Mid-February weather is often quite harsh in the Adirondacks. However the eventual arrival of spring in another month, or two, causes numerous forms of wildlife to begin preparations for the inevitable change in seasons.
Despite frigid temperatures, blustery winds, deep snow, and limited sources of food, numerous creatures begin to focus a portion of their time and energy towards activities associated with breeding, rather then concentrating solely on the challenges of survival. » Continue Reading.
The “peeper season” is in full swing now, and with much needed rain in the Adirondacks, they are loving it! Depending on who you talk to, the sounds of these little frogs are music to the ears or a complete annoyance. I fall on the side of music to the ears, and wouldn’t have it any other way! After a long Winter, these beautiful little amphibians are a welcomed sound! I captured this image of a gray tree frog with my Canon Powershot SX 110 IS, 6mm focal length, 1/60 sec. at f/2.8, ISO 80.
June is the month when many forms of wildlife give birth in the Adirondacks. The last week in May and early June marks the start of a nearly four month long interval of weather favorable for birth and the period of development following birth that young birds, mammals, some reptiles, fish and bugs need before they are mature enough to successfully contend with the life threatening challenges posed by the change in seasons.
Among the creatures that bear their young shortly after Memorial Day is the porcupine, a large and cold-hardy rodent known for its unique system of defense. » Continue Reading.
The 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.
If 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.
Late May and early June is the peak of black fly season in the Adirondacks, and the intensity and aggressiveness of the swarms of these small, dark-colored biting bugs varies greatly from one location to another and from one year to the next. From all indications, this year seems to be one in which there is a definite abundance of black flies in our forests, much to the delight of numerous species of insect eating birds that migrate north to feast on the seasonal abundance of bugs, but much to the dismay of hikers, campers and canoeists that want a wilderness experience free of flying insect vermin. » Continue Reading.
The first clouds we’ve seen in a while are rolling in, and there have even been a couple drops of rain that have fallen from the sky. So instead of writing this while lying in the hammock, I’m sitting in the old rocking chair on the front porch. I can see the four-wheeler, the wood pile, and the lawn chairs that I’ve been too lazy to put away.
The grass is turning green except for the area where I almost always park. That grass is dead and carries the color of dried wheat. Other than that, the colors are coming out, and the rain we’re about to (hopefully) get will only make them brighter. » Continue Reading.
The last week has been nothing but sunshine and warmth. The change in seasons was quick, and it seems like we went from zero to sixty in the temperature department, but it’s been good for the mind. The trees are blooming and the daffodils are shining bright yellow in the hot sun. It’s a good time of year even though my nose won’t stop running and my eyes are always itchy.
The last time I got an allergy test was a few years ago in Jacksonville. The doctor pricked both of my forearms with different allergens. On my right forearm were things like dust mites and pet dander. On my left arm were all the different types of pollen. After about five minutes, the nurse checked in on me and saw my left arm. She left and came back with the doctor, who decided that the red, swollen flesh necessitated immediate action. He cleaned up my arm and handed me a bright red inhaler that he recommended I carry with me at all times. » Continue Reading.
After the ground thaws and the soil finally begins to warm, the multitude of invertebrates that passed the winter burrowed deep within the thermally protective bed of fallen leaves, rotting bark and decomposing wood emerges from their long period of dormancy. Among the many flying bugs that are currently working their way to the surface and returning to a life above ground are the wasps. After exiting their subterranean winter retreat, these often feared stinging insects explore the immediate surroundings in an effort to locate a suitable spot in which to establish a colony for the approaching growing season.
In early autumn, numerous females with a functional reproductive system are produced in each colony. Shortly after transitioning into adults, these females abandon their nest, along with the drones or males, never to return to the colony. The receptive females quickly breed and acquire enough sperm during a single mating encounter to last for the remainder of their life. Within a few days after mating, the males die, but the fertilized females often prowl the area for food before retiring for the winter. » Continue Reading.
Spring has decided to show up fashionably late. I woke up to snow the last couple of days, and even though it’s been melted by lunch time each day, it has been discouraging to say the least. However, even with the new snow showers, it is clear that winter is gone, even if spring hasn’t set in completely yet.
Pico and I went hiking the other day up St. Regis Mountain. It was a crisp morning, but with clear skies forecasted all day, it seemed like a great opportunity to hike one of my old favorites before the bugs are out in any sort of force. We set off and wandered through the woods down behind Paul Smiths and up the mountain. » Continue Reading.
It still looked quite wintry in this view of Whiteface Mountain from Copperas Pond on a mid-April morning. The crocuses are bloming in our backyard in Brant Lake, and I heard the first peepers here on the lake last week, but there’s still a good layer of snow and ice in the High Peaks region. This photo was taken about 6:20 AM. I had along my Nikon D300S and was shooting some angles with that also, but this was taken with my Nikon Coolpix P7700, 6 mm (28 mm full frame equiv.), 1/15 sec at f /4, ISO 160.
I’ve been gone for 10 days visiting family and so upon returning to the Adirondacks and waking up to blue skies and sun (and 21 degrees in April!), I decided to get out in the woods and check out one of my favorite little trails and see how far along spring actually was. I was especially interested in seeing the heron nest I’d found last spring, just about this same time, to see if the herons were back. » Continue Reading.
Strong southerly wind in spring not only brings periods of mild weather to our region, but also helps usher in numerous species of migratory birds from their wintering grounds. Among the early arrivals to the Adirondacks, often before the snow finally disappears from wooded areas and north-facing hillsides, is a cold-hardy member of the sparrow family. Although this handsome bird is just as abundant throughout the Park as the white-throated sparrow, even in the harsh climate of upper elevations, the dark-eyed junco does not enjoy the same level of notoriety as its white-throated cousin.
The dark-eyed junco, (Junco hyemalis) known to most as simply a junco, is a common bird that is easy to recognize. The slate-gray color of its head and back stands in sharp contrast to its white underside and its stubby, creamy-pink bill. Also, the junco has white outer tail feathers that become particularly noticeable when it flicks it tail. » Continue Reading.
If you have spent any time on Facebook, or other social media sites, you may have come across an image that states:
“During the night On April 22 2013, people on Earth will have a chance to see one of the rarest meteor shower. During the night you will be able to see thousands of these falling stars until April 23, 2013, these meteors will have best visibility during the night of April 22, 2013. There is a predicted number of about 20 meteors an hour with possible surges of 100 per hour.”
I’m all about spreading the news of meteor showers and getting people to go out and look up. Experiencing a meteor shower is quite enjoyable, and gives your kids a reason to stay up late and see something extraordinary. What I don’t like however, is the false alarm of it being “one of the rarest meteor showers” since it’s an annual occurrence making it not all that rare.
The Venus Transit last June was a rare event with it’s two occurrences in 8 years and then another 105 years until the next one with another 8 year spread before it takes 121 years for the next cycle; that’s a rare event. » Continue Reading.
Spring usually doesn’t come to the High Peaks until May, but the beautiful alpenglow in this view from Mount Van Hoevenberg, taken in late March, gives a spring-like warmth to an otherwise wintry landscape. Alpenglow colors can be tough to capture in a photograph. » Continue Reading.
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