ItCRC icon’s time!

The 18th Annual
CRC Streams Cleanup

Saturday, April 25, 2015
9:00 am – 11:30 am

Join other great friends of the streams for all or part of the cleanup.

Simply click the image at left or visit the CRC website here to choose one of several locations along Chester, Ridley, and Crum Creeks (including a couple sites along Little Crum Creek!)

In addition to a list of cleanup sites, the CRC website offers online registration (gets you a free t-shirt!) and other useful details (incl. a free picnic afterward at Ridley Creek State Park!).

See you there!

(CRC is also on something called facebook.)

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Click the picture to register.

Did rain dampen your plans for Earth Day?

No problem.

You can join the CRC’s 15th Annual Streams Cleanup.

Volunteers will meet to pitch in and clean up the creeksides on Saturday, May 5,  from 9 to 11:30 am.

Just choose one of several meeting sites in the Chester, Ridley, and Crum watersheds.

Then register to attend.

Sites include two spots along Little Crum Creek:  one upstream at Little Crum Creek Park in Swarthmore and one downstream at Ridley Park Lake.

Free t-shirt and picnic following cleanup.

After all, it’s always an Earth day, right?

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The Great Blue Heron resides year-round in Pennsylvania.

But, here on Little Crum Creek, it most visibly strides upstream at the start of spring.
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By mid-May, the flowering boxelder in this video is full of leaves, and nearby knotweed reaches six feet.

Then it’s easier to spot the large heron in more open waters.

Just downstream, one fishes from the dam beneath the bridge at Ridley Park Lake. 

Still others cast their patient eyes nearby at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum, a freshwater tidal marsh where the Muckinipattis, Darby, and Hermesprota Creeks meet the Delaware River:

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Surely our visiting heron is familiar with Tinicum.  Perhaps some of the heron’s fellow wetland denizens also make their way to Little Crum Creek.

The refuge posts a list of recent bird sightings to give us an idea of who those visitors could be.

Lots of birds have frequented Little Crum Creek’s feeders this winter:

Blue Jay, Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, House Finch, Goldfinch, assorted Sparrows, Mourning Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, a few Woodpeckers—Downy, Red-bellied, & Hairy—and several opportunistic Hawks—Cooper’s, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, & Red-shouldered.

Any one of them could lift one’s spirit from the desolation of winter dormancy.

But the absence of another really drew me out to the invigorating cold.

Hoping to discover why we never see the Pileated Woodpecker on Little Crum Creek, I set out for the snowy trails of Ridley Creek State Park.

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There the Pileated first announced itself with distinctively powerful drumming.

Slow and deliberate, like the strike of an axe, it was much louder than we are accustomed to hearing from smaller woodpeckers.

After scanning the bare trees and creaking limbs awhile, I finally spotted one.

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In subsequent visits, I followed the Pileated’s loud laughter from tree to tree.

It made many stops over a large area of dense woods, increasingly gaining more ground than I could cover.

It especially seemed to love chipping out large rectangular holes in the larvae-rich trunks of dead tree snags.

Woodchip piles littered the snow.

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I’ve seen similar evidence in the Crum Woods of Swarthmore, just a few suburban blocks from the headwater spring of LCC.

But the thin corridor of LCC runs a residential course.  Trees are generally younger and increasingly fewer downstream.

Property owners often remove dead ones before they can mature into rich old snags on which the Pileated depends for food and nesting.

Fewer trees, over smaller areas, where snags are scarce … these are probably sufficient reasons to explain the Pileated Woodpecker’s absence from Little Crum Creek.

But even its absence highlights something about our place in the region.

And now I have some clues for how to find one.

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To see a nearby Pileated Woodpecker in action, check out this cool video from Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, just about a 30 min. drive from LCC.

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   Before January’s snow drove one to the backyard suet, I’d been wondering if the Hairy Woodpecker mingled indistiguishably here with the Downy.  The two are said to be nearly identical, though the smaller Downy is much more common. Then first sight of the rarely visiting Hairy dispelled any doubt.  Even with tail tucked beneath the feed, he clearly outsized the other. This Hairy Woodpecker appeared occasionally, for about a week, and I haven’t seen him since.  

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Hairy Woodpecker

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Downy Woodpecker

 

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The Red-bellied Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker I’ve seen along Little Crum Creek. 

Its spring call is so lush and ruffling  that we can often spot one through new leaves. 

But now, in late fall, it is particularly conspicuous, sometimes drumming loudly on tree sides and departing dramatically from every landing.

Red-bellieds visit rarely enough to warrant announcement when one hits the suet to set it swinging.  Its strong tail and grasp then steady the cage for feeding.

We can tell these males by the full red caps running all the way to their beaks.  A female’s red streak ends at the nape.

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By fall, spring’s fawn has well outgrown her coat’s white dots.
But, rarely far from mom and sibling, she still often wears her share of the family’s spot in the sun.

 

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Distinguishing themselves from common mobs

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gathered noisily in autumn treetops,

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several colorful grackles stand

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for portraits in the sun.

We can discover a lot more about Little Crum Creek:  what it is, where it’s been, how it’s going.

Interested?

Meet me on the new page for a ramble through time and town. 

Don’t worry, I have maps!

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Looks like eastern tiger swallowtails on a butterfly bush at the woodland’s edge.

Let’s keep an eye out for other visitors to this spot.

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