Thursday, September 18, 2014

Late Bloomers: Asters At Summer’s End

TOS_AsterLiving this far north, we’re attuned to signs of a waning summer: shorter days, cooler nights, red maples in low-lying areas turning their trademark color. But when the asters bloom, I know the curtain is coming down on summer.

The asters are some of the latest blooming flower species in our region. Not every species waits until virtually the last minute, but many do.

You might think that they’re cutting it close. In an area of the world where a killing frost can come seemingly out of nowhere, a late bloomer might be taking a chance. But evolutionarily, it’s not a bad tactic, said Arthur Haines, a research botanist for the New England Wild Flower Society.  By putting off blooming until late in the season, these plants have a virtual monopoly on the attentions of bees and other insect pollinators. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Freeze Warning Issued For Tonight

First Freeze - Sept 19 2014The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Warning for early Friday morning for most of the Adirondack Region – expect widespread frost and freezing temperatures tonight with lows 25 to 30 degrees. Sensitive plants will be killed if left unprotected.

 



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: A Red Squirrel Uprising?

1024px-Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus_CTThe populations of all forms of wildlife continuously rise and fall as a number of highly changeable environmental factors influences the success, or failure of each species. While variations in the abundance, or scarcity of many of our shy and secretive creatures, like the short-tailed shrew, flying squirrel and ermine, go completely unnoticed, the ups and downs in the number of animals that maintain a high profile can be quite evident, especially to anyone that spends a fair amount of time outdoors. In my neighborhood this year, there is a definite upsurge in the population of red squirrels, as there are more of these small, yet conspicuous rusty-tan rodents running around than in recent years.

Regardless of whether its population is peaking, or has crashed, the red squirrel is still described by many naturalists as the most often seen mammal in the Adirondacks. The diurnal habits, vocal inclinations, willingness to live in close proximity to humans, and craving for sunflower seeds make this rodent hard to overlook. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birding: Broad-Winged Hawk Migration

TOS_BroadwingHawkIt rained heavily the first time I had planned to go on a hawk watch, and the trip was cancelled. But the rain brought with it a weather front the next day that created the perfect conditions for fall hawk migration. And migrate they did. Hawks and falcons and eagles and vultures soared southward along mountain ridges in numbers I have never seen in the 30 years since then. Carried aloft by rising currents of warm air and light winds from the north, many of those birds may have traveled a hundred miles that day without ever flapping their wings.

Despite the diversity and impressive numbers of raptors, there was one species that stood out to all of the hawk watchers: the broad-winged hawk. It was a bird I had never seen before, and although it is a common nesting species in the forests of the Northeast, the total number of broad-wings I’ve observed since then doesn’t come close to the number that soared past us that day. Whereas most hawks travel alone or in groups of three or four, broad-winged hawks migrate in flocks called kettles that can sometimes number in the thousands. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cornell’s Merlin Bird ID App for Android Released

resultsMerlin, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s free bird ID app, is now available for Android devices. Merlin presents you with a list of the birds that best match your location, time of year, and description of the bird.

“Merlin knows which birds are most likely to be within a 30-mile radius of where you saw the bird—at the time when you saw it,” said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “It’s the first app to tap into 70 million observations contributed by birders to the eBird citizen-science project, along with 3 million descriptors of birds to help match what you saw.” » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Endangered Species Act Protection Sought For Monarchs

800px-Monarch_In_MayScientists, wildlife conservationists, and food safety advocates have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range,” Dr. Lincoln Brower, a monarch butterfly researcher and conservationist, and one of those seeking the Endangered Species designation. The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety are serving as co-lead petitioners, joined by Brower the Xerces Society. » Continue Reading.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Adirondack Seagulls: The Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-billed_gull_groupAs the bright yellow tops of goldenrod begin to fade in fields, and the foliage of the red maple increasingly begins its change to a bright reddish-orange, gulls engage in a nomadic phase of their life and can often be seen visiting a variety of settings within the Adirondacks.

Within the boundaries of the Park, two species of “seagulls” are seasonal components of our fauna; however, the slightly smaller ring-billed gull is far more common and likely to be observed than the nearly identically colored herring gull. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Note to Flies: Avoid Fuzzy Socks

TOS_WebImagine you’re an insect cruising through the air. Suddenly, you realize you’re heading straight for a spider web. You’re doomed. But wait – you can still escape by slipping through one of the gaps. Spider webs are, after all, more gaps than web. You aim between the sticky threads – it’s going to be a close call, but you’re going to make it.

