Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring is in the Air

I've been feeling a bit guilty about not getting any posting done at this blog. The twice-weekly posts for the Almanack keep me pretty busy with researching and writing, to the point where sometimes my own natural history blog is pushed to the back seat. Sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with natural history material for three different spaces!

That said, let me just make note here of some of the things that are happening around the central Adirondacks that indicate that Spring is rolling quickly our way.

First, the blackbirds have returned. From red-wings and cowbirds, to grackles and starlings (the latter not technically a "blackbird," as in a member of the Icterid family, but still a black bird none-the-less), these birds have been flocking to feeders and lawns in Newcomb for the last couple of weeks. I even heard geese one night last week (Newcomb isn't on any of the flyways, so we don't often see migratory waterfowl).

Second, the winter birds have been thinning out. That is to say, they aren't losing weight, but their numbers are declining. Fewer and fewer goldfinches are showing up at the feeders, although purple finch numbers have increased slightly. Evening grosbeaks are still hanging around, so perhaps they know something we don't.

Every evening when I walk the dog, I keep my ears peeled for the first woodcock. Last year I had a report of a woodcock in mid-March, although my records don't show them until the end of the month or even April. Still, this year things seem to be happening sooner than usual, so I'll remain vigilant.

The pussy willows in my yard have put out their fuzzy catkins, but this is nothing to go by, since they were out in December, too. I'm waiting to see them on the wild willows.

I've seen flies and assorted other buzzy insects zipping around the walls of the house (inside and out), and I've heard folks reporting seeing bees out already (although I suspect they are further downstate).

And although the tulips, daffodils and iris have shoved green shoots up along the foundation, I'm still waiting for that first dandelion to burst forth declaring the season has officially arrived. In the wild, I'll be looking for coltsfoot, spring beauty and trout lilies.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Faithful readers of this blog may have noticed that there have not been any new posts for five months! The four persons who contributed to the 20 natural history posts to-date on this blog decided to contribute their blog writing time to other more established blogs. Brian McAllister's blogs may be found on the Adirondack Explorer (http://adirondackexplorer.org/notes-from-the-field/) and Adirondack Almanack (http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/) blog sites. Larry Master contributes on a biweekly basis to the Adirondack Almanack, Ellen Rathbone posts twice weekly on the Adirondack Almanack and much more frequently on her Adirondack Naturalist blog (http://adknaturalist.blogspot.com/), and Phil Brown blogs at the Adirondack Explorer (http://adirondackexplorer.org/out-takes/) as well as once a week on the Adirondack Almanack. Please visit these other blog sites as it is uncertain if and when the Adirondack Natural History blog will be re-activated. :(

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonid meteor showers this week.

If you're willing to get up around 4AM this coming Tuesday....have a look toward the western skies and you'll see a wonderful showing of meteors (weather permitting) known as the Leonids! This particular shower is called this because the meteors see to originate near the constellation Leo.

This is Leo:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Environmental Literacy Roundtable

Are you familiar with the No Child Left Inside legislation in New York?
Many environmental educators, teachers, and outdoor enthusiasts are discussing a legislation that should be implemented into schools to get students connected to nature.
On Saturday, 14 November, 9:30am-12noon, like-minded educators and general public will gather at the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths, NY to discuss the growing issue of environmental literacy.
So come and be an active participant in the development of a state-wide Environmental Literacy plan that will be innovative and bring new ideas to the current education system.
Contact Milt Adams
Environmental Educator-Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center
for more details

Paul Smiths College Lecture- Friday

Paul Smiths College is presenting their final lecture, Fertility of Neotropical Migrants looking specifically at Swainson's Warbler, of the Fisheries and Wildlife Seminar Series this Friday, 6 Nov, at 10:10AM:


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Henry's Woods in Lake Placid

Walking along the "new" trail known as Henry's Woods Trail off Bear Cub Rd in Lake Placid, I felt somewhat a kin to another Henry...Henry D. Thoreau. Not 10 minutes away from the bustling village of Lake Placid is a wonderful 2.5 mile trail(looped) that cuts through the typical "beech, birch, maple forest" of this region. Careful observation will also find black cherry, hemlock, fir, red spruce, and plenty of white pine growing among this forest family.

After walking it in the rain one day earlier this spring I could not quite get the superficial inventory that I found myself taking today as I walked in the mid-autumn silence. What first struck me was the number of different mosses I could find growing along the trail and on the nearby tree trunks and logs. Then the fern species, though not too numerous, could prove fun to watch unfurling in the spring. As a dominant beech, birch, maple forest this area should provide some great spring wildflower watching come May/June. I believe found a healthy population of an endangered plant species along the trail.

I can also envision a few species of salamanders slowly working their way around the forest floor. With a frequently crossed stream(probably ephemeral) I will hope to find a few Northern two-lined salamanders on a springtime walk.

As is usually the case with me, it's the birds that draw most of my attention. Judging by the diversity of tree species and a full, healthy looking canopy, my guess is this will be a good place to bird for spring migrants. I found 2 pileated woodpeckers exploring a dead maple about midway through the 2.5 mile loop.

As fall flows into winter up here I look forward to many ski runs along this trail and I'll bet the animal tracking along Henry' trail will be exciting.

So to all the visionaries, designers, and laborers that brought this trail into being....I thank you. I can see many of our natural history buffs will enjoy this wander through a really nice Adirondack forest, near home.

For a bit more info on the trail and it's short history check out this link:

Friday, October 23, 2009

NY DEC adds "New York Nature Explorer" to web

Our New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation has put together a wonderful online tool that can help you as you research the natural world of NY. Based on the many completed "Atlas" projects(Birds, Herps, Flora), this tool can help you find flora and fauna in: your town, county, natural area, as well as find natural communities, and also look up specific species.
Go to this website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/57844.html
and click on the "launch NY Nature Explorer" and it will give you clear instructions on how to use it. This is great for any biodiversity research being done out there.