Sunday, February 11, 2018

Irruptions: Northern Bird Visitors

snowy owlI have been keeping a close watch on my birdfeeders. Not only because I love seeing the juncos and goldfinches that arrive in flocks, and the black-capped chickadees that zip around, and even the blue jays that tend to scare everyone else away, but because I am hoping for some not-so-typical visitors: red crossbills and pine siskins. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Great Backyard Bird Count Set For February 16-19

snowy owlThe 21st Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place February 16 to 19 in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches across the country.

This global event provides an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to contribute important bird population data that help scientists see changes over the past 21 years.

To participate, bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at » Continue Reading.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tree and Shrub Sale at Saratoga’s State Tree Nursery

red oak seedlingsMore than 50 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools.

Spruces, pines, shrub willows, dogwoods, high bush cranberry, winged sumac, white cedar, and wetland rose are among the 50 species available from the State’s Saratoga Tree Nursery. The sale provides low-cost, native tree and shrub seedlings from New York seed sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. Mixed species packets are also available. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ice-Out Days and Climate Change

ice outWhile driving down from Isle La Motte in early December, my son and I noticed a fine skim of ice floating down the Alburg Passage. As it collided with the Route 2 bridge supports, it broke into rectangular fragments. I wondered if what I was seeing was typical, or a symptom of changing climate? But a single observation tells you only about the current weather, and says nothing about climate trends.

To understand long-term patterns requires long-term data. So I reviewed ice formation data on Lake Champlain. I learned that between 1816 and 1916, the lake was “closed” to navigation in 96 of 100 winters. In the last 30 winters, the lake has closed 13 times, and just three times this past decade. At first blush, this might seem like overwhelming evidence for less ice, but again, this is not the whole story. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Workshop Set For Warrensburg

Hemlock woolly adelgidCornell Cooperative Extension in partnership with DEC has announced they will be hosting Charlotte Malmborg of the New York State Hemlock Initiative at Cornell University to present on the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rare Blue Supermoon Lunar Eclipse January 31st

blue moonOn the night of December 3, 2017, a moon rose that was unlike any other of the year. Not only was it full, but it was at the closest point to earth during its orbit.

Astronomers refer to this orbital proximity as perigee – a word with Greek origins that means “close to the earth” – thus this full moon was a perigean full moon. Of course the phenomenon is more commonly known as a supermoon, a term coined in 1979, not by an astronomer, but by an astrologer named Richard Nolle. By his definition, a supermoon is a full or new moon that comes within 224,000 miles of the earth. (The average distance is 238,000 miles.) » Continue Reading.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Adirondack Forest-Tent Caterpillars

Forest Tent CaterpillarWinter is not a season when many people think about tents, except maybe to be glad they do not live in one. I do have some friends who love winter camping, and the fact they have never extended an invitation is evidence of how much they value our friendship.

Oddly enough, winter is a crucial time to look for signs of forest-tent caterpillars (FTC). In spite of their name, FTC do not weave a silken tent-like nest like the eastern-tent caterpillar and other species of tent caterpillars. The tent-less lifestyle of forest-tent caterpillars makes it harder to spot outbreaks in spring. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Living A Wood-Burning Life

fireplace At about 9 am on an overcast November Saturday, a group gathered at the edge of the local dump.

They sipped coffee, pulled on gloves, and adjusted ear protectors. Then they started to work. There were loggers, tree care experts, high school students, police officers, doctors, farmers, and lawyers. There were whole families, a guy on crutches, a few dogs, a legislator or two. By day’s end, they had cut and stacked more than 21 cords of firewood, and delivered most of it to the homes of their neighbors. What was left would be available throughout the winter to anyone with an unexpected need for fuel and a way to burn it. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Split Rock Wildway: Our Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor

split rock wildwayJohn Davis’ new book Split Rock Wildway: Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor (Essex Editions, 2017) is a look at some of the wildlife thriving in the wooded hills and adjacent waterways linking Lake Champlain with the High Peaks.

Davis and artist friends illustrate the ecological importance, conservation value, and natural beauty of the wildway and its many inhabitants. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Name Calling: Gagroot, Vomitwort or Pukeweed?

LobeliaEncouraging people to make friends with wild plants can be a challenge. Sometimes there are genuine concerns. Nettles, as an example, make an early-spring cooked green par excellence, even though its fresh leaves and stems have stinging hairs that can cause an uncomfortable, if temporary, rash if care is not taken when harvesting it.

Other times, it is a matter of perception. Critical to the survival of monarch butterflies, milkweed is delicious when prepared correctly. Jewelweed, native to wetlands, contains a sap which counteracts poison ivy, and its orange or yellow orchid-like flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Yet both plants suffer from having names which define them as undesirable. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bird Smell is Nothing to Sniff At

vultureI have spent about a decade as a backyard birder and have learned quite a bit in that time. I can instantly recognize the call of a red-winged blackbird and the sweet summer song of the wood thrush. I know a scarlet tanager the moment I see one and can distinguish between the various hawks that inhabit this area. I am knowledgeable about migration patterns, nesting habits, mating and fledging.

But avian olfaction? Not so much. » Continue Reading.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Winter Birding Weekend Planned For Long Lake

bird photo by Joan CollinsThe Town of Long Lake is planning a Winter Birding Weekend for January 27-28.

Events will include field trips, a presentation, and social dinner. Participants will look for winter irruptive species such as Bohemian Waxwings, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks, along with year-round boreal residents such as Black-backed Woodpeckers, Gray Jays, and Boreal Chickadees. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Environmental DNA: Frontiers of Adirondack Science

Filtering Stream WaterConserving our native fish is a major goal of the Ausable River Association (AsRA). We know the Ausable River watershed, particularly the high elevation tributaries to the East Branch, is one of the most likely places to retain Brook Trout under future climate warming scenarios across their native range. We also know that much of that habitat is fragmented by undersized culverts that serve as barriers to fish passage. Finally, we know that introduced non-native species, such as Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, threaten our native fish populations. These facts are well documented in the scientific literature and summarized in reports produced by the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture.

When developing conservation strategies to protect our native fish, one of the first things we need to understand is where fish are. Surprisingly, we know very little about where Brook Trout and other native fish are found in the Ausable River watershed. We have a broad sense of their distribution, but when we walk up to a particular reach of a small tributary we are often making “best guesses.” Before doing stream or habitat restoration work, we take the time, with our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to survey the fish population. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Will Our Extreme Winter Cold Wipe Out Ticks?

Deer TickI’ve been asked on four different occasions, recently, how tick populations will be impacted by the December/January below-zero cold. Some of those asking had heard reports, apparently claiming that tick populations would be decimated, if not eradicated, by the prolonged period of extremely cold weather.

We’d all certainly welcome that. It’s probable that you or someone you know has been affected by ticks and/or by Lyme disease. And any downward pressure on tick populations is welcome. But, the answer isn’t that simple. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trailblazer: Wendy Hall of Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

Photo of Wendy Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge by Mike LynchSomewhere around the age of five, growing up in Westchester County, Wendy Hall noticed that whenever the developers came in and clear-cut an area for construction, the wildlife would disappear. What was once a beautiful, wooded area quickly became developed after the addition of a train station, a story she has watched repeat itself many times. You can read about Wendy’s favorite place in the Adirondacks in the latest issue of Adirondack Explorer.

“I would say man’s greatest assault to the ecosystem is his lack of patience,” Hall says. » Continue Reading.

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