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Wild About PA



Read Marcus Schneck's blog on the great outdoors of Central Pennsylvania.



Last Build Date: Mon, 29 May 2017 9:03:44 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017
 



Much of Central Pennsylvania still waiting for cicadamania 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 13:00:48 UTC

2013-06-05T14:33:20Z

Where are the cicadas of Brood II?

The explosive emergence of 17-year periodical cicadas expected about now has yet to fully materialize in many parts of Central Pennsylvania, and may indeed not materialize this year.

Brood II, which is the group of the large insects emerging this year, has never been as abundant or widespread as the gargantuan Brood X, which also is known as the Great Eastern Brood. However, some areas like Bergen County, N.J., have seen millions of cicadas emerge in the past couple weeks.
(image)
And, some locations in Central Pennsylvania - notably the Williams Valley/Lykens Valley area between Tower City and the Millersburg-Halifax area - have seen large numbers of cicadas, accompanied by the trademark deafening buzz of the insects in some spots.

Greg Hoover, ornamental entomologist in Penn State's Department of Entomology and one of the leading cicada authorities in Pennsylvania, said one of the questions he's hearing most often from the media the past few days is "Why don't we have them?"

Part of the answer is the smaller nature of Brood II, but another part is that many areas no longer have "an abundance of uninterrupted woodlands" favored by periodical cicadas they once did. The third part of the answer may reside in the unseasonably cold weather just before Memorial Day, which may have held soil temperatures just below the 64 degrees Fahrenheit required to stir the cicada nymphs to leave their tunnels in the soil in search of mating opportunities.

"Some of those colder overnight temperatures may have slowed things down a bit," said Hoover.

However, he noted, areas southeast and northeast of Central Pennsylvania have seen significant emergences, hinting that "by the end of next week, the peak of the emergence will be past. We're getting close to it, if not in some of the southeastern Pennsylvania counties are past peak."

Central Pennsylvania may have one chance to yet see some emergence out of Brood II, and that chance lies in the rainfall forecast the weekend.

"A rainfall event really triggers" the full emergence," explained Hoover.

If you spot cicadas, please report your sighting to mschneck@pennlive.com.


Media Files:
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What will we see in Pennsylvania during the solar eclipse of 2017?

Mon, 29 May 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-05-29T09:03:44Z

Pennsylvania is not the ideal spot for viewing the eclipse, but there will be opportunity.

Better luck next time, Pennsylvania. In 2024.

But, as for the solar eclipse this summer, on Aug. 21, unless you're willing to travel, a partial is all we'll be seeing.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon's shadow is cast onto the Earth.

However, the full eclipse is visible only across a band of the Earth - the path of totality, which on Aug. 21 will be about 70 miles wide - will track coast to coast, from Oregon in the northwestern corner of the country to South Carolina in the southeast.

The rest of the country, including Pennsylvania, and north into Canada and south into South America, will experience a partial eclipse.

All of that, particularly areas farther away from the path of totality, will be at the mercy of the weather. Heavy cloud cover could block out the view of the eclipse, particularly if those clouds occur in the moments when the moon is completely blocking out the sun.

The event on Aug. 21 will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. since 1979, but that one was visible only in the northwestern corner of the country. The most recent coast-to-coast, total solar eclipse was on June 8, 1918.

Pennsylvania will be in better position for the next total solar eclipse, on April 8, 2024. The path of totality for that one will cross the U.S. from Texas to Maine.


Media Files:
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Raccoons in the movies: From Rascal to Rocket in 50 years

Fri, 26 May 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-05-26T15:36:32Z

Raccoons don't often get a starring role, or even a supporting role, in major movies, but every few years one finds its niche. Rocket, the ferocious raccoon in "Guardians of the Galaxy" is the current standard-bearer for the species.




Do raccoons wash their food before eating? 16 things you think you know about raccoons

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-05-25T09:02:24Z

Raccoons are one of the most common animals in Pennsylvania. They are regularly spotted nearly everywhere in the state. However, a great deal of myth and misconception has grown around the species.




