ENVIRONMENT Feed

Felling a diseased tree

Park service fells diseased tree

Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation project coordinator Curt Helm oversaw the felling and removal of three large diseased trees at the Allens Lane Art Center. The trees were in danger of falling onto the playing fields or the other way over power lines and onto McCallum Street which bears significant vehicular traffic. Helm, with direct experience in the field, complimented the adroitness of the park's subcontractors. As the final chainsaw cuts were made to the diseased oak tree, it began to tumble. A truck with a rope attached to the tree began to pull it forward in the direction the contractors wanted the tree to fall. A couple seconds later the top branches hit the ground with a resounding crash.  The two other trees to be taken down that day were ashes. Sadly, Helm reports, all the park's ash trees will eventually succumb to the emerald ash borer and, for safety reasons, will be taken down within the next five to ten years. Watch video here


Bee boys skeptical about flow hives

Bee boy with demo hive

Bee Boy  Ryan Williamson is happy for any technology advancement that raises the profile of beekeeping but has reservations about the so called flow hive with preformed plastic combs. New beekeepers who think all they have to do is turn the handle and out will come honey risk harming the bees. He also believes that comb building is in the bees' genetic coding and something that they are meant to do and is good for them. The Bee Boys  are organic beekeepers whose simple mission, according to their website  is to support the honeybees! At the right in photo is Bee Boy Kevin O'Connor. Watch Video here.

 

 


Hog Island Highlights and Humor

Your correspondent volunteered in the kitchen for two weeks this summer at the Audubon Society's nature camps on Hog Island, some skipping stones length off of Bremen, Maine in Muscongus Bay and shares some highlights - and wisecracks - with you! 

--With many thanks to those on the other side of your correspondent's lens!

Banding an osprey chick

On Hog Island,  Maine , raptor biologist Rob Bierregaard and a guest expert demonstrate how a juvenile osprey is measured, blood-sampled and banded for scientific study purposes. Just minutes before, they had climbed a ladder to snatch and secret the chick away and worked quickly so as to reduce stress to it and return it as soon as possible to its likely fretting parents. Watch video here.

 

gripping a banded chickadee

Biology professor Jerry Skinner holds a black capped chickadee in a photographer's grip as he discusses how to identify species of chickadees and the art and science of banding birds. Watch video here.

On a boat trip, to Harbor Island, Skinner demonstrates how to sample plankton using a net trailing the boat. Watch video here. [Sorry for wind noise.]

 

Lobstering demonstrated

Snow Goose III Captain Bill Chapman and First Mate Meghan Kennedy bring up cages with lobsters and talk about lobsters and lobstering in Muscongus Bay

 

Wreck of the Cora Cressey

Built in Bath, Maine in 1902 to carry coal. this three thousand ton 273 foot long 5 masted schooner was refitted to become a nightclub in 1929, gutted in 1938 to become- unsuccessfully- storage for lobsters. The Cora was then scuttled near the shore to serve as a breakwater. According to an older gentleman at a nearby dock, attempts to remove the ship by burning failed and break away debris poses a threat to sea-goers. Watch video here.

EDUCATORS WEEK EVENING POTPOURRI

 

Watching barnacles feed

The Audubon Society's Sue Shubel trains a powerful microscope on a small bunch of barnacles and describes how they open up to use their filaments to feed on plankton.  Watch video here.

 

Detecting bats

Award winning senior naturalist Ted Gilman from the Audubon Center in Greenwich, Connecticut,  led a group of nature educators trying to locate bats with an electronic bat detector. Watch video here.

 

Luring moths

By keeping the moon on one side of them as they fly, moths are able to navigate and fly straight-ish. But they also keep a nearby artificial light at night to the same side and end up going around in circles. Moth student extraordinaire Paul shares his recently acquired knowledge of moths indigenous to Hog Island. He appears to be on his on his way to becoming acquainted with  nearly all the 160,000 known species and has a growing collection. By identifying moths temporarily captured on a lit up vertical white sheet, he was able to deduce what flora were nearby because some moths in their caterpillar stage feed only on the leaves of one plant or tree species. Watch video here.

 

Meet Paula Winchester

Meet Paula Winchester, pastel artist, herb and tea entrepreneur, world traveler, Hog Island camper then volunteer and watch  her tell about her travels to India and Africa.

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And last but not least, a glimpse of what life was really like from a kitchen volunteer's view  and the volunteers put on some plays:

The Story of the Ladlebird inspired by the newly commissioned play about Mabel Loomis Todd and

"She Taught Him How to Smile: The Story of Puffin Boy."

