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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank you!

TLC is so grateful for all of our supporters who helped to make 2013 a wonderful year as we preserved land, preserved historic sites, educated tomorrows conservationists, restored habitat, helped to implement best management practices, improved the quality of life in southern Chester County, and had a lot of fun.
We look forward to seeing you in 2014!! Thank you for supporting our mission!
Learn more about 2014 with TLC

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Northern Harrier spotted at Stateline Woods Preserve

One of our winter raptor residents was spotted at Stateline Woods Preserve over the weekend.  Keep your eyes peeled if you have found yourself with a few days off and are going to be out hiking.  The Northern Harrier is one of my favorite winter raptors (maybe because it was one that I first learned to identify) The white stripe at the base of the tail and the unique hunting pattern of soaring low along the fields are its easily identifying features.  

Sadly, I was only armed with my cell phone, so I only managed this
shot of the hay field--if you find yourself with a better photo of the Northern Harrier at one of TLC's Preserves, please send it our way!

Happy Holidays to all from TLC! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Solstice Celebration

The Winter Solstice is the one day of the year we have the least amount of daylight and the longest amount of darkness. There are about 9hrs:19min:57s of daylight, compared to the summer solstice (save the date for 6/21/14) which has around 15 hours of daylight!
This change in day length is due to the direction of the Earth's tilt relative to its rotation around the sun. During the winter solstice the Earth's tilt is directed away from the sun, and during the summer solstice the tilt is pointed towards the sun. 

This occurrence is celebrated in all corners of the world on December 21st. From this date on, the days become longer until we reach the summer solstice. Celebrations are centered around light and warmth to symbolize the coming of the light. 

TLC has celebrated the Winter Solstice for four years by offering people the chance to gather and enjoy time together atop of our Crossfield Hill - a special spot on our Stateline Woods Preserve that would have been a road leading to a 32 house development if not for our conservation efforts.

Our 2013 Winter Solstice Celebration took place this past Saturday (December 21st) and included a winter time story-teller, Dagmar Holl, who told Lenni Lenape stories of the origin of light and the evergreen tree. Food, drinks and conversation was enjoyed by all. The children especially enjoyed lighting and decorating the evergreen tree atop Crossfield Hill. 

Stay tuned for details on our solstice events in 2014

Project SNOWstorm

Though temperatures are to dip back below freezing over the next 24 hours, the balmy 60 degrees F when I headed to work this morning, has me picturing bathing suits and swimming, not snow pants and sledding!

I know we have been mentioning Snowy Owls quite frequently (perhaps our staff is a little caught up in the craze) but can you blame us?? Beautiful, exotic, and unusual birds getting more people interested in birding which hopefully translates to more interest in conservation.   Project SNOWstorm was announced as a way to learn more about these beautiful creatures that have captured the hearts of the Northeast.   If you are interested, this is an interesting article talking not only about Snowy Owls and the science behind them:

Keep your eyes peeled for a flash of white over the holidays and be sure to let us know if you find a snowy owl in southern Chester County!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Woodpeckers and Emerald Ash Borer

We have not discussed too many non-native, invasive species of late but shortly you'll get your 2014 winter "to-do" list for invasives.  In previous posts, the Emerald Ash Borer was mentioned as a non-native, invasive insect who has severely damaged the ash population throughout the northeast
.  This insect is moving across the states, and has been found in PA.  It has not yet been found in Chester County, but with positive identifications in neighboring counties, it is only a matter of time. 

It is not all dismal news, a new study shows that woodpeckers may consume as much as 85% of an EAB infestation on any given tree.  It won't stop them, nor save the tree, but it looks like woodpeckers may significantly slow their spread.  Click HERE to view the entire story. 
Emerald Ash Borer and damage by larva

If you are wondering how you can identify an ash tree at this time of the year, it is one of the few native trees with opposite branching--the others are: Maple & Dogwood.  Learn more about other ways to identify trees in the winter at TLC's Winter Tree Identification program on January 5th at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.  Registration and more information can be found HERE.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Blank Spaces on the Map

If you are a conservationist you may recognize the Aldo Leopold quote: "To those devoid of imagination a blank space on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part."  **you may also recognize this quote from TLC's annual mailing--we hope you'll consider becoming a member to help support TLC's mission!

One of the interesting things about Chester County is that many pilots call this area the "black out". When flying overhead, the work of conservation organizations such as TLC is apparent by the lack of lights seen across the countryside.  The lack of light pollution is helpful for night time sky watching and star gazing!!

We could not coordinate with the powers that be to postpone the rocket launch slated for this evening so that we could all view it together this Saturday night.  However, the rocket will be viewable from the Carolinas to Massachusetts this evening at approximately 9:19 pm EST.  The rocket will be launching from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, VA.  The Cygnus CRS Orb-1 is the first official resupply mission to the space station launched by Orbital Sciences.  Make sure to take advantage of the dark skies to catch a glimpse of the rocket as it soars above our heads into space!! Then join us at Stateline Woods Preserve on Saturday night for more star gazing during the Winter Solstice Celebration

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Warmth for Birds

For those of you who are not familiar with Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin, they are a great store that is worth getting to know AND if you are TLC member, you can receive a 10% discount in their store by showing your membership cardClick HERE to read a full list of participating retailers.  Wild Birds sends out monthly e-newsletters and I thought this recent blurb was worth sharing with our blog readers especially when I woke up this morning to the thermometer reading 8 degrees Fahrenheit!!   

