Lehigh Valley area residents are fortunate to have Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Albany Township, Berks County. It's a great destination anytime of the year, but late summer and fall are the best times to visit.
There's an Emmy-worthy and possibly Academy Award-winning nature's air show going on during the next couple of months. It's time to put down the TV remotes, video game controls and head to Hawk Mountain for one of Mother Nature's real-life and unsurpassed reality shows.
Pennsylvania residents, despite publicity surrounding last year's 100-year elk restoration anniversary, may be surprised that a growing wild elk herd roams freely in north central Pennsylvania.
In the fall, tourists visit the Elk Country Visitor Center, near Benezette, Elk County, where they see and photograph elk and drive the 127-mile Elk Scenic Drive, renowned for its spectacular fall foliage, through Clinton, Clearfield, Cameron and Elk counties.
Lehigh Valley residents are fortunate that the Appalachian Trail passes through the northern section of the region.
People travel from all over the United States, North America and many foreign countries to hike it, one of the longest continuously marked trails in the world, passing through 14 states over mountains and through valleys from Maine to Georgia.
In June 2012, I finally yielded to rotator cuff surgery after a dozen years spent delaying the inevitable following a series of shoulder injuries.
The recovery and rehab has been a drawn-out process. The surgeon's treatment is supposed to conclude next month.
During the early part of my recovery I spent many hours in my recliner, observing the actions taking place in my home's backyard.
We have a poorly-shaped overgrown yew on the west side of our house. It rises from its roots to nearly the top of the second story. If the top was not routinely pruned, it would extend well above our roofline and spread much wider in width than the double chimney.
The shrub's position adjacent to the chimney is no longer considered an enhancement to the beauty of the yard, but we keep it because it provides shelter, protection and branches for nesting, as well as soft red fruits and seeds, for the birds.
The winter months are the best time of the year for bald eagle observations. Many resident bald eagles migrate south for the winter, but winter is prime time for seeing those that remain, as well as many that migrate from northern Canada. There are about six bald eagle nests in the Lehigh Valley.
The Wildlife Information Center, a small group of volunteers working out of a storefront in Slatington, conducted its first annual Bake Oven Knob Bird Survey in 1997. Over the years, the information center expanded its numbers and moved several miles north to what is currently the 750 acre Lehigh Gap Nature Center (LGNC). The nature center is managed and maintained by volunteer efforts.
A Catasauqua businesswoman had another successful year at the recent ArtsQuest Souper Bowl in Bethlehem. Cathy's Creative Catering and Café located on Front Street, Catasauqua, walked away with the People's Choice Award and the judges' First Runner-up Award.
The Catasauqua eatery and caterer also won the judges' award for their Coconut Shrimp Chowder. Volpes Sports Bar, Emmaus, was the Second Runner-up with their Crab Bisque.
My wife, Bev, and I feed the birds year-round, thus enjoying their daily visits to our feeders. The bird visits not only provide us with hours of enjoyment, they furnish us with a natural calendar marked by their arrivals and departures.
Although many Canada geese have become year-round residents, migrating geese and other bird species that do not stay in the Lehigh Valley for winter provide a sign that fall is in the air. Many species follow a specific time schedule to migrate south.
Second of Two Parts
Part One of the "Looking Back" nature journal (Focus Jan. 1 and 2) covered January through June 2013. Part Two covers the remaining months of the year.
Bev and I led a group of 16 to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands July 1 - 13. Therefore, there are no local journal entries for that time period.
The trip was fantastic. We had a 16-passenger private yacht, toured the islands for eight days, followed by tours of Ecuador. Our guides, Victor Mendia and Fernando Icaza, were excellent. The Galapagos Islands are a definite "Bucket List" topper.