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It’s in your nature: What is it?

In retirement I now have the opportunity to pursue many more of the outdoor activities that just didn’t fit into the schedule before. Younger days with part-time jobs, my children’s wonderful activities, grad school, and a multitude of high school sports and music events filled the schedule.

I don’t regret any of those things and wouldn’t have wanted to trade anything for them. But now in the “golden years,” I don’t want to miss the chance to find something new or experience a neat nature event if I don’t have to.

I know what April and May offer me, or what I can expect to see on a good northwest wind in early October. Or how about the hours before an expected snowfall watching the amazing amount of bird activity. They’re telling us they know more than we do. With all those things I almost always have my binoculars and especially my camera with me; or close by. Even a drive to the supermarket or church might bring me a photo chance, so with me the camera goes.

I take a “bunch” of pictures with a digital camera knowing that if they, unlike my old 35 mm cameras using slide film, don’t pan out, I can put the camera card in the computer and delete those that just weren’t quite right.

In this weekly column I have a few photos of rather recent “things” that you may or may not recognize. All of these are from the Times News region. I have the answers at the end of the column, but let’s see how you do. Hopefully my amateur photography tests your knowledge a bit. Relax and, especially, get out there to experience what is around us, and enjoy.

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: Some insects employ warning coloration to deter predators or to advertise a sting or poison. What have we “borrowed” from these insects? A. stop sign colors, B. traffic signal colors, C. yield sign colors, D. railroad crossing barrier colors, E. all of these.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: In general, insect-eating birds like phoebes or yellow-rumped warblers that overwinter in the southern U.S. migrate from here later and return earlier than birds like orioles that fly to Central America for the winter.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.


Photo 1: One of many sparrow species you can find in our Carbon/Monroe area, the fox sparrow can be seen in spring and again in October as it migrates through our region. It is our largest sparrow.

Photo 2: Uncle Fester (from “The Addams Family” show) may have needed this one’s eyes for some type of poultice. I found this red-spotted newt on the Blue Mountain.

Photo 3: Looking a bit alien, these skunk cabbage hoods push up through the edge of a pond in April.

Photo 4: Looking like fishing line, this is actually dodder. Dodder is a parasitic plant unable to make its own food. It wraps around a host plant, putting very tiny haustoria (tiny root-like structures) into a stem to steal the host plant’s food. Before our first frost, look for these stringy orange mats in overgrown fields.

Photo 5: Ripening into purple black fruits now, pokeweed fruits could be lethal to horses, dogs and man. Birds, however, love them and spread their seeds everywhere with their droppings.

Photo 6: Not technically a duck, a pied-billed grebe feeds in a Beltzville Lake cove during a soaking rain.

Photo 7: Excavating nearly rectangular holes, a pileated woodpecker goes to great extent to reach their favorite food, carpenter ants.

Photo 8: Teasel, more common in central and southern Pennsylvania, can now be regularly found along our area’s roads.

Photo 9: A praying mantis female will soon be placing her egg case on a twig or sturdy weed stalk. Don’t bring them indoors this winter or you will find hundreds of miniature mantises in your pantry weeks later.

Photo 10: Generally found along stream and river banks, river birch (also called black birch) has a distinctive bark.

Photo 11: As the snow cover slowly melts each spring, it reveals centuries-old deer trails. This photo was taken of Bear Mountain from the Mansion House Hill. Just think of how many deer and bear traveled these paths to wear “tiny ruts” onto a hillside.