Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Lives Of Chipmunks In Winter

While many people consider chipmunks pests, they are one of our more endearing squirrels. I suspect that part of their charm comes from the fact that we don’t see them for almost half of the year. Contrary to popular belief, though, chipmunks don’t hibernate the winter away, not really. Unlike true hibernators, who sink so deeply into a comatose state that it takes a bit of doing to wake them up, chipmunks could be considered light sleepers.

A true hibernator spends the summer and fall seeking out all possible food items and eating them. The goal is to put on as much fat as possible, for once the big sleep hits, the animal must live off its stored energy supply. If it doesn’t get enough food before winter, the animal is likely to starve to death, never waking to see the blush of dawn on a new spring morning. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Adirondack Winters: Understanding Hibernation

7-year-old mother Black Bear with cubs in a den under a fallen tree - courtesy North American Black Bear CenterOffhand I can’t think of much to say in defense of envy, greed and gluttony, but sloth is different. The lives of some creatures depend on sleeping for half the year, and I don’t mean adolescents. Survival strategies of bats, woodchucks and other animals include long periods of sloth. Ironically, sloths don’t hibernate.

If hibernation is loosely defined as a period of inactivity and lowered metabolism in warm-blooded animals (endotherms) in winter, then many of us in northern latitudes do it. Of course there’s more to it than that. Turns out that among biologists, the exact definition has been a matter of debate in the past. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sunrise from Mount Marcy

Mount Marcy
Capturing the sunrise from the summit of a High Peak requires a bit of planning and an early start. I always pay close attention to the weather forecast, as it can be a complete bummer to spend several hours hiking in the middle of the night only to arrive to a socked in summit.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

With All This Cold, What About Global Warming?

Global Mean Tempertures RiseI had such high hopes for global warming, but when the first week in March was just as cold as February, I felt disappointed. Betrayed, even. I thought the planet was heating up. All my plans for a northern NY citrus and banana orchard, out the window.

Turns out it’s easy to mix up climate and weather, two very different things. There’s a saying in the Adirondacks (and elsewhere, I’m sure) that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. That’s weather: what we experience in a given day, week, season or year. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How Wildlife Are Affected By Intense Cold

February 15 2015 Extreme ColdIntense cold is hard on all forms of wildlife, however, some of nature’s creatures are better adapted to deal with this type of adversity than others. Those animals whose geographic range extends well northward into Canada and Alaska have evolved various strategies to cope with prolonged bouts of sub-arctic weather and are quite capable of surviving the unrelenting cold that the Adirondacks has experienced this winter.

Conversely, some components of the Park’s fauna are on the northern fringe of their range and are better suited for functioning in a temperate region, such as southern New York and the mid-Atlantic States. These creatures are probably not faring well this season. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Identifying Trees In Winter Using Buds

Tree BudsEvery winter I teach several tree identification classes to biology students. Cold or colder, it’s always outdoors, but if student evaluations are on the level, it’s always fun. Demonstrating how to tell one leaf-bereft hardwood from another is one thing.

Bark is not the best feature for identifying trees. Sure, white bark means birch, but some birches have black, yellow or reddish bark. Typical bark patterns, such as diamond-shaped furrows for ash, can be absent depending on site conditions and tree health. Cherry and ironwood bark have light-colored horizontal dashes called lenticels, but only on young wood. Not all hickories have shaggy bark. Bark may provide a clue, but it’s not to be trusted as a sole, or even a primary, source of information. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 23, 2015

A Beautiful Weekend At Marcy Dam

Marcy DamThis weekend we finally had a break from the frigid temperatures that have been gripping the Adirondacks. It was a great weekend to spend skiing in the Adirondack backcountry. The photo above was taken at Marcy Dam. Taking landscape photos mid-day can be challenging. Often we try to avoid including the sun in a photo because it will wash out the image. Including the sun can often add a very dynamic feel to an image. The trick is to stop down your aperture to get the star burst effect and make sure not to over expose your image.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Porcupines: Waddling Through Winter

TOS_PorcupineWinterThe porcupine is one of the most unique and recognizable mammals in our region, and thanks to its short legs and fat body, it’s also one of the slowest.

