At this time of year, when spring comes around and the flowers and trees start to bloom, the DEC receives calls about fox sightings around rural and suburban areas.
The Red Fox is small furbearer about 10 – 12 lbs.- (The size of a house cat) and during the spring they seek out den sites in order to raise their young (called “kits”). These den sites happen to sometimes be in less-than-ideal locations occasionally, including under porches and sheds. So, what should you do if this happens? The DEC has some recommendations:
By Thompson Tomaszewski, Lead Naturalist, Paul Smith’s College VIC
Every resident of the Park marks the changing of the seasons in their own way. We all joke about the “12 seasons of the Adirondacks” that include second winter, false spring, mud season (followed by third winter) and so on as if we are bothered by the seasonality of our landscape, but that is far from the truth. Us blue-liners have come to terms with our seasonal lives, and find excitement in the signs of seasonal changes.
The call of spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) (pictured at left) is by far my favorite sound; no noise of any other critter compares. I could sit and listen for hours on end to their high pitched peeps. This, to me, is the song of spring in the Adirondacks.
Laced into this soprano song is the clucking call of the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). Their rough tune is starkly contrasted with that of their neighbor’s but is equally a part of this choir that I’ve come to know and yearn for each April.
This choir is my favorite for two reasons: 1) it’s pleasing to the ear, and 2) it means that salamanders are getting ready to move.
The DEC and State Park’s staff work every spring to install docks at all sites before the opening day of fishing season. Docks are being installed at boat launches statewide, and schedules for installations are dependent on water levels, weather, and ice conditions. Sites are still available for public use regardless of dock installations, but boaters are encouraged to call their regional fisheries office or the state park to check the status of a boat launch.
Restrooms will remain closed at these facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and boat launches at DEC campgrounds will remain closed as well.
Saranac Lake’s Lake Flower boat launch will remain closed due to ongoing construction.
This season the DEC wants to make sure that when boating or fishing, you follow the COVID-19 public health crises recommendations. Please avoid busy waters, congested parking lots and fishing spots, avoid contact and maintain 6 feet of social distance.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announces the start of spring turkey hunting season on May 1. This applies to all Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester county line.
Remember this season to follow the DEC’s safety tips in order to prevent injury and the spread of COVID – 19. The DEC’s annual youth turkey hunting weekend, for junior hunters aged 12 to 15, will take place as well this season on April 25-26.
During the 2019 spring season, Turkey hunters took around 17,000 birds. Spring harvest success is measured relative to two years prior, as hunters focus primarily on “gobblers” (2-year-old birds). The 2019 breeding season started off slow due to inclement weather, but conditions in summer of 2018, as well as good over winter survival due to abundant food in the fall has contributed to a population gain that may offset the slow start to 2019’s breeding season.
It’s not too early for New York homeowners to think about bear-proofing their properties. While most of our bears are still in their dens, the mild winter weather has allowed some of them to stay on foot searching for food. » Continue Reading.
With spring right around the corner, despite what seemed to be a nor’easter a week, I wanted to bring light to something we may not consider with these sunny days but colder temperatures: sunburn.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, exposure to UV rays can cause a number of health complications, such as problems with sight, and everything from age spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin to skin cancer, with about 5.4 million cases diagnosed per year. » Continue Reading.
We noticed the first robin in our yard this year in early March. Normally these famous spring harbingers, who move in comically stilted hops across our front lawn, don’t show up until at least April Fool’s Day. Their earlier-than-usual arrival made me wonder how robins decide to begin a spring migration.
The American robin, with its celebrated rusty-red breast, is a short-distance migrant. These members of the thrush family – the brightly-hued eastern bluebird and the melodious hermit thrush are cousins – move based on a number of factors, mainly related to food supply and the weather. » Continue Reading.
It’s mud season, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until higher elevation trails have dried and hardened.
Spring conditions arrived early and are present at the lower elevations of the Adirondacks, but backcountry trails at higher elevations are still covered in slowly melting ice. These often steep trails become a mix of ice and mud making them slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers.
DEC asks hikers to help avoid damage to hiking trails and sensitive high elevation vegetation by avoiding trails above 2,500 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, including: » Continue Reading.
“Boy, he’s really red! I don’t think I’ve ever seen them that red before,” my wife said admiringly of a male purple finch crunching sunflower seeds at the feeder. He was a nice burgundy. The male goldfinches were getting yellower, but still looked scruffy. The birds made me optimistic that spring would finally get here. The next morning it was ten degrees.
