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.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nature’s Way: No Fuss X-Mas Tree Recycling

christmas treeIn urban and suburban areas, Christmas tree disposal has come a long way since the bad old days when trees were just compacted with the rest of the household trash and landfilled.

Today, progressive trash hauling companies run special organics routes where they collect and recycle trees, and many solid waste districts have drop-off centers where the trees are chipped. The recycled trees become compost or mulch or bioheat. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Adirondack Birds Moving Uphill As Temperatures Warm

Whiteface April 13 2016A New York State Museum study shows that most of the bird species breeding on the slopes of Whiteface Mountain have shifted their ranges uphill in the last 40 years. The research, conducted by Dr. Jeremy Kirchman, Curator of Birds at the New York State Museum, and Alison Van Keuren, an avid birder who volunteers in the ornithology collection at the State Museum, sheds new light on the response of wildlife to observed climate change in upstate New York.

Kirchman and Van Keuren replicated bird surveys conducted in 1974 by Kenneth Able and Barry Noon, two former researchers at the University at Albany. For the re-survey, the pair of researchers made stops along the road up Whiteface Mountain to tally all birds seen and heard in the early morning and evening hours at altitudes from 550 to 1450 meters above sea level. These new data were gathered in June and July of 2013-2015. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Quaking Aspen: Capturing Winter Light

aspenNear the house where I lived during my Colorado years, there was a trail that wove through a sprawling grove of perfect quaking aspen trees. In spring, the soft green of emerging leaves was one of the first signs of warming weather. Come fall, their gilded leaves, fluttering in the breeze, reflected in the river, turning everything to gold. Even in winter’s rest, their stark trunks and bare, branching limbs were lovely against a backdrop of deep snow and craggy mountains.

Except the trees weren’t really resting. Little did I know that, even shorn of their leaves, they were still harvesting sunlight. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tim Rowland On Adirondack Winter

adirondack winter tim rowlandYou know you’re starting to acclimate to the North Country when you see the thermometer reading 24 degrees and you wonder if it’s even worth building a fire.

At this particular moment, anything above 20 would seem like a steam bath. As I did my morning chores, the mercury hovered (which feels like the wrong word) at 12 below; the horse droppings clacked against each other in the muck bucket like billiard balls, and a couple of eggs had frozen and burst before I came to collect them.

We do not take the cold lightly. We have read all the literature, bought all the appropriate gear and taken all the appropriate advice. But while maintaining the proper respect, there is also something attractive about the cold. It’s a fine line, I know. But we have come here from a region where, as Mark Twain said of India, “hot” is a relative term and used to distinguish temperatures that would melt a doorknob from those that would just make it mushy. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Beech Bark Disease

beech bark diseaseIf you’ve ever seen chevrons on the bark of an American beech, you know you’re looking at a tree that’s been hugged by a black bear. And you’ve likely been impressed with the bear’s climbing ability. And perhaps looked over your shoulder while you were busy being impressed.

But bear-clawed beeches aren’t as common as they once were. The American beech, Fagus grandiflora, has become another member of the North American “trees-devastated-by-imported-pests-and-diseases” club.

Beech trees are still out there in the forest. But many of the big ones are gone, victims of the notorious beech bark disease. It’s a one-two punch — a tiny scale insect bores holes in the bark and a fungus marches in and infects the tree. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

(Flying) Reindeer and Climate

reindeerI recall years ago; two young boys having a conversation. “There’s no such thing as Santa Clause,” the older boy insisted. But the younger boy wasn’t buying it. Come Christmas Eve, he was going to stay up all night, just to catch a glimpse of old Santa and his legendary sleigh full of presents. What excited the little guy the most though, was the thought of seeing those remarkable flying “reindeer on the roof!”

“Santa’s reindeer really can fly, can’t they?” he asked me, catching me completely off guard. I hesitated; then told him that reindeer were deer; very much like the whitetails we see around here, but with thicker bodies, shorter legs, and broader hooves. I added that whitetails and reindeer are cousins. And that moose and elk are reindeer cousins, too. Fortunately, he let it go at that. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

New Stoddard Book of Lake George Photos

water and light book coverThe Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls has just published Water & Light: S.R. Stoddard’s Lake George, a new work on the photography of Seneca Ray Stoddard.

The 160-page book features 150 of Stoddard’s photos, as well as some samples of his painting, sketches and cartography.

As a 19th century American photographer, S. R. Stoddard is often ranked with William Henry Jackson and Carlton Watkins, and the quality of his photographic compositions is compared with many of the Hudson River School painters. It is estimated Stoddard took some ten thousand images in the Adirondack Mountains alone. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Adirondack Insects: Cluster Flies

cluster fliesSo here’s my movie concept: during a laboratory accident, a scientist exchanges his DNA with a fly. Over the next few weeks, our hero slowly shrinks in size and transforms into an insect with black spiky body hair, maroon eyes, and translucent, buzzing wings.

What distinguishes this movie from previous versions of “The Fly” is that this time, the scientist swaps his genes with a cluster fly. Instead of developing super-fast reflexes, he becomes clumsy and lethargic. Instead of rampaging through a city terrorizing people, he alternates his time between crashing against the window and lying upside-down on the floor, twitching. The crisis comes when his irritated girlfriend picks him up with a tissue and tosses him outside. He soars into the clear blue winter sky… but then his wings freeze. The final image: a tiny crater in the snow. » Continue Reading.


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