Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Chemistry And Physics Of Lake Ice

Skating on Thin IceLast night, the floodlights were on at my favorite skating lake. Several children wearing plastic skates and shiny helmets were gliding on the ice, shepherded by young parents. A father pulled a Nordic-looking sled with upturned runners, his bundled-up cargo insisting, “More!” each time he stopped. They were enjoying one of winter’s greatest gifts: the smooth, frozen surfaces of our northern lakes and ponds.

The gift is ephemeral. Some winters, our skates never leave the basement. Other years, the snow holds off and there’s black ice before Christmas. We skate as much as we can, knowing our days of clear ice are numbered. As winter progresses, rain may turn the surface to water — but the temperature plummets again and the resurfaced plane draws us back. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Five Adirondack Loons Rescued And Released

2016-NS LoonLake IcedInLoonRescue (52)In the first week of January, as the weather turned to full-blown winter almost overnight, Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation facilitated five successful loon rescues in the Adirondack Park.

Three loons were “iced-in” when their lakes froze over, one was blown down by a storm onto a road and could not take off, and one was trapped due to fishing line entanglement. All loons have since been released on open waters. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

El Niño May Offer Surprises For Backyard Bird Count

unnamedWith Niño having warmed Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded, participants in the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) may be in for a few surprises.

The 19th annual Bird Count is taking place worldwide February 12 through 15. Information gathered and reported online at birdcount.org will help scientists track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and the unusual weather patterns the Adirondacks have been seeing lately.

“The most recent big El Niño took place during the winter of 1997-98,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program which collects worldwide bird counts year-round and also provides the backbone for the GBBC. “The GBBC was launched in February 1998 and was pretty small at first. This will be the first time we’ll have tens of thousands of people doing the count during a whopper El Niño.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Searching for the Stars at UpYonda Farm

starlabMy kids are always searching the sky for various constellations. We are so fortunate to have a dark evening sky so readily available to us. Though the Adirondacks may have less ambient light, the January 23rd full moon will make observing familiar constellations a bit more difficult. Don’t worry. The staff at UpYonda Farm in Bolton Landing is using their indoor StarLab to bring the night sky to us.

According to Naturalist Peter Olesheski the portable planetarium is not a new activity for UpYonda Farm. The StarLab unit was purchased with the Glens Falls Pubic School through a grant and is shared throughout the year. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This Weird Winter And Adirondack Wildlife

Deer Yarding Area“Make me one with everything.” If you had to guess, you’d probably say that was a diner order, or a supplication to the Divine. This winter, I think someone whispered that line in Mother Nature’s ear, because even though it is not yet half over, she has already made us a winter with everything. It’s as if she glanced at her weather playlist and hit the buttons for unseasonable warmth, extreme cold, high winds, rain, sleet, ice, and snow, and then selected the “shuffle” function and walked away.

After each meteorological mood swing I have heard people comment how confused the weather makes them. You plant daffodil bulbs on Christmas, shovel heavy snow the next week, then need crampons a few days later because it rained and then suddenly froze. If you think it’s hard for us humans who can retreat into our posh shelters, imagine how the animals feel. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Fin, Fur, and Forest Seminars In Warrensburg

LoggingThe DEC Region 5 Office in Warrensburg will hold four presentations – on winter preparedness, woodlot management, fishing, and turkey hunting – this winter as part of their Fin, Fur, and Forest Seminar Series.

The presentations are free and geared for people of all levels of experience. Participants should dress for the weather as a portion of each seminar may include outside demonstrations.

All presentations begin at 7 pm at the DEC Warrensburg Office, 232 Golf Course Road in Warrensburg. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Owls In January: The Courtship Begins

TOSLong_eared_owlI’m an enthusiastic, if laid-back, bird watcher. One of the things I love most about spring and summer is the effortlessness with which I encounter a wide variety of birds. Sitting in my backyard, I’ll catch sight of an indigo bunting in the apple tree or watch a pair of phoebes flying to and from their nest. On an afternoon hike, I might spot a Baltimore oriole or hear the sweet sounds of a wood thrush.

Not so in winter, when the cold curtails my outdoor activities and so many birds have departed for warmer climes. The dearth of birds and walks leaves me feeling doubly deprived, and I count the days until red-winged blackbirds will again greet me on my morning stroll.

But January is far too early to dream of spring, so I’ve decided to put thoughts of seasonal songbirds out of my mind and focus on some of our region’s year-round residents – owls. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies Published

AJES.20.Cover1The Adirondack Research Consortium and Union College have partnered to publish Volume 20 of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies (AJES). The avian-themed edition features Teddy Roosevelt’s summer bird list and Larry Master’s Christmas bird count.

