Monday, May 13, 2013

Adirondack Insects: Mayflies

DSCN1675As the water warms in streams, rivers and lakes, there is an explosion of invertebrate activity, when the hoards of aquatic bugs that pass much of the year on the bottom are stimulated by the favorable thermal conditions which allow them to continue with their life cycle. Among the insects preparing to leave the safety of some protective nook, or transition into a stage that no longer perfectly matches the surroundings, are the mayflies, an exceptionally prolific and ecologically significant group of aquatic organisms.

Mayflies form a category, or order, of insects known as Ephemeroptera, which literally translates into the short-lived insects. This label is somewhat a misnomer, as most mayflies have a life span of one full year. Nearly this entire period, however, is spent underwater, initially in the embryonic form of an egg and then as a naiad passing from one nymph stage into another as they consume and convert microscopic matter in the water into body tissue. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Do Trees Leaf Out At Different Times?

LeafOne of my hobbies this time of year is to try to pinpoint the day that I can say that the leaves are out and spring has arrived. Usually it’s sometime in the second week of May, though it seems to have been inching forward over the past couple of decades. But even when I can declare that it’s “spring,” not every tree is clothed in green.

Ash trees, for instance, will still have bare branches weeks from now, and the northern catalpa in my yard will balk at putting out its saucer-sized leaves for another month. Why? The question has gnawed at me and, I’ve learned, bedeviled scientists for decades.

The answer has to do with genetics and evolution, climate and weather. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Planting Milkweed for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day doesn’t just have to be about getting a bouquet of flowers and box of candy, though I am a huge supporter of both, it is more about celebrating the mother figure in your life.  It can be as simple as a packet of seeds to start in a windowsill garden or as complex as a family reunion.

My kids know that one way to make me happy is for someone to try to bring more native species to our garden. Last year my gift was the relocation of the wild violets to a hill before the contractor ground them to bits. I can look out my window and see the bright blue, purple and yellow heads just starting to poke out of the grass. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Adirondack Birds: Soulful Music of the Hermit Thrush

Hermit ThrushIn the weeks surrounding the emergence of leaves on the shrubs and trees in the Adirondacks a rich variety of sounds, unlike that which is heard during any other time of the year, occurs in our forests. Some participants in this natural symphony bellow out a perky series of melodious notes, like the winter wren and red-eyed vireo, while others such as the robin and white-throated sparrow have a more stately quality to their voice.

A few, like the ovenbird and chestnut-sided warbler, contribute an intense and serious refrain to the mix, and then there is the soulful music of the hermit thrush, which frequently opts to perform solo after most of the other voices have subsided for the evening. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Some Beaver Dams I Have Known

BeaverDam WLate last week, I found myself gazing into the woods as we headed down the Northway, en route to the Crandall Library Folk Life Center for a pleasant evening of entertainment. It was partially a business trip, but after listening to Dan Berggren and friends sing, alternating with readings by Carol Gregson from her first book (Leaky Boots) and her new release (Wet Socks), it sure didn’t feel like business. A good time was had by all, as evidenced by a very appreciative crowd.

During the ride south from the Plattsburgh area, my partner, Jill, handled the driving, which allowed me to enjoy uninterrupted views of the scenery. Included were some roadside marshes with beaver dams and lodges, prompting a flood of memories tied to my history with beaver dams. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Falls On The Hudson River at Lake Luzerne

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It’s spring in the Adirondacks! This is a photo of one of the participants in the ‘Perfect Pictures Every Time’ photo workshop I did during the last weekend of April at the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne. I saw him move into place  by the cascades, and moved over to place him in front of the falls. Zoomed in to a telephoto focal length and shot with about a 1 second exposure to have a nice motion blur in the water. What a beautiful day it was for a workshop and photography.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dam History: The Oxbow Reservoir Project

Proposed Oxbow DamThe Raquette River, from Raquette Falls to the State Boat Launch on Tupper Lake, is one of the nicest stretches of flat-water anywhere in the Adirondacks.  Paddling this river corridor under a clear cerulean blue sky, on a sunny autumn day with the riverbanks ablaze in orange and red, is exquisite.  For me, though, the river’s history is as captivating as its natural beauty.

Countless people have traveled this section of river over the centuries.  There were native peoples who hunted, fished, and trapped, the hinterlands of Long Lake and further into the Raquette Lake area, long before whites appeared on the Adirondack Plateau.  There were the early farmers and families wanting to start a new livelihood.  There were the guides and their wealthy “sports”, (and later the families of these sports) desiring adventure and recreation.  There were people seeking better health and relief from the despair and disease of the cities.  There were merchants, hotelkeepers, charwomen, day labors, ax-men, river drivers, and a host of others. There were the famous, the not so famous, and the down-and-out.

All of these people, and many others, used the Raquette ( Racket or Racquette ) River as a transportation highway.  The number of footfalls on the carries at and around Raquette Falls is limited only to the imagination.  In his book Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson refers to the nearby Indian Carry, at Corey’s separating the Raquette River system from the Sacanac River system, as the “Times Square of the woods.”  ( Note: In the Adirondacks one “carries” around rapids and waterfalls, one does not “portage.” ) » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: Living With Wasps

Bee Hive CollectiveAfter the ground thaws and the soil finally begins to warm, the multitude of invertebrates that passed the winter burrowed deep within the thermally protective bed of fallen leaves, rotting bark and decomposing wood emerges from their long period of dormancy. Among the many flying bugs that are currently working their way to the surface and returning to a life above ground are the wasps. After exiting their subterranean winter retreat, these often feared stinging insects explore the immediate surroundings in an effort to locate a suitable spot in which to establish a colony for the approaching growing season.

