Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lichens: Not Technically A Plant

Lichens: Not Technically a PlantOn cold winter days, feeding sticks of firewood into my woodstove, I sometimes pause, my eye caught by lichens. Splotchy circles, lacy tendrils. Soft gray, muted gray-green, black. They mottle the bark. When I look out the window next to my desk, I see splashes of lichen on the roof of my workshop, and on the stone walls across the road.

Lichens are virtually everywhere. They live in some of the harshest environments on our planet, from Antarctica to the high Arctic, deserts and high peaks, in forests tropical and temperate. They can grow not only on rock, but in it, between grains and crystals. According to Steve Selva, a lichenologist and professor emeritus at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, there’s even a type that grows on barnacles. Selva has spent four decades studying lichens. He created and still contributes to and maintains the school’s extensive lichen collection. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 15, 2016

2015 Peregrine Falcon Nest Monitoring Results

Peregrine Falcon Nest Monitoring ResultsThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued their annual report on peregrine falcon nest monitoring in the Eastern Adirondacks and Lake  Champlain region.

DEC wildlife staff and volunteers monitored 26 peregrine falcon nesting during the 2015 breeding season, according to  the report.

They confirmed 16 of the 26 sites were occupied by territorial pairs of falcons and all but one of those pairs actively undertook nesting. Of the 15 confirmed active nesting pairs, nine successfully produced a total of 18 chicks. This equates to 1.2 young/breeding pair and 2 young/successful pair – an average level of production for this region. 2015 was slightly more productive then the last few breeding seasons. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Cabin Fever Sunday: Living With Beavers

cabin fever sundays living with beversThe third installment of Cabin Fever Sundays lecture series on February 28th examines beaver populations in the Adirondacks, in history and today.

In “Living with Beavers” John Warren and Charlotte Demers will discuss the historic and contemporary implications of beaver trapping, their importance to the fur trade, contemporary issues with the damming of rivers, and more. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Goshawks: An Apex Adirondack Accipiter

Goshawk: Apex AccipiterThe Boke of St. Albans, a 15th century sportsman’s handbook, decreed that only a nobleman could hunt with a falcon, but a mere yeoman might settle for a goshawk. These days it is the very wildness and willfulness of the goshawk that bestows a badge of courage on those who would train one.

“In the talons there was death,” wrote T. H. White, who chronicled his naive attempt to “man” one of these “murderous” raptors in The Goshawk. “He would slay a rabbit in his grip by merely crushing its skull.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Happy Groundhog Day: The World Of Woodchucks

Groundhogday

Researchers are still puzzling over the age-old question, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood,” but I may have an answer. Re-brand the woodchuck.

Like the words skunk and moose, woodchuck (wojak) is a Native American term, Algonquin in this case. I don’t know its literal translation, but I suspect it means “fat fur-ball that can inhale your garden faster than you can say Punxsutawney Phil,” or something pretty close to that. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Have You Seen A Mountain Lion? Many Say They Have

CougarIn the photo, the mountain lion lies on its side on the shoulder of a Connecticut parkway. Tail lights shine in the distance. A Connecticut state trooper snapped the photo after a motorist had struck and killed the animal on a June night in 2011.

Wildlife biologists quickly confirmed this mountain lion was the one photographed days before in front of an elementary school in Greenwich, Connecticut, about 40 miles west. (School was cancelled.) Within months, DNA evidence revealed that this animal was the same one seen in the backyard of a retired game warden in Lake George the previous December, and tracked in Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2009 and 2010.

DNA testing also showed that the mountain lion came from the Black Hills of South Dakota, the nation’s eastern-most confirmed breeding population. This young male had walked an astonishing 1,500 miles. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Farming In The Adirondacks Talk February 7th

cabin fever sundaysThe Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sundays winter lecture continues with “Farming in the Adirondacks,” the second installment of the series, featuring Steve Kramer, Hallie Bond, Rhonda Brunner, and Steven Tucker.

Homesteading and farming were traditional life-ways in the Adirondacks in the nineteenth century and continue today and this event will consider historical and contemporary farming in the region.  The event will begin at 1:30 pm on Sunday, February 7, 2016 in the Museum Auditorium.

Admission is free for museum members, students, and children; $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be served, and the Adirondack Museum Store and Visitor Center will be open before and after the program. » Continue Reading.


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.