Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Outside Story: The Ecology Of Leaf Litter

It’s one of the pleasures of fall: walking in the woods on a warm day, scuffing my feet through a deep layer of newly fallen leaves. Looking down, I notice the gold coins of aspen leaves against the bread-knife serrations of brown beech leaves. My feet make that “swoosh, swoosh” sound that takes me back to when I was a kid.

It’s November and the color blast has faded. The woods are gray and brown. The much admired “fall foliage” has drifted earthward to become the more prosaic “leaf litter.” I understand the term, but the word litter grates a little. It connotes trash, yet leaves are just the opposite of trash. Their contribution to forest health, to the ecosystem, is incalculable. They help make the forest what it is.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tracking Invasive Insects Using Your Smartphone

As the days grow shorter and the evening temperatures cool, hobos of the insect community begin making their way to our doorstep. Reduced light and temperature act as a switch to halt their feeding frenzy, turning now to find shelter for the winter months that lay ahead. Having stocked up on food reserves, they intend to use our homes as over wintering sites, guest cottages if you will, to increase their chance of survival.

Two invasive insects making their way into our homes include the newly invasive brown marmorated stink bug and the multicolored Asian ladybird beetle. Both are exotic species that hail from regions of China, Korea, and Japan yet readily adapted to climates and habitats in the U.S. They are most commonly found this time of year gathering on the sun-facing exposure of structures, restlessly making their way into the upper rooms and attic of your home. In the spring, they will all leave. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Prime Time For Hunting Whitetail Deer

Traditionally, it is between November 4th and 18th when the peak of the rutting or breeding season for the white-tailed deer occurs in the Adirondacks. Bucks are continuously on the move during these two weeks as they attempt to locate any doe that is nearing her initial heat period.

Also, as bucks expand their search for females outside their regular area of travel, males must continue to regularly return to their home range in order to ensure that rivals do not intrude into their domain.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Invasives: An Asian Longhorned Beetle Scare

I remember sifting through my work emails on a morning in June when my eyes popped to the subject, “Possible invasive Asian longhorned beetle spotted.”

The email was sent from Kavya Pradhan, the summer intern at the Irondequoit Inn in Piseco, NY who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier that week.  As a college student, Kavya is interested in invasive species, and scheduled a meeting with Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District staff to discuss partnership opportunities.  I assembled a packet of invasive species educational materials for her. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Weekend AIC Events

Without really knowing what sort of residual weather Hurricane Sandy may blow into the Adirondack Park, Assistant Program Manager Kaley Donavon at the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb is confident that the weekend plans at the AIC will go uninterrupted.

Donavon says, “ We have 3.6 miles of trails with some sort of water feature for people to enjoy, at the Adirondack Interpretive Center. Trails lead to Rich Pond, cross Little Sucker Brook and continue to Belden Pond. This weekend we are also hosting a 2-mile hike around Arbutus Lake in the Huntington Wildlife Forest.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

That Fuzzy White Stuff: Woolly Alder Aphids

When raking leaves, putting away patio furniture and dealing with other outdoor chores that should be done before winter sets in, an observant individual may notice small, fuzzy, bluish-white insects slowly drifting through the air.

Upon close examination, these gnat-like bugs have an abdomen covered with a mass of tiny, curly, white fibers and a thorax that is a light iridescent blue-green, especially near the base of their transparent wings. These tomato seed-sized invertebrates are known as woolly aphids, and although they are active from mid-spring through October, it is only after the leaves have fallen and they take to the air that they become marginally visible to anyone that spends time outside.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Outside Story: Smart Birds Stash Stores, Thwart Thieves

We know that squirrels make the most of fall’s plenty by hoarding nuts for the winter, but the fact that birds also store, or cache, food goes largely unappreciated. Through clever observation and experiments, biologists have found that food caching (from the French cacher, “to hide”) has developed to a high art in some birds.

Take the chickadee, for instance. Chickadees put tens of thousands of food items a year into short-term storage. They usually retrieve and eat the food in the space of several days. Each food item is cached in a different place to make it difficult for thieves to steal all the food at once. When hiding a new item, they remember their previous storage sites and avoid placing caches too close together.
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cabin Life: Sights And Sounds

The silence out here can be both comforting and disconcerting.  It’s not that there’s no noise, because there can be a lot.  But often, it’s just the wind in the trees.

