Posted on May 6th, 2011 4 comments Add a comment >>
Mark your calendars for the weekend of June 3-5! We are presenting the 9th Annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration(GABC) at the Paul Smith’s College VIC in Paul Smiths, New York.
We are thrilled to be featuring Scott Weidensaul as our Saturday evening Joseph and Joan Cullman Lecture keynote speaker in the Paul Smith’s College VIC Theater @ 7:30pm
Click here for schedule, registration and additional information for this event.
Three days of birding events will take place at the Paul Smith’s College VIC as well as off-site field trips(Saturday and Sunday mornings) to Wilmington, Paul Smiths, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Santa Clara, NY. Each field trip will focus on finding the many boreal bird species that inhabit this area during their summer breeding season.
Friday will feature an all day Boreal Ecology Workshop at Massawepie Mire and The Wild Center. Friday evening is a dessert reception/GABC introduction, followed by our ever-popular owl walk on PSC VIC property. Saturday afternoon activities include workshops, and presentations and time to visit our vendors Wild Birds Unlimited of Saratoga Springs
Please visit our GABC sponsors as they give much of their financial support, time and efforts to this years event:
Photo Credit: Magnolia Warbler-Wikipedia
Posted on April 21st, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
After rolling many thoughts through my head and bouncing off ideas to listening ears I am thrilled to announce the creation of the “Adirondack Birding Center” -a new venue that will focus all its efforts on birds and bird related activities.
The new Paul Smiths College VIC, in Paul Smiths, NY has offered space(3,000 acres of it!) for all Adirondack Birding Center programming, walks, workshops, presentations, and more. The Adirondack Birding Center is an entrepreneurial endeavor that will truly put the Adirondacks on the “birdwatching map”.
Down the “not too distant” road I see Paul Smiths College(and possibly other nearby institutes of education) integrating their own ornithological research and programming into the Adirondack Birding Center’s long list of public programming.
So stay tuned for more details and I’ll be sure to post them here.
Posted on January 15th, 2011 Add a comment >>
Most folks living in the Adirondacks have their own favorite hike that they do in every season….mine happens to be Black Pond in Paul Smiths.
This latest snowstorm filled up the woods nicely with over 10 inches. It makes for a perfect snowshoe day. Here are some views I had on that day:
Throughout the winter white-tailed deer will often “yard up” in the woods surrounding Black Pond. Here they eat, and eat, and eat!
Ferns often produce spores on their large lacy leaves but this wetland fern called Sensitive Fern-Onoclea sensibilis produces spores on a stalk that remains visible through winter but eventually dies back in spring.
American beech leaves
Ice crystals form along the shoreline of a small stream…
…and on many branches nearby…
Ermine tracks-Mustela erminea, can be found all around the edge of the pond…
…and also entrance holes can be seen as the ermine “dive” into the snow on the scent of some food.
So get out on those snowshoes and see what’s out there!
Photo Credit: all photos Brian McAllister
Posted on April 9th, 2010 Add a comment >>
It reminds me of the Munchkins scene from the Wizard of Oz where they all start coming out of their hiding places after Dorothy’s house lands in their village, and Glinda the Good Witch tells the Munchkins it’s safe to come out now.
Spotted Salamanders-Ambystoma maculatum, are in the beginning stages of their breeding cycle and the warm spell of last week, along with a gentle nights rain is allowing for the nightly migration of salamanders from their protected winter homes to vernal pools of standing water.
After spending many winter months curled up in some crevice between a rock and tree root or old mammal tunnel, these salamanders are awakened by the need to mate. They “smell” their way to a nearby fish-less, spring rain-filled puddle or pool on the forest floor.
I happen to like the vernal pools around the Black Pond Trailhead parking lot on Keese Mill Rd(in Paul Smiths). After a good soaking rain in mid April it’s worth taking a walk to a woodland pool or small pond and look for these critters slowly migrating their way to water.
In the pools males will produce small white packets of sperm(spermatophore) that they attach to a small leaf or stick. The females will follow a few days later and enter the pool looking for spermatophores. Lying on top of a spermatophore, the female will gather it up into her reproductive organ and it will fertilize her eggs internally.
Soon after this she will lay a clump of gelatinous eggs in a pond and over time this egg mass absorbs water and swells to softball size. You may see these in shallow areas along a ponds edge. It often gets covered with algae also.
