Archive for the ‘Delaware River Watershed’ Category

Delaware River Sojourn 2017

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Nothing is quite like spending seven days on the Delaware River in the annual Delaware River Sojourn.  Being on the water in a kayak gives me a sense of peace and well being.  It brings a feeling of slow living into the ever faster pace of society today. The Sojourn brought together up to 130 people daily from young to old, creating a community of old friends and new enjoying the wonders of nature on the longest undammed River east of the Mississippi.   While experiencing the Lehigh Canal and camping three days at the National Canal Museum in Easton, Pennsylvania,  I recognized how the area is rich in history. The canals provided a way for anthracite coal to be transported, helping  the industrial revolution in the US to begin with iron and then steel manufacturing and the first cement plant in the country.  As I rode in the canal boat on the Lehigh Canal or sat in an operating lock, I recognized that the slow two mph speed of the mule-powered boat actually was an important part of the birth of our fast paced society today.   At the same time I enjoyed the wonders of the natural world from the power of thunderstorms to the beauty of a drop of water on a lily pad in Island Pond on the Lehigh.   Being in a natural setting with the beauty of the mountains and the clean water of the Delaware renews my spirit. As a nature photographer my mission is to bring people in touch with the beauty of the natural world where they live. Since I live in the Delaware River watershed, I  enjoy bringing the wonders of this region to others who live here.  The small selection of images below is representative of the larger selection on my website available at

http://www.andysmithphotography.com/Galleries/
Canoeing%20and%20Kayaking/
Delaware%20River%20Sojourn%202017/
Index%20sojourn%202017dw.html

 

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Pileated Woodpeckers

Monday, June 5th, 2017

These images of Pileated Woodepeckers are more than simple images to which I received an overwhelming response to one posted yesterday on Facebook.  They are part of the story I want to tell with my photography.   I had the opportunity to return yesterday for a couple of hours to observe and photograph these birds again.  What a difference it makes to spend time listening and watching in a natural setting, immersing  myself in what is such a contrast to the lives most of us lead in a human constructed world.   I could feel the intelligence of these beautiful birds going about their life.   The two young ones kept popping out of the hole in expectation of the arrival of their Mother. One of them particularly looked at me standing there watching.   The Mother was off in the woods gathering food which appeared to be entirely grubs found from her pecking in dead trees.  She only returned once or twice each hour, every time with a beak full of grubs that she deposited in the open mouths of her young.   In this natural setting less than ten minutes from my house, McKaig Nature Education Center,  I felt surrounded by the sea of intelligence  present, knowing that everything there had its own way of being, of sensing what it was and was not and knowing how to fit in and survive or alter its course.  I knew that the woods, primarily large tulip poplars, was a community that shared the wealth of food, water and minerals through an underground network of fungi.  As I left I walked beside the clear clean waters of Crowe Creek which begins at the top of the hill and flows through theses woods, its watershed.   It eventually enters the Schuylkill River which then flows into the Delaware River, so is a small part of the Delaware River Watershed, where I do much of my photography.  I rejoiced as I recognized that a small piece of this much larger watershed was preserved and doing what it was supposed to be doing to maintain a clean natural environment.

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Winter Morning in Valley Forge Park

Friday, March 6th, 2015

New fallen snow on a cold clear calm morning following the storm is one of nature’s delights. This morning I enjoyed the wonders of such a morning in Valley Forge National Historical Park. The park is filed with meadows and woods having a variety of trees with various shapes.  About a ten minute drive from my house, it is one of my favorite places on a day like this.  I anticipated a wonderful morning as I finished clearing my driveway late the evening before under a clear sky lighted by one of the brightest full moons I had ever seen.  Below are some of the wonders I found.

My house lighted only by the full moon

Road to Snowy Wonderland

Tall Pines

Patterns in the Branches

Sculpture in the Snow

Fallen Tree

Tall Trees

Lone Star in the Woods

Lacy Pattern in the Woods

Snow Capped

Droopy

20th Annual Delaware River Sojourn

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I returned Saturday evening from seven wonderful days on the 20th annual Delaware River Sojourn, a refreshing and exciting trip with the largest group ever, which once again included my life partner, Kim.  We began with a couple of days paddling one of my favorite stretches of the River from Shohola Rapids to Matamoras.   It includes some of the best rapids, beautiful scenery and an increasing number of Bald Eagles.

The third day included the Delaware Water Gap, five bears sited, I think the most ever on the Sojourn, and an eagle with a fish.  A mother bear and two cubs came out near the eagle and the mother took the fish the eagle had caught, seeming not to bother much about the large group of canoes and kayaks in the middle of the River watching her. Shelley DePaul, Chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, led us thorough the Gap, blessing each of us with smoke and cedar, singing and praying in the Lenape language, reminding us that the River is sacred to the Lenape people.

