Tuesday, March 3

Getting Out On The Water Again to Find Mussels

Recently I've been thinking about getting back out on the water and in the creek.  Last week I attended a talk on freshwater mussels in the Delaware Bay watershed system (our whole area).  The talk was put on by The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and Dr. Danielle Kreeger presented on the ecosystem services the mussels provide, how they are doing in our area and what they could be doing if we helped support them.

Yay Bivalves!

They have a citizen science program where volunteers can report on the mussels (if any) they find in local waterways, look up the type of mussel in their guide book, and upload your findings to their website. The facts on freshwater mussels (not the marine type mussels we eat), make you realize how cool they are, as water filtration systems and part of the ecosystem in the rivers and creeks.

Clean!

Cool designs they are working on

I came across some pictures from kayaking on the Delaware and it made me miss the warm weather and being out on the water even more.
Looking into the mouth of the Pompeston Creek

Houses on the Delaware

A shore without a bulkhead

For now I get to look at the ice and snow on the Pompeston Creek and watch the ducks huddled together on a sheet of ice as the tide goes in and out.

Pompeston Creek looking into the wetland

Poor mallards!

Sunday, December 28

Lemon Hill Paths Birds Trees Native Plant Restoration

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day, I decided to do some scouting of locations for the Bird Census coming up January 10th at Lemon Hill (in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park).


The Tree Keepers  have been busy this year, attacking the area twice, clearing downed trees and invasive ground covers from the overgrown woodland paths.


Now you can see through the trees to the amazing Art Museum and Philadelphia skyline.  The clearing also lets you see the historic trees that are quite beautiful, from the enormous sycamores, tulip trees, redwoods(?) and horse chestnuts to the smaller dogwoods, holly, cedar, oak and box.



You can also spot the native trees and shrubs that were buried under vines and bushes, like the toothache trees and ferns.


There are still a number of trees with broken limbs that make the path and walking areas a bit sketchy, and all of the area could use replanting and follow up clearing of English ivy, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard. The path surface is cracked and left in chunks of asphalt and the railing has been smashed by fallen trees over the years.



The birds, though, were still abundant and I saw a large number of cardinals, white-throated sparrows, Carolina chickadees, mourning doves and a Red-bellied woodpecker.



As I was walking away, I was formulating a plan to do some replanting with native shrubs and perennials to cover the ground and provide food for the birds.  I don't think we get deer in this part of the park (so close to busy Kelly Drive), so I doubt the plants would have to deal with deer browse.  I would be interested to see how they compete with the invasive vines and how the natives that are in there regenerate over time.  The paths and railings would be a big job and probably take a big fundraising effort.  Planting a demonstration bird habitat would be perfect for the upper hill behind Lemon Hill Mansion and fit in with the programs Bird Philly and Audubon are undertaking across the city.


Interested in getting involved?  I'll be working with the Lemon Hill Neighbors Association to help clear and beautify the area with new plantings.


I'm also happy to have birders join me for the Bird Census, Saturday, January 10th at about 8 am. I usually start at the Kidney Bean garden at Poplar Drive and Poplar St., head to Lemon Hill Mansion, wind down the wooded path and head over to Boathouse Row to check out the water fowl and warm up with some coffee and snacks at Cosmic Cafe . Afterward, I forward the bird count and photographs to Keith Russell of the Audubon Society and he tallies them all up for the annual census. If you are interested in joining me, message me at allisonostertag@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 3

Etsy Cabin Cozy Collection

It's been a while since I pulled some of my favorite house items from Etsy together into a collection, but now that I'm done wedding planning, I have some time to think about nesting again. I love woodsy looking living spaces and these items seemed perfect for a cabin renovation , den or basement.

Turkish Kilim Rug from Buglemshop

Twig Shelf from Old Toad Studio

Storage Bins from Irontimber

Cedar Lounge Chair by Laughingcreekprod


Landscape of Grass by YaoChengDesigns

Snoopy Camp Glasses from Raven on the Roof

Cooking Utensils from Storiebrooke

Coffee Mugs from Bellaroni

Large Mixing Bowl from KbOriginalsetc

Rustic Coffee Table from Yonder Years Shop

Bath Towel Holder from BlueRidgeSawdust

Birch Pillow Cover by BrookeRyanPhoto

Vintage Retro Folding Camp Stools from BarnboardAntiques


Wall Hanging Organizer from OdorsHome

Monday, November 24

Stormwater in Action at the Queen Lane Bumpouts in East Falls

I stopped by the Queen Lane Bumpouts last Monday to check on the plants and it was raining pretty steadily for the first time since I started monitoring them for the East Falls Development Corporation.  I got to see the water fill up the structure's first bay, spill over the dividing wall and drop out in the second bay. I was surprised how little water was exiting out the end and headed to the storm drain.

video

It's amazing that the trees and plants can withstand the high water to completely dry conditions at other times.  The next day, Karen Melton, the volunteer I work with in the Soak It Up! Adoption program, had her husband check them out (she was away) and reported that they were dry and all of that water had infiltrated back into the ground. Amazing!

