Thursday, May 31, 2012

Astronomy: The June Adirondack Night Sky

Here are some objects for the unaided eye for the month of June. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your unaided eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. Planets and the moon can be seen in red, and orange zones.

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at Skymaps.com (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for June 2012). The map shows what is in the sky in June at 10 pm for early June; 9 pm for late June.

If you are not familiar with what you see in the night sky, this is a great opportunity to step outside, look up, and begin learning the constellations. The sky is beautiful and filled with many treasures just waiting for you to discover them. Once you have looked for these objects go through the list again if you have a pair of binoculars handy, the views get better!

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dan Crane: Bear Attacks Man in Outhouse

Is nothing sacred? It is getting as if you cannot even take a dump in the woods in peace anymore.

A recent bear attack in Canada may have literally scared the living crap out of a man, in a story that should give every backcountry enthusiast pause before squatting in the woods again. Beware; reading further may just ruin one of nature’s most pleasurable experiences in the outdoors for evermore.

Recently, a Canadian man was attacked by a black bear, while minding his own business in an outhouse in central Canada. The bear pulled him right off the crapper by his pants, which were, naturally, down around his ankles. The man apparently fought back with nothing but his will to live, and some extra toilet paper. Luckily, his companion heard all the yelling and shot the bear before it had a chance to do any serious damage. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Late Spring and the Gray Tree Frog

Spring is a season when the greatest abundance of natural sounds echo across the landscape. During the day, birds are primarily responsible for the variety of musical calls; however as darkness approaches, especially when the weather is mild, the voices of amphibians produce our most captivating sounds.

Around the alder-laden shores of ponds, marshes and rivers, choruses of tiny spring peepers regularly drown out the songs sung by all other creatures. During the latter part of May, after dusk, toads can be seen heading to similar shallow wooded waterways to engage in their nocturnal serenade. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Remembering Charlie Barney

The ranks of those who love nature and history were badly diminished earlier this year with the loss of an old friend. I found out about it in terrible fashion a few days ago. The subject of my next book had been narrowed down to three possibilities. The one I was leaning towards was Clinton Prison at Dannemora. An old school friend had urged me several times to get to work on it, and at the top of my list of contacts that day was his name, Charlie Barney.

I began the day as usual with a brief scan of the headlines in a few online newspapers. After a quick look at the local obituaries, I would reach out to Charlie. I knew he would be a big help, and he’d be happy that I was finally doing it. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cabin Life: Wonders of Wildlife

There was a loon swimming off the beach this morning, its haunting call reminding me of years past.  In college, I lived on one of the several Loon Lakes here in the Adirondacks.  It was great until the loons showed up, all six pairs of them.  They wouldn’t shut up all night.

I know from experience that loons are smart animals.  As large as a goose, but barely able to walk, their black and white body with red eyes are an iconic part of the Adirondacks.  I used to monitor banded loons and their nests, and after a few weeks of kayaking around them, I was often treated to the loons swimming under my boat and tagging along on the weekly paddles. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 21, 2012

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.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Adirondack Astronomy: Transit of Venus Events Planned

Coming up in the month of June is a rare astronomical event. The second planet to the sun, Venus, will pass between us, and the sun. Venus transits have a strange pattern of 121.5, 8, 105.5, 8 years, and the one prior to the transit in June of 2004 was 121.5 years ago in 1882. The next pair of transits wont happen again for another 105.5 years, so this will be the last chance any currently living human get’s to witness this event.

The reason transits don’t happen more frequently is due to the orbits of Venus and Earth not being on the same plane. Venus’ orbit is slightly inclined to the orbit of Earth, so when Venus passes between Earth and the Sun every 1.6 years Venus is either slightly above or below the Sun. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Adirondack Amphibians: The Spotted Salamander

The recent series of rain events that has occurred over the past several weeks has elevated the level of streams and rivers, reduced the threat of wildfires, and brought trail conditions back to a more typical spring muddy state.

This wet period has also helped greatly in rejuvenating vernal pools that are critical breeding areas and nurseries for many forest dwelling amphibians and has created the damp soil conditions essential to these wet-skinned animals. Among these moisture loving vertebrates that commonly occurs in stands of mature forests throughout the Adirondacks is a sizeable dark colored creature known as the spotted salamander. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Astronomy: The May Adirondack Night Sky

Here are some objects for the unaided eye for the month of May. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your unaided eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. Snow will add more light pollution due to light reflecting off of it.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adirondack Family Time: Wild Center Community Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 13th, and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is giving everyone the chance to celebrate the women in their lives whether great-grandmother, grandmother or mother. This event is not just geared toward children, but to embrace the child within. Join in the festivities and enjoy a free opportunity to explore Mother Nature inside and outside the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks (The Wild Center).

According to Director of Programs Jennifer Kretser, the annual spring event is an opportunity to showcase The Wild Center’s exhibits as a place for all ages to explore. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Adirondack Birding: The Winter Wren

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.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cabin Life: Snow on Grass

Big fat flakes of snow are blowing around outside. They seems to hover just before hitting the ground, then linger there for a few moments until they are just a plain old drop of water or two on a blade of brown grass.

Its nights like last night that make me wish I had a better camera. The sliver of moon was visible in short glimpses through dark and gray, wispy clouds. The kind of shot that your eye can see, but that my cheap digital camera would capture as a small blurry light in an otherwise black screen. No hint of clouds, no depth to the picture, and most importantly, no sense of the natural beauty that my own eyes can see. I don’t get upset when I can’t get these shots with my camera. Most of the time it’s enough just to witness the scene, but I do desire to share some of these moments.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Visitors: Ladybug Beetles

Among 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.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stoddard’s Natural Views Exhibit Opening May 4th

Long considered beautiful photographs of the Adirondack landscape, Seneca Ray Stoddard’s views also serve as documents of the plants that inhabited the region in the 19th century. Since he was rediscovered in the late 1970s, Stoddard’s work has been featured in numerous exhibits that explored the history of 19th century life in the Adirondacks. A survey of the 3,000 images in the Chapman Historical Museum archives, however, revealed hundreds of images that are purely natural landscapes. The subject matter is the Adirondack environment – not great hotels, steamers, camp scenes or other obvious evidence of human activity. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cabin Life: Living With Wildlife

There’s a soft, wet blanket of snow covering everything. It’s also eerily quiet. The last two mornings I’ve been woken by a yellow-bellied sapsucker banging on the metal roof of the wood shed. And the morning before that, Pico woke me up barking at the turkeys that were walking by. Today, the birds are silent. The rabbits that are all over out here are brown on top and white on the bottom.

It’s an interesting sight as they sprint down the road in view of my headlights, then dart off into the woods. All winter, I saw lots of rabbit tracks, but no actual animals. Now that there is no snow and they are that awkward combination of colors, I see them all the time. Their winter camouflage obviously works well. » Continue Reading.


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