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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

October, 2013

Adirondack Forests: Explaining Fall Color Change

As a very young lad I was told that the summer sun bleached pigment from clothes hung on the line, and saved up the colors to paint on autumn leaves. It occurs to me that solar dryers (a.k.a. laundry lines) and fall leaf colors are similar in that they operate free of charge, but their performance depends on the weather. The same clear-sky conditions that produce dry, good-smelling (and a teensy bit faded) laundry also make for the best leaf color. While the former process is well-understood, the latter is a story fraught with murder and intrigue, and requires some >>More

October, 2013

Wildlife and People: The Bear Facts

In the Adirondacks, all forms of wildlife have a natural fear of humans. This is the primary reason why hikers, campers, and individuals sitting on their back porch don’t generally see many creatures, despite being outside for long periods of time. Should a healthy animal detect the presence of a person, it inevitably hides or immediately flees in order to avoid being seen. While curiosity is a common trait among children and many adults, this attribute is not as strong in wildlife and certainly does not exist in situations when they accidentally stray close to a human. Food and hunger, >>More

October, 2013

Cabin Life: A Fox On The Road And A Fire In The Stove

Growing up, I lived in only two houses.   Both had fireplaces, so fall was always special to me.  From eating roasted pumpkin seeds in front of the fire to cuddling under a blanket and watching a movie while the snow fell outside, we usually had a fire going if we were home for the night.  I miss those days, but I have taken a big step towards making the cabin more like the home of my childhood. Last week, my new (new to me) stove was delivered and installed.  There’s a shiny new chimney poking up above the peak of >>More

October, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: Wood Turtles

Since as far back as I can remember, the sight of a group of turtles basking on a log has made me pause to enjoy their prehistoric appearance. Most summer days during my early childhood were spent wading in neighborhood ponds to stalk painted turtles and spotted turtles with a long-handled net, while avoiding the larger snapping turtles that were lurking beneath the surface. Stumbling upon an eastern box turtle or a musk turtle, something that has happened far too infrequently, was often the natural history highlight of my year. This summer, I had what may be my best turtle >>More

October, 2013

Ed Kanze: Confessions Of A Cereal Killer

Murder? You bet it is. When we think of predators, we generally think of animals that kill other animals. But plant-eaters are killers, too. Listen here to a cereal killer confess to its heartless crimes. Into the brew of “All Things Natural” naturalist and writer Ed Kanze throws in a kitchen sink’s worth of topical matter. One week he might write about how your beloved pet dog is really a wolf (the DNA doesn’t lie), and the next contemplate the sex lives of trees or the lonely life of the bobcat. He writes the pieces not just for nature lovers, >>More

October, 2013

Amy Ivy On The Fall Foliage Season

The northeastern United States is one of the few locations in the world that develops intense fall color (along with northern areas of China, Korea and Japan) and our region is just hitting its stride. With all the variations in colors and tree species, it can be difficult to determine when an area is truly at peak color. I’d encourage you to enjoy all the transitions as they occur and look for the spots of color and beauty throughout the fall months around the region. There are many factors that influence fall color.  The yellow and orange pigments are always >>More

October, 2013

The Harvestmen: Daddy Longlegs

Despite the numerous frosts that our region experienced in September, there continue to be many types of bugs that remain active into the autumn in the Adirondacks. Among these hardy invertebrates, and the ones that are quite conspicuous to anyone that spends time working in the yard, garden or on the wood pile, are the harvestmen, known to most as the daddy-longlegs. Like spiders, the harvestmen are classified as arachnids because of their body structure, having 4 sets of legs and a set of arm-like appendages near their mouth. (In the harvestmen, these arms, known as pedipalps, are barely visible, >>More

October, 2013

Slide Climbing: Santanoni Mountain’s East (Twin) Slide

Santanoni Mountain’s dominantly southeastern aspect Twin (or East) Slide is a fitting twin to the Ermine Brook Slide on the opposite side of the ridge. The nearly mile long track is rife with diverse and beautiful characteristics including open slab, boulders, overhanging bedrock, double-fall lines and cascades. About halfway up, the track splits into several tributaries each with features unique from one another. All good things come with a price; in this case challenging bushwhacks at both the top and bottom. This stunning slide was once, but a tempting jewel that was off limits to the public; access from below >>More

October, 2013

Local Bat Proposed for Endangered Species Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection today for the northern long-eared bat, which has been devastated by the disease known as white-nose syndrome. The agency declined protection for the eastern small-footed bat. Colonies of the northern long-eared bat affected by white-nose syndrome have in many cases experienced 100 percent mortality. Protection for the bat is the result of a landmark agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires the agency to make protection decisions for 757 species.  Before today’s decision, Indiana bats were the only bat in the Adirondacks on the Federal Endangered Species >>More

September, 2013

VIDEO: Researchers Study Adirondack Earthworms

Worms, WORMS, WORMS! Sad but true—those lowly, wriggling saints of the natural world, hailed as creators and saviors of the soil since the days of Charles Darwin, are now known to represent an Evil Empire. Well, maybe not evil. But it turns out that most North American earthworms were introduced from other continents, and the new arrivals, while doing some good in gardens, actually disrupt the ecology of forests, diminish the rich fabric of life in the soil, and even contribute to global warming. Click here to watch a video of a Colgate University worm study in action in the Adirondack >>More