Hudson River Almanac 9/26/15 – 10/2/15

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lunar eclipse - photo courtesy of Tom McDowell

Hudson River Almanac

September 26 – October 2, 2015
Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Naturalist


A rare celestial event dominated the week, while the capture of a rare fish from a faraway place reminded us how the Hudson River is intimately connected to the sea.


bonefish10/1 – Ossining, HRM 33: The DEC’s Hudson River Fisheries Unit research team caught another prized southern stray today (see cobia at the Tappan Zee 9/1/15) during our Tappan Zee-Haverstraw Bay beach seining. This time it was a bonefish (Albula vulpes), probably a young-of-the-year [YOY] fish, 103 millimeters [mm] long. [Photo of bonefish courtesy of Bobby Adams.]
– Bobby Adams, Wes Eakin, Joe Lydon, Akash Thapa, and Russ Berdan

[This may have been only our second record of a bonefish in the Hudson. Bonefish go through a leptocephalus larval planktonic stage, not too unlike American eels, so this could have been a Gulf Stream “drifter” that metamorphosed into a juvenile off the New York Bight. The center of abundance for bonefish, a tropical marine stray, is somewhere between the Bahamas and the Florida Keys. Catches like this one and the cobia make you wonder what else is out there in the estuary in very low numbers that we might never see. Tom Lake.]


9/26 – Newcomb, HRM 302: We had our first frost of the season this morning. It was a bit scattered but enough to make you wish you had covered your plants. It was time to put the garden to bed for the year. Typically this is our peak foliage weekend but the color change seemed to be about a week behind this year. I’m attributing that to this year’s exceptionally warm September. But as I have heard said, “Don’t worry, the leaves know when to change and they are always right on time.” We have seen lots of Canada and snow geese migrating south over the last two days, some flocks with more than a hundred birds.
– Charlotte Demers

9/26 – Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: Today was the last day I found ruby-throated hummingbirds at our feeders. One adult female took a last, long drink and was on her way. Last year the final day came on September 29, the year before, September 25.
– Tom Lake

9/26 – Beacon, HRM 61: It seemed that only big fish were available today at Long Dock. At least these were the only fish I caught – a welcome development! With the arrival of autumn, I have found the feeding windows widening for both catfish and carp. Three carp, landed and released today, weighed:13 pounds. 4 ounces; 13 pounds 2 ounces; and 8 pounds 4 ounces. The lone channel catfish was 4 pounds 12 ounces, one of those large-headed, thick-bodied males.
– Bill Greene

9/26 – Furnace Woods, HRM 38.5: Flycatchers, mostly phoebes, had taken the place of the first great flocks of grackles. Tail bobbing, they dipped into every garden. I love to have them in the yard and hate to lose them. Barn swallows left a week ago and the hummingbird feeders stand full, but untapped.
– Christopher Letts

American kestrel in flight9/26 – Bedford, HRM 35: Lots of activity in the first hour at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch, with minimal movement in the afternoon other than a small burst of American kestrels moving through when five were seen in one minute. Multiple osprey carrying fish were spotted as well. Non-raptor observations included one monarch butterfly, sixty Canada geese, and three common ravens. [Photo of American kestrel by Robert Burton courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.]
– Charlie Plimpton, Christiana Ricchezza, Kevin McGrath, Nancy Evans

9/27 – Hudson Valley: Tonight’s full moon was this autumn’s Harvest Moon, the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox (9/23). It was also a “Super Moon,” when the moon turns full less than a day from lunar perigee (the moon’s closest point to Earth). There was also a total lunar eclipse as the moon passed though the Earth’s shadow – three events in one.
– Tom Lake]

[The combination of a lunar eclipse occurring during a super moon is very rare. During the 1900s, there were only five super moon lunar eclipses: 1910, 1936, 1946, 1964 and 1982. The next super moon lunar eclipse is scheduled for 2033. National Weather Service.]

9/27 – Newcomb, HRM 302: Like a lot of people, I spent the evening watching the lunar eclipse. For once the event lived up to its hype. Thanks to the skies it was fantastic viewing. I had an incredible wildlife side show as well: geese and songbirds migrating; both screech owl and barred owl were hooting; white-tailed deer were snorting in annoyance that I was interrupting their evening feast under the apple trees; a gray fox trotted through the yard; and finally the coyotes serenaded me and sang to the Harvest Moon. It was an exceptional night.
– Charlotte Demers

9/27 – Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: Last night (lunar eclipse minus-one) we had barred owls and coyotes chorusing at the near-full moon. But tonight, with the sky show in full color, there was just a long eerie silence.
– Tom Lake

9/27 – Tuxedo Park, HRM 36: Today I counted five monarch butterflies enjoying my New England asters.
– Dena Steele

