Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lacawac Sanctuary Birding Adventure

Tree Swallow, Lacawac Sanctuary

     It has taken a few days to get my pictures up but I am finally ready to share the adventures from my Memorial Day trip with all of you. I look forward to writing these types of posts in the future.  Spreading the awareness of the wealth that nature has to offer and the importance of conservation are some of the things I strive to do and I hope to be able to through sharing my personal experiences.  All of the photos were taken by my fiance and I.

Entrance to Lacawac Sanctuary

     I spent the extended weekend in the Poconos in Northeast Pennsylvania.  Sunday was a beautiful day so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do some hiking and birdwatching (I'll find any excuse to bring a pair of binoculars out with me).  Thanks to NEPA Audubon's website, we found a couple of places that we thought would be worth our time.

Start of the Maurice Brown Nature Trail, a 1.2 mile loop

     The first place we decided to visit was Lacawac Sanctuary.  It is situated on the shore of Lake Wallenpaupack.  There were several hiking trails available.  One of them which spanned over rocks left behind by glacial activity and approached Lacawac Lake, and another that went through a small meadow followed by dense mixed deciduous/pine forest.  The latter was the one we decided to take, called the Maurice Brown Nature Trail.

      Since we started the hike at around 1:30pm I wasn't expecting a crazy amount of bird activity.  We made it through the meadow without seeing a single bird.  It was way too quiet for my liking.  I was already thinking to myself that this was going to be a great day....then as soon as we stepped into the dense forest, I began to hear calls.  First a Carolina Wren.  The LOUDEST bird in the forest by far. Then some American Robins up high in the branches of the deciduous trees. And then I spotted a Northern Flicker foraging on the ground, using his sharp beak to dig for his lunch.

Hermit Thrush on the trail
The highlight of our Lacawac Sanctuary journey occurred about mid-way through our hike.  I was listening up in the treetops with my fox ears and I heard what sounded like an American Robin but definitely was not.  I said to myself, hmm that sounds like a Robin with a sore throat.  I recanted studying some bird songs in my spare time and I thought that it might be a Tanager but I wasn't sure which type. I am an amateur birder and have only one year of experience.  I asked my fiance for her iPhone and I opened up our Central Park Birds app.  I typed in the word "Tanager" and I saw Summer and Scarlet Tanagers available for selection.  I opted for the Summer Tanager song. It played through the iPhone speaker and all of a sudden the treetop bird's song appeared to be getting closer.  Then we looked up and right above us perched on the branch was a Scarlet Tanager who had a very strong and aggressive reaction to the song being played on the phone. I only played it a couple of times because I did not want to aggravate Mr. Scarlet Tanager anymore and did not want to make him think that there was a Summer Tanager ready to battle him for the forest.

Once we made it out of the forest we were treated with a few Tree Swallows and an Eastern Bluebird.
                                                                     To be continued....... 

Scarlet Tanager

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wild Weather 2012

The first five months of 2012 have brought us some crazy weather in the United States.  What does this mean for the rest of 2012?

     We are seeing earlier than normal development in the tropics this year.  The official start of the hurricane season does not begin until June 1 and we have already seen two named storms in the Pacific (one of them considered "major" at Category 3) and one named storm in the Atlantic that is bringing torrential rains from Orlando all the way to the coast of Georgia.

What does this mean for our hurricane season this year?

     This is 100% speculation, but I believe the Atlantic coast is long overdue for a strong hurricane to make landfall.  I pray that I am wrong, but last year New York City/Long Island got off easy.  Things could have been much, much worse had Irene made landfall as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. One positive thing is that authorities are not taking these situations lightly.  Not after what happened in New Orleans in 2005.  No one wants another Hurricane Katrina on their watch.  All precautions were taken and mandatory evacuations were made close to the shoreline due to the risk of severe flooding.  Mayor Bloomberg of New York City had mandatory evacuations of low lying areas close to the Battery in Manhattan for the first time in the city's history.

