonogram sections.  The authors do a good job teaching you how to read the sonograms, but for me, there is still a disconnect when I look at a sonogram, trying convert it into a sound in my head.  The audio files that go with the book are a necessity for understanding the sonograms fully, and I encourage you to download them if you get the book.

To get the impression from someone new to birding, I asked our environmental education interns to look at the book.  They said that the birds “look adorable” but seem “super confusing”.  Their quick book review was that it is big and bulky, but they liked the quick-find photos, the colorful topography pages showing what the parts of a bird are, the multitude of photographs, and that you could look at one bird in different ways including sonograms, descriptions, and a variety of photos per species.

Get help identifying this beauty in The Warbler Guide.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Get help identifying this beauty in The Warbler Guide. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

The Warbler Guide is the kind of book that you can sit down and study before warbler season, and to check back with when you have seen something in the field to reinforce your learning.  The book is good for all kinds of learners.  If you like symbols, they are there.  If you like photographs, there are loads.  For instance, the Black-throated Green Warbler section has 40 of them.  If you learn with text, it is there too.  The end of the book is really cool.  There are sections on warbler-like, non-warbler species, as well as hybrid warblers, quiz pages, photos of warblers in flight, a current chart of North American warbler taxonomy (that I need to study up on), measurements of warblers, and more.

What about this confusing one?  The Warbler Guide is your go-to guide.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

What about this confusing one? The Warbler Guide is your go-to guide. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

If you already have the Peterson Field Guide to the Warblers of North America, The Warbler Guide is not a duplicate, but an extension, and a different presentation.  I love both guides and both are worth having in your reference collection.  The Warbler Guide is more about learning identification through a variety of means and tools, and the Peterson Guide has more information on range, habitat, more accurate maps, and more text for each species that is fun to read.  True to form with Princeton University Press, they have explored new ground with this guide, filling a niche that was void and in demand… a good way to do business.  Enjoy the book!

If you would like to find warblers with us, the Delaware Nature Society offers a wide range of birding field trips.  Freebies include Sunday and Monday bird walks at Bucktoe Creek Preserve near Kennett Square, PA; Tuesday walks at Middle Run Natural Area  (Click here for the Middle Run Birding Trail Brochure 2013 ) near Newark; and Thursday walks at Coverdale Farm near Hockessin and Abbott’s Mill Nature Center near Milford.  All start at 8am with no registration required.  Do you want to go further afield?  Take a look at the Delaware Nature Society’s fall brochure for a complete selection of birding programs.  The birding program of the fall is our annual trip to Kiptopeke at the southern tip of Delmarva, led by myself and Judy Montgomery during October 3rd to 5th.  There’s still room, so sign up now!