It takes a matter of seconds for residents here in the mountains to identify a fox. These small, doglike creatures stick out like a sore thumb as they roam above the now cold, white landscape in their pursuit of their next meal. Foxes are amazing creatures built for the hunt with numerous abilities that aid in survival. What are these abilities?
It’s not evident from a distance but if you’re privileged to come into close proximity, you would see foxes have vertical pupils. This allows them to see well in the dark as well as giving them a wider field of view, 200 degrees compared to humans at 180 degrees. Their eyes also have six to eight times more rod cells, allowing the fox to sense motion in the dark.
Foxes have quite the proboscis! They have a very keen sense of smell and have been known to find carcasses of livestock buried under deep snow and several inches below the surface. Their snouts are long and their noses are wet, allowing them to smell by dissolving the chemicals in the air and indicating the wind direction.
This New Year’s Day, the 10th anniversary of First Day Hikes is taking place in New York State parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the North Country (With some minor limitations for COVID-19).
The event includes options for hikes ranging from self-guided to small staff and or volunteer-led hikes on Friday the 1st, or the following Saturday or Sunday of January. The extended hiking schedule is to allow hikers time and space to social distance while enjoying nature.
All hikes are family-friendly, ranging from one to five miles dependant on location and conditions. Hikes are being offered at 61 state parks, historic sites, DEC state lands, wildlife areas, Forest Preserve trails and environmental education centers.
This Thanksgiving weekend, Saratoga PLAN will be opening their latest public trail system, the Barkersville Trails, located in the Towns of Galway and Providence. Formerly grounds for sled-dog training, the Barkersville Trails are still privately owned by Dolores Arste and her husband David Hickey, and consist of relatively flat to hilly terrain, with winding pathways through moss-covered boulders and brooks.
When we hear the term “Snow Birds,” we naturally think of a person who migrates from the colder northern parts of North America to warmer southern locales but birds here in the Adirondacks also claim this title and fittingly so.
As winter approaches the mountains, an entire orchestra of song birds migrates to a warmer, southern winter territory. The morning music of feathered chirpers throughout the spring and summer months have flown away not to return until April-May next year.
These flying migrators range from 29 species of warblers to various populations for thrushes, sparrows, flickers, bluebirds, buntings, sapsuckers, wrens and hummingbirds. This does not leave winter void of the sound of winged music, there are songbirds that remain and brave the cold.
The Adirondack 46ers have increased their support of critical stewardship programs in the High Peaks Wilderness after another busy year in the Adirondacks. Last week they announced a $41,000 commitment to the ADK’s (The Adirondack Mountain Club’s) professional trail crew. This pledge was the second from the 46ers, announced shortly after a pledge of $75,000 to be distributed over three years from 46ers, effectively doubling down on their efforts to support the ADK Mountain Club’s stewardship program. The Stewardship Program is managed in partnership with the NYS DEC, and the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Over the last 20 years, the 46ers have donated nearly $350,000 to the ADK’s trails program, $298,000 of which in the last 8 years alone, when visitor use has reached its peak.
In the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, The Rewilding Institute was at work creating its second annual anthology, which showcases the consequences of an “unwinnable war on nature,” including our encroachment on species-rich habitats, and the exploitation and marketing of wild animals for food and aesthetic items.
Produced by The Rewilding Institute and published by Essex Editions, Rewilding Earth has contributions from conservation and restoration leaders and artists who live all over the globe, but several make their home in the Adirondacks and Champlain Valley, including Bill Amadon, Sheri Amsel, David Crews, John Davis, Steven Kellogg, Jon Leibowitz, Rob Leverett, Larry Master, Patty Meriam, Shelby Perry, Kevin Raines, Sophi Veltrop, and Brendan Wiltse.
There is in the previous sentence a title of a book. There are many reasons why we go into the Wilderness. I go to be away from people and visit my church, if you will excuse the expression.
The natural wonder of nature and of being in a wild place calms my nerves and feeds my soul more than anything else I can do in my day to day life. The Adirondacks feel timeless, and throwback to an early period in American history. Trees, water, rocks, sand, wildlife, all of this profoundly changed during the many periods of ice advancement from Canada almost down to Virginia. Advance and retreat, then repeat and repeat again.
Rolling into the summer months, the High Peak wilderness experiences a sharp expansion of its wildlife community.
Insects adapted for survival in an often cool, high-elevation environment emerge from their long winter dormancy and are engaged in eating and breeding. Various species of birds have traveled to our upper elevation slopes to mate and nest, and numerous mammals that reside in this harsh climatic zone are now busy rearing infants which can temporarily double their populations.
One predator that is occasionally seen by people who pass through this region and whose young are currently developing to the stage at which they are leaving their mother’s den for the first time is the American marten (Martes Americana), a creature that symbolizes the great North woods character of the Central Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
If you must “shelter in place”, the North Country is a good place to do so. Those of us fortunate to live in New York’s great Adirondack Park are already accustomed to “social distancing”, and generally have ample space to get fresh air and exercise – thanks to the good work of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and regional land trusts in protecting millions of acres of wild lands and waters. We are also fortunate to have thousands of brave neighbors continuing to go to work to provide us essentials, like groceries, heating fuel, and health care.
Still, even we lucky Adirondackers – nearly as much as our fellow New Yorkers down-state wishing they could be up here – likely have more time alone now than we usually have. Quiet time affords us chances to read. Here is a quick list of books of regional interest and/or environmental bent that I’d suggest to neighbors sheltered at home through this upsetting pandemic.
Although my Irish-American mother taught me that the prefix O’ (descendent of) was originally part of common Irish surnames such as Kelly, Murphy, Hogan and Kennedy, it would sound odd to my ears were these families to suddenly revert to the Old-World form.
I have the same issue with the distinctly New-World marsupial, the opossum. In the Genesee Valley of New York State where I grew up, these omnipresent critters were known to all as possums, and it still sounds foreign to hear their name pronounced with three syllables. » Continue Reading.
When Norway broke from Sweden in 1905, the newly independent country promised to stay neutral in all international conflicts. However, it has let loose highly successful and prolonged assaults of both the US and Canada on several fronts. To its credit, Norway has managed all this without using the Internet or spending a single krone. » Continue Reading.
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