Thursday, September 7, 2017

Early Adirondack Bear Hunting Seasons Start Soon

black bearEarly bear hunting seasons are about to begin across New York State. Hunting is generally permitted on Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack Park. Hunting accidents are rare, but hikers should wear bright colors and keep pets leashed as a precaution.

During the Early Bear Season, hunters may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle (where allowed).  Because of the likelihood of warm weather, DEC is telling hunters they should be prepared to skin and cool dead bears as soon as possible to protect the quality of the meat. DEC suggests hunters skin and quarter the bear in the field, then pack out the meat in game bags to a waiting cooler of ice. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Red-Backed Salamander Party Tricks

red backed salamanderI once heard of a biologist with a clever party trick: regardless of where or when a given party was taking place, he claimed that he could produce a wild salamander in 15 minutes or less, and more often than not, he delivered. I suspect he never tried this at any New Year’s Eve parties in northern Vermont, where salamanders are wintering well underground, and where the ground itself is buried under several feet of fresh powder. At the same time, I’d wager that much of his success was due to a single species: the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus).

This small, slender salamander (also known as a “redback”) has disproportionately small legs and is often, though not always, distinguished by a rust-red stripe running the length of its back and tail. Redbacks spend their lives under logs and in deep underground burrows, dining on earthworms, ants, mites, and other small, subterranean delicacies. The females demonstrate remarkable maternal devotion, aggressively defending their eggs against predators for the full month until the young hatch out – a display of parental care that is quite rare among amphibians. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

North Country Deerflies

deerfly My students and I were conducting research in the Winooski River floodplain at Saint Michael’s College last week when the buzzing became particularly intense. A brisk walk is enough to outdistance mosquitoes, but deerflies combine fighter jet speed with helicopter maneuverability. And a slap that might incapacitate a mosquito seems to have little effect on these relentless pests. Deerfly season 2017 started slowly, but by late July there were enough to carry off small children. On trails between wetlands and farm fields, we were dive-bombed by countless, persistent, little winged vampires. Insect repellent did little to repel them. We slapped, feinted, grabbed at thin air, and usually came up empty. It was like Caddyshack, but with flies rather than gophers.

The horsefly family Tabanidae includes deerflies, along with larger Alaskan “mooseflies,” and the greenheads that ruin many a trip to New England’s beaches. Iridescent green eyes that make up most of the fly’s head give them their common name. Far more impressive is their bite: they truly hurt. Because greenheads emerge only from saltmarshes, we know they travel up to two miles in search of blood. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

DEC Announces Public Meetings On Trout Stream Management

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that public meetings will be held in each DEC region this fall to provide an overview of the state’s approach to trout stream management.

The meetings will also elicit feedback from trout stream anglers regarding their preferences and expectations for the management of these waters. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Adirondack Loons Were Once Hunted

The common loon is referred to by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as the “spirit of the northern waters.” Here in the Adirondacks, you can find images of loons seemingly everywhere, from T-shirts to coffee mugs to throw pillows.

The birds are revered as the spirit of the wilderness. But there was a time when they were hunted. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Among the Rocks: The Pottersville Cave Man

stone bridge rock shop A brown, irregularly shaped hunk of fossilized dinosaur dung is circulating around the stone-floored rock shop.

The middle-school students, surrounded by shelves full of amethyst, pyrite, quartz crystals, and cracked open geodes, let their hands roam over the hunk and then pass it along. They don’t know that the mystery rock they’re scrutinizing is a chunk of prehistoric waste. Greg Beckler, owner of Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, will tell them eventually.

This game of pass the poop continues in a semi-circle as Beckler encourages the kids to really explore the fossil. Dip their fingers into its cracks and seams. Give the poop a deep, full inhale. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 25, 2017

10th Annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day Sept 3rd

mooseOn Sunday, September 3rd, Adirondack Wildlife Refuge will host their 10th annual Habitat Awareness Day, from 10 am to 4 pm.

The theme this year will be Wildlife Habitat Challenges. Keynote speaker will be 2013’s New York State Professor of the Year, Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College, author of Deep Future and many other books and studies. Attendees can hear Stager, along with other local nature authorities, observers, rehabbers and the college interns working at Adirondack Wildlife, discuss what they’re seeing and learning on the ground in the Adirondack region. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kids And Wildlife: A Young Monarch Among Us

Monarch Caterpillar Earlier this summer, my daughter persuaded me to bring home a monarch egg. I had misgivings. This wasn’t my first butterfly rodeo, and previous experience was discouraging. Two summers past, a friend gave us several black swallowtail caterpillars. One lived to adulthood, but all the siblings wasted away, taking on the form of burnt bacon gristle.

On the plus side, this time we’d be starting with an egg, and a new one at that. We had found it minutes after watching the mother butterfly flutter down into a milkweed patch. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The North Country’s 1932 Solar Eclipse, And The Next One

The eclipse fever that has been sweeping the nation allows a glimpse of North Country life 85 years ago, when the path of totality clipped the region, allowing many upstate New York locations to experience 90 percent of the impact. It was a pretty exciting time, coming on the heels of the 1925 total solar eclipse in New York City. The Plattsburgh Sentinel reported on the viewing of that event at Saranac Lake.

