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.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Steve Hall: Feathers, Dinosaurs and Birds

ArchæopteryxDinosaurs were the dominant life form on earth for 170 million years, finally going extinct at the end of the cretaceous period, 65 million years ago, when a huge comet crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Birds of prey are descended from theropods, a type of dinosaur that walked on its hind legs, while their smaller forelimbs were used, like arms and hands, for reaching and grabbing.

Theropods are usually represented by T-Rex, Allosaurus and Velociraptor, though most theropods were no larger than dogs. During this long period, the earth underwent climate change, just as it does today, and fossilized remains indicate that feathers began to develop about 150 million years ago, and those theropods which developed them survived to breed in cooler temperatures, while those lacking them perished. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 19, 2016

North Country SPCA Open House Saturday

The North Country SPCA will hold its fourth annual open house celebration this Saturday, August 20th from 10 am to 3 pm at the Frances Miller Adoption Center located at 7700 Route 9N in Elizabethtown.

The open house is free and will offer a variety of activities for the whole family, including face-painting, games, music and more. Local vendors from around the Adirondacks will be selling hand-crafted goods, there will be dog agility and training demonstrations, and dog microchipping for only $20 per dog. The day will also offer free adoptions of the SPCA’s many dogs and cats to approved applicants. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Managing Private Woodlands Sustainably Workshop

monitoringChamplain Area Trails (CATS), in conjunction with Shirley Forests will present a free workshop on Saturday, August 20 at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall in Whallonsburg, NY from 10:30 am to 3 pm on sustainable forest management.

Speakers will include Frank Shirley, president and Tim Castner, vice president of Shirley Forests, Chris Maron, executive director of Champlain Area Trails, Gary Goff, retired from Cornell Extension, and Deborah Boyce, forestry consultant.

Shirley Forest was established in 1955 by Dr. Hardy L. Shirley, then Dean of the SUNY College of Forestry. In 1978 the forest was incorporated, and in 1980 management of the forest was passed on to his children, Frank C. Shirley, Jon H. Shirley, and Emily Castner who are currently in the process of passing the forest on to the third generation, with Timothy Castner as vice president and David Shirley as treasurer. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Elise Tillinghast: A Squirrel As My Co-Pilot

squirrel TOSThe first red squirrel appeared at about 50 mph. It climbed up over my headrest and landed in my lap. I don’t recall the next few seconds very clearly, but according to my 5-year-old daughter Lucy, I yelled something along the lines of, “oo squirrel. oo oo. squirrel squirrel.”

What I do remember is concentrating on finding a safe place to pull over, and my surprise that the squirrel remained in my lap for the duration. It had a warm, soft weight. Puppy-like. I brought the car to a stop by some woods and pushed the button to the passenger side window. The squirrel came out of stasis, ricocheted off the steering wheel, and launched itself into the bushes.

And that, I thought, was the end of the anecdote. No harm done, and a cautionary tale about why it’s unwise to leave the sun roof open in squirrel country. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Good News For Wild Bees?

honeybees the outside storyThe honey bee is an introduced species in North America. It’s only been here about 400 years, brought by English colonists who found none after stumbling ashore and then promptly put in an order with their backers back home.

The honey bee, more properly known as the European honey bee, took to its new home, spreading across the continent faster than its keepers. Thomas Jefferson, an astute observer of nature if there ever was one, wrote that Native Americans called them “the white man’s fly.”

Bee colonies thrived in hollow trees as well as in hollow logs called “bee gums” (later bee hives) kept by beekeepers. Thrived, that is, until recently, when wild honeybee populations crashed. Of several contributing factors, the main one is undoubtedly Varroa destructor, a bloodsucking mite native to Asia.. Like a tiny eight-legged vampire, the pencil point-sized red mite latches onto a bee and sucks its hemolymph (the bee version of blood) while spreading debilitating viruses. The mite’s introduction in the mid 1990s caused a crisis in American beekeeping and swept wild colonies from the woods. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

New Book Recounts Story Of ‘Adirondack’ Cougar

courgar courtesy Bigstockphoto.comOn a snowy winter night in Lake George, in 2010, Cindy Eggleston’s motion-detecting light came on in her back yard. She looked out her kitchen window and saw a big cat. A really big cat. Her husband, a retired conservation officer, guessed that it must have been a bobcat. No, she said, “it had a long tail.” So he went out to look around. In the snow he found huge tracks and, eventually, a hair sample. DNA analysis subsequently showed that these hairs came from a cougar, an animal whose last proven presence in the Adirondacks had occurred over a century before.

