Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wild Foods: Oyster Mushrooms

oyster mushrooms Carnivorous oysters are lurking about in the North Country, and residents who venture into the woods are advised to carry butter and a skillet at all times. Oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus, native wood-decaying fungi often found on dead and dying hardwoods, are delectable when sautéed in butter. Maybe hikers should carry a few cloves of garlic and a press as well. It’s good to be prepared.

It may be stretching a point to call oyster mushrooms carnivorous, as the only “meat” they consume are nematodes, which are a type of small roundworm that live in the soil. But they are one of the very few mushrooms in the world known to do this, so why not play it up. The nematodes provide the oysters with nitrogen, a scarce nutrient. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Adirondack Ecology: Wildlife, Wilderness and Dead Wood

Discussions regarding the ecological value of wilderness compared to an actively managed forest often centers around the health and well being of specific members of the wildlife community. While the flora and fauna that a tract of wilderness supports may be strikingly similar to that which occurs in periodically logged woodlands, the relative abundance of the various plants and animals contained in each is often quite different. In wilderness regions, there eventually develops a much higher concentration of those organisms whose lives are connected either directly or indirectly to the presence of dead wood. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Seeing Red: Adirondack Foliage Season

We need to figure out how to put Amazon in charge of delivering the weather in the future. Whatever service Ma Nature is using seems to be falling down on the job lately. I don’t believe she intended to give us a record-setting wet summer; I just think all the good weather probably got misplaced on a loading dock in Topeka, or something like that. The spate of mild sunny weather in mid-September, while very enjoyable, was clearly meant to be dispersed over the course of June and July to break up the nonstop rain, some of which was no doubt tagged for 2016. I’d be willing to pay a premium for timely delivery next year.

In addition to widespread euphoria, dusty cars, and dry laundry, another effect of all this sunshine is red leaves. This requires a bit of explanation, given that sunlight typically makes leaves green by activating chlorophyll. This verdant molecule at the center of the photosynthesis miracle is what makes the world go ’round. Some claim it is money, but they need a reality check (so to speak). Without chlorophyll the sole life on Earth would be bacteria, whereas without money we’d merely have to adopt a barter system. Given that chlorophyll and currency are both green, it’s easy to forgive the mistake. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Fog Descending On Swamp Maples

fog on maplesIn the Northern Forest, the edge of autumn feels like no other time of year. The cool nights and warm afternoons call mid-May to mind, but the dawn woods are quiet and splashed with yellow and red. As the days teeter between summer and fall, I wonder if they belong to either of these seasons or to a season all their own.

Although our four-season calendar makes perfect astronomical sense, its simplicity masks the constant change of the northern year. In a 1991 New York Times essay, W. D. Wetherell offered a more nuanced approach to classifying seasons, describing springtime in the Connecticut River Valley as a progression of four phases: “the start of Red Sox coverage in the newspapers; maple syrup season; the day the ice disappears on the lakes; [and] the smelt run.” But he also acknowledged the competing chronology of cabin fever, mud season, and black fly season. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Plague of Ticks: Scientists Search for Solutions

tick life cycleOn a hike this spring, we walked through a clear-cut area with tall grass and brambles. Afterwards, our pant legs were crawling with black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), also known as deer ticks, the kind that carry Lyme disease. Scientists with the Vermont Department of Health recently examined over 2,000 ticks and found that 53% of black-legged ticks tested positive for Lyme disease. A small percentage of the ticks carried pathogens that cause anaplasmosis or babesiosis, two other tick-borne diseases that can make people gravely ill.

Understanding the two-year life cycle of the black-legged tick can help prevent Lyme disease. In the spring of the first year, tick larvae hatch from honey-colored eggs in the leaf litter. The six-legged larvae, about the size of a poppy seed, soon seek their first blood meal. The larvae may become infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease through this blood meal; it all depends on what kind of animal they find as a host. If it’s a white-footed mouse, they’re very likely to contract the Lyme spirochete. If it’s a chipmunk or shrew, they’re somewhat likely. If it’s a squirrel or a larger mammal, they probably won’t. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 18, 2017

A Celebration of Adirondack Moose

Moose At Helldiver Pond There are several creatures that serve as symbols of the rugged and majestic character of the Great North Woods, yet none is as fitting as the moose. When initially seen, a moose may be perceived as being quite ugly and an unusual choice to represent the beauty of the northern wilderness.

Its disproportionately long legs, awkward gait, protruding hump on its back above its shoulders, rather rough coat and odd looking facial features create an image that may not be very appealing at first glance. Yet, together these characteristics create a unique and overwhelming image to those lucky enough to see one of these giants in the wilds, and they help this massive mammal flourish in a sub-arctic region. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

DEC: Endangered Adirondack Round Whitefish Recovering

Round WhitefishThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that Round Whitefish may soon be taken off New York’s list of endangered species and reclassified as threatened.

Fisheries biologists recently netted 15 Round Whitefish in Bug Lake of Hamilton County near Inlet. Six of these fish were second generation after stocking.