“While not total, the eclipse was a magnificent spectacle, and during the greater portion, the sun was free of clouds. During the darkest period, snow fields and mountain ice caps were bathed in a violet light in which the shadows sharply were defined. The whole vast wilderness became a land of awesome beauty, with the snow and ice making a perfect background.”

In the Big Apple, the New York Stock Exchange and banks remained closed that day until after the eclipse. Many other cities did the same and launched special police patrols to prevent crimes that were normally committed under cover of darkness. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Legacy Of A Past Eclipse Found in Essex

Full Solar EclipseThe upcoming solar eclipse will be visible in a fairly wide belt from Oregon to South Carolina. Many enthusiasts (including my neighbors) have made plans to vacation in prime viewing spots, since the phenomenon will not be visible in the Adirondacks. Here we will only experience a partial covering of the sun.

News of the eclipse has been widely reported in the press and on social media and seems to have captivated the nation. Thousands of webpages are devoted to the coming eclipse, from the official NASA site to some pretty strange sites better left unnamed. This isn’t so surprising; it strikes at something primitive in us, while at the same time piquing our post-modern interest in astronomical science, or even in the history of natural science.

And it also is nothing new. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse: A Dragon Devours the Sun

solar eclipseMore than 3,000 years ago, the Chinese believed that a dragon ate the sun during a solar eclipse, so they gathered outdoors to drive away the beast by beating pots, pans and drums. Some 500 years later, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that Zeus had turned day into night.

In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Earth basked in the sun-woman’s heat and light as she traveled across the sky. When the dark orb of the moon-man mated with the sun-woman’s bright circle of light, her fire was temporarily obscured. Traditional Navajo belief holds that anyone who looks directly at an eclipse not only damages their eyes, but also throws the universe out of balance.

Humankind witnesses many dazzling astronomical events, including comets, lunar eclipses and the Aurora Borealis, but nothing inspires the imagination quite like a solar eclipse — those times when the moon’s path across the heavens brings it directly between the sun and earth. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Adirondack Public Observatory Celebrating The Solar Eclipse

There has been a lot of information in the news, blogs, and websites about the upcoming August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse. Though it will not reach totality (completely block out the sun) in the Adirondacks, it is still an interesting phenomenon that will not occur again until 2024. The partial solar eclipse will be visible in our area. With any event that garners such attention, there are safety precautions that need to be followed.

Whether attending a formal viewing party or a solitary event, plenty of people plan to take a few moments of their day to watch the moon pass in front of the sun. One place that can answer all solar eclipse questions is the Adirondack Public Observatory (APO) in Tupper Lake. Using solar telescopes and providing special view glasses, the APO is providing an free afternoon celebrating the sun and moon. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Devil’s Shoelace: Doddering Assailants

Devil's Shoelace, Considering the climate where the personification of evil is alleged to make his home, you’d think the devil would wear flip-flops or something, but it seems he prefers lace-up footwear (Prada, I’m told). “Devil’s shoelaces” is one name applied to dodder (Cuscuta spp.), a parasitic plant that looks more like creepy yellow-orange spaghetti than a plant. Dodder is known by a whole slew of unflattering titles including wizard’s net, strangleweed, witch’s hair, and hellbine. As these names suggest, dodder has earned itself quite a sinister reputation, which is no big surprise, since parasites generally inspire collywobbles, not cuddles.

But the leafless, ghostly pale, tentacle-like dodder really ramps up the squirm factor. Research has shown it is able to recognize which plants are around it by sniffing them out. Every plant gives off a unique blend of compounds such as terpenes and esters, making it easy to tell cilantro from tomatoes with just one whiff. Not only can dodder distinguish one plant from another, it can sense which is more nutritious, and will move toward that one with great precision, and attack it. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Forest Landowners Take Note Of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

hemlock woolly adelgidEastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) are one of the most beautiful conifers found in northern New York forests. It can take up to 300 years for them to reach mature heights of up to 70 feet and diameters of up to 3-feet. They commonly live for 500 years and can live for 800 years or longer. Many are among the oldest trees in the state.

In their northern range, they’re found at a variety of elevations (sea level to near 5000 ft.) and on a multiplicity of sites (hillsides, valleys, shorelines, glacial ridges). Hemlocks are commonly found growing in mixed stands, with yellow birch, sugar maple, northern red oak, white ash, American beech, and white pine and can be distinguished from pine and by their short, flat needles. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Adirondack Dog-Strangling Vine

swallow-wortThis summer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has come through with a new hope for the forces of good. Its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has opened a public comment period, ending on August 14, 2017, relating to the release of a non-native insect to control swallow-wort.

Sometimes called “dog-strangling vine,” this invasive plant from Eurasia doesn’t harm pets, but it does live up to its name as a strangler. There are two species of the perennial vine, and they are both adept at choking out wildflowers, forest seedlings, Christmas tree plantations, hay fields and other habitats. In the Eastern Lake Ontario region, it has proved capable of blanketing large tracts, hundreds of acres in some cases, to create permanent monocultures of tangled, toxic foliage. » Continue Reading.


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