Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Campaign Seeks To Help Protect Nesting Adirondack Loons

2013-BRI-ACLC Limekiln Camera -Don't disturb nesting loonsBiodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation has announced a new campaign on Adirondack Gives, www.adirondackgives.org, the crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits.

The campaign will provide support for the placement of trail cameras near approximately 30 Common Loon nest sites in the Adirondack Park to document nesting behaviors, clutch size, and hatch dates for Adirondack loons, and to assess the primary factors (e.g., predation, human disturbance) impacting the birds during incubation.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) provided the cameras for this project. Support from this campaign, which is seeking to raise $1,100 over the next two months, will cover the cost of the lithium-ion batteries and high capacity SD cards used in the cameras. » Continue Reading.



Monday, July 21, 2014

The Skinny on Snake Skins

TOS_Black_Rat_SnakeIf you have a wood pile, you may have come across a shed snake skin ― a translucent, onion skin-like wrapper imprinted with the snake’s scale pattern. Or perhaps you’ve seen one along a foundation or stone wall. Why do snakes shed their skin?

Most animals, including humans, shed skin cells, explained herpetologist Jim Andrews, who coordinates the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. “The difference is that humans are continually shedding skin. Snakes shed only periodically; hence they shed the entire skin at once.” » Continue Reading.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Ed Kanze: The Unsung, Well Sung, Pine Warbler

ed_kanze_pine_warblerThe pine warbler is often heard but rarely seen. To identify one of these birds, even at close range, you’ve got to inventory its features, hear it sing if possible, and ponder. Listen here as I welcome one of these feathered flying insect-eaters to our bird feeder in this week’s edition of All Things natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Learning To Keep Our Distance From Nesting Loons

2003-WFS Turtle Pd loon-7+t300There is a loon on Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake that seems almost tame. Sometimes when my family and I are out canoeing it seems to follow us. It is that very familiarity and comfortableness with nature that causes a conflict between humans and nesting loons.

Though Dr. Nina Schoch, Wildlife Veterinarian with the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) assures me that particular loon isn’t nesting if it’s in the center of the lake and not issue warning signs. According to Schoch there are specific ways for humans to tell if they are distressing loons. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Moose At Helldiver Pond In The Moose River Plains

Moose At Helldiver Pond by John Warren

Perhaps the most photographed moose in the Adirondacks is this visitor to Helldiver Pond in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest between Indian Lake and Inlet. This photo was taken Friday afternoon (on a long lens in order to keep a respectful distance).



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WCS Calls for Volunteers to Survey Adirondack Loons

Loons  Jlarsenmaher 2The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Adirondack Program is seeking volunteers to help census loons on Adirondack lakes as part of the fourteenth Annual Adirondack Loon Census taking place from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 19.

With the help of local Adirondack residents and visitor volunteers, the census enables WCS to collect important data on the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State. The results help guide management decisions and policies affecting loons. » Continue Reading.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Ed Kanze: Ticks Looking For Good Hosts

ed_kanze_tickLike it or not, they’re waiting for you. Legs reach out, legs with highly receptive sensory organs on them, and they know you’re coming. Brush past the wrong blade of grass, and you’ve got a hitchhiker, one that could possibly make you sick. What to do? Listen and learn about how ticks play the game of life and how you can beat them in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Adirondack Fish: The Rock Bass

Rock BassFollowing the July 4th weekend, there typically occur stretches of pleasant, sunny weather with highs in the 80′s. This elevates the temperature of the water in the many aquatic settings throughout the Adirondacks to their highest levels of the year and creates conditions ideal for swimming and for our warm water fishes.

Among the residents of lakes and rivers that thrive when the water becomes suitable for wading, lounging, and frolicking are the sunfish, and along the rocky shores of our glacially formed lakes and boulder laden waterways is the rock bass, a ubiquitous and always hungry fish that has frequent encounters with any novice angler that fishes these sites. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Adirondack Moose: Why The Big Nose?

Moose_noseThe silhouette of a moose is noticeably different from that of its deer cousins. Its bulky, hunched body sits on tall, improbably proportioned legs. And then there’s that nose. It’s long and broad – a full sixty-five percent of the moose’s head length – with enlarged nostrils that are positioned not in the front of the face, but off to the sides. By the nose alone, there’s little chance of mistaking Bullwinkle for Bambi.

