Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Goldenrod Golf Ball Galls

goldenrodA few Thanksgivings ago, my then-ten-year-old daughter and I went for an afternoon stroll. Unseasonably warm weather made for a longer than planned walk through a power line right-of-way and on down through steeply sloping woods to the Winooski River. As we moved through the tall scrub, Lauren’s interest was drawn to the golf ball-sized swellings on desiccated goldenrod stalks.

As usual, she had many really good questions: what were these woody spheres on dead plants; why did some have holes; what did they look like inside? We pocketed a few and continued our walk. The soft silty river bank was peppered with footprints left by raccoons, herons, skunks, and deer that prompted more questions. By sunset we had made it through the Muddy Brook Natural Area and back out onto the gravel road. Our catch of the day remained in our pockets until after dinner. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

DEC: Avoid Caves and Mines to Protect Bats

northern long-eared bat courtesy wikimedia user JomegatThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has urged outdoor adventurers to suspend exploration of cave and mine sites that may serve as seasonal homes for hibernating bats. Human disturbances are especially harmful to the State’s bat population since the arrival of the disease known as white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than 90 percent of bats at hibernation sites in New York.

All posted notices restricting the use of caves and mines should be followed. If New Yorkers or visitors to the State encounter hibernating bats while underground, DEC encourages them to leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Adirondack Wildlife: The Flying Squirrels

In the days prior to and immediately following a full moon, there is often enough light in the hours after sunset for a person to meander along a well established woodland trail without the aid of a flashlight. By walking slowly and quietly, one can occasionally detect a small gray squirrel rustling about the dead leaves on the forest floor, climbing up a large trunk, or moving along the limb of a tree. While most squirrels strongly prefer to be active during the light of day, the flying squirrel favors the darkness of night and is the most common nocturnal tree dwelling mammal within the Park.

The flying squirrel is characterized by a loose fold of skin, called a patagium that extends from it front and hind legs and connects to its sides. This thin, furry membrane acts as a wing or airfoil when the animal stretches its appendages outward and enables it to glide forward as it slowly descends after leaping from a tree. The wide and flat tail of this rodent provides additional lift and greatly helps an airborne individual alter its flight path so it can accurately land at a selected spot. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 30, 2017

New Book Tells History Of Park’s African-Americans

It’s obvious to anyone who spends time here that the vast majority of people who live in or visit the Adirondack Park are white. This could have consequences for the Forest Preserve, because the Preserve belongs to all New Yorkers and its future is in their hands.

The latest census data indicate that about 18 percent of the state’s population is African-American (another 19 percent is Hispanic or Latino).

Although few African-Americans live in the Adirondacks, our region is not without its own black history. Most people will think of John Brown’s farm in North Elba and Gerrit Smith’s effort to relocate black farmers. But there is much more to the story.

Sally E. Svenson tells the rest of the story in Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History, a new book published by Syracuse University Press. As it turns out, African-Americans lived and worked in the Park as miners, loggers, musicians, waiters, and baseball players, among other things.

The historian Philip Terrie gives a favorable review to Svenson’s book in the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Reflections on Roadkill

moose Every so often, my friend David texts me a picture of roadkill. A fisher trailing a single strand of blood-red sinew. A wind-roused pile of porcupine quills. A bobcat in graceful, permanent repose. One year, he built extra time into his schedule so he could stop to document every carcass on his daily commute – 40 critters in all, not including salamanders, snakes, and myriad other wildlife too small to be seen from a moving vehicle.

What David knows, and what I too have come to appreciate, is that roadkill is not mere gore. Roadkill is, in fact, an opportunity, a chance to look closely at the bodies of animals who would otherwise fly, dart, or scamper away from us. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Can Wooly Bear Caterpillars Predict Winter Weather?

wooly bearThe woolly bear caterpillar is the larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia Isabella. The Isabella tiger moth overwinters in the larval stage. In the fall, caterpillars seek shelter under leaf litter or other protected places.  They eat mostly weeds, including dandelion, clover, and grasses. Woolly bears are relative speedsters in the caterpillar world, crawling at a neck-snapping .05 miles an hour, or about a mile a day.

The woolly bear caterpillar — with its distinct segments of black and reddish-brown — has the reputation of being able to forecast the coming winter weather. According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is, the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a colder, snowier winter. Among a group of woolly bears, the stripes can vary greatly, making their forecast difficult to confirm; the same group of eggs can even hatch into caterpillars of varying dark and light bands. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Paul Hetzler: If An Ash Tree Falls

Call it an infection or an epidemic, but even the most docile and pleasant woods will soon be transformed into Fangorn Forest. As far as anyone knows, local trees will probably not become animate like the ones in the fictional woodland of J.R.R. Tolkein’s trilogy. However, they may be just as dangerous, only for a different reason.

