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Adirondack Explorer

July, 2012

Dragonflies and Dameselflies of the East
Author: Dennis Paulson

Review by: Ed Kanze

Another fine new field guide useful to Adirondack naturalists is Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson (Princeton University Press, 2011). This book contains such a wealth of detail and natural history that it may initially overwhelm the user. Still, it’s hard to argue with the author’s efforts to show and tell all we need to know. Dragonflies make themselves known in every corner of the Adirondacks in every season but winter. Paddlers may duck as big ones fly by, or they may pause to admire the dazzling colors of a northern bluet, a tiny and delicate damselfly, >>More


July, 2012

Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America
Author:

Review by: Ed Kanze

Every once in a long while a new field guide comes along to revolutionize and reinvigorate its particular corner of the genre. Such a book is the new Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, just out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Despite the presence of his name on the cover, the author is not Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996), who helped inspire millions to chase and study birds and wildflowers during a long and distinguished career. Peterson launched the series, but credit for this book goes to its Canadian coauthors, David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie. Moths, you say? I >>More


September, 2011

Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors
Author: Jerry Liguori

Review by: Ed Kanze

Is there a thrill in birdwatching— and for that matter in hiking and mountaineering— half as electrifying as standing atop a rocky summit on a crisp fall day, watching a hawk, falcon, or eagle shoot low over your head? You peer into the raptor’s keen eyes with awe and a touch of fear. Fear—because you sense that the predator is sizing you up. If it were bigger and you smaller, the encounter might end differently, and both you and the bird know it. Autumn hiking and watching hawks go together like clams and chowder. The reason is practical. Raptors traveling >>More


May, 2010

Freshwater Fish of the Northeast
Author: David A. Patterson

Review by: Edward Kanze

WHY DO WE FIND FISH so appealing? After all, humans are hardly the piscivores ospreys and otters are. Yet fish and fishing have preoccupied the minds of men, women, and children as far back as history and archeology can plumb. The literature on fish and fishing grows more vast and diverse by the year. “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm,” says Hamlet. I grew up with a Shakespeare-brand fishing rod in my hands, and while I never thought about it then, today >>More


July, 2009

Adirondack Wildlife: A Field Guide
Author: James M. Ryan

Review by: Edward Kanze

For years, I lamented the fact that the great and celebrated corpus of Adirondack literature included so little about flora and fauna. The second (1982) edition of Paul Jamieson’s Adirondack Reader pretty much exemplified the state of affairs. Browse the index and you’ll see for yourself the scant attention Adirondack Mountain wildlife tended to receive from writers of literary bent. Happily, the times they are a-changin’. Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College broke the field wide open a decade ago with the publication of his marvelous Field Notes from the Northern Forest (Syracuse, 1999). I’ve made contributions of my own, >>More


May, 2009

The Frogs and Toads of North America
Author: Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson

Review by: EDWARD KANZE

In spring, birds flood the Adirondacks with music, and those who tune in report that the chorus thrills the soul. Yet listen closely in May and June, and you’ll detect a far older symphony. This one is of such ancient vintage that it, or something like it, shook the Jurassic air when swamps and marshes were prowled by dinosaurs. It is the noisy, sometimes musical, sometimes raucous display of passion staged every spring by frogs. Because the Adirondack climate tends to be cold, and because our terrain was recently scraped bare by glaciers, our diversity of frogs is low compared >>More


March, 2008

The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State
Author: James P. Gibbs, Alvin R. Breisch, Peter K. Ducey, Glenn Johnson, John L. Behler, and Richard C. Bothner

Review by: EDWARD KANZE

On my mother’s side I trace my Adirondack ancestry back seven generations. That’s hardly a big deal. American toads, red-backed salamanders, garter snakes and their cousin reptiles and amphibians have been breeding, feeding and dying here, with interruptions for ice ages, for untold thousands of generations. They’re the real Adirondack natives. By comparison, bears, moose, martens and humans are Johnny-come-latelies. To enthusiasts, these slimy and scaly oldtimers are known as “herps.” Herp derives from herpetology and herpetofauna, which in turn arise from an ancient Greek term for “creeping thing.” One hears little about Adirondack herps partly because they tend to >>More


September, 2005

Birds of New York State
Author: Robert E. Budliger & Gregory Kennedy

Review by: EDWARD KANZE

Who needs another bird book? Adirondack birdwatchers, and birders elsewhere in North America, have good reason these days to feel as if they’ve been thrust into an Alfred Hitchcock film. Bird books! Bird books! Everywhere we turn, new ones batter our senses, flashing pretty covers, darkening horizons by their sheer menacing numbers, clamoring for our attention and our cash. Ever since Knopf published its runaway bestseller The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000, publishers have been targeting the disposable income of birdwatchers in the same spirit that a barred owl scrutinizes mice. Visit a bookstore or Web bookseller and see >>More


January, 2004

Mammal Tracks and Sign of the Northeast
Author: Diane K. Gibbons

Review by: EDWARD KANZE

You’re out on skis, crossing a field of powder. Or maybe it’s a warmer time of year, and you’re paddling along a muddy lakeshore. You think you’re the first one there. Then you spy footprints. Who made them? If the tracks don’t reveal the imprint of skis, snowshoes, or Vibram soles, odds are you’re following something that walks or hops on four legs. But what? Here you must know how to track. The best way to learn tracking is simply to get out there and do it. Look. Ask questions. Sleuth until you find the answers. No prior knowledge required. >>More


January, 2004

Mammal Tracks & Sign A Guide to North American Species
Author: Mark Elbroch

Review by: EDWARD KANZE

You’re out on skis, crossing a field of powder. Or maybe it’s a warmer time of year, and you’re paddling along a muddy lakeshore. You think you’re the first one there. Then you spy footprints. Who made them? If the tracks don’t reveal the imprint of skis, snowshoes, or Vibram soles, odds are you’re following something that walks or hops on four legs. But what? Here you must know how to track. The best way to learn tracking is simply to get out there and do it. Look. Ask questions. Sleuth until you find the answers. No prior knowledge required. >>More