The fourth day included the waves of Foul Rift, a stretch not done on the Sojourn since the first one.  Even with many novices among the 95 participants that day, we came through with no injuries and only a few people taking an unexpected swim.  This year we were blessed with beautiful weather every day and only one storm at night.

The Delaware River is a treasure, about two hundred miles of undamed beauty above Trenton.  Each time I paddle I am caught up in the magic of slow living, taking the time to observe, enjoy and experience the sacred wonders surrounding me, such a contrast to the life most people see as normal. In the tidal section of the River where we paddled from Neshaminy State Park to Bristol and returned, the contrast was evident. Speed boats and jet skis whizzed past us at top speed creating large waves with their  drivers lost in the fast and destructive world powered by oil, likely totally unaware of their impact.  River tugs floated past us going toward Trenton.  Our presence on the River represented a meeting of two worlds.

The images below are a small selection of the images that will be placed on my web site later with those of eight previous sojourns.

Crowded Shohola Rapids

Damon caught a fish

Bald Eagles at Nest with Two Juveniles

Coming Through Staircase Rapids

 Dan Easily Does Butler’s Rift

Mother Bear with Fish

Approaching the Delaware Water Gap

 Mitzi Going Through Foul Rift

 Paddling Below Martin’s Creek Power Plant

 Waiting to Start at Riegelsville

 Dawn at Neshaminy Looking Toward Philadelphia

 Approaching Bristol

Jane and Dave

 River Tug and Jet SKi

 

Red Shouldered Hawk Nest

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Last Friday and again today in Northwest, New Jersey I had the privilege to spend several hours observing two Red Shouldered Hawks exchanging places in their nest to sit on the eggs.  Roughly every 45 minutes to an hour one of the mates flew in, often with additional nesting material, and the other left. At times I heard the one arriving call several times, but at other times there was no call but one mate often left the nest just before the other arrived. They are nesting in the crotch of a large Tulip Poplar in my partner’s back yard.  Over the next month I’ll continue to observe the nest and await the birth of the young with my camera and 500 mm lens.

Broadwing Hawk on Nest

Broadwing Hawk on Nest with Nesting Material

Broadwing Hawk Standing on Nest

Flood on the Schuylkill

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Yesterday we had 5-7 inches of rain in the Philadelphia region. Today the Schuylkill River and most of the creeks that flow into it and the Delaware River were flooded, much higher than anyone expected. I went out to Valley Creek where it flows under Route 23 and on to the Schuylkill, to the Pawlings Road Bridge over the Schuylkill and to the Betzwood Bridge and adjacent portion of Valley Forge National Park. I wanted to document the event and also capture some unusual beauty in the destructive forces of nature, an interesting and challenging assignment for myself.  Likely this is not a one time event since increasingly we have had more precipitation and stronger winds. Global warming is upon us.  The Arctic ice is not the only thing being affected.    Changes will continue.

As I was walking back to my car after capturing a number of images, I passed a young couple walking, each with a suitcase and he with a dishpan and dishes.  They were evacuating from the Valley Forge Lofts, a new apartment complex on the banks of the Schuylkill immediately downstream from the Betzwood Bridge.  Several of the buildings were under a few feet of water.   Another woman looking at the water near the Betzwood spoke of a friend who lives along the Schuylkill canal in Phoenixville whose house was totally surrounded by water. Yes, peoples lives are greatly affected by the changes in the natural world.  Sometimes it takes an event like this to help us keep our perspective.  We are part of nature.  Its power is both our power and greater than any one of us.

Below are a few images from the various sites I visited.

Spring Flood on the Valley Creek Just Above Route 23

Valley Creek Upstream from Route 23

Looking Toward Washington’s Headquarters Across a Flooded Valley Creek

Looking From Washington’s Headquarters Across a Flooded Valley Creek

Flooded Access Road Across Valley Creek from Washington’s Headquarters

The End of Pawlings Road Bridge By the Access to the Betzwood Trail

The View Upstream from the Betzwood Bridge

Flood Waters in the Picnic and Boat Launch Area of The Betzwood Section of Valley Forge Park

The Betzwood Trail Under Water

Looking Toward the Schuylkill from the Betzwood Picnic Area

A Winter Morning at Jenkins Arboretum

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

This morning I awoke to a winter wonderland at my house after the largest storm of the year.  Very heavy and wet, it was the best possible snow for photographs.  After looking around my own yard I went to Jenkins Arboretum, less than five minutes from home.  It is a wonderland any time of the year and gives me renewed energy every time I go. Jenkins is a protected watershed flowing into Trout Creek, the Schuylkill River  and eventually the Delaware River.   It is open to the public without charge every day.  Today I spent almost four hours wandering the paths and enjoying the beauty of snow, woods and sunlight.  Here is a selection of images from my morning.

