Monday, December 26, 2016

Loon Rescue at Follensby Clear Pond

Gary Lee during a Loon rescue on Follensby Clear Pond in December 2016 photo by Mike LynchOn Wednesday, December 21, volunteers and staff from BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation rescued a loon that had become iced-in on a pond in the northern Adirondacks.

The roughly three-year-old bird was contained in a small area of open water on Follensby Clear Pond near Upper Saranac Lake. The ice was an estimated five inches thick, and the bird had become trapped while it waited for its winter flight feathers to grow in. The bird had kept the water open through its movements. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Summer of 2016 Was Bad News For Bears

black bear Jean Belanger was starting a climb at the Beer Walls in Chapel Pond Canyon when his girlfriend, Isabel Rodriguez, yelled up to him to come down right away. “That usually means I have a spider on my back,” Belanger said.

But there was no spider this time. Instead Rodriguez had spotted an approaching mother bear and its cub. After quickly descending, Belanger walked a short distance away from the bears and started yelling and clapping. “They didn’t make any aggressive moves toward me at all,” he said. “It was really the packs they were walking toward.”

Bear experts recommend that people do what Belanger did when they encounter a black bear in the woods: make a lot of noise to scare the animal away. Black bears are generally fearful of humans, unless they have come to associate people with food. In these cases, the bears can become bold but will still usually run from people. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Trees of Christmas

christmas treeYou picked it out, maybe cut it down, brought it home, watered it, and decorated it. But do you know what species of tree that is surrounded by presents in your living room?

If you purchased your Christmas tree rather than cutting it out of the woods, chances are it’s either a balsam fir (Abies balsamea) or a fraser fir (Abies fraseri) – these are the two species most commonly grown on Christmas tree farms in northern New England. Balsam fir is found naturally everywhere, from Alberta to Pennsylvania, and has the largest range of any North American fir species. It’s perhaps best known for its aroma – when people say they want a tree that smells like Christmas, they’re talking about a balsam. Fraser fir, native to the Appalachian Mountains, doesn’t have the same trademark scent, but it does have a little more visual flourish in the form of elegant blue-green needles with silvery-white undersides. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas Yule Log Tradition

yule logsApparently, the ceremonial burning of a large chunk of wood on or near the winter solstice (Yule to the old Germanic peoples) may have begun as a Nordic custom in the 6th century, possibly earlier. Known as a Yule clog, Yule block, Christmas log and other variants, the Yule log was purported to bring good luck in the new year if it burned all day long without being fully consumed. A remnant was always saved, and used to light the following year’s log. Though the tradition is much less common today, it has not been completely extinguished (so to speak).

Given the climate there, it is no surprise that the hardy folks in northern Europe thought the best way to observe a winter holiday was to light a tree trunk on fire and gather round it. That’s probably what I would have done, too. The French, on the other hand, put a whole new twist on the thing, inventing a delicious Yule log cake that they never burn, at least not intentionally. It took them a dozen or so centuries to come up with the recipe, but let’s not complain. You don’t have to go to France to check out a bûche de Noël — in Quebec you can find Yule log pastries that are works of art in addition to being delectable. (In an ironic twist, the bûche glacée de Noel, or frozen Christmas log, is gaining popularity in France and its territories.) » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Study On DNA Based Detection of Brook Trout Streams

brook-troutResearch conducted by Paul Smith’s College biology professor Dr. Lee Ann Sporn and fisheries and wildlife science graduate Jacob Ball was part of a study published in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society this December.

The study, “Efficacy of Environmental DNA to Detect and Quantify Brook Trout Populations in Headwater Streams of the Adirondack Mountains, New York,” focused on using environmental DNA, or eDNA, to determine if a fish species – in this case, brook trout – are present in a stream by using a single water sample. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Outside Story: Carpenter Ants

carpenter-antMention carpenter ants, and Declan McCabe, chair of the biology department at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, thinks about the time he got a lungful of formic acid. He had taken a class into the field to survey insects. He saw a huge ant and sucked it up into his aspirator. Yes, a straw-like aspirator is an important tool for entomologists, who clearly aren’t worried about getting too close to their work. He successfully captured the ant and then took a breath. His lungs burned. That big ant had used the classic ant defense of spraying formic acid.

