Thursday, November 26, 2020

Gobble gobble: All about wild turkeys

wild turkey - maleHappy Thanksgiving. In honor of the holiday, I’ve plucked out some stories about wild turkeys from the Almanack archive.

Found in all 50 states and hunted in every state but Hawaii, American sportsmen and women harvest roughly 700,000 turkeys annually. That makes turkeys the most sought after gamebird on the continent, according to Richard Gast in this 2018 article.

In Wild Turkeys Were Once Rare, Ellen Rathbone wrote about her encounters with them. Wild turkeys are an Almanack favorite, and you can read more stories about them here.

In our sister site the Adirondack Explorer, a recent column from the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of the magazine is posted here.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

This fruitworm is the enemy of cranberry farmers

For cranberry farmers, autumn brings falling leaves and rising hopes. Family-owned operations, such as Deer River Cranberry Farm in Brasher Falls, cultivate their vines in meticulously manicured marshes. Droplets descended from irrigation spigots glisten atop entangled mats of waxy, evergreen vines, forming a coruscant carpet. Harvest season begins in mid-September, and is well underway by early November.

Most cranberry varieties produce fruit every other year. To harvest the crop, some farmers flood their typically well-drained bogs. The hollow, red berries rise above their short canopy. Collecting tools include buoyed nets, or water reels, which corral fruit for a mechanical harvester. Berries are then sent careening down a series of steps, with the roundest, plumpest, highest quality fruit tumbling the farthest.

The fierce, firetruck red aesthetic of a Demoranville berry contrasts sharply with the mottled, red-and-white complexion of a Mullica Queen, but both must pass the test. Wizened, infested, or misshapen products that aren’t firm enough to sufficiently bounce will be discarded, along with the farmer’s hope for an unblemished crop.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Helping the snow birds that stick around

When we hear the term “Snow Birds,” we naturally think of a person who migrates from the colder northern parts of North America to warmer southern locales but birds here in the Adirondacks also claim this title and fittingly so.

As winter approaches the mountains, an entire orchestra of song birds migrates to a warmer, southern winter territory.  The morning music of feathered chirpers throughout the spring and summer months have flown away not to return until April-May next year.

These flying migrators range from 29 species of warblers to various populations for thrushes, sparrows, flickers, bluebirds, buntings, sapsuckers, wrens and hummingbirds.  This does not leave winter void of the sound of winged music, there are songbirds that remain and brave the cold.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

CATS volunteer work day and winter finch update

An update from Champlain Area Trails (CATS):

Please save the date for a volunteer workday at CATS Essex Quarry Nature Preserve. We will be meeting at Essex Quarry on Friday, November 20th at 1p.m. This will be a fantastic way to see and improve the new preserve and trail as we gear up for our formal opening next summer! Please note that we need to limit the number of volunteers to 10 people given the most recent NYS regulations related to COVID-19 safety. Please RSVP to [email protected] as soon as possible! Bring loppers and gloves. We hope to see you there!

Winter Finch Alert

This winter is shaping up to be an exciting year for viewing “winter finches” in the Adirondacks and Champlain Valley.

Winter finches refer to the groups of finch species that prefer northern boreal or arctic habitat and occasionally irrupt south in search of food.

This year, essentially all of the known winter finch species are already showing up and have been spotted in the Champlain Valley! Among them are Common Redpolls (featured in this photo), Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings and Red Crossbills.

You can learn more about these species by reading the 2020/2021 Winter Finch Forecast.

Redpoll photo courtesy of Derek Rogers/CATS


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The fisher cat: Doesn’t fish, isn’t a cat

three sisters preserve fisherWhat’s in a name?  In the case of the Fisher Cat, Pekania pennanti, a low-slung, cat-sized fur-bearing omnivore found throughout the dense pine forests of Northern New York, apparently not much.

The Fisher Cat is not a cat, but rather a member of the weasel family, and they do not fish, although there are records of them eating dead fish found on the side of ponds or lakes.

How did they come by the name, then?

‘Fisher’ is thought to be derived from early European settlers likening the animal to the European polecat, called a ‘fitche’.  As for ‘cat’, the fisher is about the size of a large domestic cat, with a dark brown to black, close-cropped glossy fur coat and a long bushy tail.  It will hold its tail upright when it runs, perhaps making it resemble a cat to some.  Although they don’t climb trees often, they can climb quite well, using their sharp, retractable claws, which are also similar to a cat’s.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Don’t Be Confused by Spotted Lanternfly Look-alikes this Fall

DEC's new spotted lanternfly look-alikes posterThe spotted lanternfly (SLF) is a pesky invasive pest that feeds on lots of important New York plants, such as apple trees and hop vines. With the recent finding of spotted lanternfly (SLF) on Staten Island, it’s never been more important for people to be on the lookout for this invasive. Since SLF spreads primarily through human activity, we really can make a difference.

When you’re keeping a watchful eye, know that SLF can be confused with other common insects you might spot flying around this fall. This time of year, the eastern boxelder bug or even gypsy moth eggs may catch your eye. Our new SLF poster is here to help, with photos of SLF as well as some common look-alikes.