Leading scientists have contributed research to the journal including, “Songbird Research from Sphagnum Bog to Alpine Summit” by Amy Sauer and David Evers, and “State of the Birds in Exurbia” by Michale Glennon and Heidi Kretser. In all, this edition features 11 articles, one organizational profile of Northern New York Audubon, and color photos contributed by Larry Master. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DEC Collects 16.8 Million Eggs For NYS Fish Hatcheries

 Collecting heritage straing brook trout eggs.The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and partner agencies collected 16.8 million eggs for the state’s fish hatcheries, the agency has announced.  Each year, DEC staff collect eggs from wild and captive adult fish to rear at DEC fish hatcheries.

After the eggs are taken they are incubated at DEC’s state hatcheries.  After hatching, they are fed and cared for by DEC hatchery staff until they reach target stocking sizes.  Fish from New York hatcheries are stocked in lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers throughout the state, supporting the state’s recreational sport fishery. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Support Sought For Adirondack Loon Center

2008-NS BC Loon Turning Egg_3991-t2The Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is raising funds for an Adirondack Loon Center in the Tri-Lakes Area.  Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, believes a physical Loon Center will strengthen and expand her organization’s capacity to conduct its scientific research, education, and outreach. Schoch expects the Adirondack Loon Center will be a year-round educational and economic presence.

Plans for the Center include office space for staff; an education and outreach area for visitors, with interactive displays about loon natural history, behavior, and conservation; a conference room for educational and training programs; and a gift shop selling loon-related items to support local artisans and the Loon Center itself. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Yellow Jackets Beat the Cold — Without Jackets

WaspNest01A naked, living critter fully exposed to below-zero temperatures for 24 hours – with a pleasant, stiff breeze tossed in for good measure – should by most reckoning be dead. We know there’s science behind surviving such conditions, and that some creatures manufacture their own anti-freeze, which lowers the freezing point of their body fluids and allows them to survive. Still, seeing it happen firsthand is sort of like watching a good magician: the eyes and mind are saying, “I see it, but I don’t believe it,” even though we know there’s a rational explanation behind it all. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

DEC Announces New “Management Strategy” For Fishers

1200px-Fisher-face-snow_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWanderThe Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the release of a fisher “management strategy” that reduces the trapping season in the northern part of the state by 16 days and establishes a new six-day season in the central and western parts of the state.

The fisher plan is expected to guide the agency’s approach to the species for the next 10 years. The plan attempts to advance two of DEC’s stated goals: to maintain or grow fisher populations where suitable habitat exists and to provide trapping opportunities. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

How A Warm Winter Impacts Local Wildlife

20160104_tdpt_decDuring a mild winter in our northern forests, there are those of us who cheer our lower heating bills and those who scan the forecast, hoping for cold and snow. In a classic El Niño year like this one, when we often get unseasonably mild weather well into February, there are winners and losers in the natural world, too.

El Niño refers to a natural warming of Pacific waters. This phenomenon occurs every three to seven years, when prevailing trade winds, which drive the direction and force of ocean currents, slow down. As a result, cold water from the depths doesn’t get mixed with surface water, the ocean’s surface temperature rises, and global weather patterns can be altered. This year’s strong El Niño is being complemented by a low pressure system in the far north – called the Arctic oscillation – that’s keeping polar air trapped around the North Pole. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Understanding The Language Of Crows

TOS_Crow“Caw! Caw!” Every spring we hear it. And my wife says, “that’s My Crow.” It’s apparently the bird’s name. She capitalizes it in her tone. I think she hasn’t bestowed a more formal name because she doesn’t know whether it’s a male or female.

My Crow is likely part of an extended family of crows that lives in our area. We think they nest in the tall pines on our south neighbor’s woodlot, but they forage over our woods and fields as well.

“How do you know it’s your crow?” I ask. “I can tell by the sound of its voice,” she says. “It’s different. Raspier. It makes a sort of throaty chuckle the other crows don’t make.” » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 1, 2016

The Golden-Crowned Kinglet In Winter

It’s simple physics. In a cold environment, small objects lose heat at a faster rate than large objects. This is why most warm-blooded animals that reside in a northern climate tend to be large in size. Yet, for every rule, there is always an exception and when considering birds, the golden-crowned kinglet is a perplexing anomaly.

The golden-crowned kinglet is the smallest perching bird to inhabit the Adirondacks, as this delicate, olive colored creature is not much larger than a hummingbird, (which is classified in a group that is related to the swifts rather than the perching birds.) However, unlike our other small birds, like the warblers, vireos and wrens, the kinglet often remains in the Adirondacks throughout the dead of winter, traveling in small, loosely knit flocks in dense evergreen forests.
» Continue Reading.


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