Birds molt for a basic reason: feathers wear out. All that flying, preening, dust bathing, weaving through limbs of bushes and trees. For a bird, ratty feathers can be a death sentence. Feathers, which are made of keratin, like your hair and nails, have to be replaced. There is another reason to molt: it allows birds, mainly male birds, to don more colorful plumage for mating season.
Spring is here, which means baby season! Most mammals and birds in the northern hemisphere, are born in Spring to allow them time to mature physically before Winter, giving them a shot at survival, and many of us will find baby animals in our yards, or while hiking. What should you do?
If it’s a fawn, and it’s lying down, usually surrounded by shrubbery or tall grass, leave it alone. Mom is off browsing, getting the nutrition she’ll need to provide milk for her fawn, while the fawn is doing its job, staying hidden from predators. Thanks to natural selection, which favors prey which are harder to detect, and therefore more likely to survive to breed, and pass along their genes, fawns, as well as moose and elk calves, are nearly odor free, meaning predators like bears and coyotes will pretty much have to step on them to discover them, so get out of the area, as you may spook Mom, who may be watching, or worse, alert predators, who can definitely smell your presence, indicating there may be something of interest to investigate. » Continue Reading.
When I was a child, I looked forward to spending summers with my grandmother at our family cottage on a Canadian lake. Every year, as soon as I was out of the car, we would run to the point to look and listen for loons.
As an adult, I still watch loons. But it wasn’t until this past fall, when the loons began to migrate, that it occurred to me that I had no idea where they were going.
According to Eric Hanson, a conservation biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the common loon, Gavia immer, makes its way east from our region, out into the New England coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Some adults might leave their breeding lake in September, but usually to a nearby lake at this time. The bulk of adults migrate to the ocean in October, while chicks usually remain until early November. By some instinct, juveniles find their way to the ocean without the guidance of adults. » Continue Reading.
Every spring, Mother Nature takes the choir out of the freezer. And sometimes – this year for example – she pops them back in for a while. The choir to which I refer is that all-male horde of early-spring frogs: spring peepers, wood frogs, and chorus frogs. Even while an ice rind still clings to the pond edges, untold numbers of these guys roust themselves from torpor to sing for female attention.
While in our species it is mostly an inflated ego which causes males to become unusually loud attention-mongers when seeking mates, it is an inflated vocal sac which allows male frogs to be so noisy. This air-filled structure balloons out tight, acting as a resonance chamber to amplify sound. I don’t know how it is with all frog species, but the inflated vocal sac of a peeper is almost as big as it is. This contrasts with the human male, whose ego can sometimes swell to many times his body size. » Continue Reading.
March is normally the time of year, at least here in the North Country, when we suffer anguish over which season we wish it would be. I go through it every year, part of me wishing for spring and the other part holding out for more snow. I know there are people out there like me who still wish we had more opportunities for cross-country skiing. There is nothing sweeter (except maybe maple syrup) than a spring ski on a warm March day, with fresh powder, bright sun, and brilliant blue skies. Tree tops pinkish orange with buds ready to burst into new growth.
But this year without a winter is even worse! I feel so cheated. My friend, artist Valerie Patterson, communicates how I feel perfectly in her watercolor painting, “Global Warming”. A lot of us who live here do so because we embrace and enjoy outdoor recreation in all seasons of the year. I’m sure no reminders are needed about how sparse our snow was and how warm the temperatures averaged. My Adirondack Artists Guild colleague Burdette Parks announced the ice went out on Middle Saranac on St Patrick’s Day this year – the earliest he and his wife, Fran Yardley, can remember. They reported the water stayed open much later this winter as well. » Continue Reading.
To celebrate my 25th birthday a few weeks ago, I went for a trail run in Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, I forgot that we were in the midst of a yearly Adirondack tradition — black fly season.
Blissfully unaware, I decided to run while my companion, (my mother) walked. I’m not exactly Usain Bolt, so I kept my pace moderate. I paused a few times to catch my breath, but for the most part I kept moving.
An hour later, we emerged from the woods, and my mother was bleeding. She had been bitten viciously by the black flies. Meanwhile, I had escaped virtually unscathed. » Continue Reading.
Last May, while out hiking, I came across a young fawn curled up in the ferns only three feet from the Appalachian Trail. My husband and our dog had already walked right by without noticing it. I quickly snapped a few photos as the creature lay motionless, its large eyes wide open, a picture of innocence. Then I alerted my husband, we put the dog on a leash, and hurried away. » Continue Reading.