In early autumn, numerous females with a functional reproductive system are produced in each colony. Shortly after transitioning into adults, these females abandon their nest, along with the drones or males, never to return to the colony. The receptive females quickly breed and acquire enough sperm during a single mating encounter to last for the remainder of their life. Within a few days after mating, the males die, but the fertilized females often prowl the area for food before retiring for the winter. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cabin Life: Birds In The Yard

View from St Regis MountainSpring has decided to show up fashionably late.  I woke up to snow the last couple of days, and even though it’s been melted by lunch time each day, it has been discouraging to say the least.  However, even with the new snow showers, it is clear that winter is gone, even if spring hasn’t set in completely yet.

Pico and I went hiking the other day up St. Regis Mountain.  It was a crisp morning, but with clear skies forecasted all day, it seemed like a great opportunity to hike one of my old favorites before the bugs are out in any sort of force.  We set off and wandered through the woods down behind Paul Smiths and up the mountain. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 26, 2013

An April Morning: Whiteface Mountain from Copperas Pond

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It still looked quite wintry in this view of Whiteface Mountain from Copperas Pond on a mid-April morning. The crocuses are bloming in our backyard in Brant Lake, and I heard the first peepers here on the lake last week, but there’s still a good layer of snow and ice in the High Peaks region. This photo was taken about 6:20 AM. I had along my Nikon D300S and was shooting some angles with that also, but this was taken with my Nikon Coolpix P7700, 6 mm (28 mm full frame equiv.), 1/15 sec at f /4, ISO 160.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lake George Commission Approves Draft Invasives Plan

LG AIS Plan cover pageAfter nearly two years of research and discussion, the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) voted unanimously at its monthly meeting Tuesday to present its draft plan to limit the spread the invasive species into Lake George to the public for comment. Once the Draft Lake George Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Plan is finalized it’s expected the Commission will begin the rule-making process required to put the plan into place.

Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that, when introduced in an ecosystem, can rapidly reproduce and overwhelm their environment. Eurasian watermilfoil was the first invasive species to reach Lake George in 1986, and millions of dollars have been spent to keep infestations of the plant in check. Since that time, four other invasives have been introduced to Lake George, including Asian clam and Spiny Waterflea which were discovered in Lake George since 2010. Asian clam eradication efforts by both the State and local governments have topped $1.5 million dollars in only two years time. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Adirondack Birds: The Dark-Eyed Junco

600px-Dark-eyed_Junco-27527Strong southerly wind in spring not only brings periods of mild weather to our region, but also helps usher in numerous species of migratory birds from their wintering grounds. Among the early arrivals to the Adirondacks, often before the snow finally disappears from wooded areas and north-facing hillsides, is a cold-hardy member of the sparrow family. Although this handsome bird is just as abundant throughout the Park as the white-throated sparrow, even in the harsh climate of upper elevations, the dark-eyed junco does not enjoy the same level of notoriety as its white-throated cousin.

The dark-eyed junco, (Junco hyemalis) known to most as simply a junco, is a common bird that is easy to recognize. The slate-gray color of its head and back stands in sharp contrast to its white underside and its stubby, creamy-pink bill. Also, the junco has white outer tail feathers that become particularly noticeable when it flicks it tail. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Adirondack Night Sky: The Lyrid Meteor Shower

Lyrid_meteor_shower_radiant_pointIf you have spent any time on Facebook, or other social media sites, you may have come across an image that states:

“During the night On April 22 2013, people on Earth will have a chance to see one of the rarest meteor shower. During the night you will be able to see thousands of these falling stars until April 23, 2013, these meteors will have best visibility during the night of April 22, 2013. There is a predicted number of about 20 meteors an hour with possible surges of 100 per hour.”

I’m all about spreading the news of meteor showers and getting people to go out and look up. Experiencing a meteor shower is quite enjoyable, and gives your kids a reason to stay up late and see something extraordinary. What I don’t like however, is the false alarm of it being “one of the rarest meteor showers” since it’s an annual occurrence making it not all that rare.

The Venus Transit last June was a rare event with it’s two occurrences in 8 years and then another 105 years until the next one with another 8 year spread before it takes 121 years for the next cycle; that’s a rare event. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Adirondack Photography Tips: Alpenglow

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Spring usually doesn’t come to the High Peaks until May, but the beautiful alpenglow in this view from Mount Van Hoevenberg, taken in late March, gives a spring-like warmth to an otherwise wintry landscape. Alpenglow colors can be tough to capture in a photograph. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Outside (And Inside) Story: Ants

antsSpring is on our doorstep, and so are the ants. Seeking the open sugar bowl or the drops of maple syrup left on the kitchen counter, they’re a sure sign that winter has finally drifted away. Myrmecologists, scientists that study ants, know these small kitchen ants as Tapinoma sessile, but to most of us they’re odorous house ants, or sugar ants. Whatever you call them, these little ants are likely to be visiting your nest soon.

Named for the faint smell (described as over-ripe bananas) that they emit when squeezed, the odorous house ants in your kitchen are workers. They may have traveled as far as 50 feet, following scent trails left by other workers from the nest to the bounty. Each ant species has a specific chemical it uses to mark trails. » Continue Reading.


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