Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: Flocking Birds

Flock of Birds (DEC Photo)Mid-August is the time in the Adirondacks when the foliage of some red maples turns a bright reddish-orange, the sound of crickets replaces the music of our many songbirds, and blackberries start to ripen on their thorny canes. It is also when birds are more regularly seen in flocks rather than individually as they perch on a wire, forage in a field or fly across a road.

The territorial nature and belligerent behavior exhibited by adults toward neighbors from early spring through the end of the breeding season now fades like the chlorophyll in leaves during the latter weeks of September. Thus, a more gregarious lifestyle develops among the members of the same species and results in the formation of flocks for resting, foraging, traveling, and roosting at night. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Merlin Ridge

Jill.  Gorgeous.The beginning of the trail to the summit of Burton’s Peak climbs steeply up through dense tree cover to the crest of a forested ridge where a short jog to the side gives the first lovely view.  From there it follows the ridge line more gradually upward, skirting mossy rock shelves before the final steep pitch to the top of the headwall.  Along the east-facing slope of this ridge the forest of spruce, balsam and birch is more open, hinting at a view of the valley far below and the distant profile of the Giant and Jay ranges.

This ridge walk, lovely as it is, was not an especially noteworthy part of our beautiful trail, at least not until now.  Now it has a name, Merlin Ridge, and a story to go with it. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Wing and a Prayer: Are Aerial Insectivores in Trouble?

NighthawkSome catch their prey while in flight; others sit and wait for prey to come near. They’re a group of birds known as aerial insectivores, and they’re in trouble. In the northeast region, this diverse group consists of 19 species that, as their name implies, feed almost exclusively on flying insects. Some, such as the barn swallow and eastern phoebe, are quite common and well-known, while others, such as the olive-sided flycatcher and eastern wood-pewee, are relatively unknown to non-birders.

Unfortunately, as a group, aerial insectivores have been declining steadily across northeastern North America for the last 25 years or so. Flycatchers, swallows, and nightjars (the whip-poor-will and common nighthawk) have been particularly affected. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Crowdsourced Data Reveal Feats of Bird Migration

NorthernShoveler_ThomasDunkerton_230pxFor centuries people have marveled at the migratory abilities of birds, but new research is now putting numbers on those seasonal feats—for more than a hundred  species at a time—using data contributed by thousands of amateur bird watchers.

In all, more than 2.3 million sightings were summarized to reveal migratory routes of 102 species in North America, in a paper being  published August 1 in Ecology. The results provide a fascinating glimpse at an astonishing range of species: for instance, the tiny Calliope Hummingbird crosses the continent almost three times as fast as the Northern Shoveler, which outweighs it more than 300 times. They also highlight the immense scientific value to be gained from bird watchers’ sightings when they can be combined into a single large database. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Wilmington Flume Trails: Fledging Herons

great blue herons, adirondacksI tried to document life in a Great Blue Heron nest last year and it ended abruptly when all three babies vanished in early July, most likely as dinner for a bald eagle or great horned owl family. I had somewhat better luck this year.

April 29, 2013 – I checked the heron nest I’d been watching in 2012 – the pond, still with some ice, appeared empty, no herons around. There was snow in sheltered places along the trail. According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab web site “Heron FAQ’s” page, their herons laid eggs between March 28 and April 6 in 2012. I tend to think that the northern Adirondacks are about 3 weeks ahead of the Ithaca area for fall colors – so perhaps three weeks or more behind for laying eggs – probably dependent upon weather conditions as well.

May 8 – Sneaking in to view the nest from my hiding spot, there was a single adult heron standing on it. Was this the male hoping to attract a female?

May 13 – This time there was a heron down on the nest – all I could see was the head and beak. This is a pretty good sign that there are eggs. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Annual Loon Census Seeks Volunteers Saturday

Loon in AdirondacksThe Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program is seeking volunteers to help census loons on Adirondack lakes as part of the thirteenth Annual Adirondack Loon Census taking place from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 20.

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. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lawsuit Seeks Protection for Bicknell’s Thrush

Bicknell's Thrush, Catharus bicknelli, by T. B. RyderThe Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect Bicknell’s thrush as an endangered species.

The thrush breeds only high in the mountains of the Northeast and eastern Canada, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York; scientists have predicted that 98 percent or more of the songbird’s U.S. habitat could be lost due to climate change. The Center petitioned for protection for the imperiled songbird in 2010, but the agency has failed to make a final decision on the petition. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Adirondack Loon Researchers Need Money

ACLCLogoThe Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation got its start more than a decade ago (albeit under a different name) with the mission of monitoring a bird that appeared to be in trouble–from acid rain, mercury contamination, lead sinkers, and other environmental threats. Now it appears the researchers are in trouble.