There are traditional explanations for the moose’s unusual looking nose. Wabanaki tribes share tales of the hero Gluskap, who squeezed the moose, shrinking him from a giant’s size and creating an animal with a bulging proboscis. As for a scientific explanation, recent research suggests at least two possibilities. » Continue Reading.



Monday, July 7, 2014

Natural History Online: Watching Wildlife Cameras

Idaho'sDecorahEaglesAs a lifelong fan of wildlife observation, I’m living the dream thanks to modern technology.  As a young child a half century ago, I would regularly peek in on the nests of robins and other birds to see what was going on. For hours on end, I’d observe the nests of sunfish, bass, and lampreys in the river that flowed along our yard. I’d capture crayfish, plus fingerlings of northern pike, muskie, and other native fish and raise them in an aquarium. The excitement of learning while observing was intoxicating.

In adulthood, I did more of the same, adding photography to the mix—not that the nature photographs were of great quality, but they did capture some interesting moments. Today, all those things from the past have evolved into a spectacular learning tool: online wildlife cams. » Continue Reading.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Mink, Muskrat, Beaver Or Otter: Who Goes There?

ed_kanze_ottersNow you see it, now you don’t: something brown in or near the water, hopping, swimming, or doing something else that catches your eye. The suspect list includes mink, muskrat, beaver, and otter. Listen here as I discuss what to look for and how to tell the difference in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.



Thursday, July 3, 2014

BuzzzFest Returns To The Wild Center July 5th

Buzz FestThe Wild Center will celebrate some of your favorite creepy crawlies, at BuzzzFest on Saturday, July 5th.  BuzzzFest honors the creatures that make the world go round, from dragonflies to monarchs and all the buzzing, chirping and crawling things in between. This year there is a special tip of the antennae to honeybees.

Participants will be able to pet some crazy creepy crawlies from the Utica Zoo Mobile, join a dragonfly safari, visit The Butterfly Garden or talk with a bee hive expert to show see how to raise your own bees. Historical beekeeping gadgets and pictures from the Adirondack Museum will be featured. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Green Herons: Birds That Bait

1024px-Green_Heron_North_Pond_ChicagoI’m always entranced watching the hunting behavior of long-legged wading birds like great blue herons and snowy egrets. They stand motionless for long minutes at the edge of a pond or swamp, waiting for prey to swim within striking distance. It’s a technique sometimes described as stalking, and it convinces me that those birds have far more patience than I do. I would go hungry if I were restricted to that strategy, since I get antsy after just a few seconds of standing motionless. I’m much more like the reddish egret of the Florida coastline, running around in knee-deep water with wings outstretched, chasing my meal rather than waiting for it to come to me.

Green herons have a hunting technique that involves neither pure stalking, nor the kinetic approach of the reddish egret. They are one of only a handful of North American bird species that are known to use tools to capture food. » Continue Reading.



Monday, June 30, 2014

Owl Pellets: Down the Hatch and Back Again

Owl_Pellet“She’s so cute!” a little girl coos to the snowy white owl. The owl blinks languidly, ignoring her admirer. No doubt she is used to human attention, as she is one of the more popular raptors housed at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont. She likewise ignores the decapitated rat in her food bowl, chirruping softly as if dissatisfied with what’s on the menu. I wait patiently, hoping to witness the moment when she gulps it down.

Owls eat their smaller prey whole, or tear larger prey into chunks with their beaks and talons. Sooner or later, that owl will grab the raw rat out of her food bowl with her sharp beak and knock it back like a shot of whiskey. It will slide down her esophagus and into her two-chambered stomach. The first chamber, called the proventriculus, or glandular stomach, secretes digestive enzymes to break down all the easily digestible parts. Much like our own stomach, this chamber will liquefy the soft tissue (the gooey stuff, including muscle, fat and organs). Whatever isn’t digested in the first chamber, such as the bones, fur and teeth, will pass through to the second chamber, called the gizzard. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Snails: Slime is Sublime

TOS_snailOnce, hiking on the west coast, I picked up a big, bright yellow banana slug from the forest floor and brought it to my wife. She remembers that too – vividly.

Ok, ok, I know, snails and slugs have a high yuck factor. But take a moment and really watch one. You’ll see an intricately evolved creature of almost fluid grace.