Wednesday, October 1

Print Contest! Halloween Prints, Cape Cod and Open Studio


I'm having an Open Studio event next
Sunday, Oct. 12 from 12-4 pm 

I've been thinking about what prints and cards
to have at the sale and of course I have many
for the Halloween season, including images of
the Eastern State Penitentiary



The cemeteries of Ashville, SC





and Charleston, SC

New nature images from Cape Cod, Mass.


Philly friendly images





Bikes of Philly



and nature prints from all over




What do you suggest?
Take a look through my etsy shop and
leave a comment with the images or themes
you would like to see at the Manayunk sale
and one lucky winner will be selected to
receive a free print at the sale 
(or by mail if you can't make it)

Monday, September 15

What Our Trash Says About Us: Queen Lane Stormwater Bumpouts

Budweiser Can in the Soil

Queen Lane Bumpouts in East Falls

New York Ironweed, Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod

This past week I started a new job monitoring stormwater 
structures in East Falls and collecting trash and photographs 
for the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD). Queen 
Lane has six bumpouts along the edge of the Queen Lane 
Reservoir. They vary in length and plantings and were installed 
in 2011, when they were a first for Philadelphia. They continue to 
inform how new bumpouts are designed and planted and 
provide lessons in how people feel about the structures and 
what helps them succeed.

Wrapper in the Planting Bed

Pulling trash out of the structures, I'm surprised first by how
little trash there is.  Most of the beds are full of plants that
are flowering and oak trees with acorns and the bases of some
are covered in grasses.  The trash I do find I collect in a bag
to determine the volume of trash.  I met with a neighbor today
who said when they were recently planted, they were full of trash.
But now as the plants have grown in and they flourish, less trash
gets tossed into them.

Hubcap

The trash I do find, though, is telling.  Alcohol cans, a Budweiser
and a Yuengling can tossed in on the sidewalk side and a
bottle of Crown Royal tucked under some grasses, remind
me how close we are to local Universities, just down the block. 
Cigarette butts and wrappers, Virginia Slims, Newports 
and Marlboros, some fresh and clustered in one bed and 
others old and tangled in piles of leaf debris near drains, 
remind me how smokers forget butts are trash and one 
becomes many when you add everyone else's cigarette trash.

Bag of Iceberg Lettuce

Wrappers from candy are also common.  Dum Dums, 
Peanut Chews, Big Slice Pops, Extreme Airheads,
chocolate covered pretzels, Tastycake, Freezer Pops, 
I'm guessing some kids walk this route on
their way to and from school.

Dunkin Donuts Coffee Cup, Cream and Sugar

Fast food trash is also common, even though fast food
restaurants are not close by.  A Wendy's french fries cup
would have to travel almost a mile to a mile and a half
depending on which Wendy's they came from.  

A McDonald receipt had to come from at least a
mile away.  The Dunkin Donuts cup could have come
from one of many gas station Dunkins across the
area. And the Wawa orange juice mush have traveled
at least 4.5 miles away and probably traveled further.


You can see some of the trash makes its way
into the beds via wind (plastic bag) or water
(cigarette butts) or wandering trash on trash day
(how the lettuce made it over there, I don't know),
but much of the trash is that Philly tradition of
drop it and it disappears.  It's like it never existed,
that's where trash goes, right? It just goes down the
drain, no need to worry about it.  It's so small
it doesn't matter. When I was little I threw wrappers
on the ground and my friends and I were
creeped out by the neighbor who picked up
trash. Ewww, he touched it! Trash is dirty.

It wasn't until I started working for environmental
organizations that I really started noticing
all the trash in nature and taking responsibility
for it.  When we hike,  we pick it up and take it
out.  When I taught nutrition, I never had to 
buy sample drink containers, I just needed
to walk by a school and I could collect plenty
of sodas, fake juices, sugar teas and chip bags.

They didn't disappear.  They're right there. 
In a pile,by the gutter, in the trolley tracks.  
They might wash into the drain,
but then they end up in the creek and river.
I see them when I walk near the banks by 
Boat House Row or Bartram's Garden.
The ducks are swimming in the trash and
it's backing up the waterways and outflows.


I'm glad the trash in the bumpouts is minimal and that
the nicer they look, the less trash they get in them.
I hope the amount of trash can get even smaller
and it starts with educating people who walk by.