Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Monday, August 6, 2018

180 Acres Protected At Wash Co Grasslands

Birder at Washington County Grasslands provided by DECNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the State has purchased 180 acres of land to add to the Washington County Grasslands Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The $326,000 land acquisition, located along Plum Road and County Route 46 in the town of Fort Edward, will increase the amount of grassland habitat protected in the WMA to 466 acres.

The Washington County Grasslands WMA is home to more than 100 bird and animal species, including wintering snowy owls and state endangered short-eared owls. The area also provides critical habitat to 10 of the 11 grassland bird “species of greatest conservation need,” including Northern harriers, upland sandpipers, Eastern meadowlarks, horned larks, and American kestrels. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Northeast’s Most Alarming Insect

Hellgrammites If freshwater insects did senior superlatives before graduating from aquatic life, what would yearbook entries say about dobsonflies? Largest? Most ferocious? Most likely to change names? Most likely to bite a human? Or to be used as fish bait? Or to be confused with a centipede?

All of these superlatives apply to larval hellgrammites – insects that, upon emerging from the water, promptly change names to become dobsonflies. These fascinating predators spend their larval stage eating other invertebrates, including other hellgrammites. They’re equipped with impressive mandibles that can open wider than the width of their own heads and can handily crunch through the tough exoskeletons of most insects. An occasional angler has learned the hard way that the mandibles of larger hellgrammites are quite capable of penetrating human skin. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Monarch Butterfly Lecture Planned At Wild Center

monarch butterflyAdkAction has announced a free lecture, “Monarchs in a Changing World,” by Dr. Karen Oberhauser on Friday, August 10 at 6 pm in the Flammer Theater at The Wild Center.

Monarchs, like many other organisms, are facing the challenges of a rapidly changing climate. Their capacity to cope with these changes remains uncertain. Climate also affects monarchs indirectly, by altering the habitats and plant species on which they depend, or the distribution and abundance of their predators and parasites. Dr. Oberhauser will explain her work using climate models to understand how these direct and indirect inputs might affect monarch in the future.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Deer Flies—Away!

adult deer fly Toothaches, difficult break-ups, and traffic accidents. With some things in life, if you have one, you have one too many. This applies to deer flies, those hard-biting pests with a knack for moving in at the instant your hands are full. And the same goes for their beefier cousin the horse fly.

Deer and horse flies are in the family Tabanidae, a group of aquatic insects comprising over 4,000 species worldwide. Fortunately, we “only” have around 100 species of deer flies and 200 of horse flies in our region. It is the female deer and horse flies which slash you with their scissors-like mouthparts and sop up your life-blood to mature their ovaries. After a nice bloody Mary, or Tom or whoever, they will lay 100 to 800 eggs at the edge of a pond, marsh, or temporary mud hole. The larvae are easily found (should you want to) in ponds and marshes in the near-shore ooze. Mind the leeches. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Living With Wildlife: The House Wren Eviction

house wrenOne afternoon in early June, a small brown bird swooped down in front of our kitchen window. I wondered where it had swooped from when, a minute later, I saw it fly back up, with a sliver of straw in its beak. I went out the back door, onto the deck, in time to see the bird exiting the shower vent on the gable end of the house. It was a house wren, and it was building a nest in my house.

Tip to tail, house wrens, Troglodytes aedon, are generally about 5 inches long and weigh about .4 oz. – half the length of the average robin and far lighter. They have brown feathers, longish beaks, and tails that are often tipped upwards. These tiny birds have one of the most expansive breeding ranges of any songbird, stretching from southern areas of Canada, to the far southern reaches of South America. In between they are found across the entire continental United States, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Ash Tree Monitoring and Managing Workshop Set

On the lookout for hungry bugsA Monitoring and Managing Ash (MaMa) workshop has been set for Thursday, August 2, from 1 to 4 pm at the Nicandri Nature Center, 19 Robinson Bay Rd, Massena, NY.

The emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle which is lethal to native ash trees, has been confirmed in Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties, as well as very near the southern border of Jefferson County.

Developed by the Poughkeepsie-based Ecological Research Institute in cooperation with the US Forest Service, MaMA offers tools to help citizens identify ash that may show some natural resistance to EAB. It is believed that these so-called “lingering ash” may hold a genetic key to finding resistant strains of ash, thus saving them from extinction. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Dry Weather May Mean Less Lyme Disease

tick life cycle Over the past few decades, black-legged tick populations have grown relentlessly. These are the ticks that carry Lyme disease, and so what was once a novelty illness has become a rite of passage for many. It’s probably safe to say that by now everyone reading this knows someone who’s had the disease, if they haven’t had it themselves.

