Saturday, April 21, 2018

Moles and Voles and Yards with Holes

star-nosed mole It’s spring. Days are getting longer. The weather’s getting warmer. The sun is sitting higher in the sky. And, as I write this, the persistent snow in my yard is finally giving way to bare ground.

This is the time of year when the consumer horticulture season really begins in earnest at Cooperative Extension. It often starts with questions from anxious callers about recently discovered lawn, landscape, and garden damage; often from wildlife pests. Questions about mice, squirrels, and chipmunks are frequent. But, perhaps because of their tenacious tunneling activities, the most noteworthy culprits of concern to frazzled callers are meadow voles and hairy, or more often, star-nosed moles, the 2 mole species that live in northern New York. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Make A Simple Leopold Bench

One of the most memorable occasions I have had with my children is an afternoon workshop at the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb.

The day was spent skiing the free AIC trails, sipping hot chocolate while counting birds at the window feeder, and building a Leopold bench. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Forest Pests: Velvet Longhorn Beetles

velvet longhorned beetleSome invasive insects appear to be trying to win us over through sly public-relations moves. Emerald ash borer (EAB), the Asian beetle killing our ash trees, arrived looking like it just came from a Mary Kay convention, all bright, glitzy and glitter-coated. And it could have been simply called the green ash borer, but instead managed to get itself branded “emerald,” something everyone likes.

A new forest pest on the horizon seems to have taken a page from EAB. Trichoferus campestris, better known as the velvet longhorned beetle, has cleverly brought the cuddliness of the Velveteen Rabbit and the romantic image of Texas Longhorns together in its name. Don’t be fooled by this brilliant strategy, though. Let’s pull back the curtain and expose the velvet longhorned beetle (VLB) for what it really is. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thatcher’s Remains: Lyrid Meteor Shower April 16-25

lyrid meteor showerIn the pre-dawn hours of April 22, the Lyrid meteor shower will peak. About 15 to 20 meteors will be visible each hour, which  is really not very many. By comparison, the Perseid meteor shower in August averages about 60 to 70 an hour, and the Geminid in December can top 120. But I’m most fascinated by the Lyrid.

Here’s why: More than 2,700 years ago, someone in China looked to the heavens, observed this meteor shower, and left a written record of what they saw. And so this yearly event has been happening for millennia – it is perhaps the oldest meteor shower known to humans. I love that when I step outside to watch the Lyrid, I am connected to that long-ago human being from a far off place, and to all of those who have followed. We are fleeting observers of an enduring phenomenon. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Northern New York Audubon Invites Public Comment

northern new york audubonNorthern New York Audubon (NNYA) is seeking public comment and input into the organization’s future goals and activities.

A non-profit organization solely focused on bird-related conservation and education, NNYA is one of 27 New York State Chapters of the National Audubon Society. NNYA serves North Country habitats and communities with birding field trips, a conservation grant program, a birding newsletter, and more. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cornell Researchers Advancing Industrial Hemp

Christine Smart professor of plant pathology and director of the School of Integrative Plant Science discusses Cornell hemp researchAs farmers across the state get ready for the 2018 growing season, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is preparing to oversee a second year of industrial hemp field trials across New York State.

Cornell has been funded to develop, support, and advance the best management practices for optimal growing and processing of industrial hemp. Cornell scientists and research technicians are continuing to study and evaluate potential production barriers (e.g. disease and insect pests) and to identify and breed the best commercially available hemp cultivars for the state’s broad range of agricultural environments. The goals of the program include establishing certified seed production within the state and developing basic agronomic and production-cost information for growing industrial hemp in different locations around New York State. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Radar-Based BirdCast Tracks Migratons In Real Time

BirdCastMost songbirds migrate in darkness, usually when weather conditions are favorable. Tailwinds can produce massive migratory movements. Rain can shut down flights entirely.