The View from my deck this morning

Snow Balls

Winter Scene at Jenkins

 The Swirl of a Dogwood

The Great Oak in Winter

 The Brook at Jenkins in the Winter

Twisted Tree by the Pond

 Snow Shadow

The Amazing World in the Backyard

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Most of the time the wonders of nature are closer than we think.   Last weekend I was with my life partner, Kim, at her place in NW New Jersey.   I decided to look around the yard before we left for a couple of days. There I discovered numerous Hummingbird Moths enjoying the nectar in the Bergamot or Bee Balm. This insect is an amazing creature resembling a small hummingbird that I had heard about but never seen. Excited, I quickly got my camera and begin photographing.   I continued the exploration on the following Monday morning. 

As I watched the quick movement of the Hummingbird Moths, I noticed other creatures enjoying the delights of the Begamot - Swallowtails and other butterflies, Ruby-throated hummingbirds, dragonflies, and several varieties of bee.  As I listened, I heard the sound of a Scarlet Tanager and soon, a pair came to a nearby tree.   I watched as the Hummingbird rose straight up and hovered, looking directly at me. Later she perched on a branch and continued her gaze.  Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, a Bluejay, a pair of Cardinals and a Carolina Wren sang and flitted around in the branches above the Bergamot. A Red-bellied Woodpecker called in the distance. 

Most of this activity was occurring in the same small corner of the backyard where in early June I discovered a wild Turkey nesting.  Wanting to help protect nature I placed some deer fencing around the area to keep Kim’s Australian Shepherds  and cats from bothering her.  She successfully nested, and four weeks later several infant turkeys emerged.   Kim discovered two enmeshed in the fencing, freed them, and the mother Turkey departed with her young.

We do not have to travel far to find the incredible wonders that await our enjoyment.  Natural beauty surrounds us, yet our busy lives in built environments often distract us from finding a relationship with the places and life immediately around us.  Such relationships enrich our own lives by reflecting the reality of the amazing community of life to which we belong.

 

Hummingbird Moth Feeding

 

 Hummingbird Moth Hovering

 

 Ruby-throated Hummingbird Feeding

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Resting

 

Dragonfly resting on Bergamot

 

 Eastern Swallowtail on Bergamot

 

Wild Turkey on Nest

 

Wild Turkey Nest with Eggs

Delaware River Sojourn 2013

Monday, July 1st, 2013

I have just returned from a week kayaking on the Delaware River as part of the annual Delaware River Sojourn.  This experience is always a highlight of the summer. Being on the Delaware is a return to nature.  Rivers are part of the circulation system of the earth.  We are fortunate to have the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi as a treasure in our region.  Spending day after day on the River with over a hundred people on some days is a joy, physically and spiritually enriching, drawing the energy of the earth into my life.   For the second year I was blessed to have my life partner, Kim, along for the journey.

Days on the River are varied. The full moon on Sunday night brought its beauty to the River. Camping on the grounds of the Zane Grey museum in Lackawaxen and enjoying the stories of the cowboy dentist added a bit of history to the place we occupied for two nights.  Enjoying the early morning mist on the Delaware and running the rapids on the Lackawaxen provided contrasting experiences.   Paddling through the majestic mountains along the upper Delaware, stopping for a swim in the waves between Prahls and Walls Islands or enjoying the first light at Dingmans each added to the enjoyment of the River. 

Awakening  early on the last morning at the Seaport Museum and seeing the sunrise over the Ben Franklin Bridge began a day where we paddled down river from Penns Landing  to Gloucester City and returned.  The contrast of fifty kayaks and canoes passing a large freight ship or the trash floating in this section of the  River sent me strong messages that we still have much work to do in protecting the treasure of the Delaware.  Our present civilization is out of touch with the reality that we are part of nature and must love it and take care of it as our Mother.  For the first inhabitants of this region, the Lenni Lenapes, the River was sacred and deserved respect.  They knew that their survival depended on protecting the River and always began their journeys with a blessing and a prayerful attitude. We should learn from them and give the River the respect it deserves. 

Below are a few images.  More will be forthcoming later on my website.

Full Moon over the Delaware River

 

Misty Morning at Lackawaxen

 

 Cowboy Dentist Does Yoga at Zane Grey Museum

 

 Rafting on the Lackawaxen

 

 Paddling the Upper Delaware

 

First Light at Dingmans

 

 Riding the Waves at Prahls/Walls Islands

 

 Enjoying the Delaware on a Beautiful Day

 

 Sunrise Over the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia

 

 Paddling near the Port of Philadelphia

 

 Kayaking Toward Philadelphia