Sunday, June 4, 2017

Twilight Singer: The Hermit Thrush

If you take a walk in the woods on a summer evening, you may be treated to the ethereal, flute-like song of the hermit thrush, often the only bird still singing at dusk (and the first bird to sing in the morning).

In 1882, naturalist Montague Chamberlain described it as a “vesper hymn that flows so gently out upon the hushed air of the gathering twilight.” The hermit thrush, once nicknamed American nightingale, is among North America’s finest songsters; its beautiful song is one of the reasons Vermont chose the hermit thrush as its state bird. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Adirondack Birding: The Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowCoinciding with the onset of bug season in the Adirondacks is the return of our insect eating birds. While nearly all of these perching birds have an attractive musical call that announces their presence, most maintain a secretive routine so they are rarely spotted.

The swallows are the most visible bug consumers as their preference for perching in exposed places and feeding over open settings allows these skilled aerialists to be regularly seen.

Additionally, their habit of placing their nest close to human dwellings and in plain view of any passerby makes them well known to residents and visitors of the Park.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alewives Pose Challenge To Champlain Salmon Restoration

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Zach Eisenhauer holds an 11-pound salmon that he trapped on the Boquet River on Oct. 6 during a fish surveyFor years, biologists have been working to improve conditions for the native fish in Lake Champlain. Among other things, they have removed old dams to help spawning salmon migrate up rivers and have reduced the population of sea lampreys that prey on salmon and lake trout.

Now scientists are trying to fully understand how salmon are impacted by alewives, an invasive species that has become a main source of food for salmon, a keystone predator that eats smaller fish.

Alewives were first discovered in Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay, in Vermont, in 2003. Since then, they have grown in number and replaced native rainbow smelt as the main forage fish for predators in the lake, and they are likely here to stay. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Great Adirondack Birding Celebration Opens at Paul Smith’s VIC

Bird watching along with National Trails Day is a perfect combination and the Paul Smith’s VIC Great Adirondack Birding Celebration (GABC) has a schedule to please everyone from the most passionate to the novice birder.

The 3-day festival of birds for bird watchers offers full day workshops from as far afield as Champlain Valley to the St. Lawrence Valley. Other events and activities are organized closer to the base camp at Paul Smith’s VIC. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Tim Rowland: Adirondack Ticks

deer tickAt some point in the last 20 years, ticks have moved up on the Most Feared Insect ladder, thanks to the spread, and the greater understanding, of lyme disease. Early on, lyme’s vagaries and a lack of medical advancement made for a tricky diagnosis; after standard blood work came up blank, doctors would tell men to suck it up, and women that they were hormonal.

Thankfully, we have a better handle on it today, and while the disease is still terribly problematic, we at least know what we’re up against, and someone who contracts it has a far better chance of being properly diagnosed and treated.

But even though, rationally, I know this knowledge is all for the good, my emotional side pines for blissful ignorance, when ticks were of no more concern than congressional oversight committees. It’s kind of a Wile E. Coyote situation, in which he walks off a cliff, and as long as he doesn’t know he’s walked off a cliff he’s fine — he keeps walking on air, until he looks down and sees where he is, and which point he plummets to the bottom of the canyon. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spring Visitors: Ladybug Beetles

ladybugAmong the many groups of insects that exist on our planet, the most abundant, diverse and ecologically successful are the beetles. And while many of these hard-shelled bugs are viewed as ugly and unwanted by humans, the ladybug beetle is considered to be one of the most attractive and environmentally friendly creatures in nature.

With a conspicuous dome-shaped, orange shell marked with black spots, the ladybug is difficult to mistake for any other invertebrate. Like all insects, there are numerous species of ladybugs that reside in our region, and the subtle differences in the color and pattern of its markings is the common means of distinguishing among the members of this insect group. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Indian Lake Osprey Make Home On Utility Pole

Indian Lake ospreyThey’re a bit like the guests who overstay their welcome in your home, leaving their sheets rumpled in the bed, eating your food, and inviting more family members to join them.

Something like this has been happening to National Grid on one of their power poles across Route 28 from the Chain Lakes Road in the hamlet of Indian Lake. Osprey built a nest a year and a half ago in this desirable location near Lake Abanakee. Osprey like to build their “stick nests” on channel markers, dead trees, and poles like the ones National Grid uses for their power lines across New York State.

So last fall National Grid, working with the Department of Environmental Conservation, removed the Lake Abanakee nest. And this spring, the birds returned to the pole and rebuilt. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Do Mice Get Cavities? All About Mammal Teeth

rodent skullWhen my daughter was four, she once asked, “Do mice get cavities?” We were coming back from the dentist, so teeth were on her mind and so were mice, since her pet mouse had recently escaped. Later in the day, she asked if ducks had teeth; such is the ranging nature of her intellect.

