Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Adirondack Wildlife: Fall Peepers?

spring peeperWe like to think that everything in nature has its own particular time and place. But nature is fond of throwing us curves. As a naturalist, a common question I’m asked during foliage season is, “why are spring peepers calling in my woods at this time of year?”

Even ardent students of nature can be stumped by the plaintive, autumnal notes of peepers; sounds that we easily recognize in the spring can seem alien when they appear out of context. Jim Andrews, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Rubenstein School at the University of Vermont, and Vermont’s go-to expert on all things herpetological, described how autumn peepers have fooled birders. “They were trying to locate the birds that made these noises in the fall, of course, with no success.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Poisonous Caterpillars Of Northern New York

hickory tussock mothWhen I was a kid I was fascinated by caterpillars, but had trouble with the word. To me, the sweet little woolly-bear traversing my hand was a “calipitter.” It was only years later I learned that a calipitter is an instrument used to measure the diameter of a caterpillar to the nearest micron.

Caterpillars continue to interest me, although I no longer find them universally cute. Imagine the letdown and loss of innocence following the discovery that some of these fuzzy, fascinating, gentle creatures that tickled their way across my hand were venomous. This revelation was akin to finding out Bambi was a dangerous carnivore, which in fact is a fear that haunts me to this day. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Great Adirondack Moose Festival This Weekend

mooseThe 7th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival will take place this weekend, September 24th and 25th, in Indian Lake. Moose-themed family fun activities will be the main attraction during the weekend.

Visitors to Indian Lake can enjoy programs, games, contests, exhibitions – all in the name of the elusive and majestic moose. The half-ton mammal has made a come-back in the Adirondacks, and one may even spot a moose during the Festival weekend. The Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival (GAMF) is sponsored by the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce and a host of regional and local business sponsors. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Whallonsburg Grange Lyceum Series Begins Tuesday

grange lyceum seriesThe Fall 2016 Lyceum lecture series at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall will focus on how people have shaped the landscape through work, recreation, conflict and experiences.

“Living on This Land” features six presentations that will look at different aspects of how humans – through our lives and actions – impact and change where we live. The lectures are on Tuesday nights at 7:30 and a $5 donation is requested (students free). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Threatened Northern Sunfish Discovered In Clinton County

northern sunfish

In early September, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rare Fish Unit Biologist Doug Carlson and technician Eric Maxwell identified nearly a dozen threatened northern sunfish in the Great Chazy River in the village of Champlain, Clinton County

Also known as the longear sunfish, the northern sunfish is a small, thin, deep-bodied fish that averages three to four inches in length. It is sometimes a colorful fish with an olive to rusty-brown back, bright orange belly, and blue-green bars on the side of the head. The northern sunfish has short, round pectoral fins and an upward-slanting gill cover flap that has a white and red flexible edge. It is often mistaken for a pumpkinseed sunfish. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

On Sighting My First Black-Crowned Night-Heron

I’ve canoed all over the Adirondacks without ever seeing a black-crowned night-heron. Last weekend, I finally got to see one. On the Bronx River.

We saw other birds as well, including great blue herons, mallards, gulls, and (I think) cormorants. This being the Bronx, we also saw a lot of trash: plastic bags, soda bottles, an electric fan, a sunken tire.

But the river is much cleaner and more loved than in the past, thanks to a nonprofit organization called the Bronx River Alliance.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tobacco Hornworms: Big, Green, and in the Garden

tobacco-hornwormThe big, meaty green caterpillars that many of us have been fighting to eradicate from our gardens this summer make plenty of people squirm. In part it’s because they are among the largest caterpillars in the region, sometimes reaching close to three inches in length, with reddish horns on their ends that look like stingers (but aren’t). They also have voracious appetites and a preference for consuming our tomato, potato, eggplant and pepper plants.

Despite their alien appearance, tobacco hornworms are native insects that contribute to local food chains and eventually transform into beautiful Carolina sphinx moths. These large-bodied moths have five-inch, coffee-colored wings that enable them to hover over flowers like hummingbirds. According to Sam Jaffe, founder of The Caterpillar Lab in Keene, New Hampshire, Carolina sphinx moths have the longest proboscis of any insect in New England, which allow them to probe the deepest flowers. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Underground Dirt On Tree Roots

tos tree rootsYou can pretty much count on a tree to stay in one place, at least in the real world. Not so in fiction. Remember the walking, talking Ents in the Lord of the Rings movies? Or Groot, the tree-like alien in the science fiction film Guardians of the Galaxy?

