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Suddenly spring overwhelms the senses with a conviction that winter is past.

Even the flurry of sycamore trees floating feathery seeds down on mounds of blooming snowdrops seems a distant memory.  

The seeds have all fallen.  And those snowy white flowers have been wholly succeeded by brilliant suns of lesser celandine lighting the streamside from their blanketing habit of green.
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Now the ground is drizzled with darkened drops of a red maple’s fallen flowers.

The crabapple tree shows its first young leaves.

And the twisted boxelder once again suspends its tasseling flowers over the rocky stream.
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Up on the banks, by the quickly filling, but not yet blooming, tangle of multiflora rose, where the recently woken woodchuck feeds each morning, modest hedgemaids, long awaited and soon gone, inch up to the world their hidden floral adornments.

Washing over it all in a moment is the sound of what seem to be splashing creek chubs.  

Racing into the shallow riffles, wriggling out of water upon the dry sides of rocks, and scattering banded schools of smaller minnows,  they make hasty wakes up and down the way.
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A sympathetic viewer is easily smitten … overwhelmed, even … by so much to witness at the start of a third spring sharing some Little Crum Creek.

Then an erratically fluttering cabbage white  instantly lifts the vision and scatters it across the slim, crowding woodland with a renewed promise of still more to come.
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Two weeks ago, from a considerable distance, I could see several fish splash and writhe in the clear-flowing stream’s gravelly shallows.

A little later, these 6-8″ fish were swimming together in a deeper pool just above the pebbly flow, often sheltering in the shadow of a large rock or far bank in a chasing game of touch and go, sometimes swimming side by side as if attached.

The black band lining each of these fish brings to mind the blacknose dace.  But that’s a tiny minnow, up to 5″ smaller than these.

Two fisherman friends agree that these look like suckers. And the PA Fish and Boating Commission lists four types of sucker in our part of the state.  Of those, I have seen only the creek chubsucker occasionally pictured with such a stripe. [See Update at bottom of post.]

There are many smaller fish, as well, too several and quick to identify just yet.

Whatever they are, certainly all are catching the heron’s eye.

. . . . . . . . . .

*UPDATE*

Though my original guess here was a creek chubsucker, I have since come across other information that makes me think this fish is not a sucker at all, but a kind of minnow: the creek chub.

In a 2010 presentation at Ridley Creek State Park, Dr. Thomas Cordrey of DelVal Soil and Environmental Consultants listed several fish observed in a downstream channel of Little Crum Creek:

  • common shiner
  • blacknose dace
  • creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)
  • pumpkin seed
  • green sunfish
  • white sucker

No mention of the creek chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus).

Likewise, a PA DEP report omits the creek chubsucker from its list of fish in Crum Creek, the stream to which Little Crum Creek is a tributary.

Finally, in March of 2012, I saw a similarly behaved fish with pointed white bumps on each side of its head.

Could these be the tubercles grown by creek chubs during breeding time?

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Seen from footbridge, Little Crum Creek Park, Swarthmore PA.