Animals of 'Star Wars' and their real-life, Earthly counterparts

Wed, 24 May 2017 12:00:00 UTC

2017-05-24T12:07:43Z

From the original "Star Wars" in 1977, the films have given moviegoers a rich tapestry of fully developed ecosystems, complete with an array of indigenous wildlife occupying all the niches in a galaxy far, far away.




Ghosts, Bigfoot and zombies in Pennsylvania? Here's your guide

Tue, 23 May 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-05-23T09:03:43Z

Calendar filled with conferences and fan events in all areas of the paranormal and cryptozoology.




Watch as crew takes down eight-story-tall tree in Harrisburg

Sat, 20 May 2017 20:05:00 UTC

2017-05-20T22:43:46Z

Using a 110-ton crane, tree removal crew drops 80-foot silver maple at rear of office building parking lot. Watch video

Branch by branch, each one as large as a tree itself, an eight-story-tall silver maple tree in a Harrisburg neighborhood was taken down on Saturday by a crew from Cumberland Valley Tree Service.

The silver maple that towered about 80 feet tall, with a crown spreading about 80 feet wide and a trunk measuring about 230 inches in circumference, at the rear of a parking lot at 4135 N. Front St., was cut and lowered into the parking lot for further cutting into manageable, but still massive, logs.

Fred Schrom, branch manager for CVTS, estimated the tree's age at about 125 years, noting that "It might look older than that" because of its size, but the silver maple is a relatively fast-growing species.

The tree was removed because an arborist determined that a large cavity high within the trunk had made it unsafe.

The huge trunk and tree-sized branches were loaded onto a tractor-trailer for transport to a sawmill. Silver maple is not a high-value lumber, so the tree will be cut into firewood, explained Schrom.

(image)  

CVTS removed another, even larger silver maple from the same site in 2014.

That may have been the Pennsylvania Champion Silver Maple at the time, a possibility that could not be verified with the volunteer-run program of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.

The Champion Trees of Pennsylvania program last printed a directory of the trees in 2011, but continues as an online directory.

The top silver maple in that directory is currently a tree in Blue Bell that stood 93 feet tall with a crown spread of 93 feet and a circumference of 270 inches when it was officially measured in 2010.


Media Files:
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Tiny houses visiting another Pennsylvania campground as new camping option

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:00:36 UTC

2017-05-18T14:07:51Z

A second Lancaster County campground aims to interest campers in tiny houses.

Another Pennsylvania campground has announced a visit by tiny houses to demonstrate the small structures as an option for camping.

Thousand Trails Circle M RV & Camping Resort, Lancaster, will introduce its Petite Retreats rental accommodations in an open house from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 20, and noon-4 p.m. Sunday, May 21.

Ann Colletti, spokeswoman for Thousand Trails and Petite Retreats, will be available to answer questions about the tiny houses and the camping resort

The resort will welcome Petite Retreats' two newest tiny houses: Henry at 252 square feet and Clara at 181 square feet.

The new models were unveiled last month at the New York International Auto Show and then towed to Circle M.

They will continue a road trip of various stops throughout the summer.

Circle M is a western-themed campground of 380 sites, including cottages, cabins, yurts and RV sites.

Petite Retreats is an accommodations company presented by Encore RV resorts and Thousand Trails campgrounds and featuring tiny houses, cozy cabins, yurts, tents and teepees.

Earlier this month, Jellystone Park Camp and Resort at Quarryville - also in Lancaster County - announced the June 29-July 26 visit by three tiny-house camping options.

Tiny houses at Jellystone Park Camp and Resort


Media Files:
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Eight-story-tall tree about to be axed in Harrisburg

Wed, 17 May 2017 17:10:00 UTC

2017-05-18T22:37:57Z

The giant tree is about 125 years old, according to estimates, but a huge cavity in its trunk makes it a developing danger and must be removed.

A massive, aged tree that predated by decades the Harrisburg neighborhood where it ives will be cut down and removed on Saturday morning.

