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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

December, 2014

Amy Ivy On Holiday Gift Plant Care


If you were lucky enough to receive a gift plant or flower arrangement over the holidays, you may be wondering how to help it last as long as possible. The most critical factors, and this goes for all houseplants, is to water them properly and be sure the excess water can drain out. Some potting mixes are loose and drain quickly while others are more dense and hold water longer.  It’s essential to look closely and give your plants as much water as they need, when they need it, rather than setting a schedule of watering everything once a week. >>More


December, 2014

Dave Gibson: Christmas Bird Counting


Preparing for the annual Christmas Bird Count is, like the entire holiday season, on the hectic side. The binoculars and spotting scopes have been set aside and need to be found. Packing a good lunch a few hours in advance is a good idea, but rarely accomplished. My highest hurdle is getting up and out early in the morning to meet my team of counters, whose punctuality and other habits, after nearly thirty years of counting in the dead of winter, are rather well known. Christmas bird counts may not be too dissimilar to white-tailed deer hunts. There is the >>More


December, 2014

A Christmas Tree Farmer’s Year in Review


Walking through a large chain store this past October – at least a week before Halloween – I stumbled upon a display of decorations. Not witches and pumpkins, but trees and bells. There’s no question that retailers are intent on pushing the start of the Christmas season earlier and earlier, but we Christmas tree growers still have them beat; for us, it’s a nearly year-round endeavor. Spring is one of the busiest times on a Christmas tree farm, yet it sometimes requires an agonizingly long wait before work can get started. It can take weeks of warmer weather to thaw >>More


December, 2014

Sixty Hours Without Power


Essex County Officials have asked NYSEG to request more crews in addition to the 30 trucks already on the job. NYSEG Representatives have stated that they have, and there are 25-30 more crew on their way… and that the New York State Emergency Management Office and the Governor’s Office have been continuously advised of power outages. –  Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas in an e-mail residents December 11th. The “Beep-Beep” woke me up. Then again “Beep-Beep.” I knew what that meant. It was the notification mechanism on our smoke detectors designed to send a warning signal indicating no electric power. This >>More


December, 2014

Winter Solstice Will Be Marked With Meteors


Every year, I eagerly await the winter solstice, which this year falls on this Sunday, December 21. My anticipation is driven not from an affection for winter, but a hunger for sunlight. I want the ever-shrinking days of autumn to be over and done and the slow, steady march towards late-evening sunsets to begin. So really it’s not the winter solstice I await, so much as being on the other side of it. But this December I’ve decided to pay attention and learn more about the day itself. Turns out to have been a good choice, as this year’s solstice >>More


December, 2014

A Trip To Moody’s For The Perfect Christmas Tree


Our Christmas tree tradition always involves sturdy boots, a saw, braving the cold and most likely a snowball fight that ends with someone crying. There are many places around the Adirondacks to find the perfect Christmas tree. Every year my family has an open invitation to explore our neighbor’s property, but most of the time we enjoy walking the fields of one of the nearby tree farms. My husband, since moving to the Adirondacks, doesn’t feel that a tree has the same essence if bought off the lot. He dreams of foraging through the woods with a hatchet and bringing >>More


December, 2014

New Report Considers Future Of Lake Trout


Since the retreat of the glaciers, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have been the top native predator in Adirondack waters. These northern fish require true cold (less than 55°F) and move downward when surface waters warm in late spring and summer. Consequently, they are isolated to the largest and deepest Adirondack lakes – most of them deeper than 30 feet – where they stay in the dark chilly depths all summer and early fall. The species name namaycush is believed to be an Algonquin term for “dweller of the deep.” This need for very cold, clean, high-oxygen water can bring to light otherwise invisible >>More


December, 2014

Wildlife Animosity: Crows and Owls


Animosity is an emotion not solely restricted to humans, as several forms of wildlife occasionally display an outward aversion to specific creatures, even through such an antagonistic attitude seems to have little to no value to their current survival. Perhaps the best example of such an overt repulsion of one animal for another is the crow’s reaction to seeing an owl at this time of year. Upon detecting one of these round-faced predators, a crow quickly starts producing a squawking caw designed to summon any other crows in the immediate area. It is believed by some naturalists that a crow, >>More


December, 2014

How Beavers Survive Adirondack Winters


One fall a young beaver, probably a two-year-old kicked out by its parents, built a small lodge in the old mill pond below our house. On cold January days when temperatures were below zero, I looked at the snow-covered lodge and wondered if the beaver was still alive. But when the ice melted in late March, it was swimming around again. Mortality rates are higher among young, lone beavers than established adults. Winter is especially daunting: no sooner had the mill pond beaver taken up residence, than it had to prepare for months of cold and food scarcity. How did >>More


November, 2014

1816: An Adirondack Year Without Summer


Last week’s cold snap, news reports about the Polar Vortex, and a November snowfall of historic proportions in Buffalo and Watertown has some folks teasing that they could use a little global warming about now. Adding to the concern is a recent book by John L. Casey, former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant. Casey claims that it is solar activity, namely sunspot eruptions – and not carbon emissions – that trigger climate changes here on earth. The recent diminished solar activity, he claims, will cause the earth to rapidity grow colder. Casey’s book Dark Winter predicts the worst of >>More