Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Meadow Vole in Winter

meadow voleNew Years is a time when many people contemplate shedding those extra pounds gained between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For numerous forms of wildlife, late autumn through winter can be a protracted season of weight loss, however, this is the result of shortages of food during these bleak months, rather than any conscious effort to become trim.

For the meadow vole, a weight loss phase of its life begins in mid autumn, causing this common rodent to lose more than a quarter of its body mass. This natural reduction in the intake of food is triggered by a specific decrease in the amount of daylight, known as photoperiodism, and typically occurs regardless of the availability of items to eat. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Subnivean Zone: Life Under The Snow

TOS_under_snowEvery animal must develop its own way of dealing with winter. Migrate, hibernate, or insulate; these are common strategies. For a few small mammals, survival depends on the snow itself, and the deeper the better.

The subnivean zone is the area between the surface of the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. The word subnivean comes from the Latin “sub” (under) and “nives” (snow). Mice, voles, and shrews retreat here for protection from cold temperatures, bitter winds, and hungry predators. Food is right at hand: grass, leaves, bark, seeds, and insects are free and unfrozen. Under the snow, these tiny mammals create long tunnel systems complete with air shafts to the surface above. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Solstice Will Be Marked With Meteors

TOS_WinterSolsticeEvery year, I eagerly await the winter solstice, which this year falls on this Sunday, December 21. My anticipation is driven not from an affection for winter, but a hunger for sunlight. I want the ever-shrinking days of autumn to be over and done and the slow, steady march towards late-evening sunsets to begin. So really it’s not the winter solstice I await, so much as being on the other side of it.

But this December I’ve decided to pay attention and learn more about the day itself. Turns out to have been a good choice, as this year’s solstice proves to be more interesting than most. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The View From Pottersville This Morning

Pottersville (Shannon Houlihan)


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How Beavers Survive Adirondack Winters

TOS_BeaverOne fall a young beaver, probably a two-year-old kicked out by its parents, built a small lodge in the old mill pond below our house. On cold January days when temperatures were below zero, I looked at the snow-covered lodge and wondered if the beaver was still alive. But when the ice melted in late March, it was swimming around again.

Mortality rates are higher among young, lone beavers than established adults. Winter is especially daunting: no sooner had the mill pond beaver taken up residence, than it had to prepare for months of cold and food scarcity. How did it survive? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stock Up: Local Vegetables in Soups and Stews


winter vegetablesCookie baking season is here, but before I bring out the sugar and butter, I’m going to cook up some healthy soups and stews for the freezer. My garden potatoes are starting to sprout so I plan to make a potato soup using my own onions and garlic, as well as the corn I froze in September.

I’m busy, so I like to make a big batch of soup or stew and then freeze it in pint-sized canning jars to get a lot of meals out of the one effort. These single-serving sizes are easy to grab on my way out the door in the morning and then heat in the microwave for a warm lunch at work. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Do Toads Avoid Croaking in Winter?

TOS_ToadOne warm fall day, while standing outside a lodge I manage, I noticed movement inside one of the window wells around the basement. Realizing that something noteworthy was about to happen, I ran inside to alert our guests.

Together we all crouched to watch the methodical shaking of the earth below us. Slowly the ground moved a little to the left, then to the right, then there was a pause, then left again, right again. Eventually something reached the surface. I reached my hand out and gently touched the rough, bumpy, and very well camouflaged back of an American toad. It continued to emerge, fully exposing its body. The guests and I started pondering all sorts of questions about toads and their habits, but the biggest question of all was: where do toads go in the winter? » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Cutting Road Salt On Adirondack Roads

Plow-600x382Standing next to a small, unnamed stream near where it empties into Mountain Pond on a cool September day, scientist Dan Kelting reads a sensor he just dipped in the water to measure electrical conductivity, which is used to gauge road-salt concentrations.

Pure water is a poor conductor of electricity, but road salt, or sodium chloride, increases conductivity. Based on the conductivity reading (285 microsiemens per centimeter), Kelting calculates that the water contains 80 milligrams of chloride per liter. This means the stream contains roughly 160 times more chloride than a similar size stream a few miles away.

