Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Herping: The Sounds Of Amphibians

toad cropIts that time of the year when kids dart to ponds with nets in hand, searching for amphibians. Frogs, toads, newts and salamanders are among us! In early spring some species use vernal pools as breeding and incubating grounds.

A vernal pool is a temporary body of water that resembles a large puddle. There are obligate indicator (dependent) species and facultative (use only for part of the life cycle) species. The obligate indicator species are wood frogs, eastern spade-foot toads (Scaphiopus holbrooki), and the Jefferson/ blue spotted complex salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonium x laterale). The facultative species are most of the other frogs/toads, a few reptiles, as well as fingernail and amphibious clams and leeches, Isopods, caddisfly, dragonfly, dobsonfly larvae, water strider, whirligig beetle, and backswimmers, which get eaten by the adult amphibians. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Adirondack Wildlife: Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

the outsider hummingbirdZzz-zzzt. Sitting on my deck on a summer afternoon, I’m often distracted by a hummingbird whizzing by. The tiny bundle of energy hovers in front of a row of jewelweed, probing each pendulous orange flower with its long beak, then backs up and darts to the next. My dozing cat raises his head and observes the hummingbird as it zips by, heading for the cardinal flower. “Don’t you even think it,” I admonish him.

This bee-like creature is a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only species of hummingbird found in our region. Iridescent green with a white breast, it is named for the male’s scarlet throat (the female has a white throat – as do this year’s little ones of both genders). Ruby-throats weigh only 0.1 to 0.2 ounces, less than a nickel. Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, who has banded these birds, commented, “when you have one in your hand, it is shocking how small they are.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Chainsaw Safety Course Set For Thursday

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County will be holding a free Chainsaw Safety course on Thursday, July 21st at 1 pm at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Education Center at 377 Schroon River Road in Warrensburg.

Chainsaws are among the most useful and dangerous outdoor power tools owned and operated by landowners. Severe injuries include deep, jagged lacerations embedding foreign substances resulting from direct contact with the chain saw; strains and sprains from improper handling; and contusions concussions and/or fractures caused by being struck by objects while cutting. Improper long term use may result in loss of hearing and diminished nerve sensitivity. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Drought Watch Issued For New York State

The U.S. Drought Monitor Map issued on Tuesday, July 12New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a drought watch for the entire state of New York following consultation with the State Drought Management Task Force and Federal partner agencies.

A watch is the first of four levels of state drought advisories (“watch,” “warning,” “emergency” and “disaster”). There are no statewide mandatory water use restrictions in place under a drought watch. However, local public water suppliers may require such measures depending upon local needs and conditions. The last drought watch in New York State was issued in 2002.

The drought watch is triggered by the State Drought Index, which reflects precipitation levels, reservoir/lake levels, and stream flow and groundwater levels in nine designated drought regions throughout New York. Each of these indicators is assigned a weighted value based on its significance to various uses in a region. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Science, Natural History Lectures At Whiteface Field Station

Photo of the SUNY Albany Atmospheric Sciences Research Field StationThe Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) has announced their 2016 Falconer Science/Natural History Lecture Series, at the ASRC Whiteface Field Station in Wilmington.

The lectures will take place every other Tuesday at 7 pm, from July 12th, to August 23rd. All lectures are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Volunteers Sought To Survey Adirondack Loons

loonThe Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program has announced a call for volunteers to help census loons on Adirondack lakes as part of the 16th Annual Adirondack Loon Census taking place from 8 – 9 am on Saturday, July 16.

With the help of local Adirondack residents and visitor volunteers, the census enables WCS to collect important data on the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State. The results help guide management decisions and policies affecting loons.

Census volunteers report on the number of adult and immature loons and loon chicks that they observe during the hour-long census. Similar loon censuses will be conducted in other states throughout the Northeast simultaneously, and inform a regional overview of the population’s current status. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

NYS Bald Eagle Conservation Plan Completed

bald eagle portraitThe State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a new conservation plan to manage New York’s population of the bald eagle. The Conservation Plan for Bald Eagles in New York State describes the historic status, restoration efforts and current status of the bald eagle in the state and provides guidelines for future management actions. A draft of the plan was released in February 2015; more than 120 comments were received.

The bald eagle, currently listed as a threatened species in New York, continues to make recover across the state. The Conservation Plan serves as a guide for landowners, resource managers, local government agencies, and other stakeholders to manage and perpetuate the bald eagle and its habitat in New York. This plan also informs the public of actions recommended to achieve the goal of a sustainable, healthy bald eagle population, including its essential habitat and the ecosystems it depends upon. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Eclectic Choice At Bolton’s Summer Lecture Series

Kenyon Simpson at Black Bass Antiques in Bolton LandingEvery summer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute and the Historical Society of Bolton co-host a series of free presentations on the natural and cultural history of Lake George and the Adirondacks.

