FacebookTwitterInstagram Youtube
Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

January, 2018

Rare Blue Supermoon Lunar Eclipse January 31st


On the night of December 3, 2017, a moon rose that was unlike any other of the year. Not only was it full, but it was at the closest point to earth during its orbit. Astronomers refer to this orbital proximity as perigee – a word with Greek origins that means “close to the earth” – thus this full moon was a perigean full moon. Of course the phenomenon is more commonly known as a supermoon, a term coined in 1979, not by an astronomer, but by an astrologer named Richard Nolle. By his definition, a supermoon is a full >>More


January, 2018

Adirondack Forest-Tent Caterpillars


Winter is not a season when many people think about tents, except maybe to be glad they do not live in one. I do have some friends who love winter camping, and the fact they have never extended an invitation is evidence of how much they value our friendship. Oddly enough, winter is a crucial time to look for signs of forest-tent caterpillars (FTC). In spite of their name, FTC do not weave a silken tent-like nest like the eastern-tent caterpillar and other species of tent caterpillars. The tent-less lifestyle of forest-tent caterpillars makes it harder to spot outbreaks in >>More


January, 2018

Living A Wood-Burning Life


At about 9 am on an overcast November Saturday, a group gathered at the edge of the local dump. They sipped coffee, pulled on gloves, and adjusted ear protectors. Then they started to work. There were loggers, tree care experts, high school students, police officers, doctors, farmers, and lawyers. There were whole families, a guy on crutches, a few dogs, a legislator or two. By day’s end, they had cut and stacked more than 21 cords of firewood, and delivered most of it to the homes of their neighbors. What was left would be available throughout the winter to anyone >>More


January, 2018

Split Rock Wildway: Our Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor


John Davis’ new book Split Rock Wildway: Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor (Essex Editions, 2017) is a look at some of the wildlife thriving in the wooded hills and adjacent waterways linking Lake Champlain with the High Peaks. Davis and artist friends illustrate the ecological importance, conservation value, and natural beauty of the wildway and its many inhabitants. Split Rock Wildway takes a look at the areas wildlife, from salamanders to sturgeon to raptors to moose. The book is intended to help the reader better understand and protect the Split Rock Wildway and larger Adirondack Park. The >>More


January, 2018

Name Calling: Gagroot, Vomitwort or Pukeweed?


Encouraging people to make friends with wild plants can be a challenge. Sometimes there are genuine concerns. Nettles, as an example, make an early-spring cooked green par excellence, even though its fresh leaves and stems have stinging hairs that can cause an uncomfortable, if temporary, rash if care is not taken when harvesting it. Other times, it is a matter of perception. Critical to the survival of monarch butterflies, milkweed is delicious when prepared correctly. Jewelweed, native to wetlands, contains a sap which counteracts poison ivy, and its orange or yellow orchid-like flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Yet both plants >>More


January, 2018

Bird Smell is Nothing to Sniff At


I have spent about a decade as a backyard birder and have learned quite a bit in that time. I can instantly recognize the call of a red-winged blackbird and the sweet summer song of the wood thrush. I know a scarlet tanager the moment I see one and can distinguish between the various hawks that inhabit this area. I am knowledgeable about migration patterns, nesting habits, mating and fledging. But avian olfaction? Not so much. I always assumed that birds did not have a sense of smell or that it was so minimal as to be insignificant. I am >>More


January, 2018

Winter Birding Weekend Planned For Long Lake


The Town of Long Lake is planning a Winter Birding Weekend for January 27-28. Events will include field trips, a presentation, and social dinner. Participants will look for winter irruptive species such as Bohemian Waxwings, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks, along with year-round boreal residents such as Black-backed Woodpeckers, Gray Jays, and Boreal Chickadees. Joan Collins is scheduled to lead field trips on both days. The main field trip will take place on Sunday, January 28, with an optional trip on Saturday, January 27, 2018 for those who arrive early. (In the >>More


January, 2018

Environmental DNA: Frontiers of Adirondack Science


Conserving our native fish is a major goal of the Ausable River Association (AsRA). We know the Ausable River watershed, particularly the high elevation tributaries to the East Branch, is one of the most likely places to retain Brook Trout under future climate warming scenarios across their native range. We also know that much of that habitat is fragmented by undersized culverts that serve as barriers to fish passage. Finally, we know that introduced non-native species, such as Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, threaten our native fish populations. These facts are well documented in the scientific literature and summarized in >>More


January, 2018

Will Our Extreme Winter Cold Wipe Out Ticks?


I’ve been asked on four different occasions, recently, how tick populations will be impacted by the December/January below-zero cold. Some of those asking had heard reports, apparently claiming that tick populations would be decimated, if not eradicated, by the prolonged period of extremely cold weather. We’d all certainly welcome that. It’s probable that you or someone you know has been affected by ticks and/or by Lyme disease. And any downward pressure on tick populations is welcome. But, the answer isn’t that simple. Extremely cold temperatures do have an impact on overwintering insects and insect-like critters. (Technically, ticks are not insects. >>More


January, 2018

Trailblazer: Wendy Hall of Adirondack Wildlife Refuge


Somewhere around the age of five, growing up in Westchester County, Wendy Hall noticed that whenever the developers came in and clear-cut an area for construction, the wildlife would disappear. What was once a beautiful, wooded area quickly became developed after the addition of a train station, a story she has watched repeat itself many times. You can read about Wendy’s favorite place in the Adirondacks in the latest issue of Adirondack Explorer. “I would say man’s greatest assault to the ecosystem is his lack of patience,” Hall says. That began what has become a lifelong passion for rehabilitating animals >>More