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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

December, 2017

John Davis Publishes Book on Split Rock Wildway


Essex resident John Davis and local artists have produced a new book showcasing the ecological importance, conservation value, and natural beauty of Split Rock Wildway. Split Rock Wildway: Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor examines the wooded hills and adjacent waterways that link Lake Champlain with the Adirondack High Peaks. Davis’s perspective is complemented with illustrations and photographs contributed by Bill Amadon, Sheri Amsel, Larry Barns, Steven Kellogg, Roderick MacIver, Larry Master, and Kevin Raines. John Davis lives with his family in the Split Rock Wildway, where he care-takes Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary. He is a volunteer land >>More


December, 2017

Nuthatches: The Upside Down Birds


Like many people who watch birds, I have my favorites. The nuthatches, for instance. Quirky little birds. Shaped like stubby cigars, with their short tails and thick necks. And that disconcerting habit of spending time upside down. I wish I could do that. Of course, I wish I could walk up walls and hang from the ceiling like a gecko, too. But why do nuthatches walk down the trunks of trees, anyway? “There’s no definitive answer to that,” said Cameron Ghalambor, a professor of biology at Colorado State University who has studied red-breasted nuthatches. The theory is the birds benefit >>More


December, 2017

Living With Liverworts


I followed a stream downhill through the woods as it coursed through a small ravine. At the base of the hill, just before the brook entered a wetland, a patch of unusual-looking plants was growing amongst moss on a decaying tree root that spanned the stream. They were round and flat with lobed edges, and only the size of a dime. A couple of other patches grew nearby. Here the plants had branched out from their round bases, extending flat green ribbons across the damp soil. These odd plants are liverworts, named for the resemblance of lobed species to the >>More


December, 2017

Buy Local Christmas Trees, Support Local Growers


Christmas trees can be seen everywhere during the holiday season. And, because of this, we often think of Christmas tree farming as a seasonal business, which it certainly isn’t. To be successful, year-round management and maintenance are needed. And the work is often labor-intensive, and/or needing to be completed under adverse weather conditions. When starting out, Christmas tree farmers must plan ahead and be able to invest a minimum of six to ten years of hard work and money in their business enterprise before any financial return is realized. Startup operations include soil preparation and planting of new seedlings. Additionally, >>More


November, 2017

Champlain Area Trails’ Owl Prowl Is Back


Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is holding an Owl Prowl on Friday, December 15, at 5:30 pm at the Black Kettle Trail in Essex. Naturalist and teacher Gregg VanDeusen will teach participants about the various species of owls in the Champlain Valley area and will make owl calls to elicit their responses. VanDeusen will also discuss other types of wildlife in the area and copping with the dark. All ages are welcome on this family-friendly hike. Because of the need for quiet, the Owl Prowl is limited to 15 people and advance registration is required. Call the CATS office at (518) >>More


November, 2017

Wood Turtles In The Adirondacks


Before winter sets in, all reptiles and amphibians must retreat to a location that provides shelter against the temperatures that would be lethal to their cold-blooded system. While some find refuge underground, others rely on the protection afforded by water and seek out a place on the bottom of an aquatic setting in which ice is unlikely to develop, even during periods of intense cold. All turtles that live in the Adirondacks belong to this second group, including the wood turtle, a seldom encountered species that exists in limited numbers in scattered locations, especially in the eastern half of the >>More


November, 2017

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Bio Control Lab Established


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Cornell University have announced the creation of a new biocontrol laboratory on the Cornell campus focused on protecting the state’s population of hemlock trees. The $1.2 million lab, partially funded by DEC with monies from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund and headed by Cornell entomologist Mark Whitmore, is expected to be dedicated to researching and rearing biological controls to stop the spread of the invasive pest Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), which is threatening trees in about half of New York’s 62 counties and more than 15 other states. HWA, a >>More


November, 2017

Coyotes Prepare for Winter


Eight years ago, my husband and I planted 128 fruit trees on a hillside, mostly apples, but the back few rows included stone fruits. Our apples began producing with gusto after only a few years. We made gallons of cider and sold bushels of heirloom apples. But the plums have required patience. Their blossoms are so delicate and our springs so unpredictable that after eight years, there are still varieties we have yet to taste. Over these eight years, we have been loyal. We have not eaten anyone else’s plums. This year, we were rewarded when all five of our >>More


November, 2017

Marcescence: An Ecological Mystery


We’re blessed to live in an area that offers some of the most beautiful fall foliage found anywhere in the world. And this fall proved to be one of the most remarkably enduring that I’ve ever experienced; the maples, birches, poplars, oaks, and beeches creating a landscape literally exploding in shades of gold, crimson, and orange, which lasted for several weeks. As cold weather approaches, many species of trees shed their leaves as a strategy to reduce water loss and frost damage. Triggered by hormone change (the balance of auxin levels between leaves and branches), it’s all part of » >>More


November, 2017

Winter and the Golden-Crowned Kinglet


It’s simple physics. In a cold environment, small objects lose heat at a faster rate than large objects. This is why most warm-blooded animals that reside in a northern climate tend to be large in size. Yet, for every rule, there is always an exception and when considering birds, the golden-crowned kinglet is a perplexing anomaly. The golden-crowned kinglet is the smallest perching bird to inhabit the Adirondacks, as this delicate, olive colored creature is not much larger than a hummingbird, (which is classified in a group that is related to the swifts rather than the perching birds.) However, unlike >>More