This year’s series is especially diverse and its presenters are widely recognized for their expertise, said David G. Diehl, the Fresh Water Institute’s site manager and the organizer of the series. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How Do Cowbirds Get To Be Cowbirds

TOS cowbirdsUnlike the majority of birds, brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) do not start life surrounded by their own kind. The females do not build nests, but instead add their eggs to the clutches of other birds—usually one per nest, but sometimes several. Host birds generally do not recognize the dumped egg and will tend to it and the hatchling as one of their own. This means that all baby cowbirds spend the first weeks of their lives in the company of warblers or cardinals or any one of the many species whose nests are parasitized.

So why don’t they end up singing like cardinals? Or eating like warblers? Why doesn’t the forest become their home if that is where they were hatched and fledged? In other words, how does a cowbird learn to be a cowbird? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Goose Drive at Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area

Geese - Diane Chase PhotoFor the past 50 years the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) Region 6 has been gathering a team of volunteers and staff to collect data on the resident Canada Geese population. According to Regional Habitat Manager Christopher J. Balk, the data collected helps manage the flock and provide pertinent information to tailor bag limits during hunting season. This June 30, 8 am – 2 pm, is another opportunity to corral and handle some geese.

“The volunteers get to reach over the top of the enclosure and help hand the goose to a staff member,” says Balk. “We are usually banding at least 400-500 geese at this event and use the information to primarily report on the bird’s location at two points of time.”

These geese are resident, not migratory, Canada Geese so the distance between their wintering and summering habitat is usually only a few hundred miles. Hunters report the band numbers when they harvest the birds in the fall. The data allows Balk and his colleagues to track to see if a flock is intermingling or not, track growth and movements of the resident population and and to establish annual hunting regulations. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Golf Tournament To Benefit Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

black bear plays with golf course markerThe Craig Wood Golf Club in Lake Placid will host a second golf tournament to benefit the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge on Friday, June 24th.

Groups of one to four golfers may enter, single golfers will be paired up with other groups. The day will begin with breakfast at 9 am, tee time at 10, followed by lunch. There will be prizes and auctions for all sorts of gear, including a set of irons custom made by Andy Fawsett. Hit a hole in one, and win a car. Attendees will have the chance to meet birds of prey, along with Kiska, a young gray wolf, who’s known for making balls disappear. Local businesses still have time to sponsor a hole. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Adirondack Wildflowers: Jack-in-the-Pulpit

jack pulpit the outsiderJack-in- the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum) are not the most colorful spring flowers, but what they lack in beauty they make up for in interesting characteristics. These easily-identified plants are full of surprises, from their ability to change from male to female (and back) to the bite of their calcium oxalate crystals, which can make your tongue feel like it’s full of burning splinters.

Jack-in- the-pulpit surfaces in wet, shaded woodland areas in mid-spring as a purpley-brown spike, all tucked up within itself. As the days meander toward summer, this spike unfolds into leaves and flower, with the plants growing as tall as two feet. The floral anatomy here includes a spadix of tiny flowers contained within a hooded spathe: Jack enclosed within his pulpit. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

After DDT: The Return Of Bald Eagles

bald eagle the outsiderTo the delight of all who revel in the grace and beauty of nature, bald eagles are soaring above the Northeast in numbers unseen for over a century.

We’ve come a long way since the days when poor farming and logging practices denuded our forests, choking streams with silt and compromising the food chain.

We now know that if you degrade the eagle’s habitat and pollute the water you affect the entire web of life, including fish-eating birds in the skies above. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Understanding The Life Span Of Whitetail Deer

male whitetail deerJust about everyone who saw the Walt Disney classic “Bambi” shed a tear, or at least stifled the urge to lacrimate (that’s cry in Scrabble-ese). Even if I had known of the devastating effects deer have on forest regeneration, not to mention crops, landscapes and gardens, it still would have been a trauma for my five-year old self when Bambi’s mother got killed. (Oops—spoiler alert there, sorry.) But how might the movie have ended if they had all lived happily ever after? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Adirondack Wildlife: Angry Birds

angry birds TOSOne morning in mid-March, I opened the door to discover a dark-eyed junco frenetically battling another bird. Or at least it thought it was another bird. His nemesis was, in fact, his own reflection in the stainless-steel chimney of my wood stove. The junco was perched on a bracket between the chimney and the house and every few seconds would flutter in front of his reflection and repeatedly peck it.

The chimney was still cool, as I had started a fire only minutes before, but I assumed that eventually the heat would deter the bird from getting too close and that would be the end of that. But it wasn’t. The steel apparently never got hot enough, and the conflict raged on. » Continue Reading.


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