Why the difference? The stream near Mountain Pond, north of Paul Smith’s College, is downstream from Route 30, a state highway that is heavily salted in the winter. The other stream, which Kelting refers to as Smitty Brook, runs through the Forest Preserve and is upstream of roads. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Weather Mysteries: Why Was Last Winter So Cold?

Whiteface ObservatoryIn partnership with SUNY Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the Whiteface Mountain Observatory, The Wild Center will host North Country Climatology: Global Weather Patterns and Impacts on Tuesday, August 5 at 7 pm in the Flammer Theater as part of the Falconer Lecture Series.

Two Meterologists from NOAA’s National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont, Conor Lahiff and Brooke Taber, will unravel the mysteries of weather in the North Country. Why was last winter so cold? How are Adirondack weather patterns connected to more global weather events and to climate change? What kind of weather predictions are being made for the coming years? This event is free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cabin Life: The Chickens and The Fox

The Fox TracksThere’s a steady stream of water pouring off the roof in front of the big window.  There are no more icicles, and the shingles are showing for the first time in months.  It finally feels like spring.

I sat outside most of the afternoon, relaxing in a lawn chair enjoying a good book.  As I sat there soaking up the sun, the snow melted around me.  The chicken coop roof is clear after being baked in the sun all day, and the snow fossils of old footprints are melting away.

The chickens have been enjoying the warmer weather and are basking in the sunlight. For a couple of months, I hadn’t gotten more than an egg per day from the three girls, and sometimes not even that.  But in the last week, I’ve gotten more than a dozen. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 31, 2014

View of Gothics from Big Slide

13009654434_77e9462556_o(1)The view of Gothics from Big Slide is one of the best. It was a perfect day and the Great Range was shining with blue skies. My trip to Big Slide was made over the popular route over the Brothers. If you’re looking for great views, you’ll be rewarded with them after a very short distance.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Big Push Before Mud Season

The Big PushOut of all the months in the year March is the busiest time for the timber harvesting industry – what many call “the big push.” This is our last chance to produce as much product as possible before the end of winter.

This year winter seems to be lasting longer than usual, and that has given us a few more weeks of production until the spring thaw. The big push is everything you can imagine it would be. Chaotic, stressful, and tiring to say the least. It’s what we have planned for all season long. At its end is mud season, which brings a nice break from a daily routine and some much needed time off. Mud season usually lasts until the hardwood trees start to bud, somewhere around the middle of May. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cabin Life: The Owl’s Meal

owl crop2The sun is shining later and later each day, and some of the snow is melting and dripping off of the roof in front of the big window.  It’s officially been spring for almost a week now, but don’t bother telling Mother Nature that.  The forecast of thirteen degrees below zero tonight isn’t as bad as the negative twenty-three we got a couple of nights ago, so I guess, in a way we are getting more spring-like temperatures.  But again, temperatures in the negative teens aren’t that spring-like to me.

I’ve been back at the cabin full time, and having a few weeks off from living out here was definitely nice.  After three winters having to haul in water and use an outhouse no matter what the temperature, the shine of living off grid has worn off.  I still enjoy many, many aspects of it, but this winter has definitely been a mood killer for me.  I was able to tap a few of the maple trees the other day and start collecting sap, but it’s been slow going with the cold returning.  And the hike up the driveway isn’t any easier than it was in February. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cabin Life: The Plowed Driveway

Ice on a spruceI’d like to tell you that it’s been a long couple of weeks out at the cabin.  That, however, would not be the truth.  The truth is, it’s been a couple of very lazy weeks lounging around in the comfort of an actual house.

The weather has been terrible. I was having to hike into the cabin, my firewood is running low, and I was sick of dragging a forty pound jug of water a quarter mile uphill twice a week.  So I’ve been staying at my girlfriend’s with Pico and Herbie.  And the Levine men have officially taken over the couch. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Ed Kanze: How Birds Keep Their Feet Warm

ed_kanze_chickadeeYou wouldn’t think it possible: birds being able to survive cold northern winters in nothing more than their bare feet. And bare most of them are, covered by neither feathers nor boots nor Smart Wool socks. The trick? Listen here as I ponder the magic birds employ to hold onto their toes in wintertime in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement.  Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.


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