9/27 – Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: I looked out my window and saw that the beautiful full moon had cleared the treetops in a mostly cloudless sky. I went outside with my lounge chair and waited. Small herds of clouds drifted around and across the moon and through the sky. I think the drifting clouds that passed across the moon, darkening the world then floating off to let the moon blaze, were like curtains at a drama. At every opening, the scene had changed, making everything even more dramatic and interesting. When the clouds covered the moon, the rest of the sky darkened and stars came out. I even saw two “shooting stars” when the moon was covered. Each time the clouds drifted away, more of the moon had been eaten by the earth’s shadow. The moonlit, then darkened night, was magical and deliciously cool. Crickets sang softly and small things scurried through the garden. I stayed out until the moon was fully red and then, as if prearranged, a heavy bank of clouds arrived and covered everything. It was a marvelous evening.
– Robin Fox

9/27 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was a consistent, albeit slower, day than previous at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. A merlin was spotted traveling west and two adult bald eagles were seen together moving north to south directly over the watch. Non-raptor observations included five monarch butterflies. On this date last year, we had counted 6,071 broad-winged hawks. As of today, this season’s number was 6,105.
– Charlie Plimpton, Christiana Ricchezza, Elsbeth Johnson, Wes MacKenzie

9/28 – Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 68: I thought the hummingbirds were gone for the season as we had not seen any for two weeks. But today but we had what was probably a migrant at the feeder and then also at the nicotiana, an ornamental “tobacco” plant, that was still in bloom.
– Doreen Tignanelli

9/28 – Bedford, HRM 35: Foggy conditions caused a delayed start at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. However, we had decent numbers of sharp-shinned hawks (24), osprey (16), and American kestrel (5) moving in the afternoon. On this date last year, we had counted 678 sharp-shinned hawks. As of today, the season’s number was 617.
– Charlie Plimpton, Christiana Ricchezza

9/29 – Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: The dark and gloomy evening sky promised much needed rainfall. Our local pileated woodpecker came zooming past, silhouetting a pterodactyl, calling loudly, before landing on the trunk of a black locust. For the last week the woods had been a night roost for hundreds of mixed blackbirds and tonight their chorus was loud. A monarch fluttered past that might have, in other times, prompted a “count.” But this time there were just four, all passing in twenty minutes, likely searching for a night roost from the coming rain.
– Phyllis Lake, Tom Lake

9/29 – Bedford, HRM 35: Similar movement as yesterday at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. Soon after the start, a male American kestrel flew out in front of the watch, allowing for wonderfully close views. In early afternoon two peregrine falcons moved through, traveling west-southwest. A Cooper’s hawk and a sharp-shinned chased each other on the slope of the eastern hills.
– Charlie Plimpton, Christiana Ricchezza

9/30 – New Baltimore, HRM 131.5: The bald eagles around here seemed to have adopted a “new” feeding behavior from the ring-billed gulls. Groups of up to forty gulls follow deep draft barges and ships in search of stunned fish. My guess is that small channel catfish and perhaps river herring may be stunned by the pressure changes caused by the barges and then float to the surface. The gulls can be seen picking up the small fish from the surface. Now with each passing barge, an eagle will glide into the fray following the vessel, apparently attracted to the feeding frenzy in search of an easy meal.
– Richard Guthrie

[I had not seen this action before the channel catfish population the river exploded in the last several years. I think there is something about them that makes them more vulnerable to this effect than the native fish. Rich Guthrie.]

9/30 – Ulster County, HRM 87: We had a terrific day fishing from my kayak on Rondout Creek near High Falls. We caught redbreast and pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegills, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. One smallmouth was nearly nineteen inches long. I use a five-and-a-half-foot ultra-light spinning outfit so it was quite a trick to keep it away from a log jam and then land it. I have been catching one or two hybrid bluegill-redbreast and pumpkinseed-redbreast sunfish every trip to the Rondout, so the uniqueness of these fish and the big bass biting have made for some very interesting trips.
– Bob Ottens

10/1 – Croton Point, HRM 35: The early morning sky was overcast with drizzle and a cool 50 degrees Fahrenheit as I watched two immature bald eagles on the swimming beach at Croton Point. One of them was feasting on a large fish on the sand. I also counted three American kestrels, a northern harrier, an osprey, and a common raven on the Point.
– Larry Trachtenberg

peregrine falcon in flight10/1- Bedford, HRM 35: It was a very solid day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch including a startling nine peregrine falcons as well as 99 sharp-shinned hawks among the 204 birds counted. Non-raptor observations included ten monarch butterflies, 201 Canada geese, a common loon, and 199 blue jays. [Photo of peregrine falcon courtesy of Mike Pogue.]
– Tait Johanson

10/1 – Tappan Zee, HRM 29-28: Strong northwest winds gusting to 25 knots were blowing almost all day as we (DEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit research team) were visiting our sampling sites in the Haverstraw Bay-Tappan Zee reach of the river. Our 21-foot Parker fought the wind-against-tide that was producing five-foot rollers. Our crew got drenched.
– Bobby Adams, Wes Eakin, Joe Lydon, Akash Thapa, and Russ Berdan

10/1 – Inwood Hill Park, HRM 13.5: I spotted a migrating red phalarope (a seagoing shorebird and an Arctic tundra nester) at Muscota Marsh on the shore of Spuyten Duyvil Creek in northern Manhattan.
– Andrew Farnsworth

