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All posts by John Harrod

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

Today while participating in a school field study at the DuPont Environmental Education Center, a student caught a young Amercian eel at a stage known as an elver.

American Eel. Photo by Lesley Bensinger.

A student holds an American eel elver. Photo by Lesley Bensinger.

The American eel hatches in the ocean waters of the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic between the West Indies and the Azores. It moves from its birth place to mature in fresh or brackish water and then returns to the sea to spawn. American eels range from Greenland to South America, occurring in all major streams along the coastline.  

American eel by Ellen Edmonson and Hugh Chrisp

American eel adult by Ellen Edmonson and Hugh Chrisp

 Join us at DEEC Tuesdays – Sundays at 2pm for a free netting program to see what you can find in the marsh. For more sightings follow DEEC on Twitter.

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

The Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge has a new Osprey nesting platform. DNS worked with Cristina Frank, senior environmental scientist with Pepco Holdings, to install a new platform near the DuPont Environmental Education Center. It can be easily seen at eye level as you cross the bridge to the building. 

Platform photo by John Harrod

New Osprey nesting platform near the DuPont Environmental Education Center. Photo by John Harrod.

This is the second nesting platform in the refuge. The first, which has had an active Osprey pair for eight years, was originally put up as a new home for the birds after they built a nest on transmission lines. The location of the new platform is far enough away that two pair can reside in the refuge without incident. 

Osprey pair Jim White.

Original Osprey pair on the first nesting platform. Photo by Jim White.

To help encourage a second pair of Osprey to take up residence on the new platform, it is seeded with an armload of branches.

nesting platform by Jim White

Seeding the platform with branches to encourage new Osprey residents. Photo by Jim White.

The latest platform was installed as part of a larger project to replace the old, wooden transmission lines passing through the refuge. Pepco will be installing line markers, including spiral bird diverters, to increase the visibility of the new power lines and prevent collision.

Bird Flight Diverter

Spiral Diverter

We look forward to welcoming a second pair of Osprey to the refuge. Join us at DEEC on Saturday, April 21, for the DNS Earth Day Festival to meet Cristina Frank, learn how new transmission lines are built to protect birds, and hopefully see our newest residents.

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

DEEC has had a resident groundhog this summer. While groundhogs are fairly common, this one is worth noting because of its unique color: black.

dark groundhog by John Harrod

Groundhog with increased levels of melanin. Photo by John Harrod

Its black fur is due to excess amounts of melanin, a pigment that gives skin, hair, feathers and fur their dark color. This occurrence is known as melanism, while the opposite is albinism, which occurs because of a lack of melanin or other types of pigment.

 Visit DEEC and try to spot our unique resident. While there, join us on a free nature walk or register on the spot for a netting in the marsh.

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

Occasionally, visitors to the Dupont Environmental Education Center spot Beavers swimming in the Christina River, right in front of the center.  On a recent marsh clean-up in the 212-acre Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, volunteers from the First Unitarian Church of Wilmington were treated to close up looks at a our resident North American Beaver

Lodge by John Harrod

Beaver lodge near the Wilmington Riverfront. Photo by John Harrod.

The group spotted the Beaver just after lunch time. Beavers are generally nocturnal and can be most reliably seen in the late afternoon and early evening, but in the spring they are quite active and can be seen throughout the day. Located in a non-public portion of the marsh, the beaver has built a lodge in an existing tidal pool. During a very low tide, the lodge entrance, which is usually submerged, can be clearly seen. In many streams in Delaware, Beavers do not build a traditional dome-shaped lodge, or even build dams. Instead, they burrow into the bank and pile up large branches above their entrance along the bank. These sites are usually found behind man-made dams such as those along the Red Clay Creek at Ashland Nature Center. 

North American Beaver by Sri Mesh

North American Beaver. Photo by Sri Mesh

If you are more interested in seeing a North American Beaver and other nocturnal animals of the marsh, register for the Night in the Marsh on Friday evening, May 13. More information can be found here.