Nina Schoch, coordinator of the center, hopes to raise about $20,000 over the next few weeks to hire field staff to monitor loon nesting on some ninety lakes across the Adirondack Park. She has had monitors in the field for the past eleven summers, but she doesn’t have enough money  to hire them this year. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dan Crane: Returning To The Adirondack Backcountry

Cropsey PondReuniting with an old friend is usually a fulfilling experience. Today, social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, make it easier than ever to keep in contact with people regardless of their location. Unfortunately, I fell out of touch with a close friend of a different nature entirely, and it does not use a phone, have access to the Internet or have the ability to come see me for a quick drop-in.

As regular readers of my contributions to the Adirondack Almamack know, I endured a year-long separation from the Adirondack backcountry due to a mysterious knee injury. During that time I did my share of woolgathering, staring into space wondering how bad the biting insects were, whether the morning bird chorus remained as intense, or how many new dams the beavers erected. Thankfully, I recently discovered the answer to those and so many other questions when I reunited with the Pepperbox Wilderness for the first time in two years.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Watching Wildlife: Herons Out, Lady’s Slippers In

Heron in a white pine tree.The story of my heron nest may have come to a premature ending for 2013. I think the nest has been abandoned.

I don’t know if it was the days and days of cold, hard rain or some other natural cause, but the nest in the dead tree appears to be empty. When I hiked in the first day the rain let up and the sun started to come out, I spotted a lone heron sitting in a tall white pine along the shore of the pond – but none in the nest. Prior to all this rain, I’d quietly watched the nest from several different vantage points and had been able to see just the head of a heron on the nest. Sometimes I sat and watched for an hour and the bird never moved – ever alert. Then I hiked in the day after Memorial Day and no herons were around at all. From what I’ve read, it is possible that a mated pair will lay a second batch of eggs if something happens to the first batch, so I guess there is still something to hope for – if they haven’t totally given up on this little pond. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

If You Care, Leave It There: Don’t Disturb Young Wildlife

Whitetail Fawn AdirodnacksThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding New Yorkers to keep their distance and not to disturb newborn fawns or other young wildlife as many animals are in the peak season for giving birth.

It is not unusual to see a young bird crouched in the yard or a young rabbit in the flower garden, both apparently abandoned. Finding a fawn deer lying by itself is also fairly common. Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are helpless and need assistance for their survival, however, in nearly all cases this is a mistake and typically human interaction does more damage than good. Those that see a fawn or other newborn wildlife should enjoy their encounter but keep it brief, maintain some distance and do not attempt to touch the animal. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Art and Nature: Returning To the Heron Nest

Heron on nest, 2013If you’ve been reading the Adirondack Almanack for a while, you may recall my emotional writing about the heron nest I found in the spring of 2012, and the three charming youngsters that were about half-grown when nature intervened and they became dinner for some predator like a large owl or a bald eagle. I was devastated as I’d been quietly visiting the nest site for weeks, observing and photographing the heron family. You can see a YouTube video of one of the parents feeding the three youngsters here.

I’m happy to say, the herons are back on the nest. Or more accurately, according to what I’ve read, a male heron, perhaps the same one, returned to this nest site, made sure the nest was in tip-top shape, and then courted a female (who may not be the same one as last year) and convinced her to join him for mating season. I trust those close friends who know where this pond is will keep it quiet and not disturb this nesting pair. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration Next Weekend

Bicknell's ThrushThe 11th annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration is scheduled for next weekend, 31 May – 2 June 2013, at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Paul Smiths, New York.

The event features field trips to boreal birding hot spots, informative lectures, and workshops. Field trips include: an all-day Birding Across the Adirondacks trip on Friday, plus a selection of half-day field trips on Saturday and Sunday (Birding by Ear at the VIC, Beginner Birder Workshop at the VIC, Bloomingdale Bog, Intervale Lowlands, Little Clear Pond for loons, Madawaska Flow, Spring Pond Bog, and Whiteface Mountain). » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Climbing and Peregrine Falcons:
Upper Washbowl Reopens, Shelving Rock Routes Close

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARock climbers will have a few more routes to climb this weekend, according to Joe Racette, a biologist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation who monitors the nesting of peregrine falcons on cliffs.

Racette said the Upper Washbowl cliffs near Chapel Pond are now open to climbers. DEC closes Upper Washbowl and Lower Washbowl each spring at the start of the falcons’ breeding season. DEC has ascertained that that this year the falcons are nesting on Lower Washbowl. » 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.



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