PPL Eagle Viewing Trips

Bald eagle overlooking the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers. Photo by Sarah Hall.

Bald eagle overlooking the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers. Photo by Sarah Hall.

Our PPL eagle viewing bus trips are today and we saw lots of activity on the morning ride along the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers. We started our day inside with a short presentation by Katie Lester on bald eagles and what PPL does to help protect and conserve them and their habitat.

Once on the bus it wasn’t long before we spotted our first eagle perched over open, unfrozen water. Large numbers of eagles migrate to this area each year for a number of reasons, one being the release of warmer water from PPL’s Lake Wallenpaupack hydroelectric plant. As the water exits the power plant, it flows into the nearby Lackawaxen River. We were a little worried at first as we traveled along the frozen Lackawaxen just outside of Hawley, but as soon as we passed the power plant the water was freely flowing and we saw our first eagle soon thereafter.

The morning group viewing an eagle from the bus.

The morning group viewing an eagle from the bus.

We made our way along the Lackawaxen until it meets the Delaware River where we stopped at the boat launch to get a closer look at an eagle perched in a popular tree overlooking where the rivers meet. Another reason that there has been a resurgence of eagle populations in the Upper Delaware River region is due to the conservation efforts of the “perfect partnership” between the Eagle Institute and the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Each week from Jan. to March, volunteers monitor eagles at this particular boat launch in Lackawaxen, PA, as well as other locations in the region. Our group got a closer look through the viewing scopes that the volunteers had set up for visitors. It was a beautiful sight!

Bald eagle perched along the Delaware River. Photo by Sarah Hall.

Bald eagle perched along the Delaware River. Photo by Sarah Hall.

In all, we saw 19 confirmed eagles this morning, 11 adult and 8 immature. We saw an additional 13 on the way back, but we can only count these as extra “sightings” because they could be the same eagles we saw on the way there.  Our afternoon trip is out now, and I can’t wait to hear how many they saw!

Are you seeing any eagles out there? Share your photos and experiences with us on our new PPL Preserves facebook page!

-Sarah Hall, Lake Wallenpaupack Preserve

Christmas Bird Count at Lake Wally

There couldn’t have been a more beautiful day to conduct the Christmas Bird Count this year. I think we were up before the birds on the morning of December 15 because as we set out for a long day of birding by hiking the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail early, we didn’t hear or see a thing. It had us a little worried at first, but it was a frigid morning so we knew that as soon as the sun came out over the trees there would be more movement. We were right; as we made our way back to the end of the trail to head to our next location the birds were waking and warming up in the sun. It really fueled us to get moving and count as many birds as we could until sundown.

Canada geese on Lake Wallenpaupack

Canada geese on Lake Wallenpaupack

In partnership with Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society, our primary focus at the public Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center count was to ‘bird’ the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack. Other birders, some volunteers but most members of NEPAS, would focus on filling in the rest of the 15 mile radius around White Mills, PA that would encompass the larger count area.

Our first exciting find was a juvenile Bald Eagle perching in its usual spot right at the end of the Tafton Dike, overlook the lake. If you look at this tree in the early morning or evening, you are likely to see one here as it is a favorite spot for wintering eagles. From there we bounced from place to place but essentially covered several coves from Spinnler Point all the way around the dam on the north side of the lake, following the shoreline to Cove Haven. The highlights of our count were the bald eagle, 44 buffleheads, 4 common goldeneye, 3 hooded merganser, 3 common loons, and one loan horned grebe.

Bob, Joan, and Gary, our CBC participants

Bob, Joan, and Gary, our CBC participants

Participants of the larger count, including us, sighted 2,693 birds throughout the day. In addition to our interesting sightings around the lake, the group also spotted several red shouldered, red tailed, and rough legged hawks, 1 barred owl, 4 green winged teal and two irruptive species that were particularly great finds. Periodic bird irruptions are exciting in that we get to see some species that don’t normally winter in this area. A lack of food or drought in their normal wintering areas can make them ‘irrupt’ to areas where food is more plentiful. In this case, 32 common redpoll and 8 white-winged crossbill were seen.

Overall it was a great day to participate in citizen science and a wonderful opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air before it got really cold and snow began to cover the ground. Keep your eyes out for bald eagles wintering around the lake, and if you have feeders at home you might even see some of those irruptive species!

-Sarah Hall, PPL Lake Wallenpaupack

12.12.12 Geocaching Events at PPL Preserves

12.12.12 Souvenir

12.12.12 Souvenir

Did you earn your unique 12.12.12 Geocaching.com souvenir last week? Many people did by logging an “attended” at two of our geocaching events at PPL Preserves! It was the last time the calendar will align in our lifetime, so it was a great day to get out and celebrate the date! Enthusiastic geocachers of all ages came out for the event at the Susquehanna Energy Information Center. Most of the cachers were experienced and had found anywhere between 400-1000 caches. A few of the newbies were able to pair up with some of the experienced to learn about geocaching, which is what these events are all about! Most of the participants had attended one or more other events that day and a group from New York logged over 400 miles to attend 5 events. A Montour plant retiree and his wife along with the parents of a PPLer that I work with frequently, one of which is a retired PPL troubleman, enjoyed telling stories of their geocaching adventures.

