Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Trees: Understanding Roots And Root Care

PaulHetzlerTreeRootAngelaPerry4002.5April showers bring May flowers, the calls of spring peeper frogs, and of course, backhoes. Yes, it’s construction season, which for arborists and trees is also root-damage season.

As far as trees are concerned, root injury is the source of all evil. Well, most of it, anyway; chainsaws and forest fires aren’t so kind to trees, either. But regardless of the worrisome signs a tree may develop, whether early fall leaf color, tip dieback, slow growth, or even some diseases and insect infestations, the problem is below ground in the majority of cases. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alder and Willow Flycatchers: Sibling Species

TOS_FlycatcherBy mid-May each year I begin to look forward to the return of the alder flycatchers that nest in the willows along the stream near our house. Usually the last migrant to arrive on our property, this small, drab, gray bird with its sneeze-like song, signifies that summer is indeed just around the corner. But last year, for the first time in 20 years, another bird joined the neighborhood.

A willow flycatcher announced his presence, just a few days after I first heard the alder flycatcher. To my surprise, the two sibling species co-existed all summer, presumably both nesting in the same acre or so of shrubby wetland habitat. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Experts Say Adirondack Lynx Return Unlikely

lynx by Larry MastersA fellow carnivore scientist once showed Cristina Eisenberg the skeleton of an animal and asked her to identify it. Looking at the large hindquarters and feet, she guessed snowshoe hare. Told she guessed wrong, she took a closer look.

“I looked at the skull, and it was a lynx,” said Eisenberg, a scientist with Earthwatch Institute, an international environmental organization.

Eisenberg might be forgiven for her initial mistake: the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare have some anatomical similarities. “They have very big, soft feet that don’t punch through the snow,” she said. “Their feet are like snowshoes.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Annual Whitetail Deer Hunt Numbers Released

Adult Buck Take Density 2014About 238,670 whitetail deer were taken during the 2014-15 hunting seasons, slightly less than the statewide take the previous year, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Regulated deer reduces the negative impacts of deer on forests, communities and crop producers while also providing over 10 million pounds of high quality local protein annually,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a statement to the press announcing the numbers. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Report: Cougar, Elk, Wolf Return Would Boost Economy

DSCN6114An economic study published by the the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, an organization dedicated to the recovery of cougars to their former range, argues that restoring the Adirondack ecosystem with native wildlife would establish Adirondack Park as an international wildlife recreation destination.

The report estimates that restoring native woodland elk, bison, wolves and cougars to the Adirondack Park would add upwards of $583 million annually in wildlife watching and big game hunting tourism and create 3,540 new jobs. The study reports that restoration would create opportunities for wildlife tracking classes and vacations, darting, howling and photography safaris, and big game hunting. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nature As Artist: How Tree Burls Grow

TOS_BurlI’ve had my eye on this maple in my woods for some time. Not because it’s a beautiful timber tree. It’s only about eight inches in diameter, after all. But, it has an interesting burl about 14 feet up the trunk.

As a woodturner, I love the twisted wood grain found in most burls. A burl is a surprise package on a tree. Yes, straight grained wood is beautiful. I love the open grain of red oak, the milky brightness of birch, the rich burnished glow of cherry. But they are predictable. A burl is anything but.

I’m not the only one who loves burls. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Questions Over DEC’s Trout Stocking Practices

Trout-rainbow-300x196When people think of invasive species in the Adirondack Park, they think of Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, Asian clams, or any number of other exotic plants and animals that have made the headlines.

People don’t usually think of brown trout and rainbow trout, but neither fish, though abundant now, is native to the region.

Brown trout are native to Germany and were introduced to New York State in the late 1800s. Rainbow trout, native to the West Coast, were introduced around the same time. In both cases, the goal was to enhance fishing opportunities. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Vernal Pools: Hatch, Grow and Get Out

Vernal_poolsThree things happened this week: bluebirds and tree swallows returned, my road was graded, and the red maple buds popped. It’s time to search for vernal pools.

Vernal pools are small areas of wetland that form in the spring and dry up during the summer. Water collects in saucer-shaped depressions that have an impermeable layer of soil, leaves, or debris. Snowmelt and spring rains fill these puddles. Without an inlet to replenish the supply, summer’s sun and heat eventually evaporate the water, though a dense forest canopy helps delay the inevitable drying up. Some vernal pools may refill after a heavy rain, but the main characteristic is their temporary nature. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Coltsfoot: Eye Candy and Cough Syrup

ColtsfootI haven’t checked with an optometrist, but I may have a winter-related vision problem. When five or six months of winter-white finally give way to a mostly brown world each early spring, my eyeballs hurt – they ache for something bright in the landscape. That’s probably why I plant a few additional crocus bulbs in the yard every fall, and why I search out early-blooming native wildflowers like bloodroot and Carolina spring beauty.

But what thrills me most is how clumps of yellow coltsfoot flowers emerge, long before their leaves come out, from muddy roadside ditches, rail embankments and other sites with a history of soil disturbance. Coltsfoot flowers look a bit like small dandelions, but without any leaves in sight. Maybe it’s the contrast between their bright color and the sepia environs, or perhaps it’s their audacity at blooming so early, but these tiny sunbursts do much to dispel my winter fatigue. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Going With the Flow: The Sixth Sense of Fish

TOS_NeuromastThere are times when fish appear telepathic. Consider the uncanny way a school of bait fish moves as one to avoid a predator, or the way goldfish in their lighted bowl turn towards the glass when someone walks into a dark room.

Researchers often describe this ability as “touch-from-a-distance.” But fishy sixth sense is closer to hearing than touch. It’s what allows salmon to deftly ply the currents and eddies as they make their spawning runs upstream. They listen to the flow. » Continue Reading.


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