But some years are worse than others when it comes to Lyme disease infection rates, so the obvious question is: what causes this? Part of the answer involves the number of deer and small mammals around. There’s been elegant science done that establishes a neat connection between Lyme disease rates and good acorn years. The oaks produce a good crop, which causes a spike in the mouse and chipmunk populations the next year, and then a surge in human Lyme disease cases a year after that. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Adirondack Plein Air Festival Marking 10 Years

St Regis with Heron Marsh by Jacqueline AltmanWho organizes a major event, without ever having taken part in a similar one? An artist would…. we create new things on a blank canvas all the time! I heard about something called Plein Air Festivals over 10 years ago and one day had a brainstorm. It seemed that if you had a scenic location, you could set the dates, invite a bunch of artists, give them a couple days to paint and then hold an exhibit. So without ever having participated in one, I organized the first Adirondack Plein Air Fesitval in Saranac Lake in August 2009.

Why hold a Plein Air Festival? To share the great beauty of the Adirondack environment with new people. Artists who may never have painted in this area, as well as local residents and visitors who may never have considered buying a work of art. A painting of a place you know, or have visited on vacation might be appealing. Or the fact that you could actually watch an artist as they worked, outdoors, on location, and then purchase that very painting! » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Paul Hetzler: More Blissful Ignorance, Please

It’s a rare blessing to have a job I absolutely love, but it’s not all roses. Although some of it is, literally, roses. All too often it is my dubious honor to bring to public awareness a new invasive pest or disease, and history has not always been kind to the bearers of bad news.

There is an old saying that knowledge is power, but there is another one that ignorance is bliss, and some days I’d be happy to trade some alleged power for a little bliss. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Mallards: A Dissolute Dabbler’s Rise and Decline

mallard ducks Robert McCloskey’s Make way for Ducklings is one of my favorite childhood books. I loved the way Mr. and Mrs. Mallard interacted, their seemingly endless search for the perfect nesting place, the description of classic Boston neighborhoods, and the whimsical names of their eight ducklings.

Not until I started reading the story to my own children, several years ago now, did I notice Mr. Mallard ditches Mrs. Mallard after the ducklings hatch, leaving her to tend to eight kids on her own, amid the dangers of snapping turtles and Boston traffic.

It turns out Mr. Mallard, with his handsome green head, dapper blue wing patches, and charmingly curled tail can be a bit of a scamp; male mallards will mate with just about any feathered thing that floats on water. And they’re not always nice about it. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Stabilimenta: Northeastern Spider Silk Web Decoration

spider web When I was little and tagging along when my dad tended his vegetables, I would sometimes find large black and yellow garden spiders. They were beautiful, and I noticed they had a curious trait: they often added a bright white decorative zigzag to their webs. I always wondered why, if a spider web is meant to catch insects unawares, these spiders would go to such effort to make their webs more visible?

To answer this question, I recently spoke with Dr. Todd Blackledge, who researches spider silk and the web decorations of garden spiders. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 2, 2018

ADK’s Summer Naturalist Series at Adirondak Loj

adk mountain clubThe Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has announced their Summer Naturalist Series is now underway.

Visitors can explore the natural world of the Adirondacks through hands-on activities by attending one or all of the following naturalist led interpretive programs, which will continue to run through August. All programs are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gregarious Great Blue Herons

blue herons Years ago, friends and I spotted a group of huge nests high in the trees along the edge of a large pond: a great blue heron rookery. From across the water (a respectful distance to avoid disturbing the birds), we observed the goings-on through our binoculars. Adult herons flew in and out of the colony, their long necks and heads folded back onto their shoulders in an S-shape, wings beating slowly, long legs trailing behind.

As a parent approached its nest, the young stood up eagerly, jostling each other and clamoring for food. Alighting on the stick platform, the adult quickly inserted its long beak into each nestling’s throat, and with a pumping motion, regurgitated a nutritious soup, which likely included fish, crayfish, or frogs. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 25, 2018

New Hampshire’s Ancient Volcano

Ossipee Ring DikeNorth of Concord and south of the White Mountains is an estate romantically named Castle in the Clouds. Reclining on the patio there on a pleasant spring afternoon, you might enjoy the sun as well as the view. While it’s a beautiful view today, 122 million years ago it would have been a lot more exciting: you would have been staring at an active volcano.

Some articles about the Ossipee Mountains compare the former volcano that created them to Mount Vesuvius or Mount Fiji, attributing to it an eruption ten times bigger than Mount St. Helens’ last explosion. Nelson Eby, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, is less sure. “We don’t actually know that there was a big volcano,” said Eby; “it might have been small. What we do know is that however big the original volcano was, it ultimately collapsed on itself.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 25, 2018

LGLC Announces Living Lands Series 2018 Season

black bearThe Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) is set to kick off its 2018 Living Lands Series on Wednesday, June 27, with “Adirondack Bear Behavior,” presented by DEC Big Game Biologist Jim Stickles.

Stickles is one of six different presenters of the LGLC’s annual talk series, which continues each Wednesday evening at 5:30 pm until August 22 at the LGLC office in Bolton Landing (no presentation on July 4th). » Continue Reading.



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