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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

September, 2016

Poisonous Caterpillars Of Northern New York


When I was a kid I was fascinated by caterpillars, but had trouble with the word. To me, the sweet little woolly-bear traversing my hand was a “calipitter.” It was only years later I learned that a calipitter is an instrument used to measure the diameter of a caterpillar to the nearest micron. Caterpillars continue to interest me, although I no longer find them universally cute. Imagine the letdown and loss of innocence following the discovery that some of these fuzzy, fascinating, gentle creatures that tickled their way across my hand were venomous. This revelation was akin to finding out >>More


September, 2016

Great Adirondack Moose Festival This Weekend


The 7th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival will take place this weekend, September 24th and 25th, in Indian Lake. Moose-themed family fun activities will be the main attraction during the weekend. Visitors to Indian Lake can enjoy programs, games, contests, exhibitions – all in the name of the elusive and majestic moose. The half-ton mammal has made a come-back in the Adirondacks, and one may even spot a moose during the Festival weekend. The Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival (GAMF) is sponsored by the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce and a host of regional and local business sponsors. Major festival activities >>More


September, 2016

Whallonsburg Grange Lyceum Series Begins Tuesday


The Fall 2016 Lyceum lecture series at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall will focus on how people have shaped the landscape through work, recreation, conflict and experiences. “Living on This Land” features six presentations that will look at different aspects of how humans – through our lives and actions – impact and change where we live. The lectures are on Tuesday nights at 7:30 and a $5 donation is requested (students free). The weekly series begins on Tuesday, September 27 with “Growing Up at the Grange.” Lakes to Locks Heritage Director Margaret Gibbs will moderate a conversation with three local residents >>More


September, 2016

Threatened Northern Sunfish Discovered In Clinton County


In early September, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rare Fish Unit Biologist Doug Carlson and technician Eric Maxwell identified nearly a dozen threatened northern sunfish in the Great Chazy River in the village of Champlain, Clinton County Also known as the longear sunfish, the northern sunfish is a small, thin, deep-bodied fish that averages three to four inches in length. It is sometimes a colorful fish with an olive to rusty-brown back, bright orange belly, and blue-green bars on the side of the head. The northern sunfish has short, round pectoral fins and an upward-slanting gill cover flap >>More


September, 2016

On Sighting My First Black-Crowned Night-Heron


I’ve canoed all over the Adirondacks without ever seeing a black-crowned night-heron. Last weekend, I finally got to see one. On the Bronx River. We saw other birds as well, including great blue herons, mallards, gulls, and (I think) cormorants. This being the Bronx, we also saw a lot of trash: plastic bags, soda bottles, an electric fan, a sunken tire. But the river is much cleaner and more loved than in the past, thanks to a nonprofit organization called the Bronx River Alliance. Founded in 2001, the alliance is working to restore and protect a river that » Continue >>More


September, 2016

Tobacco Hornworms: Big, Green, and in the Garden


The big, meaty green caterpillars that many of us have been fighting to eradicate from our gardens this summer make plenty of people squirm. In part it’s because they are among the largest caterpillars in the region, sometimes reaching close to three inches in length, with reddish horns on their ends that look like stingers (but aren’t). They also have voracious appetites and a preference for consuming our tomato, potato, eggplant and pepper plants. Despite their alien appearance, tobacco hornworms are native insects that contribute to local food chains and eventually transform into beautiful Carolina sphinx moths. These large-bodied moths >>More


September, 2016

The Underground Dirt On Tree Roots


You can pretty much count on a tree to stay in one place, at least in the real world. Not so in fiction. Remember the walking, talking Ents in the Lord of the Rings movies? Or Groot, the tree-like alien in the science fiction film Guardians of the Galaxy? Roots anchor a tree, of course, allowing it to stand up to much of what nature can throw at it; they also provide life-giving nutrients. Tree roots are a marvel of evolution: part of a whole-tree plumbing system that makes the one in your house seem primitive. Most of a tree’s >>More


September, 2016

The Dry Weather And Adirondack Fall Foliage


It turns out that, in terms of fall foliage, the color of too dry is officially known as “blah.” This would undoubtedly be the least popular color selection if it was included in a jumbo pack of Crayolas. Basically, it is a jumble of faded hues with a mottled brown patina throughout. This year’s dry summer could mean that “blah” may feature prominently in Mother Nature’s fall hardwood forest palette. Why would a prolonged lack of moisture affect autumn color? Let’s look at what makes leaves colorful in the first place. Among the things we learned — and probably forgot >>More


September, 2016

Master Naturalist Training Set For Malone


Are you interested in learning more about the habitats, plants, and animals of New York State? Are you a citizen, landowner, teacher, park naturalist, land trust employee, conservation planning board member or natural resource professional looking to increase your knowledge of the natural environment? Cornell Cooperative Extension will offer a Master Naturalist Training at 4-H Camp Overlook in Malone, NY from September 23-25, 2016. Through this program, participants can learn about the ecosystems of New York State, the animals and plants that live in those ecosystems, and current conservation issues affecting their wildlife and natural habitats. The program includes a >>More


September, 2016

Non-Biting Midges In The Adirondacks


Clouds of tiny insects, rising and falling hypnotically along lake shores, contribute to the ambiance of warm summer evenings. My recent bike ride was interrupted by a lungful of this ambiance. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, you might wonder what these miniscule flies were doing before being swallowed, where they came from, whether they bite, and whether we need these interrupters of peaceful lakeside jaunts. We’ll get to these questions, but first, let me say that as an ecologist, I find these insects to be among the most fascinating and important freshwater invertebrates. Non-biting midges, also called >>More




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