Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Common Myths About Adirondack Nature

TOS_barred_owlWalking through the woods on a cool spring morning, I saw a barred owl in an old maple tree. I circled the owl three times from a distance. Its head kept turning to follow me, tracking my movements with three complete revolutions.

One of the owl’s chicks had fallen from the nest, so I climbed the tree and placed the chick back in it. Then the owl flew up and pushed the chick out of the nest onto the ground, where it lay in a pile of melting snow.

One of the owl’s chicks had fallen from the nest, so I climbed the tree and placed the chick back in it. Then the owl flew up and pushed the chick out of the nest onto the ground, where it lay in a pile of melting snow. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where is the Source of the Hudson?

Dan on descent on Skylight July '09Last week I was doing a little research for a book project when a web search returned an interesting line from a Wikipedia entry on the Hudson River. It piqued my curiosity, going as it did against conventional wisdom. Wikipedia being Wikipedia I wasn’t about to take it as gospel, but it provoked me to start digging around just for fun. After all, if one learns anything in research and the sciences it is that conventional wisdom or historical tradition are no sure bets.

In this case, both conventional wisdom and historical tradition say that Lake Tear of the Clouds, nestled between Mounts Marcy and Skylight in the Adirondack High Peaks, is the source of the Hudson River. Thus has it been generally accepted ever since Verplanck Colvin determined it to be so, on his second visit to Lake Tear in August of 1873. For generations of hikers Lake Tear has been a special destination, an upward trek to the ultimate source of one of America’s greatest rivers.  But is it? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Winter To Spring In A Bear Cub’s Den

TOS_BlackBearBabiesThe forest is going through a seasonal transition, at a leisurely pace, and often invisibly. Bear cubs, for example, are maturing in hidden dens that we might pass right by.

Black bear (Ursus americanus) cubs are born in mid-January to early February. The newborns are blind, deaf, and toothless, and covered with hair so fine they appear bald. They weigh about a half a pound and are the size of small squirrels. Barely able to crawl, they sense the heat from their mother’s sparsely furred belly and find their way to her protective warmth. She nurses often, shifting position to assist them and to avoid rolling onto them. Her milk is a protein-rich twenty percent (or more) fat. (Human milk, by comparison, is about four percent fat.) » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

DEC Limes Pond in Five Ponds Wilderness

picking up lime at Stillwater ReserviorAs part an effort to mitigate the impact of acid rain and restore brook trout to the Adirondacks, state helicopters delivered 80 tons of lime to an acidified pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the Town of Webb in Herkimer County.

Over three days in early March, about 40 Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff and New York State Police helicopter crews conducted the liming operation, which included 120 helicopter flights to transport 160,000 pounds of lime from a staging area near the boat launch at Stillwater Reservoir to Bear Pond.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count Sets Species Record

Northern Flicker by Linda Izer in ArkansasParticipants from more than 100 countries submitted a record 147, 265,000 bird checklists for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count in February and broke the previous count record for the number of species identified. The 5,090 species reported represents nearly half the possible bird species in the world.

The four-day count marked the 18th year for the event which is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Survival Of The Fittest On The Pinnacle Trail

Coyote Track in WinterThe story was in the tracks. Thursday was cold, but sunny – I’d had a hunch that it might be a good day to get off the groomed trails and do some exploring. There were a couple of inches of fresh powder on top of a hard crust that covered probably two feet of snow, and skies as blue as they could be.

I drove up to Santa Clara and parked on route 458 by the gated road and the Pinnacle trail sign. It looked like two people had skied the old logging road the day before. Possibly earlier in the day, someone post-holing, walked in with a large dog. That person eventually put on snowshoes and continued to trudge in on top of the ski track. I just skied up onto the crust however, and glided along – probably the smoothest, easiest skiing I’d done all year. The person with the dog didn’t make it very far and turned around. Good – now I could start watching for wild animal tracks in the fresh snow. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Houseplants Can Thrive With Attention Now

6214PothosIvy3004The days are getting noticeably longer now, and even though our snow-covered gardens are weeks away from spring planting, my houseplants have noticed the difference and are starting to put out some new growth. March is a good time to direct my yearning to garden towards my houseplants while I wait for spring to arrive outdoors.

During the depths of winter most houseplants go into a slowed state of growth, so pruning or dividing them then would not be such a good idea. But now that they are waking up and putting out some new growth, they will be able to respond to the stress of pruning and re-potting with no problem. These practices do cause some stress to the plants but it also induces them to push out more new growth in response, so this really is the ideal time to work on your houseplants. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Comments On Bald Eagle ‘Conservation Plan’ Sought

2010-bald-eagle-kodiakThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) “Conservation Plan for Bald Eagles in New York State” is available for public review and comment. The document provides guidelines for the future management of America’s national bird (and national animal) in the State, where it prefers to live in mature forests near large bodies of water.

Bald eagles were once common in America, but their numbers began a dramatic decline as a result of hunting, logging, habitat loss, and pollution. The publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, and the modern environmental movement it helped launch, led to a new public awareness of the threats to wildlife from over-development and chemical poisoning. Eventually, that awareness and activism helped save bald eagles from extinction. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sneaky Ducks and Scrambled Eggs

TOS_WoodDuckBabiesIf you peek into a wood duck nesting box during the breeding cycle, you might find 10 to 11 eggs, which is the bird’s normal clutch size. But you might also stumble upon a box overflowing with as many as 30 eggs. How, you might ask, can one duck lay and care for so many eggs? The answer is: she can’t.

These huge piles of eggs result from intraspecific brood parasitism, otherwise known as egg dumping. This is when a bird lays eggs in a nest that does not belong to her. Waterfowl – and wood ducks in particular – often engage in this behavior. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Will Wolves Return To The Adirondacks?

CreeStanding in a snowy meadow in Wilmington, a wolf lifts its head and howls, breaking the near silence on a cold winter day. Just a few feet away Steve Hall watches the scene, a leash in his hand.

The wolf on the other end of the leash is one of three owned by Hall and his wife, Wendy, a wildlife rehabilitator. The couple owns Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, and the animals are used for education, including popular “wolf walks.” During the walks, visitors hike with Hall and the wolves. Hall hopes the walks will give people a better understanding of animals that are commonly feared even though they rarely attack humans. » Continue Reading.


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