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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

October, 2018

Shady Characters: Paul Hetzler On Nature


Regular Adirondack Almanack contributor Paul Hetzler is the author of a new book of nature essays, Shady Characters: Plant Vampires, Caterpillar Soup, Leprechaun Trees and Other Hilarities of the Natural World (Lexingford Publishing, 2018). Paul Hetzler knows all about nature in all its wonders, complexities, and hilarities, and weaves considerable wit with a range of wisdom. A Canton, NY-based arborist, educator and writer, Hetzler says he had intended to be a bear when he grew up, but failed the audition. He settled for an educator position instead, and serves as Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of >>More


October, 2018

Mallards: The Chevy Impala of Ducks


My francophone wife is often amused as I commence à apprendre la langue, like the time I said connard when I meant canard. For the monolingual English-speakers out there, canard means duck, while the rough equivalent of connard is a word that rhymes with “spithead,” and that you don’t want your kids to say. But where mallards and other puddle-ducks are concerned, the two are related. The drake (male) can be an absolute connard sometimes. The Darwinian principle “survival of the fittest” is not always about who wins the antler fight or arm-wresting contest. Fitness means being well-suited » Continue >>More


October, 2018

Toad Toxin: Don’t Mess with Anaxyrus


When my kids were toddlers, they discovered, quite happily, a toad in a damp corner of their sandbox, tucked into the shade beneath the small, triangular piece of wood that served as a seat. The toad seemed to spend most days there, probably waiting until dark to emerge and hunt bugs and slugs. Thankfully, back then, we had a more mature dog who was wise in the ways of the world – not the goofy pup we have now, who I’m sure will learn the hard way not to eat toads. Many a clueless canine has clamped its mouth around >>More


October, 2018

Indian Pipe: Ghost Flowers of the Forest


On a walk in the woods in early fall, you may see a cluster of waxy, white stems with tiny, scale-like leaves rising out of the leaf litter or pine needles. At the end of each translucent stem is an odd, bell-shaped flower. This is Indian pipe, named for its resemblance to the clay pipes once smoked by Native Americans and early settlers. Indian pipe, also known as corpse plant and ghost flower, has an unusual strategy for survival. It lacks the green pigment chlorophyll, and therefore cannot make its own food through photosynthesis as most plants do. Indian pipe >>More


October, 2018

On The Watch For Porcelain Berry


A total lunar eclipse is likely more common than the swift removal of a novel invasive plant infestation, but fingers are crossed that such a thing happened in St. Lawrence County this summer. The plant eradication, I mean — we all know about the celestial event this past July, the first central lunar eclipse since June 2011. Thanks to the sharp eyes of Dr. Tony Beane, a Professor of Veterinary Science at SUNY Canton who is also an avid naturalist, an exotic vine capable of smothering fields and forests has been eliminated within weeks of its confirmation in the Ogdensburg >>More


October, 2018

DEC Advises Public To Watch for Adirondack Moose


Motorists should be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas at this time of year during peak moose activity, advises the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York. During this time moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy sighting of a moose, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway. Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body >>More


October, 2018

Adirondack Loon Celebration, Art Show At Paul Smith’s VIC


The loon is such an iconic symbol of wilderness with its haunting call, red eyes, and distinctive markings. With all wildlife, we need to understand how to respect its boundaries while admiring it in its natural habitat. Thanks to the Adirondack Loon Center for Loon Conservation, there is a place to learn more about this aquatic bird. The annual Adirondack Loon Celebration takes place at the Paul Smith’s VIC, October 7 from 1 to 5 pm, with a schedule of activities emphasizing the importance of loons to the Adirondack ecosystem. Live music with Celia Evans, Green Goddess food, silent auction, >>More


October, 2018

Paul Hetzler: Plant A Tree, or Rent It?


Planting a tree isn’t rocket science, which is good thing. If it were that complex, I’d wager we’d have a lot fewer trees lining our streets. It may not take a scientist to plant a tree correctly, but a lot of money is spent each year to buy and plant trees which may as well be leased, because they will only live a fraction of their expected lifespan. When trees decline and die after 15, 20, or even 30 years, the last thing we probably suspect is shoddy planting. Although landscape trees like mountain-ash and birch have naturally short lives, >>More


September, 2018

Stings and Stingers: An Outside Story


As a boy, I was exploring the loft of my grandmother’s barn when I disturbed a bumblebee nest among the moldering hay bales. In my memory, I leap stuntman-like from the haymow and hit the ground 10 feet below running flat out, rounding the corner of the barn then glancing back to see if anyone is in pursuit. There is an angry bumbler coming up fast. I vault the rusty ornamental fence and am steps from the screen door and safety when … I get nailed in the neck. Ow! When we lived in Louisiana, I scalped a fire-ant nest >>More


September, 2018

As Invasive Waterflea Spreads, Another Confirmed In Champlain


Researchers have confirmed the presence of fishhook waterflea (Cercopagis pengoi) in Lake Champlain, bringing the known number of nonnative and aquatic invasive species in Lake Champlain to 51. The discovery increases the likelihood of the invasive’s spread by recreationists into the Adirondack Park, which currently has 12 known aquatic invasive species in interior lakes and where spiny waterflea has been spreading. The fishhook waterflea is similar to the spiny waterflea, which was confirmed in Lake Champlain in 2014; they are both small crustaceans that are aggressive predators of zooplankton and are known to foul fishing lines. The Finger Lakes and >>More