There was one neighborhood in Jacksonville where I heard sirens every night.  For two years.  A woman had her purse snatched in broad daylight, and she was a cop.  I heard gun shots a few times and more domestic disputes than I care to remember.  I heard kids crying for hours on end and guys blasting rap at four in the morning.  There was a lot of noise in that place.  The apartment I got after that one was a few blocks from the ocean and on Sunday mornings, when everyone else was at church and Pico and I played Frisbee, I could clearly hear the rolling sound of the ocean. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birding: Project Feeder Watch This Winter

The 26th season of Project FeederWatch begins November 10, and participants are needed more than ever. By watching their feeders from November through April and submitting their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, bird watchers make it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent. New or returning participants can sign up anytime at www.FeederWatch.org.

After unusual winter weather in some parts of the country last season, many participants found themselves asking, “Where are the birds?”
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A New Research Approach For Bicknell’s Thrush

A new effort to protect the rare Bicknell’s Thrush by an alliance of North American scientists and conservationists is taking the unusual step of funding a team of Dominican biologists to work in the migratory songbird’s Caribbean wintering habitat.

The Bicknell’s Thrush Habitat Protection Fund at the Adirondack Community Trust has awarded a $5,000 grant to Grupo Jaragua, whose biologists will study the thrush in forested mountains on the Dominican Republic’s border with Haiti. The grant recognizes a need to protect the songbird across its entire range, particularly in its threatened winter destinations. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scientists Study Mercury Pollution With Dragonfly Larvae

The Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation (ALSC) recently completed collections of dragonfly larvae in acid rain sensitive Adirondack surface waters in a new study of mercury pollution.

ALSC staff assisted Dr. Sarah Nelson of the University of Maine Mitchell Center and School of Forest Resources, and collaborators at the SERC Institute, Maine Sea Grant, the USGS Mercury Research Lab, and Dartmouth College, who have been developing the concept of using dragonfly larvae as bio-sentinels for mercury concentrations in northeast lakes and streams. Dragonfly larvae or immature dragonflies live in the water for the first year or years of their lives. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Report: 2012 State of the Adirondack Park

The Adirondack Council, an independent advocate for the Adirondack Park founded in 1975, has issued it’s 2012 State of the Park report.  “The Adirondack Park was subjected to a barrage of extreme outside influences over the past 12 months, some of which devastated small communities and public natural resources, while others brought unprecedented good news to park residents and visitors,” a Council issued press release said.

The annual State of the Park Report reviews of the actions of local, state and federal government officials that the Council believes have helped or harmed the Adirondack Park over the past year. The illustrated, 18-page review is the Council’s 27th annual State of the Park report. A copy of the report is available online. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Adirondack Wildlife: Skunk on the Prowl

The rainy weather that has persisted over the past month has returned the water in our rivers, lakes, and ponds to levels typical for this time of year, rejuvenated the trees and shrubs in our forests and the grass and weeds in our lawns.

It has also restored the moist soil environment necessary for the continued activity of numerous invertebrates, terrestrial amphibians, and other creatures that reside on the ground and in the dirt. Despite several frosts and the record cold this past Friday night that temporarily froze the surface of the soil, many of the organisms that exist in the ground remain active well into the autumn.
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Outside Story: Decline of American Kestrels

One autumn day, 15 years ago, I found myself perched on a ladder that was leaning against a highway sign on Interstate 89 somewhere in Vermont. There was a wooden box clamped to one of the sign poles at least 15 feet off the ground, although fear may have exaggerated that memory. I was providing a little autumn house-keeping for one of those nest boxes so it’d be ready when the kestrels returned to breed the next spring.

The box was one of 10 kestrel nest boxes then deployed along the interstate by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, or VTrans. It’s a feel-good project started in 1995 with $40, some scrap wood, and plenty of volunteer hours from VTrans employees, who built the boxes on their own time. Since then, about 90 kestrels have fledged and four orphaned young were fostered in the boxes. That’s a lot of bang for the buck, or rather, a lot of birds for the box.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Outside Story: Peregrine Falcons

When asked to name the fastest animal on earth, many people will respond “cheetah.” But it is the peregrine falcon – a cliff-dwelling raptor –that holds that title with the ability to reach speeds of 200+ MPH as they stoop (dive) in flight. (The cheetah tops out at a mere 70 MPH).

Equally remarkable is the fact that this speed demon of the skies was nearly wiped out 50 years ago; its recovery ranks among the great success stories of conservation biology and endangered species management.

Historically, the eastern peregrine falcon population was centered in New England and the Adirondack Mountains, ranging south along the spine of the Appalachians to western Georgia. In 1940,the population was estimated at 350 pairs; by the mid-1960s, the species was completely gone from the region, a victim of the devastating pesticide DDT. » Continue Reading.