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Adirondack Explorer

April, 2018

Venom: The Secrets of Nature’s Deadliest Weapon
Author: Ronald Jenner and Eivind Undheim

Review by: Ed Kanze

A resident or seasonal explorer of the Adirondacks, you may believe that our cool, northern landscapes are devoid of venomous animals. Sure, rattlesnakes inhabit a smattering of sun-warmed spots along the shores of Lake George and Lake Champlain, but that’s all, isn’t it? You might fall off a cliff here, or die of hypothermia, or be eaten by a bear, the bear being chiefly theoretical because no one we know of has been eaten by one in the Park to date. But you can rest assured that no venomous creature will do you harm. That’s a pleasant fantasy, yet it’s >>More


January, 2018

A Field Guide to Tracking Mammals in the Northeast
Author: Linda J. Spielman

Review by: Ed Kanze

You don’t need a magnifying glass, a deerstalker cap, and a Dr. Watson to track the mammals you suspect to be traversing your favorite pieces of Adirondack real estate. What are required most of all are curiosity and a willingness to invest the considerable time and energy it takes to study footprints, partially eaten food items, and scat. I mean to really scrutinize them, not glance at them in passing. To grow as a tracker, it also helps to find a teacher. Since most of us don’t shell out money to go to tracking schools, our teachers tend to be >>More


October, 2017

The Snake and the Salamander: Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia
Author: Alvin R. Breisch

Review by: Ed Kanze

Once I had the pleasure of meeting Al Breisch, then New York State DEC’s de facto Herpetologist-in-Chief, at a lecture he gave for the Wild Center before it had even been built. Breisch impressed me. He was precise and as armed with accurate information about “herps” (a catch-all nickname for reptiles and amphibians) as a porcupine is charged with quills. Yet Breisch, then director of DEC’s Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project, did not strike me that day as someone inclined to write a warm, accessible, popular book about anything. It was plain he was a man of science, speaking the >>More


July, 2017

Bogs and Fens
Author: Ronald B. Davis

Review by: Ed Kanze

Bogs and fens are wetlands. At least they are if you can call a wet place with nothing but peat, or sphagnum moss, underfoot “land.” Such features, not quite land and not quite water, dot the Adirondack landscape. Whenever and wherever we hike, we march around and over them, sometimes on boardwalks, planks, or corduroy. Botanists, birdwatchers, and naturalists in general tend to go ape over patches of peat. If you’ve ever wondered what’s the big deal or wanted to distinguish a bog from a fen and comprehend the physical factors that make such places different from each other and >>More


September, 2016

Back from the brink
Author: Darryl McGrath

Review by: Edward Kanze

Book Review By EDWARD KANZE We all see things differently. My distinguished writer friend the late Maurice Kenny and I argued on more than one occasion over what sorts of books we like. I provoked the debate, asserting that given a choice between a brilliantly written book with not much at its core and a book of fabulous material presented in pedestrian prose, I’d choose the fabulous and the pedestrian every time. Maurice, a champion of fine writing and a gifted writer himself, disagreed, vehemently. I wish, when we last crossed swords, I had Darryl McGrath’s Flight Paths to thump >>More


March, 2015

The Sibley Guide to Birds: Second Edition
Author: David Allen Sibley

Review by: John Thaxton

Bird book gets better On one of our semi-annual trips to Cape May, New Jersey, in May of 1998, we saw a report on the Internet of a red phalarope at the municipal gravel dump, which featured a two-acre puddle after three days of hard rain. So on the way to the storied Cape May Hawk Watch Platform we stopped by the gravel dump at 7:30 a.m. and saw David Sibley, all by himself, his spotting scope on a tripod next to his easel, his binoculars around his neck, a camera handy. I literally had to touch him to distract >>More


November, 2014

Trees of Eastern North America
Author: Gil Nelson, Christopher J. Earle, and Richard Spellenberg

Review by: Ed Kanze

  The giants among us For all the vaunted magnitude of the largest animal that ever lived, and still lives, consider the largest living trees. A few giant coast redwoods skyscrape nearly four hundred feet above their California roots, while the tallest tree of our eastern forests, the white pine, may shoot nearly two hundred feet toward the energy source that fuels its prodigious growth. By comparison a blue whale is puny. From stem to stern, the largest individuals measure not quite a hundred feet. In the Adirondacks and across much of the North American landscape, trees loom larger than any other kind of organism. Every one of us >>More


September, 2014

Journey with the Loon
Author: David C. Evers and Kate M. Taylor

Review by: John Thaxton

ALTHOUGH I’VE READ several books about loons, a couple of them gloriously illustrated, Journey with the Loon strikes me as the most scientifically informed and appropriately illustrated study of loons I’ve ever experienced. David C. Evers is the executive director, founder, and chief scientist of the Biodiversity Research Institute and has been studying loons since 1987; his wife, Kate M. Taylor, has worked with loons since 1995 and before joining BRI worked for twelve years overseeing the scientifi c program for the Loon Preservation Committee in New Hampshire. Evers and Taylor have done the yeoman work, and then some, and they write with a casual, relaxed style that not only delivers a wealth >>More


May, 2014

You can go home again
Author: Bernd Heinrich

Review by: Ed Kanze

MY FIRST MEETING with the nature writer Bernd Heinrich came on a dark, stormy night at the Saranac Lake Free Library. He was reading from a book then in progress, The Snoring Bird, which combines a biography of the author’s entomologist father with Bernd Heinrich’s own life story. Anyone who had the privilege of being in attendance that night will remember the tumultuous weather outside, the gasps for breath, and the tears that ran in rivulets down Heinrich’s face as he spoke about his relationship with a brilliant but ruthless father. The audience glimpsed the intensity and passion that drive >>More


January, 2014

New York Wildlife Viewing Guide
Author: Published by Adventure Publications

Review by: Ed Kanze

SEEING WILD ANIMALS has never been easier. All you have to do these days is flop onto a couch, hit a button, and the glittering pixels of a digital television bring you images of almost any creature you like. You see it eating, sleeping, birthing, mating, dying, the works. Still, let’s get real. Ogling virtual wildlife on TV isn’t half as satisfying as finding the real thing in the wild. Where to go looking? Ah, that’s often the question. How to find animals to watch when you get there? That’s a perennial puzzle, too. The new glossy New York Wildlife >>More