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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

February, 2016

In Cold, Wet Woods, Needle Ice Sprouts

The bare ground of the trail wound through dead leaves and patchy snow. At a short overhang in the trail, I noticed spiky threads of ice growing up from the soil in crunchy clusters. A careless boot revealed how fragile these formations are; the fine ice threads crumbled readily. This was needle ice, a common sight in the woods this winter. Curious about the phenomenon, I got in touch with Dr. James R. Carter, a professor emeritus from Illinois State University. Dr. Carter has spent the last ten year observing these ice formations. His photographs and descriptions of different examples >>More

February, 2016

Farm Talks: Organic Farming, Woodlot Management

The next two Farm Talk presentations – on organic vegetable farming and woodlot management – will be taking place on March 11, 2016. Rand Fosdick, Farm Manager for Landon Hill Estate Farm, will present “Starting A Small Certified Organic Farm.” Fosdick will be followed by John O’Donnell, Certified Forester for Benchmark Forest & Land Management, who will present “Woodlot Management: It’s In Your Roots”. During the first presentation, Rand Fosdick will discuss the process of starting and building a certified organic mixed vegetable farm. The presentation will entail the background work that goes into becoming and maintaining an organic vegetable farm, >>More

February, 2016

Livingston Stone: Leading 19th Century Fisheries Expert

The American shad is a native fish of East Coast waters like the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers, and yet the largest shad population in the world is in the Columbia River on the West Coast, an east-to-west migration of three thousand miles. Humpback whales migrate the same distance in water each year, and caribou do so on land, but the shad of the late 1800s made the trip in style: they took the train. Accompanying them was a man who spent a decade as the leading fish culturist in the North Country. Livingston Stone was born in 1836 in >>More

February, 2016

Front Yard Forestry: Cabling Weak Trees

One of the ways Mother Nature keeps the forests healthy and strong is by “letting” trees with poor structure split during high wind or ice load events. Such trees become decayed and die young. Those with better genetics (or better luck) are the trees that reach maturity. This selection process is great for woodlands, but it doesn’t work quite the same way for trees growing in yards, streets and parks. Trees often develop imperfections. The vast majority of these are benign, but some can be dangerous. To avoid breakage of large limbs and associated flying lawsuits and debris, trees with >>More

February, 2016

Lichens: Not Technically A Plant

On cold winter days, feeding sticks of firewood into my woodstove, I sometimes pause, my eye caught by lichens. Splotchy circles, lacy tendrils. Soft gray, muted gray-green, black. They mottle the bark. When I look out the window next to my desk, I see splashes of lichen on the roof of my workshop, and on the stone walls across the road. Lichens are virtually everywhere. They live in some of the harshest environments on our planet, from Antarctica to the high Arctic, deserts and high peaks, in forests tropical and temperate. They can grow not only on rock, but in >>More

February, 2016

2015 Peregrine Falcon Nest Monitoring Results

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued their annual report on peregrine falcon nest monitoring in the Eastern Adirondacks and Lake  Champlain region. DEC wildlife staff and volunteers monitored 26 peregrine falcon nesting sites located throughout the Adirondacks and along Lake Champlain and Lake George during the 2015 breeding season, according to  the report. They confirmed 16 of the 26 sites were occupied by territorial pairs of falcons and all but one of those pairs actively undertook nesting. Of the 15 confirmed active nesting pairs, nine successfully produced a total of 18 chicks. This equates to 1.2 >>More

February, 2016

Cabin Fever Sunday: Living With Beavers

The third installment of Cabin Fever Sundays lecture series on February 28th, examines beaver populations in the Adirondacks, in history and today. In “Living with Beavers” John Warren and Charlotte Demers will discuss the historic and contemporary implications of beaver trapping, their importance to the fur trade, contemporary issues with the damming of rivers, and more. The program will delve into the impact of human intervention on historic and contemporary beaver populations in the Adirondacks. Reintroduction of the species led to rapid re-population, and today, beavers thrive in the Adirondacks. However, beavers do cause challenges to property owners, due to their >>More

February, 2016

Goshawks: An Apex Adirondack Accipiter

The Boke of St. Albans, a 15th century sportsman’s handbook, decreed that only a nobleman could hunt with a falcon, but a mere yeoman might settle for a goshawk. These days it is the very wildness and willfulness of the goshawk that bestows a badge of courage on those who would train one. “In the talons there was death,” wrote T. H. White, who chronicled his naive attempt to “man” one of these “murderous” raptors in The Goshawk. “He would slay a rabbit in his grip by merely crushing its skull.” Goshawks are the largest of the accipiters, a genus >>More

February, 2016

Happy Groundhog Day: The World Of Woodchucks

Researchers are still puzzling over the age-old question, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood,” but I may have an answer. Re-brand the woodchuck. Like the words skunk and moose, woodchuck (wojak) is a Native American term, Algonquin in this case. I don’t know its literal translation, but I suspect it means “fat fur-ball that can inhale your garden faster than you can say Punxsutawney Phil,” or something pretty close to that. Too bad that to English speakers the name woodchuck implies the critters are employed in the forest-products industry. They haven’t the teeth >>More

January, 2016

Have You Seen A Mountain Lion? Many Say They Have

In the photo, the mountain lion lies on its side on the shoulder of a Connecticut parkway. Tail lights shine in the distance. A Connecticut state trooper snapped the photo after a motorist had struck and killed the animal on a June night in 2011. Wildlife biologists quickly confirmed this mountain lion was the one photographed days before in front of an elementary school in Greenwich, Connecticut, about 40 miles west. (School was cancelled.) Within months, DNA evidence revealed that this animal was the same one seen in the backyard of a retired game warden in Lake George the previous >>More


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