Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Impact of Stormwater on Adirondack Streams

Roaring Brook Falls 2014 by John WarrenIn peaceful streams, aquatic macroinvertebrates such as crayfish, stoneflies, and caddisflies travel over and under submerged rocks, foraging for other invertebrates, leaves, and algae. When rain falls, their world turns upside down. At first only the surface is disturbed, but before long, runoff reaches the stream and increases its flow many fold. Silt and sand blast every exposed rock surface. At peak flow, boulders are propelled downstream by powerful currents.

How do small creatures survive such crushing chaos? They hunker down. Water-filled nooks and crannies extend deep below streambeds and far beyond river banks. These deep interstices provide a safe haven even while turbulent water pulverizes the riverbed, comparable to a storm cellar in a tornado. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Understanding Spider Silk and Spider Webs

TOS_Spider_SilkThere is an all-natural material, produced at room temperature, that can be used to build homes, to make protective coverings, to hunt and trap, and even to swing through the air. It’s hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and waterproof. On a per-weight basis it’s stronger than steel and more elastic than nylon or kevlar.

What is this remarkable material? Spider silk.

If it sounds impossible that a single material can be used for so many purposes, well, in a way it is. Depending on how you want to count them, there are seven or eight kinds of spider silk in the world, and any given spider species may make as many as six different kinds. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gillibrand Pushes Ban On Microbeads

microbeadsStanding at Champlain Park on Monday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined by Bill Howland, Director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and Staff Scientist Mike Winslow, announced a new push to ban plastic microbeads in personal care products. Senator Gillibrand has introduced the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, legislation to federally ban cosmetics containing synthetic plastic microbeads.

An April 2015 report released by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office found that microbeads were present in 74 percent of water samples taken from 34 municipal and private treatment plants across New York State.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Science Behind Fledging Birds

TOS_grouse_fledglingOn a recent afternoon, I saw a baby ruffed grouse about the size of a pin cushion scurry into the bushes. I had the same impulse I did as a 10-year-old when I scooped up a baby blue jay hopping around on a neighbor’s lawn: I wanted to “rescue” it.  Instead, I kept driving, leaving the tiny bird to its fate.

Fledging is perilous for all birds – most won’t survive their first year – but what exactly is that process? Do nestlings know when to leave or do the parents signal when it’s time? Do they all go at once? Will the parents continue to protect and feed them after they have fledged? And what should I have done, if anything, to help that baby ruffed grouse? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Protect Advocates For Cougars And Wolves

CreeAn Adirondack environmental group has asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to consider reintroducing wolves and cougars in its State Wildlife Action Plan, which is currently in draft form and expected to be finished later this year.

“We cannot rely on natural recolonization for cougars from the west,” Peter Bauer, director of Protect the Adirondacks, wrote in a July 14 letter to the DEC. “Aggressive hunting seasons are starting to reduce the overall populations and it’s unrealistic to think that enough males and females will reach the Adirondacks to establish a viable population. New York leaders should take a hard look at reintroduction of cougars to the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sign Up For Adirondack Loon Census Saturday

New York Loon Census July 18There is really nothing common about the Adirondack Common Loon. The large aquatic birds can be found on many Adirondack lakes and ponds. We watch them dive at one end of a lake and appear at the other end in a matter of moments. This ability to quickly dive without a splash allows them to catch their fishy meals with ease. It is not often that we’ve been on a lake and heard the loon’s mournful cry.

The loons’ eerie call range from its high-pitched tremolo, yodel, hoot and yell. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times my family spies a majestic loon’s familiar black and white patterned back; we are still in awe of its beauty. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Climate Change is Altering Nature’s Clock

Salamander-Stager-600x383Scientist Curt Stager walks along the edge of the woods, his flashlight shining into the shallow water of a leafy, roadside pool on a dark night in Paul Smiths. It’s late April, and he’s out looking for spotted salamanders, wood frogs, and spring peepers that have migrated to shallow vernal pools to breed. After poking around for a minute, he lets out an excited shout: “There’s a salamander! There he is! He’s early!”

In the water is a dark, four-inch-long creature with bright yellow spots. In the same pool not far away, wood frogs float on the surface. In another week, pools like this will be a filled with breeding frogs and salamanders, which will leave behind egg sacks that hatch into larvae.

Spotted salamanders spend most of the year underground, so seeing them is rare except during these annual breeding migrations. Their journeys are triggered by the first rains of spring. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Some (Wildlife) Gluttons I Have Known

bass-shinertail-mouthThe recent annual Nathan’s Hot-Dog Eating Contest (really, it’s a sport?) reminded me of a few gluttons from my past – of the wildlife variety. The term is used loosely here to include some ambitious and/or instinctive eaters encountered during a lifetime of hiking and a lot of fishing in my younger days. Had cameras been pocket gadgets back then like they are today, some great illustrations would be accompanying this piece. At least a few would be of bullfrogs. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Adirondack Moose Population Showing Positive Signs

July 2012 at Helldiver Pond, Moose River Plains (Linda Bohrer Erion photo)The Adirondack moose population appears to be healthy and growing, according to early indications from a moose study currently taking place.

“We don’t know how many moose we have yet. We don’t know how frequent the moose are on the landscape. We don’t know their densities,” said Ben Tabor, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “What we do know is that our moose seem to be bigger and healthier than New Hampshire’s and Maine’s.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Flat Stanley and the Dangerous Centipede

TOS_centipedeBiologists sometimes field questions about a “huge scary bug” that appeared in someone’s home or worse yet on their person. Most turn out to be benign organisms that ended up in the wrong place.

For me, the most common questions come in July, when male dobsonflies emerge. The males have impressive mandibles that look scary but are harmless to people. Recently however, one of these questions did actually involve something dangerous. » Continue Reading.


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