The arrival of American Woodcock back to New York is a telltale sign that spring is here to stay. Despite their diminutive size, woodcock are one of the earliest ground-nesting birds in the state. Just this week, DEC Biologist Jeremy Hurst found this female nesting in the snow on his property near Albany. If you’re curious where NY’s woodcock come from – DEC is currently part of a large cooperative research project to track both Fall and Spring migration of woodcock throughout their eastern range using tiny GPS transmitters. For weekly updates on their migration, please visit the Eastern Woodcock Migration Research Cooperative’s website.
In the mid and lower Hudson estuary watershed, egg masses of wood frog, spotted salamander, and Jefferson-blue spotted salamander complex are developing under water, still weeks away from hatching into frog tadpoles or salamander larvae. Further north in the estuary watershed, where the breeding season gets a later start, male wood frogs may still be calling from woodland pools to lure females for breeding. Their distinct call resembles the sound of quacking ducks.
International Bat Day is a great time to appreciate New York’s nine bat species. When spring temperatures become warm enough, bats will leave their hibernation sites and may be seen flying in search of insects. Unfortunately, many species of bats, including little brown bats, have faced severe population declines due to white-nose syndrome.
Some bat facts:
- They are insect-eating machines, eating thousands of mosquitoes and other flying insects in a single night!
- Bats use echolocation (rapid pulses of sound that bounce off an object) to detect and catch insects.
- They are the only mammal that can fly.
- Bats are more closely related to primates than to mice.
To view bats, check out your local park or forested area, especially near water and along trails. Even your own backyard can be a great place to view bats if you have trees near your home!
Learn more about bats in Bats of New York State (PDF). Bats generally do not come close to people. However, if you do encounter a bat on the ground, do not touch or pick it up as they can carry rabies.
Photo by Al Hicks/provided
DEC Boat Launches
Use of all DEC, Canal Corp., and State Parks-owned boat launches is temporarily suspended for recreational boaters to limit the community spread of COVID-19.
For the safety of all visitors and to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, DEC and State Parks are undertaking steps to reduce public density:
- Closing all playgrounds;
- Limiting access to athletic courts and sporting fields;
- Canceling all public programs and events at state parks, lands, forests and facilities until further notice;
- Closing all indoor visitor facilities, such as nature centers, environmental education centers, visitor centers, and historic houses to the public until further notice;
- State Parks has closed all State Parks golf courses;
- DEC is closing access to DEC-controlled fire towers to the public. Trails and the summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails; and
- Limiting parking. If the parking lot is full, visit a different location to recreate responsibly. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announces the start of spring turkey hunting season on May 1. This applies to all Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester county line.
Remember this season to follow the DEC’s safety tips in order to prevent injury and the spread of COVID – 19. The DEC’s annual youth turkey hunting weekend, for junior hunters aged 12 to 15, will take place as well this season on April 25-26.
During the 2019 spring season, Turkey hunters took around 17,000 birds. Spring harvest success is measured relative to two years prior, as hunters focus primarily on “gobblers” (2-year-old birds). The 2019 breeding season started off slow due to inclement weather, but conditions in summer of 2018, as well as good over winter survival due to abundant food in the fall has contributed to a population gain that may offset the slow start to 2019’s breeding season.
Recent Forest Ranger Actions
From the Department of Environmental Conservation:
Town of Dresden
Wilderness Rescue: On April 11 at 7:35 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting his brother was overdue returning from Black Mountain. The caller stated that they last saw the 15-year-old male from Hudson Falls on the summit of Black Mountain at 5:30 p.m., when he proceeded down the trail alone. The teen was reported as having only his cell phone and the clothes he was wearing. Forest Rangers Evan Donegan and Mark St. Claire responded to the location, and at 8:15 p.m., Dispatch established text contact with the hiker and advised him to call 911. Washington County 911 got coordinates from his call, which placed him by a stream off the trail but near a road. Ranger St. Claire proceeded down the road from the trailhead where he was able to see the hiker’s cell phone light. Ranger St. Claire located the hiker, escorted him out of the woods, and gave him a ride back to the trailhead where he was met by his family. All Rangers were cleared from the scene at 9:26 p.m.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that all overnight camping at the Otter Creek Horse Trail facility will be suspended, effective immediately. Facilities will still be open during the day to use, but water and restrooms will not be available. Parking will be available in the overflow area and in camping loop area #1.
Otter Creek Horse Trails are a 65-mile-long series of horse trails located on the Independence River Wild Forest Unity of the ADK Forest preserve, and the Otter Creek State Forests on the western border of the ADK Park in Lewis County. To read more about the Otter Creek Horse Trails, visit this link.
DEC has closed certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Status of rock climbing routes:
- Chapel Pond Area
- Upper Washbowl Cliffs – CLOSED
- Lower Washbowl Cliffs – CLOSED
- Spider’s Web – OPEN
- Wilmington Notch Area
- Moss Cliffs – OPEN
- Notch Mountain – CLOSED
- Poke-O-Moonshine – The climbing routes between and including Opposition and Womb With View are OPEN, all other routes are CLOSED.
- Crane Mountain – All climbing routes are OPEN, except the Amphitheater section of the Black Arches Wall is CLOSED including Torcher, Eatin Tripe and Lichen It, Hang Time, and Black Arch Arete
- Shelving Rock – All routes on the Main Wall are CLOSED which includes routes #11 Lunar Manscape through #37 Princess Bride. All other routes on Shelving Rock are OPEN.
- Potash Mountain – All routes are CLOSED.
- Sleeping Beauty Mountain – All routes are CLOSED.
Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. We anticipate reopening by the beginning of May although in some years it has taken longer to confirm nesting. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information please contact the Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 623-1240.
The Department of Environmental Conservation tested 2,658 harvested deer across New York State for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the animals harvested by hunters in the 2019 season. No evidence of CWD was found. “Preventing the introduction of CWD into New York is a high priority for DEC to ensure the health of our deer herd and to protect the recreational and viewing opportunities deer provide,” State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.
From NYS DEC:
Has COVID-19 turned you into an at-home teacher to your kids? Are you a full-time teacher finding new ways to engage your students from afar? Encourage your students to get outside and #RecreateLocal in their own backyards! Not only is time spent outdoors great for mental health, but the fresh air and physical activity will help them focus better for the rest of the day. Their time spent outside can even be educational.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, creators of the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, have shared a number of educational activities that teach responsible outdoor recreation to kids. From “Camp Oh No!” to the “Thumb Trick” and packing a backcountry poop kit, these fun, engaging activities can be done outside, inside, or over video chat to prepare kids for a lifetime of responsible outdoor recreation.
Inspire others to get outdoors by sharing how you and your family #RecreateLocal using the hashtag, and – from the backyard to the local trail – always remember to practice safe social distancing and follow CDC guidelines on minimizing the spread of COVID-19.