Crews from Cumberland Valley Tree Service plan to take down a silver maple that towers about 80 feet tall, with a crown spreading about 80 feet wide and a trunk measuring about 230 inches in circumference, at the rear of a parking lot at 4135 N. Front St.

Fred Schrom, branch manager for CVTS, estimated the tree's age at about 125 years, noting that "it might look older than that" because of its size, but the silver maple is a relatively fast-growing species.

The tree is being removed because an arborist determined that a large cavity high within the trunk had made it unsafe.

Huge tree at Mont Alto challenges Penn State students

The tree crew will remove the maple "piece by piece by piece," using a 110-ton crane to lower the pieces, according to Schrom.

The huge trunk and some of the larger branches, which are as larger as many trees, will be loaded onto a tractor-trailer for transport to a sawmill. Silver maple is not a high-value lumber, so the tree will be cut into firewood, explained Schrom.

CVTS removed another, even larger silver maple from the same site in 2014.

That may have been the Pennsylvania Champion Silver Maple at the time, a possibility that could not be verified with the volunteer-run program of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.

The Champion Trees of Pennsylvania program last printed a directory of the trees in 2011, but continues as an online directory.

The top silver maple in that directory is currently a tree in Blue Bell that stood 93 feet tall with a crown spread of 93 feet and a circumference of 270 inches when it was officially measured in 2010.

More giant trees at Boyd Big Tree Preserve


Media Files:
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Stargazing parties coming up at observatories across Pennsylvania

Tue, 16 May 2017 11:30:00 UTC

2017-05-16T11:32:27Z

Astronomy clubs and parks will provide public access to telescopes, star charts and guidance.

Astronomy organizations and observatories across Pennsylvania have scheduled stargazing events through the end of June.

Most of the events include assistance by volunteers or staff, and telescopes and star charts for use by the public.

However, many of the events are held only when skies are clear enough for good viewing and the sponsoring organization will announce cancellations on their websites or Facebook pages.

Cherry Springs State Park

  • The only International Dark Sky in Pennsylvania and one of the darkest spots on the East Coast will host Night Sky Tours at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 27; Sunday, May 28; Friday, June 16; and Saturday, June 17; and a Star Party at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 24. All visitors are urged to arrive before dark at the park along Rt. 44, southeast of Galeton in Potter County. Pre-registration is required at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/cherrysprings.

Darkest sky in Pennsylvania

Astronomical Society of Harrisburg

  • Public Observing Programs will be held at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 21; 9 p.m. Sunday, June 11; and 9 p.m. Sunday, June 18; at the society's Naylor Observatory at Lewisberry. For more information, call 717-938-6041 or browse www.astrohbg.org.

York County Astronomical Society

  • A Public Observing Starwatch is planned for 8 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at the society's observatory at John C. Rudy County Park near Emigsville. For more information, call 717-759-9227 or visit  www.ycas.org.

Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society

  • A Star Party will be held at its South Mountain Facility along East Rock Road at Allentown on Saturday, June 3. The event will include a planetarium show for families with children ages 14 and younger at 6 p.m., a talk on "Life in the Universe" at 7 p.m., a planetarium show at 8 p.m. and time with provided telescopes starting at 7 p.m. The society's website is http://www.lvaas.org.

The Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers

  • A Star Party will be hosted on the model airplane field in the southwest corner of Valley Forge National Historical Park at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17. For questions about the weather, call the DVAA hotline at 484-238-0960.

7 spots for stargazing in Pennsylvania

Chesmont Astronomical Society

  • The monthly Star Party will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at French Creek State Park near Birdsboro. The society's website is www.chesmontastro.org.

Franklin & Marshall College

  • A public observing night will be held at 8 p.m. Monday, June 19, at Franklin & Marshall College's Grundy Observatory at Lancaster.


Media Files:
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Massive great white shark swims by Chesapeake Bay

Sun, 14 May 2017 15:06:00 UTC

2017-05-14T17:30:22Z

Shark famous on Twitter has been tracked along the East Coast since 2012.