10/2 – Millbrook, HRM 82: It seemed a bit early for “high-flyers,” flocks of migrating geese, but there they were. Or rather there they seemed to be. In a steady rain from a cloudy sky, the sounds filtered down. Probably not a very large flock, and given the distortion it was unclear to us if they were snow geese or Canada geese. Nonetheless, we recognized the siren song of autumn.
– Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

10/2 – Poughkeepsie, HRM 76: I came across my first monarch butterfly caterpillars of the year (three of them, good sized), in a patch of young milkweed. It seemed quite late in the season to be at this stage, as it would still be a little while before they form their chrysalises and then however long it takes to undergo their final metamorphosis.
– Peter Relson

10/2 – Oscawana, HRM 38.5: As we stood on the Oscawana Bridge at the mouth of Furnace Brook, we spotted a beautiful immature double-crested cormorant perched on a log in the calm waters. It stood still for the most part, occasionally spreading its wings out to drip-dry, even though it was a rainy day with no sunlight. It remained unperturbed as two pairs of mallards swam close by. Eventually the cormorant dove and disappeared beneath the water, and we lost track of it.
– Dorothy Ferguson, Bob Ferguson

10/2 – Croton Point, HRM 34: While we did not catch any today, the DEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit research team has recently captured a few YOY and juvenile crevalle jack at this site.
– Bobby Adams

[Crevalle jacks are a member of a tropical-looking family of fishes called jacks (Carangidae). Other jacks that occasionally appear in the Hudson include Atlantic moonfish, permit, lookdown, and round scad. These are temperate-water marine strays and are typical YOY late summer and early-autumn visitors to the lower, brackish estuary. Tom Lake.]

10/2 – Manhattan, HRM 1: In addition to our usual innumerable YOY oyster toadfish, we caught an adult male blue crab this week, a bit unusual for us, at The River Project’s Pier 40 sampling site in the Hudson River Park. We saw many blue crabs all over our traps, but they kept eluding us by leaping off.
– Jessica Bonamusa


The Hudson is measured north from Hudson River Mile 0 at the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan. The George Washington Bridge is at HRM 12, the Tappan Zee 28, Bear Mountain 47, Beacon-Newburgh 62, Mid-Hudson 75, Kingston-Rhinecliff 95, Rip Van Winkle 114, and the Federal Dam at Troy, the head of tidewater, at 153. The tidal section of the Hudson constitutes a bit less than half the total distance – 315 miles – from Lake Tear of the Clouds to the Battery. Entries from points east and west in the watershed reference the corresponding river mile on the mainstem.


The Hudson River Almanac is compiled and edited by Tom Lake and emailed weekly by DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program. Share your observations by e-mailing them to

To subscribe to the Almanac (or to unsubscribe), go to DEC’s Email Lists page, enter your email address, and click on “Submit.” Fill in and submit the requested information on the “New Subscriber” page. This will take you to “Quick Subscriptions”. Scroll down; under the heading “Natural Areas and Wildlife” is the section “Lakes and Rivers” with a listing for the Hudson River Almanac. Click on the check box to subscribe. While there, you may wish to subscribe to RiverNet, which covers projects, events and actions related to the Hudson and its watershed, or to other DEC newsletters and information feeds.

The current year’s issues are available at . To view older issues, visit the New York State Library’s Hudson River Almanac Archive. If it asks you to login, click on “Guest.” You may then need to reopen this page and click on the Almanac Archive link again to access the Almanac collection in the library’s files.

Discover New York State Conservationist – the award-winning, advertisement-free magazine focusing on New York State’s great outdoors and natural resources. Conservationist features stunning photography, informative articles and around-the-state coverage. For a free, no-obligation issue go to


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration online tide and tidal current predictions are invaluable when planning Hudson River field trips.

For real-time information on Hudson River tides, weather and water conditions from eight monitoring stations, visit the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System website.

Visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hudson River Salt Front website for historical information on the salt front’s movements in the estuary.

Information about the Hudson River Estuary Program is available on DEC’s website at .

Smartphone app available for New York outdoor enthusiasts!
DEC, in partnership with ParksByNature Network®, is proud to announce the launch of the New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App for iPhone and Android. This FREE, cutting-edge mobile app gives both novice and seasoned outdoorsmen and women essential information in the palm of their hands. Powered by Pocket Ranger® technology, this official app for DEC will provide up-to-date information on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching and serve as an interactive outdoor app using today’s leading mobile devices. Using the app’s advanced GPS features, users will be able identify and locate New York’s many hunting, fishing and wildlife watching sites. They will also gain immediate access to species profiles, rules and regulations, and important permits and licensing details.

NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative
Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.
In support of this initiative, this year’s budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone largely untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.
This year’s budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.

Copies of past issues of the Hudson River Almanac, Volumes II-VIII, are available for purchase from the publisher, Purple Mountain Press, (800) 325-2665, or email

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