ENJOY!

 

 


New composting toilets at Andorra

New composting toilets popular

Elizabeth Fink has been using the new composting toilets near the Wissahickon Environmental Center (formerly Andorra Tree House) at the northwestern edge of Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. It never smells, she says and there's Purell for hand sanitizing. She thinks it's a big improvement over the old "Johnn(ies) on the Spot". She's careful that her cell phone is in a zipped pocket, however, lest it inadvertently fall into the pit! She and a companion had been taking a walk in the woods and recommended I check out the toads mating in the pond above the tree house. Watch video here.


Expectant parents take a "Waltz in the Woods"

The day before Easter Sunday, Nick Hasselback and his wife, Jenna, who was due to deliver their first child four days later, marveled at Patrick Dougherty's new stick sculpture installation at the Morris Arboretum. "A Waltz in the Woods" is  a handful of closely circled tall and leaning towers consisting of   willow branches and saplings woven together. And then left for nature to take its course as with Dougherty's previous work at the Morris. Nick and Jenna describe themselves as woodsy people and are hatching similar, likely more modest, ideas of their own. Watch video here


Hog Island Audubon Camp Journal 2014

Your correspondent volunteered for a week cleaning dishes and bathhouses at the Audubon Society Camp on Hog Island off of Bremen, Maine. He collected an old glass bottle encrusted with barnacles and these stories. See photo slideshow here.

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A large aquarium in the lab building of Hog Island affords a micro view of aquatic life in coastal Maine’s tidal pools. Off the pier, swaying mats of seaweed. Watch video here.

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“Puffin” Pete Salmansohn, Project Puffin outreach coordinator and director of Hog Island Educators week, describes how puffins were saved from near extermination from the Maine Coast on a boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island where island sitters carefully monitor and study them. Along the way, seals sunning themselves on a small island, produce whoops and hollers among the day-trippers as they dive into the water toward the boat to investigate or perhaps be fed? Watch video here.

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On Hog Island, early morning guided birding, a photographer and his camera level with the osprey nest, an osprey parent guarding two fledglings and later the same day foraying out and back. Watch video montage here.

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“Seabird” Sue Schubel, Project Puffin Outreach Instructor and Hog Island Camp Coordinator, puts the finishing touches on a large batch of cream “puffins.” They will be served to oohs and ahs and camera flashes at the conclusion of the farewell lobster dinner for Educators week. The confectionary puffins, like their living counterparts, Schubel says, could be either male or female, as they look the same. Their breeding plumage, bright orange bills, mark them as mature adults. Watch video here.

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Susan Spitzer Williams, a career guidance specialist participating in Educators Week on Hog Island, seen here rushing to get her camera to the photogapher and back in place for a group shot. In the video, she pauses before swimming to share one of the many ways in which she is superior to her dear older brother, Nick Spitzer, host of the widely syndicated, public radio program, “American Routes.” For one, she met and played pool with Muddy Waters and he didn’t. Watch video here.

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A short, live action, instructional video for kitchen volunteers at the Hog Island camp on how to use the Hobart 4 sided, hood mounted, pass through, commercial dishwasher. Watch video here.

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She’s been skinning road kill, preparing pelts, skull specimens and mounts for museums for some time but this was Carolyn Zaino’s first beaver. Discovered by a couple Hog Island staffers, the road kill became the object of Zaino’s artistry and industry in between stints in the Hog Island kitchen. Zaino is nonplussed by the gore and gruesomeness of her vocation as befits the pathologist’s daughter for whom, as a child, the hearts, lungs and brains in her father’s lab were naturally things of wonder. Her work lets her give these animals “another life” and educate people about them. Watch short video here. Watch full-length video here.


Landscaper continues family tradition

Fifty years ago, when John Antonucci’s grandfather, Frank, immigrated from Italy and established his masonry business in North Wales, Pa outside Philadelphia, there was just a stop sign outside at the now busy intersection of Stump Road and Route 309. Frank’s son Salvatore expanded the business and now Sal’s Nursery and Landscaping has nineteen acres of nursery which is mainly a source of plant material for the company’s landscaping operation. Customers can also walk in and buy plants at retail. Sal’s specializes in upscale projects like in-ground pool, pool houses and patio installations. And, unlike the big-box stores, it offers rare varieties and very large specimens so that customers who have lost shrubs or trees say, during the recent rough winter, can match and fill in the gaps in their landscapes. On a crisp spring day, John spoke proudly about the family operation and pointed out several beautiful plants like the cluster of dark red-leafed and flowering ninebarks. (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Watch video and tour here