     In these types of events I would have to agree with Mayor Bloomberg's decision.  One can never be too cautious when dealing with Mother Nature.  We are talking about the ocean here.  It eats ships like we eat oyster crackers and can swallow people alive in an instant.  When hurricanes come ashore who really knows how much havoc the storm surge and flooding is going to create.  See the video below from Tropical Storm Irene as it made landfall on the coast of Connecticut.  Keep in mind the body of water is the Long Island Sound.  Typical waves are two feet.

Here is a list of some of the wild weather we have had so far in 2012.  
  • Extreme tornado outbreaks in the south and midwest in January/early March.  This past January we saw the third most amount of tornadoes on record for any January since 1950 (  Tornado season does not typically start until April.  
  • Anyone remember that winter we had?  Oh that's right, we didn't have one.  My snapdragons, a    hardy annual plant even overwintered.  We had the warmest March on record in the lower 48. At the end of April, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) announced that the first four months of 2012 combined were the warmest on record.
  • Early development of hurricanes in Pacific and Atlantic basin.  Two named storms in the Pacific (one a major storm) and one named storm that has made landfall in the Atlantic before the official start of hurricane season.  

What does the future hold for our planet? 
I want to know your opinion!  Chime in below :)


Friday, May 25, 2012

Where Are You Going for Memorial Day?

Here is a list I compiled of some fantastic places where one can spend some time during the unofficial start to the summer season.  Let's not forget all those folks who have lost their lives for our country in order for us to live how we want to and pray for those who are currently abroad or at home serving the United States of America. 

1) Washington D.C

 Get out to the nation's capitol!  Check out the museums and monuments. Pay tribute to our fallen soldiers at the World War I, World War II, Vietnam War, Korean War, and Iwo Jima Monuments.  Visit America's largest burial ground, Arlington National Cemetery.  If you are into some other things you can try the Botanical Garden (my personal favorite) and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

2) USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

 Who can forget how the United States was forced to enter World War II when our navy was ambushed by Japanese Kamikaze pilots at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  This would be the ultimate place to pay respects to our fallen soldiers.  I have visited this site and it was a very solemn experience.  I would recommend everyone visit this site if possible.  They show a heart-wrenching video to the visitors before they put you on a boat to get to the actual site of the USS Arizona. 

3)  Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

The Black Hills of South Dakota are one of my favorite places that I have ever visited.  The beauty and diversity that one can find in the landscape here is not comparable to any other.  Visit one of our nation's most important pieces of artwork in Mount Rushmore and then take in a nice picnic lunch at Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills.  Or if you are a bit more adventurous you can hike the tallest peak between the Rockies and the Pyrenees Mountains, called Harney Peak.   

4) 9/11 Memorial - New York, New York

Although this memorial does not commemorate fallen soldiers it deserves a visit because of the significant impact this event has had on everyone's life in this country. The people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten in our minds and in our hearts.  The brave workers in the World Trade Center including civilians, New York City Police, New York City Firefighters, God Bless You!

5) Boston Common Flag Display, Boston, Massachusetts

 33,000 American flags will be on display in Boston Common this Memorial Day Weekend remembering all of the soldiers of Massachusetts who have lost their lives since the Civil War.  What an amazing site it would be to see this many flags lined up.  Don't forget to stop by Quincy market and the Boston Aquarium is a great place to visit (especially during bad weather).

6) Jones Beach Air Show, Wantagh, New York

Thousands of people will make their way out to Jones Beach on Long Island to celebrate the unofficial start of Summer.  Bring a blanket, an umbrella, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the aerial festivities. You can sit right on the beach and the planes will fly directly over you.  My favorite are the US Navy Blue Angels of course! Jones Beach Air Show for some more info in case you are interested....

7)  Your Own Backyard, Anytown, USA

Tired of all the hustle and bustle?  Why not spend a nice relaxing weekend in your backyard with some great family or at a friend's backyard grilling some burgers, hot dogs and throwing back a few cold ones.  Put on a baseball game, or even play some baseball with your buddies.  Maybe it is even warm enough for the first dip in the pool of the season (if you are brave!). 