Roots anchor a tree, of course, allowing it to stand up to much of what nature can throw at it; they also provide life-giving nutrients. Tree roots are a marvel of evolution: part of a whole-tree plumbing system that makes the one in your house seem primitive. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 12, 2016

The Dry Weather And Adirondack Fall Foliage

DSCN4905It turns out that, in terms of fall foliage, the color of too dry is officially known as “blah.” This would undoubtedly be the least popular color selection if it was included in a jumbo pack of Crayolas. Basically, it is a jumble of faded hues with a mottled brown patina throughout. This year’s dry summer could mean that “blah” may feature prominently in Mother Nature’s fall hardwood forest palette.

Why would a prolonged lack of moisture affect autumn color? Let’s look at what makes leaves colorful in the first place. Among the things we learned — and probably forgot right away — in Junior High Biology is that leaves are green because of chlorophyll, the amazing molecule that converts light, water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen. Its intense green tends to mask colors such as orange and yellow that are present in leaves in lower concentrations. When chlorophyll dies off in the fall, those “weaker” colors are revealed. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Master Naturalist Training Set For Malone

Cornell Cooperative Extension LogoAre you interested in learning more about the habitats, plants, and animals of New York State? Are you a citizen, landowner, teacher, park naturalist, land trust employee, conservation planning board member or natural resource professional looking to increase your knowledge of the natural environment? Cornell Cooperative Extension will offer a Master Naturalist Training at 4-H Camp Overlook in Malone, NY from September 23-25, 2016. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Non-Biting Midges In The Adirondacks

male midge tosClouds of tiny insects, rising and falling hypnotically along lake shores, contribute to the ambiance of warm summer evenings. My recent bike ride was interrupted by a lungful of this ambiance.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, you might wonder what these miniscule flies were doing before being swallowed, where they came from, whether they bite, and whether we need these interrupters of peaceful lakeside jaunts. We’ll get to these questions, but first, let me say that as an ecologist, I find these insects to be among the most fascinating and important freshwater invertebrates. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Comments Sought On Changes to Fishing Regulations

DEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is accepting comments on proposed changes to freshwater fishing regulations through October 7, 2016.  DEC modifies freshwater sportfishing regulations approximately every two years.

The new freshwater sportfishing regulations are scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2017. Once enacted, the new regulations will be included in the 2017-18 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Invasive Spiny Waterflea Confirmed in Indian Lake

Two adult spiny waterfleas on the tip of a pinky finger. The specimen on the left has yet to be hatched offspring in the brood pouch on its backSpiny waterflea, an invasive zooplankton, continues to spread in the Adirondacks. First discovered in Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008, it has quickly spread into at least eight other lakes in the region.

Most recently, a new population was detected in Indian Lake in Hamilton County.  Up until this detection, Indian Lake was considered to be the Adirondack’s largest invasive species free lake.

The discovery was reported to the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) by a Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) boat launch steward. An angler, who was fishing in a deeper section of the lake, collected the spiny waterflea on his fishing line. Because of its long spines, it can get easily caught on fishing line, especially on down-rigor lines, that are used to fish in deeper water. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day Sept 4th

wolf by Terry HawthorneThe 9th Annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day will take place on Sunday, September 4th, at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, at 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington, and it’s all about change in the Adirondacks: changing climate, changing wildlife and changing realities.

Visitors will be able to meet and learn about gray wolves, coywolves, coyotes, fox, bobcat, fisher, and porcupines, along with bald eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. Professor Curt Stager of Paul Smiths College, an accomplished ecologist, paleoclimatologist, and author of Deep Future and Field Notes from the Northern Forest, and more, will be keynote speaker, and will team with Paul Smiths’ students for other educational opportunites.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Birdsong: Singing a Different Tune

chickadee tosBirdsong has always fascinated humans. Besides waking some of us up a wee bit too early in the morning, it has inspired musical compositions and immortal poetry. It has produced lush descriptions, like those of the early 1900s field guide author F. Schuyler Mathews, who wrote of the wood thrush’s song: “It is like the harmonious tinkling of crystal wine-glasses, combined with the vox angelica stop of the cathedral organ.”

Simon Pease Cheney, Mathews’ contemporary, wrote in Woods Notes Wild, that “one is oblivious to all else, and ready to believe that the little song is not of earth but a wandering strain from the skies.” » Continue Reading.


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