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.


Monday, March 19, 2018

DEC Staff Sampling for Moose Across the Adirondacks

moose Moose (Alces alces) are the largest member of the deer family and the largest land mammal in New York State. DEC staff, in collaboration with other groups, are currently conducting aerial distance sampling for moose across the Adirondacks.

During this multi-year research project, the team is expected to obtain information on the status of New York State’s moose population, health of the moose, and factors that influence moose survival and reproduction. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Watchable Wildlife: Great Horned Owl

great horned owl Now may be a good time to see great horned owls (Bubo virginianus). They are year-round residents, but start sitting in their nests as early as January or February.

Great horned owls are large birds (adults can be 18-25 inches in length) and have large ear tufts on their head and large yellow eyes. Their feathers are usually a mix of colors: white, reddish-brown, gray, and black with a white patch on their throats. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stone Walls: An Iconic Landform Primer

stone wallWhen you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.

But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as the Great Range, Hudson Gorge, or Lake George, but collectively they make a big impact on the landscape and the creatures who live there. » Continue Reading.