From Our Backyard
Help keep our yard birds warm this winter!
      When the night wind blows and the mercury drops your birds can face hardship just trying to survive. Add to that mix snow and ice, and the poor birds become stressed and hungry. As we all noticed back in September and October birds rely on natural food sources a lot. Most natural seed can be found at or near the ground. A heavy or lingering snow cover like what's outside your window now can reduce a bird's access to seed heads buried beneath the frozen blanket. Birds will expend more physical energy trying to stay warm. Most birds will shiver for short term adjustments to the cold. Shivering converts muscular energy into heat for the short term, but the energy must be replenished shortly thereafter. Sometime you see a bird perching on one foot. What they're doing is pulling the foot closer to their breast for warmth. You might also notice birds appearing fatter or 'puffed up' during cold weather. What they're actually doing is fluffing up their feathers in order to create air pockets for insulation. With the reduction in food sources birds will also have to travel greater distances to find foods. Again more physical activity. Each action requires energy that in turn is fueled by food. Food, be it natural or the bird food you supply, is the most essential element in providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. Your bird feeders and the types of food you place out can be an important and vital source for your birds. High calorie foods like black oil sunflower, safflower, peanuts and suet are critical to a bird's survival. We have not experienced these extreme conditions in several years and neither have your birds. When you look out your window at the cold clear sky and the thermometer reads 15 degrees outside think about where your birds are tonight. When morning comes fill your feeders for now they need you more than ever.
Happy Birding, Charles

Monday, December 9, 2013

"When a Snowy Meets the Locals"

This unexpected winter storm may have you sitting in your house today, looking out at the winter wonderland, and I thought this was an apt post worth sharing.  This blogger was fortunate enough to encounter a once in a lifetime opportunity as he watched a Peregrine Falcon defending its hunting territory from an "invading" Snowy Owl.   Just for reference, a Peregrine Falcon diving speed can reach up to 200mph--a feat in itself!!

The pictures themselves are completely amazing and worth reading:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mobbing of Crows

You should always be alert when you come across a rowdy bunch of crows!  Chances are high that they are harassing some poor unsuspecting raptor or mammal.  Sometimes it is with good reason, but I do not think that they will ever tell us the whole story.  I happened to be out in the woods when I heard the racket of a bunch of crows.  I glanced quickly through the tree tops to see if I could spot the hawk or owl, but did not see anything.  Just as we started to move off, my friend noted movement, and saw an owl sitting there seemingly irritated by all of the noise.  We were able to get a great look at him/her from afar and the photos are a bit blurry.   Can you pick out the owl??   Though my viewing window was limited, I *think* it was a Long Eared Owl.  It seemed too small for a Great Horned and too large for a Screech Owl.  The other native owls that are typically found in our area: Saw-Whet, Barred, and Short - Eared Owls all lack the ear tufts that were definitely present.  It was most definitely NOT a Barn Owl. 

Interested in learning more about owls?  REGISTER NOW for our Winter Solstice Celebration at Stateline Woods on December 21st ( The Great Horned Owls have been making quite a racket at SWP) or REGISTER NOW for our Full Moon Owl Prowl on January 16th at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Keep Sending Your Pictures!

One of our great volunteers sent me this wonderful photo of what he believed was an immature Red Tailed Hawk in his backyard.   I concur with his identification, but will be corrected if we've misidentified the culprit. 

Thanks to Josh Bevan for the wonderful photos!! 

In case you  haven't yet heard--it is looking like another invasion of Snowy Owls!! There have been FIVE different owls reported at Presque Isle State Park in Erie and a pair of Snowy Owls near the Indian River inlet in DE, another Snowy Owl was reported near Port Penn in New Castle County.  Here's to hoping for a Chester County Snowy Owl this winter!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Black Friday in Nature

What did you do this Black Friday? Hopefully the valuable holiday time was spent with family, friends and doing something you enjoy. For those who enjoy the outdoors, TLC offered a special Black Friday Celebration program at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Our group took off for a morning hike through the meadows and woodlands collecting pine cones, twigs, small vines, milkweed pods and anything else that could be molded into a natural decoration.

There were beautiful creations such as, stars made out of sticks, wreaths made from a pine needles and a collection of other materials (pictured below), mantel pieces and sparkling pine cones. TLC sends a big thank you to all of the participants who enjoyed the beautiful morning on the preserve.

TLC will be decorating our evergreen with these ornaments atop Crossfield Hill at our Stateline Woods Preserve for the Winter Solstice Celebration on Saturday, December 21st from 5:00pm - 7:00pm. Refreshments and a bonfire will provide a warm atmosphere to gather with friends and family to listen of winter time stories with our special guest. Please click here to register!

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