Why all the toothy questions? Because our teeth are interesting. Ask a dentist. And so are the teeth of our wild neighbors. Teeth can tell a lot about a species’ line of work — particularly what they eat and how they catch their dinner. Teeth are action-oriented; incisors nip and gnaw, canines stab and hold, premolars cut, sheer, slice, and grind, molars mash and crush. Teeth forms hint at a species’ evolutionary story, and crown wear can tell much about the age of an animal. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 22, 2017

DEC Urges New Yorkers: If You Care, Leave It There

young buck fawnThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has cautioned visitors to natural areas against interacting with newborn fawns and other young wildlife as the peak birthing season starts. Those that see a fawn or other newborn wildlife should enjoy their encounter but keep it brief, maintain some distance, and not attempt to touch the animal.

This time of year, it is not unusual to see a young bird crouched in the yard or a young rabbit in the flower garden, both seemingly abandoned. Finding a deer fawn lying by itself is also common. Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are helpless and need assistance. However, human interaction typically does more damage than good. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

NY State Expands Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) have announced that eight existing Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Restricted Zones have been expanded and merged into a single Restricted Zone in order to strengthen the State’s efforts to slow the spread of this invasive pest.

The new EAB Restricted Zone includes part or all of Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chenango, Chemung, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Genesee, Greene, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne, Westchester, Wyoming, and Yates counties. The EAB Restricted Zone prohibits the movement of EAB and potentially infested ash wood. The map is available on DEC’s website. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Winter Wrens in the Adirondacks

Spending time outdoors in the Adirondacks during spring is a rewarding experience, as the sounds that emanate from our forests, especially in the early morning, are sure to delight. While the musical calls produced by most birds are relatively short and composed of only a handful of notes, there are a few songs that are considerably longer and more complex.

The lengthiest and most intricate song that commonly graces our woodlands is one heard in patches of mixed forests where dense clusters of undergrowth or ground debris exist on the forest floor. This fast tempo melody is quite loud, yet comes from one of the smallest birds to nest in the Adirondacks – the winter wren. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Citizen Science: Project BudBurst

Participating in various Citizen Science projects allows my family to learn about our local landscape while contributing data to long-term science research. We’ve helped with FrogWatch USA, part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, to help familiarize us with our local wetlands through the identification of frog and toad calls. We contribute to Monarch Watch, which is currently focusing on the Spring First-of-Year Sightings. This year we started tracking various plants around our area.

Started in 2007, Project BudBurst is a Citizen Science project relying on volunteers across the United States to monitor native plants at various times throughout the seasons. Participants observe and record data based on leafing, flowering, and fruiting of various plants. Those stages are called the plant phenophases, the observable stages in the plant’s annual life cycle. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Only Bury Your Tree After It’s Dead

4H volunteer planting a tree in WarrensburgIn springtime, driving around on weekends makes me sad. Invariably I’ll pass someone out in their yard, shovel in hand, maybe with their kids or spouse, and they have a cute little tree from the garden center on one side of them, and a wicked deep hole in the ground on the other. If I wasn’t so shy, I’d stop and offer my condolences, because clearly they are having a funeral for the tree.

Here’s an arborist joke: What do you call a three-foot deep planting hole for a tree? Its grave. Tree root systems are broad — three times the branch length, barring an impediment — and shallow. Ninety percent of tree roots are in the top ten inches of soil, and 98% are in the top eighteen inches. Tree roots are shallow because they like to breathe on a regular basis. I think we can all relate to that. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Don’t Go Out Without A Net: It’s Black-fly Season in the Adirondacks

Bug net photo of and by Tracy Ormsbee

With the blooming of the first spring flowers comes another rite of spring: black flies. Consider this a warning, since you may have a little time before they start biting, according to scientist Curt Stager, a professor at Paul Smith’s College.

“They’re out already,” he said, adding, “Often they don’t bite right away. They just swarm and see what’s on the buffet.”

And that’s us. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Brown Trout Found In Heritage Brook Trout Pond

troutWhile fishing in Black Pond on a rainy mid-April day, Jake Kuryla caught a 13-inch brown trout. The fish surprised the Paul Smith’s College fisheries major because Black Pond is a specially designated brook trout water.

Located on Paul Smith’s College property in Paul Smiths, Black Pond is used to raise Windfall strain brook trout for stocking purposes.  Every fall, DEC live trap brook trout in the pond to get eggs from the females and milt (semen) from the males. The DEC then uses the fertilized eggs to raise young trout that are stocked in other ponds. » Continue Reading.


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