A few sightings in UDRSRR, Pennsylvania

A protected natural area with a cumbersome name Upper Delaware River Scenic and Recreational River (UDRSRR) is a long, narrow gorge forming the easternmost part of the border between Pennsylvania and New York State. It’s less than two hours’ drive from Manhattan and 2.5 hours from Philadelphia. I visited it for just five hours last weekend (starting at 3 am) and was impressed by the diversity of habitat and the quality of mammalwatching: for the first time in my life I saw 3 species of mustelids in less than a day.

Damascus Forest Trail (41.63551, -75.06222) is a 2-mile loop; the eastern side is better so I recommend walking it twice instead. It passes through oldgrowth hemlock forest where I saw a fisher carrying a still-alive mink. I’ve read in old literature about sables going to great lengths to chase down and kill Siberian weasels, but never witnessed mustelid-on-mustelid predation before. At the far end of the loop is a wetland that should be good for small mammals when there is no snow.

Cobey Pond is accessible by a 1-mile trail, but since the snow was compacted enough to walk on, I got to it straight from 41.56621, -75.07839. It’s said to be a great place to watch beavers (I only heard them tail-slapping), and in the forest I met a gorgeous all-white skunk walking through the snow.

Mongaup River Trail (41.42704, -74.75578) follows a stream that is said to be good for otters (UDRSSR has over 60% of Pennsylvanian otters). Above the trail is a rocky slope that looks like decent rock vole habitat; rock voles have been recorded from the area but I didn’t see any sign of them. A mink crossed the road in front of my car near the trailhead. Watch for bald eagles flying at eye level along the valley.

I did see an otter in the river from Hawk Nest Lookout (41.42057, -74.73371). In mid-winter you can see up to 150 bald eagles there.

Sadly, my last sighting of the day was a roadkill bobcat at 41.31299, -74.80215, still warm.

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Vladimir Dinets

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