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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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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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It is easy to overlook what we are not prepared to see.

But a patient gaze will often reward long familiarity with a place.

Then the mutest shape might suddenly pronounce its presence,

like a Green Heron on the fallen ash beside Little Crum Creek.

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. . .

Pennsylvania, like the entire eastern half of the United States, is part of the Green Heron’s summer breeding range.

I have spotted one here on Little Crum Creek as early as April and as late as August.

But I had never noticed one before squatting one day among the long-appreciated turtles of nearby Crum Creek.

There, with the slightest step, a yet unseen heron suddenly stirred the shade of a late summer day,

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fully startled me with the raising of its head,

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and assuredly prepared all our later engagements.

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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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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