Saturday, February 9, 2019

Adirondack Moose Survey Results: 175 in 83 Groups

moose New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the completion of it’s annual aerial Adirondack moose survey, part of a collaborative study of the health of New York’s moose population.

A total of 83 groups of one or more moose were observed during the survey’s 175 sightings, with all appearing healthy. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Beneath The Ice: The Quiet Parlor of the Fishes

ice skating When I’m skiing or skating across a pond, I observe the shoreline, surrounding hills, islands, maybe a woodpecker or blue jay winging its way to the opposite shore. I look up at the sky, the clouds, swirling snowflakes. But there is a world beneath my feet that I don’t see, in what Henry David Thoreau called “the quiet parlor of the fishes.”

Beneath a layer of ice up to three feet thick, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and tiny invertebrates are going about their winter business. For most of these creatures, this means slowing their metabolism down to survive with reduced light and oxygen. They move less, eat less, and breathe more slowly than in warmer months. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Paul Hetzler: Playing Your Brains Out

common ravensBody-surfing monster waves in Australia; snowboarding down rooftops in Alaska on improvised boards; tobogganing into deliberate pileups at the bottom of steep hills — the range of unsupervised play that youngsters can get into is jaw-dropping. That’s not to mention the dangerous romping and horseplay, as well as rude games like spit-soccer in the pool. Honestly, they are such animals.

Biologists have long pondered why so many animal species evolved to play, occasionally at their peril. And to some extent, they are still wondering. Juvenile play in primates such as humans and apes is well-documented, and other mammals such as dogs and cats clearly play as well, but it turns out a surprising array of animals engage in frivolous games. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Tyler Socash: An Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve

A future Willsboro Wildway

Think about the last unexpected mammal, bird, or amphibian that you crossed paths with in a wild space. Perhaps it was a black-backed woodpecker near a bog. Maybe it was an unassuming spotted salamander among the fallen leaves. I once saw a frolicking family of fishers on a walk in the woods.

Anecdotal wildlife encounters help to remind us we aren’t alone in this world. We share natural landscapes with thousands of species who call them home.  But look at a map of the Eastern Adirondacks and a few things stand out: Lake Champlain’s massive coastline, the Adirondack Forest Preserve closer to the Park’s interior, and the Adirondack Northway (I-87), splitting the region in two. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Whitney’s Elk Relocation Experiment

elk enclosure sketchIn the early 1900s, numerous elk were set loose at several places in the Adirondacks, with the hope of re-introducing the species.

These efforts, made possible by private individuals, were described briefly in a book by William Temple Hornaday, American Natural History: A Foundation of Useful Knowledge of the Higher Animals of North America, Volume 2 (published in 1914). » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 25, 2019

At ADKX: An Adirondack Backyard Bio Survey Talk

The 2019 Cabin Fever Sunday Series, featuring seven events that look deeper into Adirondack history and culture, is underway at Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (ADKX).

The next event, Who’s There: An Adirondack Backyard Biological Survey with Ed Kanze, is set for January 27, at 1:30 pm. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Some Science Behind Lake Champlain’s Ice

ice fishing Come mid-January, when I’m acclimatized to winter, I enjoy an occasional stroll on the icy surface of Lake Champlain. I favor bays sheltered from the brunt of winter winds where the ice has had ample time to thicken. I pull microspikes on over my boots and off I go.

There’s room to roam between Burlington and the breakwater that parallels the shoreline. The lake ice locks spectacular natural art in place. Bubbles trapped under December ice are entombed as January’s ice forms below. Crystalline patterns resembling minute stars form during the various freezing and thawing cycles that occur as lake ice interacts with fallen snow. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Adaptations to Extremes: Art, Science Panel Discussion

painting by elizabeth albertThe Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery has announced “Adaptations to Extremes,” an Art-Science exhibition set to run from January 19th to February 22nd.

An opening reception has been set for Saturday, January 19th from 4 to 6 pm, and a panel discussion writer Michael Coffey serving as moderator on Sunday, January 20th at the Bolton Historical Museum at 3 pm. Both events are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Remembering Elk in the Adirondacks

elkHundreds of years ago, haunting bugle-like calls echoed through these hills and valleys. The sounds were made by bull elk to attract mates and fend off rivals.

