Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bird Migratory Quirks: Geese and Juncos

TOS_Bird_migrationThis has always been my perception of bird migration in the fall: the days grow short and cool and then, one day, I notice a v-shaped caravan of Canada geese flying southward. Then another and another. Within a few weeks of that first sighting, I hear their melancholy call one final time for the season. Then they, and all the summer birds, are gone. It’s a mass exodus for warmer climes, over and done in the blink of an eye and long before the snow flies.

But what of the geese on the unfrozen mill ponds in January? Or the robins at the birdfeeder in December? It turns out that the process of migration is much longer and less predictable than my cursory observations had led me to believe. First of all, for some species, fall migration begins long before the first ears of corn are ready to be picked. Take, for example, the yellow warbler, whose massive breeding range extends from parts of Mexico to Newfoundland and into Alaska. It is among the earliest songbirds to arrive in the spring and among the first to embark on the return journey. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Easy Ways To See This Year’s Brilliant Foliage

IMG_5684There are all sorts of festivals this time of year but as much as I love a good get-together, sometimes it’s the simple things my family appreciates the most. When we get bogged down with school openings and away games, we have to stop and take a moment to look around us.

My daughter’s favorite autumn color is pink. You may think that the trees don’t really become pink, but if you look at the blending of some of the yellows, oranges and brilliant red, the leaves do indeed have a pinkish cast to them. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Ed Kanze: Finding Common Ferns

ed-kanze-new-york-fernI’ve been seeing lots of ferns lately, and maybe you have, too. Most are tricky to identify. Still, there are three big common ones that are easy to know: the bracken, the interrupted, and the cinnamon. Listen here and meet them along the trail 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, 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.


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.


Page 31 of 95« First...1020...2930313233...405060...Last »