“Knowing when and where a large pulse of migrants will pass through is useful for conservation purposes,” says Benjamin Van Doren, a former Cornell undergraduate and now Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oxford. “Our forecasts could prompt temporary shutdowns of wind turbines or large sources of light pollution along the migration route. Both actions could significantly reduce bird mortality.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 9, 2018

A Porcupine’s Salt Cravings

porcupine When I was growing up, my family rented a vacation home on a mountain in southern Vermont. One night we were awakened by our dogs barking. Soon we heard a persistent gnawing on the outside of the house. My Dad went to investigate. His flashlight beam revealed a large porcupine with black, beady eyes. My father scared it away, but it returned other nights.

Why would a porcupine chew on a house? It’s not so much the wood they’re after; it’s the finish. Most paints, stains, and wood glues contain salt. And porcupines crave it, just as we humans crave potato chips and roasted peanuts. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Adirondack Fish Hatchery Springtime Visits

Though trout and salmon season may have opened on April 1st, the fluctuating temperatures have not made anyone in my family interested in early season angling. Though fishing may not be on my children’s agenda, a visit to the Adirondack Hatchery is always a springtime tradition. Each of the 12 DEC operated fish hatcheries raise specific species of fish, with the Lake Clear hatchery’s specialty being landlocked Atlantic salmon. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Critter Crossings: Amphibians In April

salamander crossing There’s a myth environmental educators like to tell, and it goes something like this: after every long northern winter, spring returns. Days lengthen, temperatures rise, the snowpack slowly disappears, and one afternoon, it begins to rain – a soaking, 45-degree rain that continues well into the night.

On that one big night, all of the wood frogs and salamanders and spring peepers clamber out of their winter burrows and migrate – up to a quarter-mile, on tiny feet – to their breeding pools. An explosion of life, all on that one big night. We call this myth: Big Night.

In reality, most years, our region experiences several Big Nights, one or two Medium Nights, and sometimes a smattering of Small Nights. It all depends on the weather. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Let Them Eat Wood: Woodland Mushrooms

Nearly all historians agree Marie Antoinette probably never coined the phrase “Let them eat cake,” a saying already in popular culture before her time. The phrase was ascribed to her by opponents to bolster her reputation as callous and arrogant.

She would have seemed far more benevolent if she had said “Let them eat wood.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Watch The Road: Annual Salamander and Frog Migration

salamanderAnnual breeding migrations of salamanders and frogs are underway.

Typically, after the ground starts to thaw in late winter and early spring, species such as spotted salamander and wood frog emerge from underground winter shelters in the forest and walk overland to woodland pools for breeding. This migration usually occurs on rainy nights when the night air temperature is above 40F. When these conditions align there can be explosive “big night” migrations with hundreds of amphibians on the move, many having to cross roads. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Happy Birthday to the Wild Center Otters!

wild center otterIt’s time for one last hurrah before The Wild Center goes on its own spring break. Before its annual hiatus, head to Tupper Lake and enjoy everything the Wild Center has to offer, plus cake.

Essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too. Well played, Wild Center. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Adirondack Raccoons in Spring

baby racoonsOften, during my forays into the woods behind our house, I wonder who might be occupying the holes carved into tree trunks by time and nature.

The barred owls I hear hoo-hoo-hoo-hooing, maybe, or the chittering red squirrels. And, chances are, there are raccoons in some of those hollows, high above the ground. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Arrival of Spring, Phenology and Climate Change

Native ground nesting bees visit apple blossomHow do you know when spring has begun? Is it the flow of maple sap? The first crocuses coming up through the snow? Ice out on local lakes? The arrival of the first red-winged blackbirds? The clamor of peepers? Apple trees and/or lilacs blooming?

Meriam-Webster defines phenology, which is derived from the Greek word ‘phaino’ meaning to show or appear, as ‘a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena.’ Think of it as a timeline or chronology of periodic natural events; such as when insects hatch or arrive; when flowers and plants emerge, bloom, and produce seed; when migrating birds and insects (e.g. monarch butterflies) arrive, mate or nest, and depart; and how all of these function within ecosystems and respond to change. » Continue Reading.


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