Monday, August 13, 2012

Emily DeBolt: Meet the Monardas

This time of year you might be noticing some red or lavender flowers along the sides of the roads or in old fields as you are out driving or hiking.  If you slow down and stop to take a look, what you might be seeing is one of our native species of the genus Monarda, commonly known as Beebalm or Oswego Tea by many gardeners. There are a variety of cultivars and hybrids available at most garden centers with enticing names – such as ‘Coral Reef’ or ‘Raspberry Wine’.   Gardeners have been using beebalm in their gardens for years – it is a great choice for attracting hummingbirds and other pollinators and is a beautiful splash of summer color.

The group of plants in the Monarda genus are often just called beebalm as a whole – even though there are many distinct species. And many gardeners don’t realize that we have a number of different native Monardas in our area – in fact Monarda is a North American genus of over a dozen species. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Adirondack Wildlife: Crickets and Grasshoppers

The advent of late summer in the Adirondacks is when most species of crickets and many types of grasshoppers enter into the reproductive phase of their life cycle. This results in an annual production of commonly heard sounds, starting with the appearance of developing flocks of birds. It is as much a part of the background in the Park at this time of year as the blossoming of goldenrod in open fields and meadows and the presence of clusters of queen-Anne’s-lace lining sections of highways.

Crickets and grasshoppers, along with the katydids and locust, form an order of insects known as orthoptera, which means the straight-winged insects. While most crickets and some grasshoppers seem to lack any type of flying appendage, all members of this group of bugs have two sets of wings during their adult stage, which may, or may not, allow these stout-bodies creatures to fly. Rather than function as a structure for travel, their wings serve primarily to produce the sound used for attracting a breeding partner. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 6, 2012

The Night Sky in August: Featuring A Blue Moon

Here are some objects for the unaided eye for the month of August. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your unaided eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. If you aren’t in a dark sky location you may still be able to see these objects with a pair of binoculars or telescope. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cabin Life: A First Bee Sting

I like bees.  They really don’t bother me that much.  It’s not like I want to get stung, but they tend to leave me alone, maybe because I don’t freak out when they fly near me.  I understand those who are allergic or just don’t want to get stung, though.

I remember vividly the first time I got stung by a bee.  It was at our house on 5th Ave in Gloversville, and I was already strapped into my car seat in the back.  Mom was locking up the house or grabbing something from inside, and when I shifted in my car seat, the bee stung me right on the butt.  I don’t know if I started screaming and I don’t remember the aftermath, but the sting itself is clear as day. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Adirondack Wildlife: The Flying Squirrels

In the days prior to and immediately following a full moon, there is often enough light in the hours after sunset for a person to meander along a well established woodland trail without the aid of a flashlight. By walking slowly and quietly, one can occasionally detect a small gray squirrel rustling about the dead leaves on the forest floor, climbing up a large trunk, or moving along the limb of a tree. While most squirrels strongly prefer to be active during the light of day, the flying squirrel favors the darkness of night and is the most common nocturnal tree dwelling mammal within the Park.

The flying squirrel is characterized by a loose fold of skin, called a patagium that extends from it front and hind legs and connects to its sides. This thin, furry membrane acts as a wing or airfoil when the animal stretches its appendages outward and enables it to glide forward as it slowly descends after leaping from a tree. The wide and flat tail of this rodent provides additional lift and greatly helps an airborne individual alter its flight path so it can accurately land at a selected spot. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cabin Life: My Garden Is A Joke

My garden is a joke.  I tried, but the spot is just not very good.  Too little light and mediocre soil make a great combination for disappointment.  The peas are doing alright, and the lettuce is coming along, but the basil and carrots are struggling.  Even my tomatoes are pathetic.

It’s a small raised bed made with flat stones.  I didn’t do any real prep to the spot though.  There was a rotten tree trunk in the middle and I pulled that out and added a little top soil, but not nearly enough.  I weeded and turned the soil.  I should have added more soil and some composted manure to help.  What the garden really needs is to have a few trees cut down. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Local Events Promote Raquette River Awareness Week

This year the Raquette River Blueway Corridor’s Advisory Committee will be hosting several events throughout the corridor during Raquette River Awareness Week (Saturday, July 28th through Saturday, August 4th) to highlight the assets the Raquette River has to offer.