Mention carpenter ants, and Rachel Maccini, of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension, thinks of the calls that pour into the extension’s hotline each spring, each caller wondering if those ants suddenly crawling across the rug, the couch, and the kitchen counter are going to take the house down. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Balsam Fir: Adirondack Christmas Tradition

As a rule, the severity of the winter becomes harsher with an increase in altitude. In the lowlands, around the periphery of the Park, conditions are more favorable for life, as these valley settings are capable of supporting a wide diversity of flora and fauna. However, closer to the summit of the peaks, the weather becomes as inhospitable as at much higher latitudes, such as near the Arctic Circle, where only a handful of extremely hardy forms of vegetation can flourish to grace the rugged, boulder strewn terrain. Among the woody plants that are successful in rooting in the shallow soil of these frigid, wind swept sites is the balsam fir (Abies balsamea), known as our most popular type of Christmas tree. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 16, 2016

New DEC Fish and Wildlife Director Named

DEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has appointed Anthony Wilkinson to head up its Division of Fish and Wildlife.

A press release from the agency described Wilkinson as “a seasoned conservation professional with 36 years of experience as a wildlife biologist, zoologist, and researcher.”

Anthony (Tony) Wilkinson has been appointed to head up the agency’s four Fish and Wildlife bureaus and more than 350 employees whose missions are to conserve, improve and protect New York’s natural resources. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Adirondack Loon Center Launches Fundraising Campaign for Exhibits

Loon on Lower St. Regis LakeThe Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation has launched a fundraising campaign at AdirondackGives.org to support the development of educational exhibits at its new Adirondack Loon Center in Saranac Lake. The Center opened in July, 2016 in the historic Tousley Storage Building, a revitalized storefront at 47 Main Street, and shares space with the new Adirondack Community-based Trails and Lodging System. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Glacier-Carved Rocks: New England’s Ice Age Past

potholeWhen I’m hiking, I like to watch for rock basins, sometimes as small as cupped hands, that appear along summits and ridgelines. These are “thin places.” When filled with water, these tiny quivering pools offer both an ephemeral now and a deep plunge into time. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Adirondack Winter: Hibernating Jumping Mice

Winter is the time when wildlife activity ebbs in the Adirondacks. Many residents of our fields and forests have retreated to shelters beneath the surface of the soil in an attempt to escape this season of low temperatures, snow and ice, and little if any food.

The woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis) is one member of our wildlife community that retires to the seclusion of a cushiony nest underground and lapses into a profound state of dormancy, known as true hibernation, for roughly 6 months beginning sometime in mid-October. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Invasive Species: House Sparrows in Winter

house sparrowHouse sparrows – those little brown and gray birds that flash mob the bird feeder – are common and easy to see. They’re quarrelsome, noisy, and when they’re on the ground, they move in vigorous hops that remind me of popcorn popping out of a pan.

They’re also an invasive species, scavengers that have hitched their wagons to humans, and at least on this continent, are having a very successful ride. Our farms, lawns, and grocery store parking lots provide all kinds of year-round foraging for these birds, and our structures provide them shelter. From gutter pipes to the bulb rims of traffic lights, house sparrows know how to make themselves at home in human-dominated settings, regardless of whether humans want them there. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Rock: A Historic Adirondack Landmark (Conclusion)

p2a1941inripleysIn January 1936, Dr. Charles Leete, a chief proponent of local history and a strong voice for protecting South Colton’s Sunday Rock from destruction, died. It was more than appropriate that he had been deeply involved in preserving the rock. Leete’s ancestors built much of the machinery used in area sawmills that processed the timber provided by the lumberjacks who were famously linked to Sunday Rock’s legend.

As famous as the big rock was regionally, it attained immortality of a sort in 1941 when Robert Ripley included it in his world-famous newspaper feature, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” A drawing of the landmark was accompanied by a full paragraph relating the legend of Sunday Rock. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Red-Backed Salamanders Go Underground

There are several types of migration that occur in nature. While this term generally brings to mind the long distance flight of birds and a few species of bats, it can also refer to the seasonal movements of numerous creatures that abandon their summer domains on the surface for an environment below the frost line.

As cold air becomes more intense, and nightly temperatures more regularly drop into the teens causing water in the uppermost layer of soil to freeze, most cold-blooded organisms that reside there, particularly the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) must start to migrate down in order to prevent freezing to death. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pining For That Evergreen Smell

balsamSpeaking as a guy who can hide his own Easter eggs and still not find them, I marvel how Father Christmas, who is at least several years older than I, still manages to keep track of all those kids and their presents. Lucky for us that the most enduring memories are associated with smell. If it was not for the fragrant evergreen wreaths, trees and garlands (and possibly a hint of reindeer dung), Santa probably would have long ago forgotten his holiday duties.

Of all the memorable aromas of the holiday season, nothing evokes its spirit quite like the smell of fresh-cut pine, spruce or fir. Although most American households which observe Christmas have switched to artificial trees, about eleven million families still bring home a real tree. » Continue Reading.


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