The life and death of this wandering cougar, along with a history of this splendid animal in North America and a discussion of its current status, are the subjects of Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat’s Walk across America, a fascinating book by William Stolzenburg. He debunks myths and spins an engaging and often sad story. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Killdeer: The Pasture Plover

I always do a second take when I see a killdeer skittering across a northern New Hampshire lawn, more than 100 miles from any ocean. These lanky birds look and move like they belong at the shore, running along the edges of waves. Despite their shorebird appearance, killdeer are present throughout our region – in yards, fields, parking lots, and even atop gravel rooftops.

“They’re one of our plovers, which you do usually see along the shore,” said Rebecca Suomala, a wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Audubon. “They just have a different niche.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Understanding Adirondack Algae Blooms

algal bloomThe increase in temperatures and decreasing water levels in bodies of water are setting the stage for an increase in algal growth within our waterways. Littoral (nearshore) algal blooms are already visible, and Cyanobacteria (blue-green) algal blooms have recently closed down beaches in Lake Champlain.

Algae, the base of the aquatic food web is important to our aquatic ecosystems. They provide food for many organisms and create oxygen and shelter. Algae remove nutrients directly from the water column. If excessive nutrients enter our waterways, the nearshore algae will respond by blooming. The more nutrients that enter, the more algal growth there will be. Generally 1 pound of phosphorus will grow 500 pounds of wet algae. Phosphorus is not the only nutrient needed, nitrogen and carbon are needed to cause a bloom. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wood Nymphs In The Garden

the outsider wood nymphBy mid-July, the oregano in my herb garden has grown tall and tatty, and I want nothing more than to cut it back into a tidy mound. But I don’t. Doing so would deprive the flurry of common wood nymph butterflies that swarm the plants every year. The messiness is a small price to pay for the sight of them flitting around en masse.

I have learned to expect their arrival, having witnessed it every summer, since I planted gardens around my home six years ago. At first, just one or two appear, but within days there are dozens. Soon, the oregano’s purple flowers are covered in butterflies. But this brief visit is a only a part of the story of the common wood nymph butterfly (Cercyonis pegala). What are they doing for the other eleven and a half months of the year?

Not much, it turns out. At least, not at first. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Patches Of Dame’s Rocket Sought For Study

Dame's RocketElizabeth Lombardi, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, is collecting field data on plant pathogens in natural ecosystems throughout the Adirondack region, and has identified a virus in the non-native species Dame’s Rocket at several locations. Lombardi is asking the public if they cultivate this flower, or have seen it in the Adirondacks.

Wild plants, like their cultivated relatives, are susceptible to a diversity of pathogenic antagonists. Unlike crops, however, wild plants live or die by their own defenses when confronted by adversity. In recent years, there has been an uptick in scientific interest in plant epidemiology of natural systems and how environmental changes such as urbanization and global warming may alter pathogen presence wild plants. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Loon And Trails Center Opens In Saranac Lake

LoonHHCenterTwo Adirondack organizations have come together to form the Adirondack Loon and Trails Center in Saranac Lake.

The center is combined effort between Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and Adirondack Hamlet to Huts, the new initiative to connect trail systems to lodging in communities. The organizations recently had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the center’s opening.

The loon program has been in existence for years under director Nina Schoch, who has operated out of her home in Ray Brook. The program has conducted extensive research projects on mercury and led educational campaigns to protect loons from the dangers of lead fishing tackle, among other things. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Adirondack Trout And Rising Water Temperatures

troutBrook Trout and Lake Trout, coldwater species are found in many lakes, ponds, and streams within the Adirondacks. They require cold, well oxygenated waters that are clean, to survive. With the increasing in overall temperatures, I felt it was time to explore the impact that these rising temperatures would have on our fish populations. » Continue Reading.


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