NATURE Feed

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.


She wrangles millipedes and beetles

A thousand little legs locomote along the slender hands of an Academy of Natural Sciences educator.  Her painted fingernails are brown and shiny just like the six-inch-long and pinky-wide African chocolate millipede snaking around her fingers.  She has seen even larger ones crawling up mango trees in Puerto Rico. She trades off the millipede for two black darkling beetles, a striped and a stripeless, native to arid regions of the southwest United States. These grew up at the Academy, she explains, as she fondly strokes their backs. 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.


Eating energy bars made from crickets

Weavers Way Food Coop has introduced a new line of energy bars  - ones made with crickets.

On Tuesday, staff members at the Chestnut Hill store sampled Chapul’s Thai Cricket Bar.

Jon Roesser and Lara Cantu- Hertzler appeared pleased with the bar’s coconut-ty, gingery taste. Roesser noted that cricket flour was listed as the fourth ingredient and figured (correctly) that it served as the bar’s protein source.  Cantu-Herztler was a little queasy about eating insects but thought it was a good idea.

Rick Neth hadn’t seen the product before but reported that in his native Cambodia, insects are sometimes eaten in certain regions.  Farm raised crickets might be baked, used in stuffed, roasted peanuts, or fire-roasted.

On its website, the Chapul company is asking people to join the other 80% of the world’s population who, it says, regularly consume protein-rich insects as part of their diet, and effect a revolution against traditional land-and-water intensive, polluting agriculture.

At the conclusion of the accompanying video, staffer Joe Stanton is mulling over a mouthful.

Watch video interview here.


Dozens clean up Cresheim Creek new parkland

cresheim creek new park - 31

(Above, volunteer Marilou Buffum)

Dozens of volunteers showed up on Saturday to help remove invasive plants and debris from newly acquired Philadelphia parkland in Mount Airy.

Efforts of the Wissahickon East Project spearheaded by Antje Mattheus who lives nearby at the 2 acre historical Cresheim Farm, along with the Friends of the Wissahickon, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, and ultimately Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation headed by Michael DeBerardinis,  helped spare the overgrown six-acre woody tract abutting the Cresheim Creek from private residential development.

Work began in earnest on rehabilitating the site and creating a quarter mile loop trail under the direction of David Bower, Fairmount Park Volunteer Coordinator.

Watch video here.

(Below, Volunteer Rick Greenstein)

cresheim creek new park - 08


Night geocaching at Andorra Natural Area

Night geocaching

Scenes from the video featuring Wen-Young and his son Manny of Plymouth  Meeting, PA.

“That’s what we’re looking for- the waypoints”

“It’ll say the gecoache is that way but the trail goes this way or this way.”

“We won’t send you through the woods bushwhacking”

Destination- “Soggy Bottom” at the troll bridge

Garmin device accidentally restarts

Device  now says ready to navigate

On the trail to the cache

“It must be around here”

“Found it!”

What’s inside the cache which is a canteen?

Is it a toy toilet or a stamp out of ink?

No, it’s a star punch to punch our paper to prove we found it.

Another group arrives at Soggy Bottom

Excitement back at campfire

Night geocaching with Wen-Young and Manny

“How was your first geocache experience?”

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“Sweet. Marshmallow- sweet, get it?”

Found 6 caches!

Credits the gps device and the help of friends.

Watch video here


Mount Airy community beats drums

Community drum circle in Mount Airy

The story, according to Ron Kravitz, goes that some years ago, Elise Rivers of Community Acupuncture of Mount Airy called him from Ashland, North Carolina 9 pm one Saturday night where she was participating in a community drum circle and said, “Ron we got 85 drummers here. We got to do this in Philadelphia.” And so she arranged for a gathering space in the shaded park-like area adjacent to the Lovett Public Library in Mount Airy.  The local drum circle is now in its third year. Along with Kravitz, Bobby Tyrone and Quint Lang, a drum teacher from Collegeville, help lead the sessions, open to novices and experienced drummers alike.

But Kravitz, of Glenside, appears to be the force behind the drum circle. He is well known in the area for his association with or founding of a number of other grass roots music ventures: Music in the Moment, Underground at Ron's, African drum classes and more. He brings a selection from his 1000 plus collection of Bata and djembe drums, bells, and other percussion instruments for anyone to use.

About 25- 30 people participated at the first Sunday of the month July session on a steamy hot afternoon including some kids who just had happened to be passing by.

Among the other attendees were several first-timers like 12-year-old Jacob Slifker who had discovered the existence of the circle while searching online with his parents for somewhere to use his djimbe. During breaks, he got some tips  from the experienced hands on using it.

The afternoon heat and repetitive, shifting drum rhythms induced a hypnotic effect and Kravitz drew the circled drummers into chanting along and some into dancing. The circle next meets on Sunday August 4th from 1-3 pm next to the Lovett Public Library at 6945 Germantown Avenue.

Watch video here.


Woodmere's Plein Air painters

Woodmere Art Museum Plein Air painters

Frances Galante, an art instructor with the Woodmere Art Museum, has been bringing her Plein Air painting students to Northwestern Avenue at the edge of Wissahickon Park – to paint in the open air, of course. On a recent morning she was seen giving tips to student Maria Kurtzman, who was painting the horse barn. on how to put back in the shadows of the cupola that were visible when the sun was lower in the sky. In addition to making a mental memory of the scene, Galante says, a drawing or a digital camera shot are other tools that can be used to meet the landscape painting challenge of changing objects in the scene and shifting light. For student Anne Rothman, Galante suggested more specificity. Watch video here.