Elk in the Northeast?  Yes, elk were once the most widely distributed of North American hoofed mammals. Millions roamed over much of the U.S. and Canada. Adaptable to a variety of habitats, elk were found in the Adirondacks, and in most ecosystems except the tundra, deserts, and the Gulf Coast. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Sparkle Snow: An Outside Story

snowflakes The other day I was driving through New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch, where my eyes are usually drawn to the tall mountains and long, cascading waterfalls on either side of the road. But on this day my gaze shifted toward the snowbanks lining the narrow highway. The sun was shining and the landscape glittered. The sparkle of sunlight on cold white reminded me of childhood trips, when I would look out the backseat window at passing fields and imagine all those tiny glimmers were winter fairies, twirling and skipping through the snow.

Snow sparkle isn’t (as far as science has revealed) attributable to fairies, but to light bouncing off the snow at multiple angles. “When you have a really cold snowfall, you tend to get a bunch of little individual plates,” explained Adam Gill, a weather observer and meteorologist with the Mount Washington Observatory. “It’s like billions of these little tiny reflectors all over the ground. If there’s a bright light source, if you’re at the correct angle, that light source will reflect back at you.” As we move across the landscape, our angle changes, and light flashes from different directions. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Winter Weather: Sundogs and Halos and Glitter – Oh, My!

sun dogs Had a unicorn pranced across the trail in front of me, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

It was one of those sparkly winter days, when snow drapes fir trees and glints across the landscape. I was at the top of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch, and an undercast made it seem as if the summit were a sunny island above a sea of clouds. To add to the wonder, there was something magical happening in the sky, which shimmered with color and light. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Emerging Invasive Forest Pests Educational Program Planned

Young spotted lanternflies An educational program, “Emerging Invasive Forest Pests: Identification, Prevention & Management,” has been set for Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 from 9 am to 3:30 pm at the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Education Center’s Classroom A, 40 West Main Street in Canton, NY.

The program will provide information on four invasive species in the Adirondacks, Asian Spotted Lanternfly; Asian Earthworms; Oak Wilt; and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, as well as a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid scouting trip. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 31, 2018

Perihelion: Proximity Doesn’t Always Generate Heat

PerithelionFew things seem as remote as the January sun in the North East. We see the light, but we feel almost no heat. In this way, winter can feel like a kind of exile – there’s a sense that the Earth has been flung to the farthest reaches of its orbit.

The idea that the winter sun is remote, however, is misguided. In fact, the Earth is closest to the sun when the Northern Hemisphere is in the deep freeze of winter. This extreme proximity is known as perihelion, and in 2019 it will take place on January 3. Conversely, aphelion – when the Earth is farthest from the sun – takes place during the height of summer, this year on the Fourth of July. The exact dates vary slightly every year, but always occur in January and July. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 24, 2018

The Disappearing, Reappearing, American Marten

marten Some people keep lifelong birding lists. I’ve tried, but birds and I have never really hit it off. Too many colors, too many species, and I’m tone deaf, so birding by ear is completely beyond me.

I do keep a lifelong weasel list. I can tell you exactly where I was when I saw my first white-coated ermine and how many times I’ve seen a mink. My best fisher sighting was particularly memorable: I watched in awe as it jumped from tree to tree in pursuit of a gray squirrel. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Paul Hetzler: Please Don’t Hum Along

frequency range of human voicesIn the ninth grade I was in chorus for a few months until the instructor offered me an “A” for the rest of the year if I dropped her class. True story. You would think a guy who likes music but can’t sing would at least enjoy humming, but that depends. Research has shown that humming can cause anxiety, depression, insomnia, and in some cases, ghosts. Also true — though of course I left out a few details there.

Humming to a song because you don’t know (or can’t sing) the words is harmless, unless maybe it is incessant and happens to irritate your co-workers. But many industrial processes like blast furnaces, cooling towers, and giant compressors and vacuum pumps can emit low-frequency or infrasound hums able to travel tens of miles. Because human-caused hums have unusually long wavelengths — in some cases more than a mile — the hum can travel easily over mountains and through buildings. » Continue Reading.