Friday, March 31, 2017

Owl Prowl at Lake George on Saturday

Our family always enjoys the opportunity for a night hike, snowshoe or ski. Being able to unwind at the end of the day helps us focus on our other senses, to listen to nature, and reconnect. One favorite way to unwind is calling in the owls. That activity wasn’t something that just showed up on our radar. It began with a local Owl Prowl and it has become part of an evening routine.

According to Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) Land Stewart Alex Novack, the LGLC’s April 1st Owl Prowl is a perfect opportunity to learn more about these nocturnal animals. The location for the free night-time hike was chosen because of the potential for interactions with owls. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Emerald Ash Borer Threatens St. Lawrence County

Kermit the Frog may have lamented “It’s not easy bein’ green,” but these days, everyone wants to market themselves as “green.” It seems to make us feel good. You might recall how in the early ’90s, lawn-care giant ChemLawn became (unfairly, to be honest) a magnet for public criticism as risks related to pesticide use became more widely known. With the help of some green paint for their trucks, and a pile of trademark lawyers, ChemLawn morphed into TruGreen, and just like that people started to like them better.

If “green” is a hot brand, then “emerald” must be tops. Who doesn’t like the Emerald Isle or the Emerald City, and now the 750lb. Bahia Emerald is on sale for around $400mil if you’re looking for a bargain. So right out of the box, the emerald ash borer (EAB) is ahead in the PR department. Plus, it’s gorgeous: a tiny streamlined beetle sporting a metallic green paint job with copper highlights. This, coupled with the fact that they’re not at the moment raining from the sky like a plague of locusts, may be why it’s hard to take the EAB threat seriously. But I’m betting a little “tea” will let the air out of EAB’s greenwash balloon. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Beaver Bird: The Adaptable Hooded Merganser

hooded merganserImagine ten nearly round white eggs snug in a hollow tree, lined with soft feathers plucked from the mother’s breast. The hen carefully tends the two-inch eggs for about a month until the chicks hatch. Prompted by their mother’s call, downy day-old chicks clamber up to the opening in the tree and leap into space, plunging head-over- tail some 50 feet down to bounce on the forest floor. They follow their mother on a perilous journey, sometimes of over a half-mile, to the relative safety of a marsh, beaver pond or woodland stream. She will protect the chicks for the next five weeks until they go out on their own.

Such is the life of a nascent hooded merganser. Chicks take to the water right away to hunt aquatic insects. As they quickly grow, keen eyesight underwater enables them hunt larger prey, such as tadpoles, frogs, small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans, including crayfish. Unique among our native pond-dwelling ducks, hooded mergansers eat fish as their main fare. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Adirondack Foxes Are Active in Late Winter

foxesThe first time I saw the fox last February, I did a double take. It was late morning when I glanced out the window on my way from one task to the next. The unexpected flash of red made me stop and forget about the morning’s to-do list.

I watched for several minutes as the fox trotted around boulders and past old apple trees. Every now and then it paused and cocked its head before continuing on a meandering path through the stubbly field. This would be the first of many sightings over the next several weeks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Herbal Remedies: Ancient Medicines, Modern Uses

herbal medicineBy late-March it starts to feel as though winter is the only time of year not in a hurry to get somewhere. By comparison, every other season seems to go by with a Doppler-type velocity like an Indy car blurring past. But I realize that any day now, spring could get sprung, and when that happens, plant life will change by the day, if not the hour. Some of the first plants to catch my eye are ones which have historically been used to treat coughs and colds. Good timing, I’d say.

Herbal remedies have been part of human culture since the day culture got invented. No matter where our early ancestors settled, they exploited regional plants for medicinal as well as culinary value. In a sense, unknown plants served as an evolutionary pressure, except they selected against bad luck, and perhaps gullibility, and likely didn’t help the human genome a lot. As knowledge of plant medicine accrued, it was refined, committed to memory and passed along — first orally and later in writing — from one generation to the next. Ancient healers had to know the properties of a given plant, what it might interact with, and how to tell it from similar species. This of course helped protect them from the wrath of disgruntled patients, not to mention early malpractice suits. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Adirondack Wildlife: The Star-Nosed Mole

star nosed moleFor many Adirondack residents, the onset of mud season brings about the annual problem of water in the basement. Run-off from melting snow and rain, unable to percolate into the still frozen soil, pools on the ground and eventually drains to the lowest spot available. The foundation of older homes may collect some of this water, as do surface tunnels created by small creatures like moles and voles.

While spring flooding can be a serious survival issue for some subterranean mammals, it is not believed to be of any major concern to the star-nosed mole, one of the least physically attractive forms of wildlife in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hawthorn: Leprechaun Trees

common hawthornMy earliest memory of St. Patrick’s Day is how angry it made my mother, who holds dual Irish-American citizenship and strongly identifies with her Celtic roots. It was not the day itself which got her Irish up, so to speak, but rather the way it was depicted in popular American culture: Green-beer drink specials at the bars and St. Patrick’s Day sales in every store, all endorsed by grinning, green-clad, marginally sober leprechauns.

