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Adirondack Explorer

Monday, December 17, 2018

American Mountain Ash

There’s a giant living in Coös County, New Hampshire. It’s a 61-foot tall tree, the country’s largest known American mountain ash. At last measurement, it stood at a height of 61 feet and had a circumference of 70 inches. That’s outstanding for a tree that’s described by most sources, including my old dendrology textbook, as “a small tree or shrub.” This tree is a champion — but the species as a whole has a lot going for it. I love the mountain ash for the beauty of its white flower clusters and red berries. More importantly, though, it fills an >>More


Monday, December 17, 2018

Poinsettias Have a Long and Colorful History

Poinsettias are among the most popular potted flowering or foliage plants of the Christmas Season. They have been for decades. According to the most recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics available, the wholesale value of U.S. grown poinsettias was roughly $140 million in 2015; $143.7 million in 2014. (By comparison, the 2015 wholesale value of orchids was about $288.3 million; chrysanthemums, $16.7 million; Easter lilies, $24.3 million.) Long-recognized as the largest and most successful poinsettia breeder in the world, Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California was founded in 1924, by German immigrant entrepreneurs who moved to the US >>More


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Slowing Aquatic Invasive Spread in 2019 Webinar Series

The 2019 edition of the Watercraft Inspection Program Leader educational webinar series developed by New York Sea Grant and featuring coastal science and AIS specialists begins on January 17 and will connect participants from multiple states. Four sessions in the webinar series will address issues associated with recreational boating as a key pathway in the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), making watercraft inspection a critical contributor to limiting the spread of AIS among the more than 7,000 lakes, ponds, and rivers in New York State and waters elsewhere. Participants can join any or all of the one-hour, free-access webinars >>More


Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Porcupine

I once lived in a cottage perched atop a sloping field in Western Massachusetts. It was the lone structure at the edge of undeveloped forest and sat far from the road. The cottage had a large front deck with an expansive view and a smaller one in back that faced the forest. It was under the small deck that a porcupine took up residence one fall, for a stay that turned out to be briefer than I would have liked. Since he wasn’t damaging the house, and didn’t seem aggressive, I didn’t mind his presence. Until my dog, Beckett, met >>More


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Intoxication: Animals and Alcohol

It’s the time of year when the landscape is laid bare, the ground is impenetrable with frost, and flying insects have faded into memory. As fall slides into winter, resident songbirds like robins and waxwings must switch from their warm weather diets of earthworms and arthropods to the best of what’s left: fruit, and lots of it. As it turns out, this is also the time of year when conditions become ripe for the conversion of fruit sugars into alcohol via natural fermentation. Studies show that waxwings, whose winter diet is comprised almost exclusively of fruit, metabolize alcohol seven times >>More


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Retired DEC scientist wins award for book on reptiles, amphibians

The Snake and the Salamander is a wonderfully illustrated book about reptiles and amphibians, by a veteran New York Department of Environmental Conservation herpetologist.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Gray Jays: Souls of Dead Woodsmen

The sound of a gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis) evokes an image of the North Woods: dark green spruce trees, spire-like balsam fir, and bare-branched tamaracks silhouetted against a raw, slate-colored sky; the smell of woodsmoke in the air and a dusting of fresh snow on the ground. I see these birds occasionally around our cabin in northern New Hampshire and on hikes at higher elevations in the White Mountains. They’ve always had an air of mystery about them. The bird is often heard before it’s seen. The gray jay has a number of calls, whistles, and imitations in his repertoire: >>More


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Paul Hetzler Ranting About Ravens

Over the past two decades, biologists have been busy studying one of our native mythological birds. At once the most widely distributed member of the crow family, and a figure revered across the globe by civilizations both ancient and modern, the common raven (Corvus corax) is anything but ordinary. In Norse mythology, the god Odin had two ravens who flew around the world gathering information for him, and the Irish giant and culture-hero Cú Chulainn was honored by a visit from the goddess Morrígan who appeared as a raven. To the modern Haida and Tlingit peoples out West, the raven >>More


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Caring For Houseplants During Adirondack Winters

In winter, when we spend most of our time indoors, houseplants can add beauty, color, warmth, and contrast to living spaces. Several scientific studies indicate that they improve indoor air quality, too. Successful houseplant horticulture doesn’t have to be difficult. You need to start with plants that are healthy and free of pests. And you need to understand how indoor environments affect plant growth. Even healthy plants may not survive (and certainly won’t thrive), unless they’re given the amounts of humidity, light, water, and fertilizer that they require. Most houseplants will grow adequately at temperatures of 65°-75°F (18°-24°C). Cooler nighttime >>More


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hunting Camp Talk: Moon Phase and the Deer Rut

Deer hunters, like professional athletes, are always looking for an edge – it’s the nature of the pursuit. And so we’re susceptible to superstition, alluring gadgets, marketing campaigns. A classic genre that combines all three of those elements is the moon table – a chart that tells you when the best hunting days are based on the moon phase. These charts were a sporting magazine staple in the early days. In the print world they have largely gone the way of the Marlboro Man, but you can now buy an app which uses the moon to tell you when to >>More