Tag Archives: streams

Environmental Prognostication

Chesapeake Bay Watershed sign on I-70.Seasonal weather finally is upon us, maybe. Temperatures should be in the 40 F range, and they’re often in the 60s, but last year this time they were in the 80s, so I suppose it is a bit more seasonal. The juncos, looking like flying preachers in their white shirts and dark gray capes, have returned. Nearly all the other “snowbirds” – what northerners who move south for the winter are called – have departed for what they hope are warmer climes.

Continue reading

It’s getting hot out there

Black vultures silhouetted on the roofTThree Black Vultures showed up in the backyard Tuesday and headed for our stream. They were not looking for food; they craved water. They hover over us every day; that was the first time any of them landed so near our house.

Drinking water is in short supply in many wild places. We are in a time of year when water levels often are low, but Marsh Creek, in places where it normally only is low, is nearly dry. I was shooting pictures of a pair of Great Blue Herons looking for enough water to support a fresh frog for lunch when a Mallard drake swam by, about three feet over the surface of what used to be the creek. There was more water in the humid air than in the stream bed.

On a nearby fence rail, a dozen starlings sat with mouths open, panting. Other critters presumably have found shadier places to await sundown.

Continue reading

We’re the smartest, except for the others

Long Pine Run in Michaux SF [Click to enlarge]The stream roars softly over a barrier of rocks near where I sit taking inventory as Grady the Golden pads about the area on his own cataloging mission.

Nearby, a long-needle pine catches my eye, not for the needles – they are common enough – but for the pine cones protruding from the trunk, That is not something I’ve previously noticed. Later, down at the Michaux State Forest office, Forestry Technician Mike Rothrock tells me it is common for young Pitch Pine to have cones growing from the trunk, as well as the more common configuration, growing from the ends of branches.

Continue reading

What if Marsh Creek was in Flint or Uniontown

Marsh Creek, a short distance from my home, is bloated like a certain writer who has partaken overmuch of turkey and ice cream at a family dinner. Rain pours down on the tableau, filling the myriad tributaries that flow into the creek like an array of gravy and soup bowls, each adding ingredients they have collected from minor hills and valleys in the larger creek’s watershed.

Just over a week ago, a snowstorm laid a biodegradable covering across the scene. Now the rain melds it into the water that is its main ingredient, expanding the creek to a degree the spring and summer feeder streams will not.

Continue reading

The water is alive

Falls on Middle Creek(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 2/7/2014)

My grandkids never have experienced swimming across lake and finding a cold spot in the warm water, a spring gushing water up from the bottom. I know exactly the location of that spring; as a youngster I swam the half-mile across the lake, over the very spot. There is something about feeling the life of the water, and knowing why that particular place is last to freeze in winter or where, since the lake never floods, the water goes next.

Continue reading

Sitting by the creek in Fall

Along among naked residents, a young oak clothes itself in crimson raiment(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 11/8/2013)

Click thubnail for enlarged leaf detail

Most of the color is gone along the creek, save some chicory-like bushes with red  berries, and the occasional pin oak (I think). One crimson-plated youngster, an American Chestnut, maybe, or a Chestnut Oak or even a Big Tooth Aspen, stands alone among lesser, already nude specimens.

Though I spent my childhood years wandering through the thousands of wooded acres around my parents’ home, I am only beginning to recognize the trees by their leaves. I can tell by the bark, but I never paid much attention to leaf forms, satisfying myself with being amazed merely by the diversity of shapes and shades.

Continue reading

Is all that bleepin’ really bleepin’ necessary?

The temp of the falling water suggested the name Chief Two-Navels BathtubA hunting buddy and I, when I was stationed in California, would make an annual trip to Los Padres National Forest, allegedly in pursuit of the elusive Mule deer. At some point in the couple-hour drive down from the San Francisco area, we would pick up supplies: a couple big buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a case of Shasta soda and a bottle of Roll-Aids.

Not exactly healthy living by today’s standards, though I suspect – or would like to believe – exercise offset some of the damage we did to our bodies, but we were young and immortal. Continue reading

Money and water flow naturally away from their source

A frog finds shade at the foot of an electric waterfallI have an electric stream behind my house. Water flows down the rocks, offering a drinking fountain for the dog, birds and wasps that live here, and soothing sound for me. There is a pump submerged at the bottom of the stream to raise the water back to the top. Even with the pump running, I must regularly add water to replace what the critters and the sun take from the system during the day.

Money, I’ve noticed, is like my backyard stream, in reverse. Money naturally flows uphill.

 Continue reading on Rock The Capital …

Demand for electricity straining water supplies

Rivers streams and lakes are jeopardized by our insatiable thirst for electricityThe Chicago Tribune reported last week nuclear and coal-fired power plants along the Great Lakes have been granted waivers to release hotter-than-normal water into the lakes, causing fish to die or migrate to deeper, cooler locales. Plant operators say they need the waivers because shutting down the plants will cost them profits and make them unable to supply electricity for their elderly customers.

Continue reading …

Hydroelectric power – an alternative to burning dead carbon lifeforms

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the nation’s dams not currently being used to generate electricity could, if equipped, supply more than 12 gigawatts of power to run coffee pots, computers and cars.

One gigawatt is enough to electrify about 300,000 homes. That’s more than seven counties the size of the 100,000-person one in which I live in southcentral Pennsylvania.

And some of the dams probably would be cost effective to upgrade and equip. … Continue reading …