Hope everyone enjoys this Holiday Weekend and remember to stay safe!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Solar Flare of the Century

     The popular theme in the media today has been the apocalypse. The coming of the end and the brutal physical destruction of the planet altogether.  We've seen folks take the prediction made by the Mayan Calendar and turn it into a fruitful gold mine, producing books, movies, and TV shows all about the foreseen destruction of our planet by our intelligent ancestors.  It is such a popular subject because it hits close to home.  Let's face it, people want to know how things are going to end. People treat death as a subject they are cautiously curious about....

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

     One of the ways people romanticize over how the world is going to end is from a perilous solar flare.  While a solar flare may not cause complete physical destruction of our planet, it could still give us a heck of a rough time.
     On September 1, 1859 the largest solar flare on record with the strength of 10 billion atomic bombs made its way towards our planet.  It was named the Carrington Event because it was first spotted by British astrologer Richard Carrington. This solar flare disrupted telegraph communications, started fires, and the Northern Lights were able to be viewed as far south as Cuba!

Solar Flare

What if a solar flare of this magnitude were to hit Earth today?

      I fear for our society if a solar flare this large and powerful were to come our way. Here is a brief list of some of the systems that would be compromised and how we as humans would be affected.

No satellite communication - need to make that cell phone call or send that text message?  Better start training a pigeon. It could be awhile before you do this. Solar flares can disrupt satellite signals or even destroy satellites in orbit. This means no GPS (bring a map), no cell phone, no text messages, and no weather forecasting.   

Severely damaged power grid -the power grid in the U.S. would take a major hit.  Transformers could blow and could take weeks, months, or even years to replace depending on how many were destroyed.  Many would have to be manufactured ($$$) and would take some time to install.  This means no electricity which could pose severe threats to the elderly who rely on air conditioners during the hot summer days.  No pumping gasoline. Traffic lights out.  Dead cell phones after battery runs out. (can't use them anyway at this point). Spoiled food across the country from supermarkets to refrigerators and freezers.  Better stock up on that canned goodness.  

     There are many other areas of life that would be affected by a devastating event such as a Carringtonesque solar flare. Let us pray that one similar never approaches our planet.  All we can do for now is be educated about this type of situation in case it were to happen. I am sure the expert astronomers are all over this type of subject, monitoring the sun for activity.

     The most important thing to remember is that we should not take what we have for granted for even one day.  Remember this because things can change on a any aspect of life. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Come Fly With Me

One of the focal points of my blog will be the exploration of fascinating places around the world.  Many of these locations that I decide to feature are on my so-called "bucket list" of places to visit before I leave this planet for good. What will I focus these posts on?  Well, I couldn't tell you.  It depends completely on my mood.  Maybe I will focus on hiking, animals, plant life, geology, travel tips, or any type of fun to be had at a location.

I can't wait to take you all on a journey of a lifetime around the world.  Hopefully my posts will inspire some of you to visit some of these unbelievable places. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Birds vs. Global Warming Round 1

Photo courtesy of Hallvard Strøm / Norwegian Polar Institute
     With all of the talk of "Global Warming" in the media, or what I prefer to call the heating of the Earth, it is interesting to hear about how species are going to have to endure the changes that our planet is experiencing.
     One of the species that are going to have to adapt to the rising temperatures of our planet is the Dovekie, also known as the Little Auk.  This small, chubby, black and white bird spends the winters up north in the chilly Arctic.

Dovekie adapting to change...for now

Make sure to check out the article above!

......and remember to stay naturefied

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcome to Naturefied

Welcome to the Naturefied blog where we will explore new facets of the Earth several times each week.  My name is John and I am a 26 year old male from Long Island, NY.  I work full time but in my spare time I enjoy finding out more about myself, Mother Earth, and the human race's relationship with our planet.  I enjoy bird watching and gardening in my spare time..  I have traveled extensively and when I do, I always make sure to travel a little bit off the beaten path.  Here we will be exploring fantastic locations, animals, news, and events both beautiful and catastrophic involving nature.  It will be an eclectic group of entries so make sure to check back daily to see if there has been an update.