Then, as you pass through, the threads snap towards you … and you’re a spider’s dinner!

It sounds impossible that the threads of a spider web could actively reach out for prey, yet recent studies show that it is not only possible, but may be yet another ingenious spider strategy for capturing insects on the fly. How do webs do this? Static electricity. It turns out spider webs are attracted to the static charge on flying insects. » Continue Reading.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Stargazing At Pharaoh Lake In The Eastern Adirondacks

Pharaoh Lake stars

I’ve been patiently waiting for a clear night and conditions were perfect last Friday. Cool temps and open skies. Pharaoh Lake is a great place for stargazing.  The Milky Way is visible from the northern end of the lake.  The crescent moon had set about an hour before I took this photo.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Adirondack Dark Skies And Our Magnificent Milky Way

Milky Way 017As the end of summer nears we have an opportunity to peer into the heart of our magnificent galaxy, the Milky Way. Go outside around 9:30, when all traces of dusk have vanished, and follow the Milky Way’s band of light from north to south. If you have the good fortune to see an unobstructed south, close to the horizon you’ll observe the bulge of the galaxy’s center.

Pan this region with a pair of binoculars and you’ll be rewarded with the sight of dark dust lanes, open and globular clusters, large bright areas filled with countless stars, and ghostly, luminous nebulae. Welcome to the center of our galaxy—at 28,000 light years from earth, a veritable garden of celestial delights.

I took this photo facing south over Trout Brook in Olmstedville. The orange glow on the horizon is from the lights of Glens Falls (about 45 miles away), reflected on atmospheric particles and water vapor in the sky. » Continue Reading.


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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Milky Way Over Johns Brook Lodge

JBL Milky Way 2

The night sky at Johns Brook Lodge on a clear moonless night is always breathtaking. The lodge is a great place to visit if you enjoy staring into the heavens. It is a backcountry lodge outside of Keene Valley, 3.5 miles into the High Peaks Wilderness. There have been numerous renovations to the lodge over recent years, most recently the sleeping accommodations were upgrade with real mattresses and new bunks. The staff are really what makes the place special though, they make great meals and know the valley inside and out. If you are looking for a nice backcountry accommodation it is definitely worth checking out. The view from the porch on a night like this is always a nice bonus as well.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jumping Mice: Long Tailed Leapers

TOS_JumpingMouseThe woodland jumping mouse, as its name indicates, lives in forested areas. It is hard to observe, but common in the Northeast. If you have a chance to see one up close, perhaps courtesy of a cat, you’ll notice an extremely long tail and large hind feet. The fur is bright yellow to orange on the flanks and face and white on the belly. A broad, brownish-black stripe runs down the back. The tail is 4.5 to 6 inches long and has a white tip (this tip is the easiest way to distinguish it from its cousin, the meadow jumping mouse.)

The mouse walks when moving slowly, but relies on its jumping ability to travel quickly, and to cover distance. How far can this little mouse jump? Accounts vary, but most agree it can jump at least six feet horizontally and two feet high. It uses a four-footed hop. Both front feet are planted at the same time, both back feet an instant later. The large hind feet with long ankle and toe bones provide leverage when pushing off, thrusting the body into the air. The forelimbs are folded into the chest. The long tail trails behind, assisting in balance. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

5th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival Planned

Moose At Helldiver Pond by John WarrenThe Adirondacks, with its vast expanses of wilderness forests, abundant stretches of pristine wetlands, waterways and rugged mountain terrain, serves as home to many forms of wildlife. While all of these creatures have uniquely appealing traits and exhibit their own brand of personal charm, few possess the backwoods’ magic and allure of the moose. Part of this beast’s popularity lies in its massive size, which can range from several hundred pounds for a juvenile to 700 and 800 pounds for a healthy adult. The moose also wins affection with its unusually lanky body features, long snout, and awkward gait.

In an attempt to spotlight and honor New York State’s largest wildlife resident, the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce in the Central Adirondacks, will be holding a celebration, The Great Adirondack Moose Festival, (GAMF) the weekend of September 27 and 28. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day Saturday

jen-062014-snowy11This year’s Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day, combines meeting predators from wolves, eagles and snowy owls to bobcats and fox, and learning about their roles in our ecosystem, with understanding how critical habitat and climate issues impact America’s wild lands.

