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


September, 2013

The Crossley ID Guide & Hawks in Flight
Author: Crossley ID Guide: Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori & Brian Sullivan & Hawks in Flight: Pete Dunne, David Allen Sibley & Clay Sutton

Review by: Edward Kanze

There can be no greater thrill on an Adirondack hike in autumn than to stand on a summit and have hawks and falcons stream over your head. Perhaps there’ll be an eagle or two shooting past for good measure, and an osprey or harrier, too. Fall colors and prime hiking weather coincide with migration season for day-flying raptors. What you see on particular hikes is a matter of hit or miss, but if you hit just right, you may get exciting close looks at birds otherwise difficult to admire close up in the wild. While migrating long distances, hawks, eagles, >>More


May, 2013

Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of New England & Eastern Alpine Guide
Author: Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman (Kaufman Guide) & M.T. Jones and L.L. Wiley, Editors (Eastern Alpine Guide)

Review by: Ed Kanze

Nature rare and common HOW IS THE INTREPID Adirondack explorer to make sense of all the flora, fauna, and fungi out there? In the past, the typical way was to carry field guides, which, in the grand tradition of nature books, tended to tackle one subject at a time. A generalist wanting greater knowledge of the life along the Van Hoevenberg Trail up Mount Marcy might stuff a pack with guides to birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, trees, shrubs, wildfl owers, ferns, and more. A single field guide might weigh two or three pounds. To carry half a dozen or more >>More


May, 2013

Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians
Author: By Karl B. McKnight, Joseph R. Rohrer, Kirsten McKnight Ward, and Warren J. Perdrizet

Review by: Ed Kanze

A must for moss mavens Field guides don’t get much more specific than the beautiful new Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians, the latest in the excellent series of field guides published by Princeton University Press. The identification of mosses, aside from distinguishing a few easily recognized common species, has long been the exclusive province of botanists specializing in mosses and of a few rabid amateurs. Collecting samples in the field and carting them back to a laboratory, where they are scrutinized under a microscope, has always been an inescapable part of the game. Even most botanists are unwilling >>More


July, 2012

Peterson Field Guide Mammals of North America
Author: Fiona A. Reid

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


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