This will be the third water with offspring found after stocking. The first two include Trout Pond of St. Lawrence County and Evergreen Lake of Herkimer County.  DEC chose Bug Lake for stocking because it is a cold and clean lake which has provided a high-quality fishery for brook trout and lake trout. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

8th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival September 23-24th

Bruce, Smokey MooseThe 8th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival will be held in Indian Lake during the weekend of September 23 and 24, 2017. Moose-themed family fun activities will be the main attraction.

Visitors to Indian Lake will enjoy programs, games, contests, exhibitions, many in the name of the elusive and majestic moose. The half-ton mammal has made a come-back in the Adirondacks, and one may even spot a moose during the Festival weekend. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Red-Backed Salamander Party Tricks

red backed salamanderI once heard of a biologist with a clever party trick: regardless of where or when a given party was taking place, he claimed that he could produce a wild salamander in 15 minutes or less, and more often than not, he delivered. I suspect he never tried this at any New Year’s Eve parties in northern Vermont, where salamanders are wintering well underground, and where the ground itself is buried under several feet of fresh powder. At the same time, I’d wager that much of his success was due to a single species: the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus).

This small, slender salamander (also known as a “redback”) has disproportionately small legs and is often, though not always, distinguished by a rust-red stripe running the length of its back and tail. Redbacks spend their lives under logs and in deep underground burrows, dining on earthworms, ants, mites, and other small, subterranean delicacies. The females demonstrate remarkable maternal devotion, aggressively defending their eggs against predators for the full month until the young hatch out – a display of parental care that is quite rare among amphibians. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

North Country Deerflies

deerfly My students and I were conducting research in the Winooski River floodplain at Saint Michael’s College last week when the buzzing became particularly intense. A brisk walk is enough to outdistance mosquitoes, but deerflies combine fighter jet speed with helicopter maneuverability. And a slap that might incapacitate a mosquito seems to have little effect on these relentless pests. Deerfly season 2017 started slowly, but by late July there were enough to carry off small children. On trails between wetlands and farm fields, we were dive-bombed by countless, persistent, little winged vampires. Insect repellent did little to repel them. We slapped, feinted, grabbed at thin air, and usually came up empty. It was like Caddyshack, but with flies rather than gophers.

The horsefly family Tabanidae includes deerflies, along with larger Alaskan “mooseflies,” and the greenheads that ruin many a trip to New England’s beaches. Iridescent green eyes that make up most of the fly’s head give them their common name. Far more impressive is their bite: they truly hurt. Because greenheads emerge only from saltmarshes, we know they travel up to two miles in search of blood. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Adirondack Loons Were Once Hunted

The common loon is referred to by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as the “spirit of the northern waters.” Here in the Adirondacks, you can find images of loons seemingly everywhere, from T-shirts to coffee mugs to throw pillows.

The birds are revered as the spirit of the wilderness. But there was a time when they were hunted. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Nature’s Benefits: Adirondack Forest Bathing

Hellene Gibbons & Jess CollinsHave you heard of Forest Bathing? It’s the literal translation of a program developed in Japan for experiencing nature as a means of de-stressing one’s life. I first learned about it in a 2012 Outside Magazine article titled “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.”

The relaxing benefits of nature have been known for thousands of years, the Greek physician Galen used to take his patients outside where they could experience nature as part of their healing process. He felt that it helped stimulate their desire to get better, and famed Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale who went on to found the Leeds Infirmary once wrote about the healing benefits of patients seeing flowers. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sandra Hildreth: Painting the Eclipse

Whiteface during the Eclipse of 2017I painted the eclipse of August 21, 2017. No, not a solid black background with an orange disk with a bite taken out of it. I went out to a favorite painting location and I painted the effects of the eclipse on the Adirondack landscape!

It was kind of a crazy idea, but I figured a 60% reduction of the amount of light coming from the sun should have some kind of an optical impact on the world around us. I considered several options and then went to the Harrietstown Cemetery hill, on Route 86, where there is an unobstructed view looking east towards Whiteface, Moose and McKenzie Mountains. They are always bathed in light during the afternoon, so I figured the reduction of light would effect the colors and values. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 25, 2017

10th Annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day Sept 3rd

mooseOn Sunday, September 3rd, Adirondack Wildlife Refuge will host their 10th annual Habitat Awareness Day, from 10 am to 4 pm.

The theme this year will be Wildlife Habitat Challenges. Keynote speaker will be 2013’s New York State Professor of the Year, Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College, author of Deep Future and many other books and studies. Attendees can hear Stager, along with other local nature authorities, observers, rehabbers and the college interns working at Adirondack Wildlife, discuss what they’re seeing and learning on the ground in the Adirondack region. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kids And Wildlife: A Young Monarch Among Us

Monarch Caterpillar Earlier this summer, my daughter persuaded me to bring home a monarch egg. I had misgivings. This wasn’t my first butterfly rodeo, and previous experience was discouraging. Two summers past, a friend gave us several black swallowtail caterpillars. One lived to adulthood, but all the siblings wasted away, taking on the form of burnt bacon gristle.

On the plus side, this time we’d be starting with an egg, and a new one at that. We had found it minutes after watching the mother butterfly flutter down into a milkweed patch. » Continue Reading.


Page 3 of 912345...Last »