In The Lord of the Rings, trees were inherently good, and if provoked sufficiently could take up arms and kill lots of bad guys. Presumably our trees are also of good will, or at least do not have anything against humans in particular. But changes are coming within the next decade that will render them dangerous through no fault or intent of their own. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Bear Denning: Bears Are Making Their Beds

bear den The fields around our home are something of a bear buffet from mid-summer through fall: wild blueberries in July followed by blackberries, then apples come September, with beechnuts falling from the trees skirting the mown area. In our 13 years here, we’ve seen a mother bear noshing on fallen apples while her cubs scampered around in the tree above her, heard bears climbing and snapping the occasional apple branch while we lay in tents 20 yards away during a backyard campout, and even witnessed two cubs playing in our kids’ sandbox.

I’ve often wondered where the neighborhood bruins – otherwise known as American black bears (Ursus americanus) – den up for the winter. How do they decide where – and when – to hunker down for the cold season? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Study: Artificial Lights Disorient Migrating Birds

Migrating birds circle through the light beams during the 2017 Tribute in Light Billions of birds undertake migratory journeys each spring and fall. Most of these spectacular movements go unseen, occurring under the cover of darkness.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides some of the most compelling evidence yet that artificial light at night causes radical changes in the behaviors of migrating birds. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Following This Fall’s Bird Migration

birdwatchingEach fall, migrating birds can be seen flying south to their wintering grounds. This is the ideal time of year for New York residents and visitors to head to Bird Conservation Areas across the state for great bird watching opportunities.

Visitors can search fields and forests for warblers, sparrows, and other songbirds and explore lakes, ponds, and beaches to see waterfowl and shorebirds. While exploring, visitors can hawk watch to witness the raptor migration. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Adirondack Wildlife: Osprey Exit the Park

American OspreyAs the temperatures in the many lakes and ponds that dot the Adirondacks begin to cool, the fish inhabitants of these waterways start to spend more of their time at greater depths. While this change in the routine of these gilled vertebrates impacts the way late season anglers pursue them, it also affects the life of our region’s most effective surface fish predator – the osprey.

With its 4 to 5 foot wing span and 2 foot long body, the osprey is a bird that is difficult to overlook as it soars over a picturesque mountain lake, or perches on the limb close to the shore of a pristine pond. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Adirondack Birding: The Great Warbler Migration

Male Yellow WarblerFor most birds, autumn is a time of migration. As is the case in spring, not all species engage in their bouts of long distance travel at the same time; some are known for heading out early while others linger in the region for several additional months before starting their journey.

Among the birds that are quick to depart the North Country are the warblers, a large group of small, delicate creatures that abound in the vast expanses of forests when daylight is at a maximum and bugs are at their peak. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Painted Lady Butterflies Making Mass Migration

The Adirondack Park is tinted with a new hue of brown this past week, and not from the changing foliage of deciduous trees for winter. The painted lady butterfly with its cinnamon orange wings outlined by mocha appendages is making moves South for what is seemingly the “most massive migration since the ’80’s” as Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch claims.

Commonly mistaken for the monarch butterfly because of the similar coloration, the painted lady finds residence on all continents except for Australia and Antarctica. In the United States, extremely well breeding populations are found in the North, West and Eastern regions. Taylor said he is receiving “reports from Montreal to the Front Range of Colorado [that] entail the mid-continental migration of possibly billions of painted lady butterflies” this year. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Paul Hetzler: In Praise Of A Messy Yard

western honeybeeOn my twice-monthly drive on Highway 416 between Prescott and Ottawa, I pass the sign for Kemptville, a town of about 3,500 which lies roughly 40 km north of the St. Lawrence. It has a rich history, and no doubt is a fine place to live, but one of these days I need to stop there to verify that Kemptville is in fact a village of surpassing tidiness. (It’s Exit 34 in case anyone wants to take some field notes and get back to me.)

Most of us would prefer not to live in totally unkempt surroundings, but Western culture may have taken sanitation a bit too far. Claims that cleanliness is next to godliness have yet to be proven by science, but research does indicate a neat, well-coiffed landscape is bad for bees and other pollinators. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Adirondack Amphibians: Spring Peepers in Autumn

spring peeper On calm, mild evenings in autumn, a familiar sound may be heard coming from a stand of trees close to an alder thicket or a woodland swamp. A crisp, one-note “peep” infrequently breaks the silence in these wooded settings at night and during the day when the air is unseasonably warm and moist.

This distinct call can perplex anyone who has visited a wetland in spring. Can it possibly be a spring peeper, known for producing the seasonal chorus of natural music after the soil thaws in April? Following a summer of silence, the male spring peeper redevelops an urge to announce its presence, this time in the area in which it may have spent the past several months.
» Continue Reading.