Several of the participants then made their way from the SEIC to Lake Wallenpaupack to log their next event. While you only need to

Geocaching.com's 0;)Angel team at PPL Lake Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center

Geocaching.com’s 0;)Angel team at PPL Lake Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center

log one event to get the unique souvenir, many cachers take advantage of these special geocaching event days to log as many as they can. The group from NY made a quick stop here at the lake before heading back north and an environmental club from Wallenpaupack High School stopped by to learn more about geocaching and completed the PPL Preserves Hidden Hydro cache while they were at the Environmental Learning Center. It was a great turnout at both preserves and all of the geocachers really seemed to enjoy themselves. We certainly enjoyed talking with them and learning more about all of their geocaching experiences! Thanks to geocaching.com for supporting these events and providing a special souvenir for participants!

-Alana Roberts, PPL SEIC and Sarah Hall, PPL Lake Wallenpaupack

Be Energy Smart!

Energy Awareness Month is slowly coming to a close, but PPL would like to remind you of all the no- to low-cost tips that can help you save money on your electricity bill this month and all year long. With all the electricity-using appliances, electronics and other gadgets in our home today, it makes sense to be as smart as possible about energy use.

  • This winter, install storm windows. They keep the cold air out and pay for themselves in energy savings.
  • You can save by installing energy-efficient incandescent, CFL, and LED light bulbs. For products with the greatest energy savings, choose bulbs that have earned the EnergyStar label.
  • Heating your home accounts for more than 30 percent of your energy use. Visit pplelectric.com/epower to learn more ways to save.
  • Use the sleep mode on your computer if it has one. The government says EnergyStar computers power down to a point where they use around 70 percent less electricity than a computer without sleep mode.
  • Stop the draft! Sealing and insulating walls, ceilings, windows, doors and floors can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on heating costs.
  • Check your compass! During the heating season, keep the drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home.
  • Examine your filters. Forced air furnaces and heat pumps have filters that need to be cleaned or replaced monthly.
  • Check the temperature setting on your water heater, making sure it’s set to 120 degrees F. Some manufacturers set the temperature higher, something most homes don’t require.
  • Always buy EnergyStar appliances. They are more efficient than other appliances and will cost less to operate

Join us for our Be Energy Smart program this Saturday, October 27 as part of Energy Awareness Month! It’s a great time to think about home energy efficiency, especially with winter right around the corner! We’ll utilize our new SmartHouse to teach you and your family ways to reduce your electricity use through cool video displays and interactive cutouts. Kids will also participate in energy games (with prizes!) and learn how to stay safe around electricity. All participants will receive a free CFL light bulb for attending. The program will be held at the Susquehanna Energy Information Center at 1 p.m.

For more details about all of our free, public programs click here.

Fall Foliage Hike

Pinnacle Overlook at PPL Holtwood Preserve

There couldn’t have been a more beautiful day for a fall foliage hike at Pinnacle Overlook at PPL’s Holtwood Preserve on Saturday. It was one of the few perfect hiking days out of the year where it wasn’t too hot or too cold during a nice stroll through the woods. Before setting out on our adventure we took in the beautiful view of Lake Aldred, catching a few glimpses of vultures and several gulls flying over the lake in the distance.

At the overlook, we talked about why leaves change color in autumn. Scientists still don’t know all the details of this complicated process, but basically there are three main factors that influence autumn leaf color: pigments, the length of night, and weather. When the days grow shorter, and the nights get cooler and longer, it’s a cue for the tree to start preparing for winter. Photosynthesis will slow and eventually stop, thus seizing the production of chlorophyll, which produces the green color of leaves. This is all in an attempt to save energy in order to make it through the winter.

Fall Foliage at Pinnacle Overlook.

Once the chlorophyll pigment fades, you begin to see the carotenoid pigment that was always there, but masked by green. This pigment produces the yellow, oranges and browns you also see in carrots and bananas. The magnificent reds and purple hues you see in autumn are not always present, but are thought to be produced in fall as an additional sunscreen for the leaf that is susceptible to sun damage as chlorophyll fades. These reds are produced by anthocyanin pigments, which give color to familiar things such as cranberries, red apples, and grapes, among many others. The reason autumn colors can vary greatly among different regions, especially in PA, is because of the nice sunny days, and cool nights we have in northern PA. Leaves produce sugars on those sunny days, but the cold nights prevent the tree from pulling the glucose out of leaves for storage at night. This makes for the beautiful colors we see up north versus the more dull yellows and browns we see down south.

On our hike, we enjoyed the crunchy fall leaves at our feet and several interesting species, both native and invasive, along the way. Be sure to get outside and enjoy PPL’s thirty-nine miles of trails around Lake Aldred and the Susquehanna River at our Holtwood Preserve before the weather gets too cold! There are only a few more weeks of prime autumn leaf peeping left, and I plan to take advantage of them! I hope you do the same!

You have at least one more chance at the Fall Foliage Walk at Lake Wallenpaupack on Sat. Oct 20 at 10:00 am. For details see our calendar of events here.

-Sarah Hall, PPL Wallenpaupack

« Older entries