A great white shark weighing more than 3,500 pounds cruised by the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay this weekend.

Mary Lee, a great white tracked through an electronic tag by Ocearch.org, was pinged by a satellite early Friday morning, when she was about 300 miles off the coast.

When she was tagged in September 2012 near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Mary Lee weighed 3,456 pounds and measured 16 feet in length.

Marine scientists working with great white sharks believe 16 feet is about average for adult females, which are thought to reach maturity at about 33 years of age.

Their growth slows down after that but continues throughout their lives, which have been found to run at least 73 years.

Mauricio Hoyos Padilla, director of shark-research organization Pelagios-Kakunja A.C., estimated a 20-footer that he tagged was at least 50 years old.

Since being tagged in 2012, Mary Lee's pings when she surfaces have tracked her travels along the East Coast, between Massachusetts and the Bahamas. Several times she has been located only a few miles off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware.

Her travels are monitored by more than 100,000 Twitter followers on the @MaryLeeShark page.


Media Files:
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American Birding Expo moving to Pennsylvania this year

Fri, 12 May 2017 14:10:00 UTC

2017-05-12T21:25:46Z

The event will feature top names from the birding world, researchers, artists, writers and companies.

Bird Watcher's Digest is bringing the American Birding Expo to Pennsylvania this year and has lined up two of the top names in birding to headline the speakers list.

After two years in Columbus, Ohio, the American Birding Expo is scheduled for Friday-Sunday, Sept.29-Oct. 1, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.

Headlining the event will be Central Pennsylvania's own Scott Weidensaul, speaking on the Project SNOWstorm research effort headquartered at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art at Millersburg, and Julie Zickefoose, internationally known, award-winning nature writer and artist.

About Project SNOWstorm

Bill Thompson III, founder and director of the expo, and co-publisher and editor of the magazine, said the relocation of the expo brings it into proximity to major population centers that also are home to large numbers of birders and bird clubs. It also brings it into a building designed for such an event.

Many of the top national brands in birding are signed on for the expo. The list includes companies like Allura, Cape May Bird Observatory, Droll Yankees, Princeton University Press, Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Swarovski, Tamron, The Birding Wire, Wildbirds Unlimited, Wings Birding Tours Worldwide and Zeiss.

The expo will feature bird walks from 6-8 a.m. each day. The exhibitor hall will be open from noon-6 p.m. Sept. 29, followed by the Zickefoose program; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 30, followed by the Weidensaul program; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 1, with a 2 p.m. live-bird demonstration by Carrie Barron, assistant director of the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove.

How does your birding checklist compare?

The expo is a retail-sales-oriented showcase of products for birders and nature enthusiasts. The Expo Conservation Fund is generated by sponsor contributions, raffles and voluntary contributions at the expo.

For more about the event, visit the American Birding Expo website.


Media Files:
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Cicada emergence in Pennsylvania this summer: Deafening or nothing?

Thu, 11 May 2017 11:30:00 UTC

2017-05-11T11:33:01Z

The red-eyed insects will be emerging from their 17 years underground in some areas in the next few weeks. Which broods emerge this summer will decide where the familiar buzzing will fill the air.




Wolf moon, worm moon, pink moon, blue moon: How did we come up with these names?

Wed, 10 May 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-05-10T09:04:59Z

Before our modern, nature-deprived society came to live by a man-made, standardized calendar, older civilizations had their own system for noting the passing of the seasons in the moon.




Snake myths you might already believe

Tue, 09 May 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-05-09T09:01:22Z

Snakes have been demonized and feared almost since humans first encountered them. A plethora of legend and lore has grown up around the reptiles, much of it of a rather frightening variety. However, much of it is little more than folklore.




Tiny houses coming to Pennsylvania campground

Fri, 05 May 2017 12:00:00 UTC

2017-05-05T12:10:23Z

Quarryville campground is one of four Jellystone Parks in the eastern U.S. that will be visited by three tiny house RVs this summer.