Habitat Awareness Day is on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, August 30th, from 10 am to 5 pm, at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burying Beetles: Nature’s Undertakers

burying_beetleI don’t often shake down my cat for a dead mouse, but I did think it was fair, considering that he is always shaking me down for his cat food. I wasn’t going to eat his mouse. I needed it as bait, to see if I could catch a burying beetle.

Burying beetles, or sexton beetles, are nocturnal and they spend much of their lives underground. You’re most likely to find them under small dead animals, such as moles or mice, in a field, that is if you get there before the crows, raccoons, ants, worms, or bacteria do. » Continue Reading.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Puddling: Butterflies at the Bar

Puddle_of_butterflies(1)Toddlers aren’t the only ones fond of mud puddles. Butterflies and moths often gather at puddles in large groups. I witnessed about thirty tiger swallowtail butterflies around a puddle on a woods road one spring, their yellow, black-veined wings twitching slightly, contrasting with the brown mud. Another time I saw a crowd of swallowtails around a pile of damp wood ashes in my yard.

This curious behavior is known as “puddling.” Although butterflies and moths get most of their nutrition from flower nectar, puddling provides another way to obtain nutrients, and replenish fluids. The insects use their long tongues, called proboscises, to deliver the fluid or other material into their mouths. » Continue Reading.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Google Highlights Tupper Lake’s Wild Center

Wild+Center+LogoGoogle selected a single business from New York to profile in its annual Economic Impact Report. For 2013, the global internet company picked The Wild Center, in Tupper Lake, citing the Center’s innovative use of the internet to expand its reach. The Wild Center, designed by the firm that built the Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., opened in 2006, and is one of the Adirondack region’s most popular attractions.

Howard Fish, who heads communications at The Wild Center, got the call from the Silicon Valley headquarters of Google asking if the Center would be okay with being New York’s profiled business. “Google had called us a few times already, and had sent a crew up to map the inside of the Center, so the call was not completely out of the blue, but we were still surprised when they told us that from all the businesses in the state, including the ones in Silicon Alley, they picked a venture in the Adirondacks to profile.” » Continue Reading.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alexander Lamberton:
Old Forge Pioneer And Nature Preservationist

Alexander Lamberton Medallion B 100_2137Lamberton Street, among the shorter (and newer) streets in Old Forge which  connects Park Avenue to Fulton Street at the Fire Station, is named for one of Old Forge’s earliest historical figures, Alexander Byron Lamberton.

Unknown to most Fulton Chain residents, Lamberton is usually mentioned only as the family who sold the Forge House and Tract to Dr. Alexander Crosby and Samuel Garmon in 1888.  But if you go to the popular Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park in Rochester, you will see his image memorialized in a large bronze medallion above its entrance.  The crest to the right of the medallion contains a cross, deer head, crest and scroll.

Lamberton’s single entry in the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondack Bibliography is for an 1876 article about his adventures bringing salmon fry to the John Brown Tract.  His role in Fulton Chain and Adirondack history is largely unheralded, but more important than many realize.   » Continue Reading.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: Maturing Bats

300px-Wiki_batAugust is when a majority of wildlife families dissolve, as the young gradually start to wander from their parent’s care and begin finding food for themselves and developing the strategies for surviving on their own. Among the many maturing creatures achieving independence as summer wanes are the young of the various species of bats that exist within the Park. Regardless of their habitat and the types of bugs on which they prey, all juvenile bats are now capturing their own food and exploring their surroundings without the supervision of their mother. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DEC Guidance For Discouraging Black Bear Nuisance

American black bear by Cephas @ Wikimedia CommonsThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is advising homeowners and tourists about ways to discourage bears from becoming a nuisance. Black bears will take advantage of almost any readily available food source. Once bears learn about human food sources, it is not easy to recondition them to the wild and this can lead to conflicts between bears and people. It is against the law to feed bear, deer and moose.

During midsummer and dry conditions, the black bear’s natural foods are much more difficult to find. DEC Wildlife and Law Enforcement staff respond with technical advice as quickly as possible but local residents and visitors are responsible for preventing bears from gaining access to food items such as bird food, garbage and unattended coolers. » Continue Reading.



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