The eastern boxelder bug has black and red markings similar to those of an invasive spotted lanternfly nymph, but the elongated body and red eyes of the eastern boxelder bug help set it apart from SLF. You might find eastern boxelder bugs lounging in sunny spots or even in your home but not to worry – unlike spotted lanternfly they’re harmless.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Fun facts about tamaracks

The word tamarack is the Algonquian name for the species and means “wood used for snowshoes.” The Ojibwa word is muckigwatig, meaning swamp tree. Other names include hackmatack, eastern larch, black larch, red larch–the list goes on. How ever you choose to refer to it, Larix laricina is a fascinating tree. Used as an edible (boiled tender spring roots are eaten, the inner bark can be ground for flour, teas can be brewed from the needles and roots) to medicinal (wound treatment, expectorant and fever reducer, to name a few) and as a building material, Native Americans have used tamarack for numerous applications.
Referred to as a ‘deciduous’ conifer, tamarack drop their leaves each fall as day length shortens and temperatures fall. Abundant in bogs and other wet areas, it can tolerate drier soils as well. Individuals can live up to 180 years.
Photo by Melissa Hart, taken at the Paul Smith’s College VIC

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Moose on the loose in Clinton County

On Oct. 9, Region 5 Wildlife staff requested help from ECOs with the removal of a young bull moose trapped in a 200-acre cow pen in Clinton County.

Lieutenant Maloney and ECO Brassard, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) drone pilots, located the moose in the pasture using an aerial drone equipped with thermal imaging cameras.

Once located, DEC’s tranquilization team, led by Big Game Biologist Jim Stickles, chemically immobilized the moose. Lieutenant Phelps, along with ECOs LaCroix, Buffa, Fadden, and members of the property owner’s family assisted the wildlife crew with removing the moose from the pasture and safely relocating it a short distance away. They fitted the moose with a radio location collar before the animal walked away, appearing to be healthy. Visit DEC’s Facebook post for video and more details.

ECOs use drone technology to find moose trapped in cow pasture (shown at top). DEC photo


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Leaf it Alone: Fall tips to help overwintering pollinators

Editor’s note: The following content was provided by AdkAction

When crisp fall weather arrives, and the last flowers of the late-blooming perennials have gone, it’s easy to forget that being a pollinator steward is a year-round job. However, there is much that can be accomplished in the fall to ensure that your local pollinators will thrive in the spring and summer.

While migratory pollinators such as Monarch butterflies and the Rufous hummingbird travel great distances to escape northern winters, many insect pollinators such as moths, butterflies, and bees stay right here all winter long, in a variety of developmental stages that allow them to endure the cold.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Just in time for Halloween, it’s Bat Week

Set the mood for a natural Halloween while learning about bats! Each year, Bat Week provides a focus on bats, their life history, and conservation efforts. This year, Bat Week will be held October 24th-31st.Little Brown Bat hangs upside down from gray rock

New York State is home to nine species of bats. They are found all over the state, including New York City. Three species migrate to warmer locations for the winter and the others hibernate during the coldest months. You can learn more about NY’s bats by downloading the DEC bat brochure. Detailed information on three of our bats, Little Brown BatIndiana Bat, and Northern Long-eared Bat can be found on DEC’s Watchable Wildlife page. Click here for an Almanack post earlier this week on a red bat sighting.

Did you know that many of our favorite foods are pollinated by bats? Visit Bat Week’s education page for a downloadable cookbook featuring foods we enjoy thanks to bats! You can also find videos, posters, crafts, and activities to share with your classroom. For older students, Bat Week’s Take Action page provides links to webinars, plans to build a bat house, and a bat tracker.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Eastern Red Bat sighting

red batHalloween came early this year at the CATS Ancient Oak Trail when CATS Development Director, Derek Rogers, noticed a bat flying around the meadow area adjacent to the forest. It was actively feeding on insects and made a few close passes, allowing for some fun flight photographs.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

DEC: Be on the lookout for moose sightings this fall

Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York and moose sightings are more common. During this time moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy sighting of a moose, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway.

Motorists should be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas at this time of year during peak moose activity, advises the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. New York has no recorded human fatalities resulting from a crash with a moose.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Rainbows: Beyond the Arch

rainbowRainbows require two things: sunlight, and water. Rainbows can be seen not just in the rain but also in the mist, spray, fog, and dew. 

The best place to consistently find both of these things and spot a complete rainbow, is a tall mountain or ridge where it is or has just rained, making the Adirondack high peaks an amazing place to view this natural wonder. A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.  Similar to a mirage, a rainbow is formed when light rays bend, creating an effect that is visible, but not able to be touched or approached. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Striped Maples: Changes happening below the surface

striped mapleDuring the fall, a change occurs with maple trees that is prominent and apparent.  As the daylight hours decrease green leaves turn to colors of vibrant yellow, burnt orange and an array of shades of red. 

There is a list of species of Maples that add to this colorful splendor, from Sugar, Norway, Amur and more but one in particular changes more than its leaf color — the Striped Maple. 

Many people have a hard time identifying the different species of maple by the bark in Summer but the Striped Maple possess a smooth, variegated green, reptilian-looking bark that can be noticed with ease. 

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Adirondack Moose Sightings: Rare and Majestic

Most of New York’s moose are located in the Adirondack Mountains and the Taconic Highlands along the Massachusetts and Vermont borders although young males have been known to wander south of the Adirondacks to mate and establish territory.

It is estimated that approximately 400 moose reside here in the mountains. Currently there are six moose in New York that carry GPS collars, which allow biologists to track their movements and determine the number of calves that are born to adult females.

The moose is the largest and heaviest species in the deer family. Two of the most amazing attributes of a moose are its sheer size and its antlers.

» Continue Reading.



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