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Adirondack Explorer

August, 2010

Take the panther poll

Earlier this week, I posted on Adirondack Almanack an article about mountain lions. It includes a photo of a plaster cast of a paw print sent me by Don Leadley, a veteran outdoorsman. Leadley says he tracked the beast for about a mile near his home in Lake Pleasant. Do mountain lions exist in the Adirondacks? That’s the question raised by the article. It’s also the question raised in a new website created by the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The Wild Center’s site, which goes live today, includes video from two motorists who saw a mountain lion in Russell, >>More

August, 2010

Name these flowers

I paddled the Jessup and Kunjamuk rivers near Speculator this weekend and saw lots of wildflowers on the banks and in the water, including cardinal flowers, pickerelweed, buttonbush, and pond lilies. I need some help identifying the flowers shown here. The purplish flower was photographed on the Kunjamuk in a marsh above Elm Lake. I saw it frequently on both rivers. I think I know what it is, but I want to be sure (and don’t want to prejudice anyone with my speculation). The white flowers to the right also were a frequent sight along the river’s edge, often mingled with >>More

July, 2010

Harassing loons

The common loon is an icon of the North Woods, a symbol of wilderness, and sometimes the object of harassment. On June 12, two teenage boys frightened a loon off its nest on Sixth Lake, in Inlet, and struck the nest with a canoe paddle, breaking an egg, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. DEC  ticketed the boys’ guardian for destroying the nest of a protected bird—on the theory that the guardian must answer for the boys’ actions. The maximum penalty is a $250 fine and fifteen days in jail. The good news is that the remaining egg >>More

July, 2010

Encounter with a timber rattler

Crown Point photographer Seth Lang was driving on Lake Shore Road between Wesport and Essex yesterday when he spotted a large timber rattlesnake in the road. Timber rattlers are a threatened species in New York State. This specimen was all black. “It was stretched across the lane as I swerved around it,” Seth e-mailed me. “I realized it was a snake.  I threw it in reverse, and it coiled up and stayed coiled up while I photographed it.  Very large, bigger around than my arm, and I’d guess five to six feet long.  It did kinda keep puffing up like >>More

July, 2010

Name this flower

Lindsay Facteau recently sent us this photo of a wildflower that she and her boyfriend found along the road in Duane in the northern Adirondacks. “I thought this flower was a trumpet flower, but looking at other flowers, I guess I was wrong,” she said in an e-mail. “Can you tell me the name of the flower?” Sorry, Lindsay, I can’t. But I am hopeful that one of our readers can. Anyone know?

July, 2010

Ed Ketchledge dies

Ed Ketchledge, the man responsible for saving the alpine vegetation in the High Peaks, died on Wednesday at eighty-five. Ketchledge taught or touched the lives of many of the scientists working in the Adirondacks. He also authored the book Forests and Trees of the Adirondack High Peaks Region, which many hikers use to identify trees along the trail. You can read more about Ketchledge’s life in this article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and in this post on Adirondack Almanack.

June, 2010

Blue flag in bloom

Last weekend I paddled with our publisher, Tom Woodman, on four ponds south of Floodwood Road. Tom wrote about our trip for the Explorer’s Adirondack Dispatches blog, so I won’t cover the same ground (or water, rather). I’m just taking the opportunity to post a photo of one of my favorite wildflowers, blue flag. I took the photo on the shore of Horseshoe Pond, at the start of our carry to Follensby Clear Pond. Blue flag often grows near water and in swamps or wet meadows. There are actually five species of blue flag in North America. The one that >>More

May, 2010

Our vanishing bats

Over the past four years, the number of endangered Indiana bats in New York State has plummeted about 50 percent. And that’s the good news. The populations of other bat species in the state have fallen as much as 90 percent. State biologist Al Hicks told the Adirondack Park Agency on Thursday that three species—the little brown, northern, and eastern pipistrelle bats—could be extirpated in the Northeast within a few decades. “Extinctions are not out of the question here,” Hicks said. The bats are dying from white-nose syndrome. The disease’s name comes from the white fungus that appears on the >>More

May, 2010

Adirondack wildflowers: Dutchman’s breeches

In this age of climate change, it’s nice to know that April showers still bring May flowers. This afternoon, I took my customary jaunt up Baker Mountain and found many wildflowers in bloom,  including spring beauty, trout lily, red trillium, saxifrage, yellow violets, and Dutchman’s breeches. I am always amused by the last flower—both its name the shape that inspired it. They look like tiny pantaloons hung on the line to dry. Dutchman’s breeches bloom in early spring. In Trailside Notes: A Naturalist’s Companion to Adirondack Plants, Ruth Schottman notes that the plant’s fernlike leaves photosynthesize food in the weeks >>More

March, 2010

Falcons feast on ill bats

A year ago, scientists learned that a large bat hibernaculum exists somewhere near Chapel Pond. They inferred as much when dying bats were discovered flying around Route 73 last March, long before bats usually emerge from hibernation. Peregrine falcons that nest near Chapel Pond also discovered the bats. They returned from their winter habitat early this year, in mid-February, and a state biologist thinks they did so to feed on the sick bats. The bats suffer from white-nose syndrome, which has devastated bat populations through the Northeast. “We observed the falcons foraging on bats both last year and this year,” >>More