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Adirondack Explorer

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Adirondack Wildlife: The Ermine and Snow

The snow around the region this week is a blessing.  For several members of our wildlife community, a forest floor that remains free of snow into December becomes problematic, as a dark background contrasts with their newly developed coat of pure white fur. Among the creatures that change color in autumn as part of a survival strategy is a small, yet especially fierce predator – the short-tailed weasel, better known to trappers and backwoods sportsmen as the ermine. In summer, the ermine has a thin, light brown coat that causes it to blend into any woodland setting. Additionally, the small >>More


Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Afterlife of Logs

My three children have participated in a Four Winds Nature Institute program that recruits adult family members to lead grade-school nature learning. I have worked with several moms and dads over the years to pull together materials for hands-on lessons about communities, habitats, and the natural world. The activities usually ended with crowd-pleasing puppet shows. During my first year in the program, in a rare moment of advance planning, I read the entire year’s program, and was glad I did: “Snags and Rotting Logs” was scheduled for November, when I anticipated most logs would be frozen or buried in snow. >>More


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Winter Raptors and the Washington Co Grasslands

Grassland habitat, such as that found at the Washington County Grasslands, are home to significant populations of some of the highest priority birds for conservation in the Atlantic Flyway. These birds depend on hayfields, pastures, and other agricultural lands. More than two-thirds of New York’s farmland has been lost during the past century and Breeding Bird Survey data shows a 90% decrease in grassland birds since 1966. Grasslands are home to many birds during the spring and summer breeding season. They also provide habitat through the winter for raptors such as the state-listed short-eared owl (endangered) and northern harrier (threatened). To >>More


Friday, December 8, 2017

John Davis Publishes Book on Split Rock Wildway

Essex resident John Davis and local artists have produced a new book showcasing the ecological importance, conservation value, and natural beauty of Split Rock Wildway. Split Rock Wildway: Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor examines the wooded hills and adjacent waterways that link Lake Champlain with the Adirondack High Peaks. Davis’s perspective is complemented with illustrations and photographs contributed by Bill Amadon, Sheri Amsel, Larry Barns, Steven Kellogg, Roderick MacIver, Larry Master, and Kevin Raines. John Davis lives with his family in the Split Rock Wildway, where he care-takes Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary. He is a volunteer land >>More


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Nuthatches: The Upside Down Birds

Like many people who watch birds, I have my favorites. The nuthatches, for instance. Quirky little birds. Shaped like stubby cigars, with their short tails and thick necks. And that disconcerting habit of spending time upside down. I wish I could do that. Of course, I wish I could walk up walls and hang from the ceiling like a gecko, too. But why do nuthatches walk down the trunks of trees, anyway? “There’s no definitive answer to that,” said Cameron Ghalambor, a professor of biology at Colorado State University who has studied red-breasted nuthatches. The theory is the birds benefit >>More


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Living With Liverworts

I followed a stream downhill through the woods as it coursed through a small ravine. At the base of the hill, just before the brook entered a wetland, a patch of unusual-looking plants was growing amongst moss on a decaying tree root that spanned the stream. They were round and flat with lobed edges, and only the size of a dime. A couple of other patches grew nearby. Here the plants had branched out from their round bases, extending flat green ribbons across the damp soil. These odd plants are liverworts, named for the resemblance of lobed species to the >>More


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Buy Local Christmas Trees, Support Local Growers

Christmas trees can be seen everywhere during the holiday season. And, because of this, we often think of Christmas tree farming as a seasonal business, which it certainly isn’t. To be successful, year-round management and maintenance are needed. And the work is often labor-intensive, and/or needing to be completed under adverse weather conditions. When starting out, Christmas tree farmers must plan ahead and be able to invest a minimum of six to ten years of hard work and money in their business enterprise before any financial return is realized. Startup operations include soil preparation and planting of new seedlings. Additionally, >>More


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Champlain Area Trails’ Owl Prowl Is Back

Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is holding an Owl Prowl on Friday, December 15, at 5:30 pm at the Black Kettle Trail in Essex. Naturalist and teacher Gregg VanDeusen will teach participants about the various species of owls in the Champlain Valley area and will make owl calls to elicit their responses. VanDeusen will also discuss other types of wildlife in the area and copping with the dark. All ages are welcome on this family-friendly hike. Because of the need for quiet, the Owl Prowl is limited to 15 people and advance registration is required. Call the CATS office at (518) >>More


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wood Turtles In The Adirondacks

Before winter sets in, all reptiles and amphibians must retreat to a location that provides shelter against the temperatures that would be lethal to their cold-blooded system. While some find refuge underground, others rely on the protection afforded by water and seek out a place on the bottom of an aquatic setting in which ice is unlikely to develop, even during periods of intense cold. All turtles that live in the Adirondacks belong to this second group, including the wood turtle, a seldom encountered species that exists in limited numbers in scattered locations, especially in the eastern half of the >>More


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Bio Control Lab Established

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Cornell University have announced the creation of a new biocontrol laboratory on the Cornell campus focused on protecting the state’s population of hemlock trees. The $1.2 million lab, partially funded by DEC with monies from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund and headed by Cornell entomologist Mark Whitmore, is expected to be dedicated to researching and rearing biological controls to stop the spread of the invasive pest Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), which is threatening trees in about half of New York’s 62 counties and more than 15 other states. HWA, a >>More


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