Posted on September 1st, 2010 Add a comment >>
Now is a wonderful time to be listening to that late summer background “noise” that we all hear but never pay much attention to. I’m referring to the myriad of insect sounds that can be heard on these hot and humid days.
Take some time out of your busy day and give a listen to the field crickets, ground crickets, and tree crickets in your yards, and neighborhood. Here’s a great site to help you learn these insect sounds and also learn a bit about their ecology and life history. Click on “Online Guide” for details. It’s worth looking over just for the great common names they’ve been given!
I have fall field crickets, and a species(still trying to figure out which one) of tree cricket calling in my yard and nearby woods. If I listen carefully I can hear the “typical call” of the fall field crickets with their constant “chirps”. But overlaying all the other calls is the very high-pitched whine of a species(?) of tree cricket.
Who knows, maybe some day I’ll hear a sword-bearing conehead!
Photo Credit: snowy tree cricket-/wikipedia
Posted on August 26th, 2010 5 comments Add a comment >>
August seems to be a good time to find the parasites in the botanical world. First a definition-parasite(in the plant world) refers to any plant that feeds solely off another plant(host plant), but not always harming the host.
So what are they living off of? In the soil, growing among the many roots of nearby plants, are tiny hair-like fibers known as mycorrhizal fungi. These fibers are supporting the bigger tree & wildflower roots. But it is these mycorrhizal fibers that the pine sap, and others, are getting their nutrients from.
A slight deviation from that relationship is the parasitic life of beech drops which live entirely off of the nutrients of a host beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) root system. If you could dig down along the stem of beech drops you would find a connection directly to the beech tree root.
Amazing to think that there is a whole other world of plant relationships under the soil that we are just beginning to unravel!
A great spot to observe these parasitic plants(better in early August) is along the new trail system at Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid.
Other notes from the field are the recent swarming of winged ants that are coming out of their underground tunnels to fly around, mate, and then die…all in about 24 hours!
As I waited at a traffic light one early evening I saw hundreds of flying insects flying through shafts of sunlight and then they would disappear in the shadows. As I later parked my car at home I could see thousands of winged ants crawling all over the lawns, looking as if the ground was literally moving under my feet.
Can anyone tell us the species of these ants??
The next day I saw a large group of ring-billed gulls flying in circles and feeding on the flying ants. As a human I can relate to this….when blueberries come into season, I’m all over those fields plucking berries for a few days!
Photo Credit: Beech Drops(wikipedia)
Posted on April 1st, 2010 1 comment - Add a comment >>
We have come to expect the normal Adirondack spring consisting of cold spells with snow, followed by some melting, followed again by a cold spell with sleet or something miserable like that.
However, Spring 2010 is fast becoming the most enjoyable to many “spring-seeking” outdoor enthusiasts. The record high for Saranac Lake on this date is 74 degreesF set in 1989…we were just 4 degrees shy of that today.
Seems this warm spell has set into motion many winged migrants taking to the airways. I saw my first mourning cloak butterfly today. Fascinating to think that this butterfly(in adult stage) can hibernate through a wicked Adirondack winter! What a pleasure to see it floating through the air.
Looking at all the internet reports of bird sightings these past few days reveal that bird migration has gotten a bit of a jump with this warm air from the SW.
I saw my first great blue heron, eastern meadowlark, eastern phoebe, eastern bluebird(do you sense a direction pattern here?), and my first merlin(small falcon) all today.
While working in St Lawrence County recently, I’ve spotted many daffodils just beginning to poke out of the warming soil in many front yards. Also noted today….very small, dark brown spiders that were floating in the air on the ends of silken threads that they released into the wind. They will float on the wind until the threads catch on to some object…usually my head!
Keeping track of spring sightings(a.k.a.: Phenology), or any season for that matter, has become a favorite activity for many naturalists, and birdwatcher alike. Get a few field guides for your library and hit the trails.
Here’s to “earrach”…. “spring” in the Irish language.
Photo credit: Eastern Meadowlark-Brian McAllister