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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

July, 2013

The Crayfish: An Adirondack Crustacean


Adirondack waterways serve as home to a wealth of invertebrates that range in size from microscopic to those that are several inches in length. Among the giants of this complex and diverse group of organisms are the crayfish, which are larger, more robust and meaty than many vertebrate forms of life in our region. Because of their size and abundance, crayfish are an important component of all fresh water environments; however these fierce-looking entities have not been as thoroughly researched and studied as have other creatures that reside in the same general surroundings. While the basics of their biology and >>More


July, 2013

Crowdsourced Data Reveal Feats of Bird Migration


For centuries people have marveled at the migratory abilities of birds, but new research is now putting numbers on those seasonal feats—for more than a hundred  species at a time—using data contributed by thousands of amateur bird watchers. In all, more than 2.3 million sightings were summarized to reveal migratory routes of 102 species in North America, in a paper being  published August 1 in Ecology. The results provide a fascinating glimpse at an astonishing range of species: for instance, the tiny Calliope Hummingbird crosses the continent almost three times as fast as the Northern Shoveler, which outweighs it more >>More


July, 2013

Are Earthworms An Invasive Species?


Aldo Leopold, the famous conservationist, once wrote: “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” This whole idea puts nature writers in an odd position. On the one hand, it’s our job to raise the alarm when we see something amiss, but on the other, we run the risk of spending so much time dwelling on nature’s wounds that we end up giving people the impression that everything has gone to hell, which of course it has not. So what to make of earthworms? We’ve been told for years that >>More


July, 2013

National Moth Week: The Great Sphinx Moth


This week is National Moth Week, recognition that aims to promote the conservation, increased awareness, study, and appreciation of moths, along with their incredible biodiversity and importance to ecosystem health. Here’s a picture of a Great Sphinx Moth, with about a 4 inch wingspan. I found it hanging out around my tomato plants. I captured this image with my Fuji Finepix HS10, 6mm focal length, 1/50 sec. at f/2.8, ISO 80. The post National Moth Week: The Great Sphinx Moth appeared first on The Adirondack Almanack.


July, 2013

Adirondack Fish: The Smallmouth Bass


The prolonged period of hot and humid weather that the Adirondacks have recently experienced has warmed the waters in our many lakes and ponds to their highest temperatures of the season. This is a welcome occurrence to those that enjoy swimming and simply wading in our waterways, however it can create a challenge to those aquatic creatures that are better suited to the cool waters of our mountain wilderness. Among the fish impacted by high water temperatures is a popular game species sought by anglers for its feisty temperament after being hooked and its mild and flavorful taste after being >>More


July, 2013

Wilmington Flume Trails: Fledging Herons


I tried to document life in a Great Blue Heron nest last year and it ended abruptly when all three babies vanished in early July, most likely as dinner for a bald eagle or great horned owl family. I had somewhat better luck this year. April 29, 2013 – I checked the heron nest I’d been watching in 2012 – the pond, still with some ice, appeared empty, no herons around. There was snow in sheltered places along the trail. According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab web site “Heron FAQ’s” page, their herons laid eggs between March 28 and April >>More


July, 2013

Annual Loon Census Seeks Volunteers Saturday


The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program is seeking volunteers to help census loons on Adirondack lakes as part of the thirteenth Annual Adirondack Loon Census taking place from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 20. With the help of local Adirondack residents and visitor volunteers, the census enables WCS to collect important data on the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State. The results help guide management decisions and policies affecting loons. Census volunteers report on the number of adult and immature loons and loon chicks that they observe during the >>More


July, 2013

Marsha Stanley: Monarchs Are Threatened, But We Can Help


Not a single Monarch butterfly was spotted in the Lake Placid butterfly count conducted by citizen scientists Saturday, July 13.  This marks only the second time in the 20-year history of the count that no Monarch was sighted by the volunteers. The Insectarium de Montreal issued a press release with this opening paragraph on July 16: The first monarch butterflies generally arrive in Québec in mid-June. This year, experts and the many people taking part in citizen science initiatives monitoring monarchs have seen an estimated drop of 90% in the overall monarch population in Eastern Canada. This is unheard of. >>More


July, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: Mice and More Mice


The growing season two years ago was considered to have been excellent. There were numerous periods of mild weather in the spring along with a lack of a late hard frost which allowed for an abundance of flowers to successfully begin their initial stage of developing our crops of seeds and berries. Summer that year provided ample sunshine and an adequate supply of rain to bring to maturity the numerous wild fruits and mast that can grow in this region. Whenever an abundance of nutritious edibles develops in nature, there is an explosion in the population of mice, voles, chipmunks >>More


July, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: The Four-Toed Salamander


Let’s start out with a riddle: What animal has 16 toes and a tail that breaks off when grabbed by a predator? Not sure? Here’s another clue: It’s the smallest terrestrial vertebrate in our area. If you didn’t guess four-toed salamander, don’t feel bad—it’s probably also the least-known salamander in the North Country. The four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) holds a number of dubious distinctions. Besides its diminutive size (a typical adult may only reach 2-3 inches in length), it is also the only terrestrial salamander with four toes on all four feet. With the exception of the aquatic mudpuppy (which >>More