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Adirondack Explorer

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bird Smell is Nothing to Sniff At

I have spent about a decade as a backyard birder and have learned quite a bit in that time. I can instantly recognize the call of a red-winged blackbird and the sweet summer song of the wood thrush. I know a scarlet tanager the moment I see one and can distinguish between the various hawks that inhabit this area. I am knowledgeable about migration patterns, nesting habits, mating and fledging. But avian olfaction? Not so much. I always assumed that birds did not have a sense of smell or that it was so minimal as to be insignificant. I am >>More


Friday, January 19, 2018

Winter Birding Weekend Planned For Long Lake

The Town of Long Lake is planning a Winter Birding Weekend for January 27-28. Events will include field trips, a presentation, and social dinner. Participants will look for winter irruptive species such as Bohemian Waxwings, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks, along with year-round boreal residents such as Black-backed Woodpeckers, Gray Jays, and Boreal Chickadees. Joan Collins is scheduled to lead field trips on both days. The main field trip will take place on Sunday, January 28, with an optional trip on Saturday, January 27, 2018 for those who arrive early. (In the >>More


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Environmental DNA: Frontiers of Adirondack Science

Conserving our native fish is a major goal of the Ausable River Association (AsRA). We know the Ausable River watershed, particularly the high elevation tributaries to the East Branch, is one of the most likely places to retain Brook Trout under future climate warming scenarios across their native range. We also know that much of that habitat is fragmented by undersized culverts that serve as barriers to fish passage. Finally, we know that introduced non-native species, such as Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, threaten our native fish populations. These facts are well documented in the scientific literature and summarized in >>More


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Will Our Extreme Winter Cold Wipe Out Ticks?

I’ve been asked on four different occasions, recently, how tick populations will be impacted by the December/January below-zero cold. Some of those asking had heard reports, apparently claiming that tick populations would be decimated, if not eradicated, by the prolonged period of extremely cold weather. We’d all certainly welcome that. It’s probable that you or someone you know has been affected by ticks and/or by Lyme disease. And any downward pressure on tick populations is welcome. But, the answer isn’t that simple. Extremely cold temperatures do have an impact on overwintering insects and insect-like critters. (Technically, ticks are not insects. >>More


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trailblazer: Wendy Hall of Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

Somewhere around the age of five, growing up in Westchester County, Wendy Hall noticed that whenever the developers came in and clear-cut an area for construction, the wildlife would disappear. What was once a beautiful, wooded area quickly became developed after the addition of a train station, a story she has watched repeat itself many times. You can read about Wendy’s favorite place in the Adirondacks in the latest issue of Adirondack Explorer. “I would say man’s greatest assault to the ecosystem is his lack of patience,” Hall says. That began what has become a lifelong passion for rehabilitating animals >>More


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nature’s Way: No Fuss X-Mas Tree Recycling

In urban and suburban areas, Christmas tree disposal has come a long way since the bad old days when trees were just compacted with the rest of the household trash and landfilled. Today, progressive trash hauling companies run special organics routes where they collect and recycle trees, and many solid waste districts have drop-off centers where the trees are chipped. The recycled trees become compost or mulch or bioheat. It’s neat to picture the whole cycle and the thousands of people involved. Looking down with a bird’s eye view, we see the tree farmer planting and tending her fields, the >>More


Monday, January 8, 2018

Adirondack Birds Moving Uphill As Temperatures Warm

A New York State Museum study shows that most of the bird species breeding on the slopes of Whiteface Mountain have shifted their ranges uphill in the last 40 years. The research, conducted by Dr. Jeremy Kirchman, Curator of Birds at the New York State Museum, and Alison Van Keuren, an avid birder who volunteers in the ornithology collection at the State Museum, sheds new light on the response of wildlife to observed climate change in upstate New York. Kirchman and Van Keuren replicated bird surveys conducted in 1974 by Kenneth Able and Barry Noon, two former researchers at the >>More


Monday, January 1, 2018

Quaking Aspen: Capturing Winter Light

Near the house where I lived during my Colorado years, there was a trail that wove through a sprawling grove of perfect quaking aspen trees. In spring, the soft green of emerging leaves was one of the first signs of warming weather. Come fall, their gilded leaves, fluttering in the breeze, reflected in the river, turning everything to gold. Even in winter’s rest, their stark trunks and bare, branching limbs were lovely against a backdrop of deep snow and craggy mountains. Except the trees weren’t really resting. Little did I know that, even shorn of their leaves, they were still >>More


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tim Rowland On Adirondack Winter

You know you’re starting to acclimate to the North Country when you see the thermometer reading 24 degrees and you wonder if it’s even worth building a fire. At this particular moment, anything above 20 would seem like a steam bath. As I did my morning chores, the mercury hovered (which feels like the wrong word) at 12 below; the horse droppings clacked against each other in the muck bucket like billiard balls, and a couple of eggs had frozen and burst before I came to collect them. We do not take the cold lightly. We have read all the >>More


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Beech Bark Disease

If you’ve ever seen chevrons on the bark of an American beech, you know you’re looking at a tree that’s been hugged by a black bear. And you’ve likely been impressed with the bear’s climbing ability. And perhaps looked over your shoulder while you were busy being impressed. But bear-clawed beeches aren’t as common as they once were. The American beech, Fagus grandiflora, has become another member of the North American “trees-devastated-by-imported-pests-and-diseases” club. Beech trees are still out there in the forest. But many of the big ones are gone, victims of the notorious beech bark disease. It’s a one-two >>More