By Dante Falasco, TTF Intern
Part 3 of our 3 part Winter Wonderland series
In Part 1 and Part 2 of our Winter Wonderland series, we covered the many wildlife species that can be seen in the Philadelphia region during this frigid time of year. From the Snowy Owl to the Eastern Comma Butterfly, there truly is a vast array of wildlife in our local parks and watersheds. In this final installment, we want to stay true to the goal of the series by encouraging people to go out and (safely) explore our local natural areas. However, unlike the previous installments, we will highlight activities you can do during this time of year instead of looking for wildlife. By featuring a straightforward list of possible ventures, we hope this can be helpful to those that are looking for winter activities!
While researching, we consulted Donna L. Long to discuss potential activities. Donna is a Philadelphia writer, gardener, and trained naturalist who writes on organic gardening, backyard ecology, and environmental topics. She writes to call attention to those everyday joys and wonders that make living here on planet Earth so amazing.
- Winter Birding
As detailed in Part 1, there are a number of bird species that live year-round in the Delaware Valley. Before you begin, you will want to know exactly what to look for. Luckily, Donna has a list of common winter birds on her website you can use to do further research on identifying some of our region’s winter inhabitants.
Once you know how to spot the birds, it is time to go out and find them! Tacony Creek Park and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum are great places for first-timers and experts alike to spot their favorite birds. However, you do not even have to leave your home to begin birding! By installing a bird feeder in your yard, you can often get a full birding experience from the comfort of your home!
For more information on the types of birds in the Philadelphia region, you can view our first Winter Wonderland installation here.
- Winter Stargazing
Stargazing is perhaps the easiest activity on this list, as all you need are your eyes, a car, and maybe a blanket. However, it may require a trip outside of the city for the best experience. Most areas in and around Philadelphia are extremely light polluted at night, meaning that nearly all the stars in the night sky are invisible to the people in these areas. If you are able to get away from the hustle and bustle for a night, it may be one of the best experiences of your life. The first time I went stargazing, I was completely blown away by the number of stars out there! They seemed to be twinkling and I saw a shooting star about every 5 minutes! While not everybody’s first time will be this great, you will undoubtedly be able to see the Circumpolar Stars, which are visible all year-round. To see what stars and constellations you may be able to see this winter, visit Donna’s article about circumpolar stars here.
- Park Maintenance and Stewardship
Giving back to the community and the environment is always a good use of your time, regardless of what time of year it is! Most months of the year, there are plenty of opportunities for trash cleanups, trail repairs, invasive plant removal, and general park beautification throughout the city. However, TTF can always use help at our cleanups! If you are interested in registering for future cleanups, sign up for our newsletter here to receive emails about cleanups in your area.
You can also clean-up on your own! Request a free TTF Cleanup Kit or bring a small plastic bag or a trash bag along with you on your next walk around your neighborhood and pick up as you go! Each TTF Cleanup Kit comes in a special bag complete with gloves, a trash grabber, trash bags for trash and recycling, a TTF bandanna you can use as a mask, and a Tacony Creek Park map. Request a kit by calling our office or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will deliver it to your home or business.
Smartphones can be a great way to explore nature and be introduced to the world of photography. Most phones today have cameras and the ability to shoot video in 4k! With this much power in the palm of your hand, why not give this a try? There is an endless amount of articles and YouTube videos that can run you through the basics of setting up your phone for photography and how to get professional quality photos within minutes.
For example, this is a photo I took right outside of my door the other morning! Truly anyone can learn how to do this and winter provides a great opportunity to capture beautiful scenery in our region.
As we wrap up our Winter Wonderland series, we want to encourage everyone to reconnect with nature this winter and safely explore the amazing opportunities the Delaware Valley has to offer. As you explore, please post your photos and tag us on social media @ttfwatershed or even upload your sightings to iNaturalist.
Thank you, Donna, for sharing your knowledge and suggestions with us!