Although Mom stuck to the facts about Ireland; its poets, playwrights, and history, my aunts and uncles would sometimes regale us kids with stories of the fairy-folk, including leprechauns. It gave me nightmares. According to my relatives, you did not want these little guys endorsing your breakfast cereal. They might look cute, but if you pissed them off they were likely to kidnap you, steal your baby out of the crib, or worse. And one of the surest ways to incur their wrath was to cut down their favorite tree, the hawthorn. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Program on American Eel in Lake Champlain

biologist steve smith with an american eel caught in whallon bay The Lake Champlain Basin Program will host, American eel in Lake Champlain – Will They Make a Comeback? on Thursday, March 16, at 6:30 pm in Grand Isle, Vermont.

Nick Staats, a fish biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lake Champlain Conservation Office located in Essex Junction, will provide an overview of the American eel’s life cycle, including their connection to the Sargasso Sea. Staats will share American eel observations made by USFW staff in recent years as they monitor Lake Champlain’s fish species. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Rare Great Gray Owl Draws Birders to Keene

Manhattan resident Kathy Drake has seen nearly 600 different bird species in her life and regularly travels to observe them. So when she recently found out there was a great gray owl in Keene, she decided to drive up to the Adirondacks to see it. After all, it was a lot closer to home than Minnesota, where she spent four days last year unsuccessfully looking for the bird.

“You don’t have any idea how magical this is,” Drake said. “It really is.”

Drake said she arrived in Keene with her friends in the early afternoon on Wednesday and planned to spend the night in Upper Jay before heading back to New York City the next day. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Unusual Life of Barnabee Bear

barnaby Wendy Hall, my wife and co-director of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehab Center in Wilmington, rescued Barnaby the bear with a Have-a-Heart trap last September.

Skinny and gaunt, starving and mangy, riddled with internal and external parasites, and less than thirty five pounds, Barnaby was in real tough shape. For a black bear more than a year old, these conditions could be potentially fatal, and we weren’t sure he would live.

Two months later, Barnaby had not only put on 100 pounds, but somewhere between the two months when he began to hibernate in November, and mid-January, Barnaby turned into Barnabee, and gave birth to two cubs. How did this happen? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Research On Native Adirondack Fish Species Continues

Two years ago a research team from Paul Smith’s College published a paper about the possibility that yellow perch could be native to the Adirondacks, after finding its DNA in sediment from Lower St. Regis Lake that dates back more than 2,000 years ago.

Now similar sediment core sampling is being done on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. In late February Paul Smith’s College students under the tutelage of Paul Smith’s College Professor Curt Stager – who led the original study – teamed up with Ausable River Association Science and Stewardship Director Brendan Wiltse to take sediment samples that will be analyzed for the presence of three fish species: yellow perch, rainbow trout, and lake trout. The group also plans to extract additional samples in the future. The DNA testing will be done by the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thurman Maple Days Kicks-Off This Weekend

tree tappingThurman Maple Days will be held on weekends in March, starting the 11th and ending the 26th. Free open houses will be held at sugarhouses across the Town of Thurman. Tours and talks will be held at each sugarhouse, as well as freshly made maple treats.

The first day Maple Days will conclude with the annual Maple Sugar Party, held at Thurman Town Hall, serving 4 pm to 9 pm, with a buffet and dessert of traditional maple jackwax, also known as “sugar on snow.” Entertainment will be provided by the Warren County Ramblers. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 6, 2017

March Maple Madness at The Wild Center

Each weekend in March, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake will be celebrating all things maple. Tour the sugar shack, try the maple quest, taste some maple treats at the cafe, and special programming celebrate the maple sugaring season. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Seedy Habits of Bird Feeders

obsessive bird feeding photo courtesy Monitor Pest ControlIn seedy neighborhoods across the U.S., ordinary people are shelling out hard-earned cash to feed a habit of near-epidemic proportions. The fact of the matter is, about 40% of American households are addicted to feeding birds. Things are even worse in the U.K., where close to three-quarters of the population are beset with this malady.

In severe cases, people provide birds with dried fruit, suet, and mealworms, and even landscape their yard with bird-friendly trees and shrubs. Most garden-variety bird-feeding addicts, however, go to seed. It often starts innocently: a few sunflower kernels strewn in the backyard or a handful of popped corn scattered for chickadees. But these so-called gateway activities can quickly escalate, and decent folk may soon find themselves sneaking out on Saturday mornings for a weekly fix of thistle seeds, millet, milo or suet. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sprucelets: An Original Adirondack Medicine

Cold and flu season once again has sufferers scrambling for any kind of relief from all sorts of medicines. A little over a century ago, right here on Northern New York store shelves, next to cough drops by national companies like Smith Brothers and Luden’s, was a local product made in Malone.

Sprucelets were created mainly from a raw material harvested in the Adirondacks: spruce gum. Like hops, blueberries, and maple syrup, the seasonal gathering and sale of spruce gum boosted the incomes of thousands of North Country folks seeking to make a dollar any way they could. Much of what they picked was sold to national gum companies, but some was used locally by entrepreneurs who established small factories and created many jobs.

Among these was the Symonds & Allison Company of Malone, founded there in 1897 by Charles Symonds and Aaron Allison when the latter purchased half-interest in Symonds Brothers, a convenience-store operation offering food, coffee, candy, and tobacco products. » Continue Reading.


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