Snails and slugs ­­– basically a slug is a snail without a shell – are gastropods, meaning “belly-footed.” There are tens of thousands of species worldwide. And while there are no banana slugs in this part of the country, ninety-plus species of snails ooze across northern fields and forests. » Continue Reading.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Adirondack Birds: The Common Yellowthroat

799px-Common_Yellowthroat_by_Dan_PancamoThe overwhelming abundance of pesky insects in and around aquatic areas in the Adirondacks from late spring through mid summer can discourage travel to these picturesque settings, however, the hordes of bothersome bugs that thrive in wetlands help support the rich diversity of life that occurs around these places.

Among the birds that seek out mosquito, black fly, and deer fly infested streams, swamps and shrubby lake shores is a common and vocal warbler whose voice regularly echoes across these watery habitats. Despite its small size and effective protective coloration, the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) can be seen by anyone passing through its domain as it bellows out its characteristic song from a perch that temporarily makes this Adirondack resident fairly conspicuous. » Continue Reading.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Noted Monarch Scientist At Wild Center On Thursday

LPB_headshot3_Jun07On his way to becoming an internationally recognized scientist for his work on Monarch butterflies and the evolution of warning coloration in nature, Professor Lincoln Brower first tickled the funny bone of the scientific community with his elegant research and photos of “barfing blue jays” and proved that milkweed toxin protects Monarchs.

As a young scientist at Amherst College in the 1960s, Dr. Brower proved that the toxin that Monarchs ingest from feeding on milkweed plants as caterpillars is so potent at sickening birds that a blue jay once exposed to them in a careful lab experiment, and then given other foods for a month, would vomit at the sight of a Monarch. Dr. Brower’s photos of the unlucky jays, published in the Scientific American in February 1969, still circulate on the internet.

Adirondack residents will have the chance to hear Dr. Brower discuss that famous experiment and his subsequent decades of research on Monarch biology as well as the current threats to their survival in a lecture at The Wild Center, 7:30. p.m. Thursday, June 26. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summit Steward Julia Goren: A Rare Alpine Flower

Julia Goren on SummitEvery June I try to make it up to the summit of either Algonquin or Marcy to take in the vibrant colors of the first alpine flowers in bloom.  I usually see lapland rosebay, a pink alpine rhododendron, or Diapensia, a deep green mound with petite white flowers.  If I make it over to Skylight I might even get a glimpse of the alpine azalea, a small, deep pink flower only found on Skylight’s summit.  I also usually see another alpine flower, one even more rare and colorful than the ones already mentioned.

This flower will talk to you about her special, fragile home and even answer your questions about which jagged peak you see off in the distance.  To many, this alpine flower’s name is Julia Goren, a human, but in the alpine ecosystem of New York, she could be considered the rarest and most beautiful alpine flower of them all. » Continue Reading.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Giant Swallowtail Butterflies Moving North

Giant_SwallowtailIt’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a …? In September of 2012, I spied something fluttering wildly on the lavender phlox in front of my house. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, but as I moved closer I discovered it was a huge butterfly – the largest I’d ever seen, with a wingspan of about six inches. I rushed into the house to get my camera.

The butterfly was a challenge to photograph, its wings a blur as it hovered and darted from flower to flower, sipping nectar with its long tongue. The upper side of its wings were black, with a band of yellow spots from wingtip to wingtip. Another yellow band led diagonally from each wingtip to each wing “tail.” The tails were long, with yellow spots edged in black. On the underside, the coloration was similar to a tiger swallowtail – pale yellow with thin black stripes. I consulted my butterfly guides and determined the fabulous creature was a giant swallowtail, a cousin to our common Canadian tiger swallowtail. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adirondack Insects: June Bugs

Photograph taken by Patrick CoinAround the time when the puffy, spherical clusters of seeds appear on dandelions, male hummingbirds are engaging in their courtship flights, and hoards of black flies arrive when the air become humid, June bugs make their annual appearance during the evening around porch lights, street lamps, and well illuminated windows.

When indoors at this time of year after dark, it is common to hear the sound of this hefty, hard-shelled bug repeatedly flying into a screen, continuously beating its wings against a window pane, or buzzing around an outside light, as if attempting to get directly into the source of illumination. » Continue Reading.



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