A variety of events held in communities all along the river will feature the grand opening celebration of a canoe access trail to the Raquette River near Moody Falls in Sevey Corners and will be punctuated with three screenings of “The Raquette River Experience”, a travel documentary on the Raquette River produced by the Raquette River Blueway Corridor’s partner, WPBS-DT, Watertown, NY. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Northeastern Pine Sawyer Beetle

From the afternoon into the early evening in mid to late summer, a silence often develops as the heat of the day peaks and then starts to cool; as birds cease to sing and amphibians lose their urge to call. In the stillness between periods when leaves rustle from light summer breezes, the sound of a grinding or twisting-scraping can be heard coming from a fallen softwood log or a dead standing evergreen.

This low volume creaking noise is particularly evident in downed white pine trunks that lie in open and semi-open settings. It is caused by the wood boring activity of the larvae of the Northeastern pine sawyer beetle (Monochamus notatus), a large, grotesque looking bug that is widespread across the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Is More Forest Fire Dialogue and Preparation Needed?

The woods are dry out there. This week, forest fire fighters needed state police helicopters to douse a carelessly set, poorly extinguished fire up on Sawteeth Mountain. In such cases, the informal NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) policy is to fight and extinguish the fire as part of its legal responsibilities for care, custody and control of the Forest Preserve.

Ought there be a state policy of graduated measures to address forest fires in the Forest Preserve, particularly in remote areas? Greater dialogue and sharing of information on the subject of forest fire in the wilds of the Park, public or private, would be helpful. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cabin Life: The Company of Osprey

The baby osprey are getting big.  They poke their heads up above the lip of the nest and look down on us.  The chatter they make is for food, though, not because I’m standing about twenty feet below their nest.  The people and the cars and the bikes don’t seem to bother this particular family.

Their nest is built on top of an electric pole right behind the entrance booth of the campground.  It’s about three feet across, sits right on the electric feed.  It stinks pretty bad right now, as there hasn’t been any rain to wash the area in and below the nest.  The shrubs and pavement are splattered white but amazingly no one has gotten hit. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Volunteers Needed Saturday to Survey Adirondack Loons

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program has issued a call for volunteers to help census loons on Adirondack lakes as part of the 11th Annual Adirondack Loon Census taking place from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 21. With the help of local Adirondack residents and visitor volunteers, the census enables WCS to collect important data on the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State. The results help guide management decisions and policies affecting loons.

Census volunteers report on the number of adult and immature loons and loon chicks that they observe during the hour-long census. Similar loon censuses will be conducted in other states throughout the Northeast simultaneously, and inform a regional overview of the population’s current status.  One of the major findings of the 2010 census: The Adirondack loon population has almost doubled since the last pre-census analysis in the 1980s, and now totals some 1,500–2,000 birds. A new analysis however, demonstrates the threat environmental pollution poses for these iconic Adirondack birds.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adirondack Fishing: Trout and Low Water

Trout fishing is a challenging endeavor, yet it can be the most rewarding backcountry activity, as success ordinarily means a meal or two with a great tasting main course. Because trout require cool, clean waters in which to live, anglers who want to engage in this popular Adirondack summer pastime traditionally head to those places where conditions remain favorable for these hardy game fish.

Larger tributaries that flow at higher elevations, streams that run down the north slope of a mountain, shady, gravel-bottom stretches of water that frequently undercut their banks and deep holes that lie on the edge of an eddy are all places in which trout can still be caught during July and August. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Sandy Hildreth: The Cruel Art of Nature

Great Blue Heron NestI am an artist who, like many others in our world, am inspired by the natural environment around me. In most cases it is the beauty of a place, or the subtle, interesting colors of some rocks, the freeform shape of a brook twisting through a beaver meadow, or sun glistening on a mountain summit. All pretty positive, attractive, peaceful images – the harmony of the natural world.

In a place like the Adirondacks, there are a lot of artists, writers, musicians, and more who gain inspiration from the world around them. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adirondack Astronomy: The Night Sky in July

Here are some objects for the unaided eye for the month of July. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your unaided eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. If you aren’t in a dark sky location you may still be able to see these objects with a pair of binoculars or telescope.

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at Skymaps.com (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for July 2012). The map shows what is in the sky in July at 10 pm for early July; 9 pm for late July. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 9, 2012

In The Adirondack Dirt: Earthworms and Drought

Hit and miss rain showers and scattered thunderstorms have provided much of the precipitation over the Adirondacks during this past month. This has allowed some locations to maintain an adequate level of soil moisture while causing conditions in other places to become especially dry.

The lack of periodic soaking rains, along with the abundance of sunshine and long stretches of above average temperatures has impacted the lives of a multitude of soil organisms, particularly earthworms which are highly sensitive to dry conditions. » Continue Reading.


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