Of course, a porcupine really has little need for anything faster than first gear, since its quills provide excellent protection from most predators.

It still surprises me though, that a short-legged herbivore that doesn’t hibernate manages to thrive in the deep snow of our northern forests. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow: Nature’s Fertilizer?

winter corn fieldWhere agriculture is concerned, dairy is king (or is dairy queen?) in Northern New York. But with the kind of winter we’ve had so far, I wonder if we shouldn’t start producing other crops, ones particularly suited to our region. How about we raise snow peas? Or iceberg lettuce?

OK, so I’m indulging one of life’s most futile activities, griping about the weather, but for farmers, foresters and gardeners, there is an upside to all this snow. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Exhibit Of Stoddard Winter Photos Opens

Campfire sceneThe Chapman Museum’s new exhibit of 17 original Stoddard photographic prints features a mix of winter images from Glens Falls and Lake George to Saranac Lake.  Subject matter includes both winter activities as well as scenic snow landscapes in the Adirondacks.

One highlight is a rare photograph of a winter camping scene that Stoddard hand-colored to reproduce as a color print.  Others include images of hikers snowshoeing on Saranac Lake, ice fishing, snow covered street scenes in Glens Falls, and views of Lake George’s shoreline. The exhibit is a small sampling of the museum’s collection of over 4,000 Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs that document Glens Falls and the Adirondacks in the late 19th century. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Growing Local Greens In Winter


winter greens trial - Willsboro 3-2012With the cold weather we’ve had lately it’s hard to imagine that anything could be growing in the unheated high tunnels around our region. While some growers do let their tunnels rest over the winter, others keep them in production, growing crops of cold hardy winter greens – how do they do it?

The first step is to use a full-sized high tunnel. You might think that a smaller tunnel would be easier to keep warm but in fact, the opposite is true. The large volume of air in a high tunnel acts as a buffer, warming up quickly on a sunny day and cooling down more slowly than the outside air at night. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Science of Snowflake Shapes

TOS_snowflakesWho hasn’t marveled at a lacy snowflake coming to rest on a jacket sleeve? Do you wonder how it could survive the fall to earth in one piece, or if it’s really true that no two snowflakes can look exactly alike?

A snowflake begins high up in the clouds, not as a snowflake but as a small particle of dust, salt, or ash. When a cloud cools below 32°F, some specks of water vapor freeze onto the particle. As it moves through the cloud, the particle absorbs additional water vapor, building up microscopic layers of ice. When water molecules freeze, they bond together in a way that forms a six-sided ice crystal. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Adirondack Snowshoe Hares in Winter

TOS_HareHomeFor the past 14 years, my Winter Ecology students and I have spent a lot of time outdoors, studying the preferred habitat features and winter foods of snowshoe hares. We’re likely to find hare tracks hopping in and around lowland conifers near wetland edges, and then again at higher elevations, where the forest transitions into fir, birch, and spruce. Where we won’t find them, at least not very often, is in broad bands of open, leafless hardwood. On the rare occasions that we find tracks in this habitat, they have almost always been single strands of widely spaced prints – suggesting an animal that’s really moving! » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Blobs on Ice: Jelly Fungi Add Color to Winter

RSCN5706They look like blobs of shiny tar, a melted lollipop, or a crayon left in the sun too long. They come in vivid colors from orange to yellow to white to black to pinkish. They have a disconcerting ability to mimic human body parts, such as ears and tongues, with Daliesque artfulness.

Jelly fungi.

They got their name because their tissues have the texture and consistency of, well, jelly. In some cases it’s more like rubber. The various species often carry imaginative common names: witch’s butter, snow fungus, jelly ear. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Adventures in Snow Shoveling

BuscoPlowAdkAlmAbout a year ago on these pages, I shared a secret “illness”—snow shoveling—that has been with me since childhood. Besides the interesting and very funny comments that followed on Adirondack Almanack, personal emails arrived from those similarly afflicted. I did mention that more would come in the future, so here goes. Shoveling and keeping a 1500-foot path open for a decade of winters was the highlight of last year’s piece. That probably can’t be topped, but there is more insanity to report. » Continue Reading.



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