The human attraction to this yearly phenomena is to monitor and safely guide the salamanders that end up having to cross some of the roads leading from woodlands to the vernal pool. Many Paul Smiths College students participate in this endeavor along Keese Mill Rd. and safely carry spotted salamanders to the other side of the road.
Along with the spotted salamanders you can often find Wood Frogs-Rana sylvatica crossing these deadly roads. They’re on the same pathway that the salamanders are on….getting to the water. In a large enough vernal pool you can find both salamanders and wood frogs actively mating on warm April nights.
Following close on their tails are Spring Peepers-Pseudacris crucifer. We’re all familiar with the often deafening chorus of peepers on a spring night around wetlands. This thumb-sized member of the chorus frog family can be pretty hard to locate among the grasses around a pond. They often tuck themselves under the overlapping grasses and disappear from view.
Although April showers do bring May flowers, it’s well worth the effort to explore the early, wet April nights in your favorite Adirondack woodland.
Photo credit: Spotted Salamander -Wikipedia
Posted on February 4th, 2010 3 comments Add a comment >>
Most of us living in the Adirondacks are probably not aware that the UN has proclaimed that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. Bully for you if you knew this!
But let’s take a minute to grasp what “biodiversity” actually means. Author/Harvard Professor, and “Biodiversity Guru”, E.O. Wilson puts it simply as “…the key to the maintenance of the world as we know it…this is the assembly of life that took a billion years to evolve.” And I will add that it has taken only several generations of anthropocentric(human) effects to destroy it in many areas around this planet.
Biodiversity is the collection of all the living organisms, their interactions with one another, their reliance on one another, and their outcomes of these interactions. So, everything is supposed to be working in harmony. But in many areas this diversity has crashed and burned. Many of you learn about this as you hear of the rapid loss of rainforests; degradation of the planets coral reefs; the polluting of the oceans, bays, and freshwaters; and the fragmentation of so many of our natural fields, forests, and wetlands.
In each of these natural areas we find millions of living things(birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, plants,..etc), all living harmoniously until some outside, human-made factor enters the system and then we see a domino-effect of great loss and degradation. OK-enough with the negativity.
Now that we have a working definition, let’s look at this “big picture” view and move it into our neck of the woods.
The biodiversity of the Adirondacks is composed of many, many things. Something like 270+ species of birds. I don’t know how many reptiles/amphibians found specifically in the Adk’s but there are around 69 species of herpetofauna (reptiles and Amphibians)in NY state alone. Fish?-no clue. Insects?-alot! Plants-tons! Mammals…about 54. Fungi…? Lichens…? Mosses…? So you see there are many holes in this long list of diverse things that make up the biodiversity of the Park.
Well, how do we fill those “holes”? WE start counting things! WE list things. WE look under rocks; in the water; up in the trees; down in the soil. Please note that the WE is you and I, and a little help from our scientific experts in the field.
Cue the music- da-dada-da! Enter the world of the Adirondack All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory or ATBI for short. You may have heard of this awe-inspiring, species-counting event that will take years to complete. It’s housed at Paul Smiths College under the moniker Center for Adirondack Biodiversity
Headed up by the very talented director David Patrick, the CAB will take on the task of figuring out what living organisms live in the 6 million acre Adirondack Park. A similar program is underway in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Many residents of the Adk’s are already involved in this colossal undertaking and there is hope that this number of citizen scientists will grow.
Back to big picture of biodiversity. Why should we care what’s out there? Well, in the tropical regions of earth we may have a yet-unidentified medical cure for humans. There may be unknown plants that will aid humans in technology or industry. There are still yet unknown birds, frogs, mammals, and other organisms being discovered in these critical areas every year. So yeah, this seems important.
E.O. Wilson says, “It(biodiversity) holds the world steady.”
On another note…just want to say that I’m thrilled to be a part of the Adirondack Explorer community and I hope readers will follow our blogs that will take you all over the Adirondacks, and reveal some pretty cool things about our special place!
…..and for those of us wishing for warmer temperatures and the feel of spring, here’s a nice live cam of a Anna’s Hummingbird on a nest in California. Enjoy!
Photo credit-Brian McAllister-painted turtle