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A lone pied-billed grebe,

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blending well upon Ridley Park Lake,

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suddenly dives to feed,

or otherwise

elude our gaze,

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and emerge some spot distant

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to dry in the air of day.

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I once spotted an osprey perched over the water at Ridley Creek State Park.

That’s not far from the Springton Reservoir where it might easily dive for fish.

But I’ve since harbored little expectation of ever seeing one over Little Crum Creek.

Then there it was, downstream, April 10, soaring high and low in broad circles over Ridley Park Lake,  dipping, breaking, and rising for about 5-10 minutes before disappearing someplace north.

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This raptor visit called for a specialist.

My nephew, who recently wrote a grade school report on ospreys, said that maybe the bird was fishing, looking for a good place to nest, or just migrating.

For more osprey insights, and for lots of extraordinary pictures, consider visiting Bay Photos by Donna.  In this post, Donna documents an osprey family’s full nesting season on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

Thanks to her lens on life there, I recognized our visitor here straight away.

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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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Here along our usually shady confines, Glechoma hederacea must compete with more aggressive plants like English ivy. 

So it flowers with the kind of charming modesty that inspires a name like  “hedgemaids.”

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But downstream of our usual vantage, Little Crum Creek opens onto a 20-acre lake created when the borough of Ridley Park was founded in the 1870s.

Surrounding the lake, an extensive lawn provides the little European species ample room to flourish.

And the plant’s aggressive spread might suggest its more common (though decidedly less florid) name of “ground ivy.”

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But stooping for a whiff of minty-scented leaves sent from creeping stems might also put us in mind of more colorful names like “creeping Charlie.” 

And from the French guiller, meaning “to ferment,” the plant’s herbal use  in flavoring beer is specifically reflected in “Gill-over-the-ground.”

Surely the plant’s useful beauty, weedy though it be, helps explain its spread by settlers across North America.

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[Images are sharper when clicked.]

Downstream from our usual window on life in and around the water, Little Crum Creek flows into Ridley Park Lake.

101_3484edcropBThis deeper, wider, stiller body attracts a variety of life less commonly spotted in our shallower, quicker narrows upstream.

About now, you could easily encounter sunnies, carp, red-eared sliders, toads, green herons, geese, a great blue heron, and maybe a snapping turtle (… any Parkers out there care to add to this list?).

Lately, four double-crested cormorants have been fishing the lake.

Submerging for 20 to 30 seconds in pursuit of prey, they surface anywhere from 20 to 30 feet away.

Between feedings, the cormorants stand atop a dam at the far end of the lake, drying in the sun. 

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An earthquake on Tuesday (August 23, 2011).

A hurricane on Saturday & Sunday (August 27-28, 2011).

And Little Crum Creek isn’t any worse for wear.

The earthquake shook ground up and down the east coast, felt here by some but not by others.

Meanwhile Hurricane Irene pruned a lot of leaves and dead branches along these banks, bent a few small trees, and flattened some weeds.

But, despite over 5 inches falling, the creek itself didn’t rise so high in the steady rain. Nor did Ridley Lake, just downstream in Ridley Park.

As a short stream, just over 3 miles long, Little Crum Creek is flashy and fills more dramatically in heavy rainfall over a shorter period of time.  In fact, it rose higher in a storm nearly two weeks ago (August 15, 2011) than it did in Irene.

Surrounding streams, however, accumulating more runoff over greater distances, responded more dramatically to the hurricane.  Darby Creek, Ridley Creek, and Crum Creek (into which the Little Crum flows) each flooded its banks in places.

Lots of folks stopped by the falls of Crum Creek, along Yale Avenue in Swarthmore PA, to see this unusually high flow of water over the old stone dam.

Hopefully, you can get a sense of the water’s response to Irene in this video of comparative views from the falls at different rates of flow:

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Today is sunny and calm.

Little Crum Creek resumes its normal variations.

New post in a couple days or so.

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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!