Hudson River Almanac 9/7/15 – 9/12/15

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duckweed growing among water chestnut leaves - courtesy Chris Bowser

Hudson River Almanac

September 7, 2015 – September 12, 2015
Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Naturalist


A two-week-long drought in the region was finally broken with two days of heavy rain. Water temperature will slowly decline in the coming weeks, and salinity may, but for now the warm water and high salinity in the lower estuary continue to bring exciting finds to our seine catches. We reprise some of the Almanac entries from 9-11-2001 (Vol. VIII) as a way of remembering how fragile we are in contrast to the natural systems around us.


9/12 – East River, Brooklyn: Families, neighbors and passersby joined Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy staff for the final community seining program of the season under the Manhattan Bridge. Schools of porgies (Stenotomus chrysops) and Atlantic silversides comprised the bulk of our catch. Northern pipefish, a feisty blue crab, shore shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio), winter flounder, a single comb jelly, and Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sangiuneus) also made appearances. However, the real show stopper arrived at the end of the program. One last haul brought in an incredibly beautiful adult bluespotted cornetfish 432 millimeters [mm] long. Jungersen (1910) considered this species to be adult size at about 415 mm.
– Cynthia Fowx
blue-spotted cornetfish

[The bluespotted cornetfish (Fistularia tabacaria) is considered to be an uncommon to rare temperate marine summer stray in New York and southern New England; their center of abundance is in more southern, warmer waters. C. Lavett Smith attributes their presence in the New York Bight to the transport of their larvae northward by the Gulf Stream. Bob Schmidt notes two records from the New York State Museum’s collection: one each from the Hudson River in 1974 and the East River in October 2001. Tom Lake.]


9/7 – New Baltimore, HRM 131.5: While sitting on my front porch enjoying the sunrise, I was treated to a flock of tree swallows in full migration mode. There must have been hundreds of them, as the procession lasted almost a half hour. They meandered their way south, high in the sky, eating their breakfast as they flew.
– Steven Young

9/7 – Town of LaGrange, HRM 69: Today marked the second time in a couple of weeks that we have watched a black-crowned night heron fishing in Sprout Creek. On this occasion it appeared as if it had caught something and so we sneaked off to allow the heron to feed and hunt in peace.
– Tracy Johnson, Lucy Johnson

9/7 – Manitou, HRM 47: One of the many luxuries of having riverfront property is being able to cool off in the water on these unbearably hot and humid days of summer. I usually wade in waist-deep to get acclimated before taking the plunge. For the last week or so, while standing still waist deep, “minnows” would come and nibble at my legs. There were so many that I would have to chase them away because they tickled. I decided to try to figure out what kind of fish they were. I slowly moved in to shallower water were I could actually see them swarming but still could not identify them. Grabbing a fine-mesh net, I waded back into the river, set it in the water, and within seconds they were back. I quickly lifted the net. Inside there were seven “spearing,” or Atlantic silversides.
– Owen J. Sullivan

[In my experience, small fish pull on leg hairs, thinking they might be some bit of delicious food. Steve Stanne.]

9/8 – Newburgh, HRM 61: The air temperature reached 97 degrees Fahrenheit today, tying the record high for the date.
– National Weather Service

9/8 – Manitou, HRM 48: For the past week there have been massive rafts of duckweed riding the ebb tides through Crescent Reach (the six miles of river from the Bear Mountain Bridge north to World’s End). From my location, I imagine the majority of the duckweed is being carried out of Constitution Marsh, with some from Manitou Marsh (Salisbury Plains), on the outgoing tides.
– Owen J Sullivan

[Duckweed (Lemna sp.) grows in water chestnut (Trapa natans) beds [see banner photo] and then is released when the water chestnut breaks up in late summer and fall. A tiny floating plant, duckweed cannot handle the currents in the main river but is released from fringing areas, such as tributaries and wetlands. Stuart Findlay, aquatic ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.]

9/8 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was a slow but not terrible day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. The first birds of the day were a pair of northern harriers to the east, circling to the south. Later, an adult bald eagle was spotted to the north, traveling to the southwest. Non-raptor observations included six ruby-throated hummingbirds, two common ravens, many chimney swifts, and four monarchs.
– Christiana Nicole Ricchezza, Charlie Plimpton

9/9 – Dutchess County, HRM 98: We were driving toward Red Hook this afternoon and stopped at the soccer field to look for the buff-breasted sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) first reported here on September 6. The bird was very close to the park road and so we sat very quietly and let the bird come to us. It approached within twenty feet, cocking its head, seemingly trying to figure out the camera shutter clicks.
– Deborah Tracy-Kral, Liz Jameson

[The buff-breasted sandpiper is considered an “accidental vagrant.” This was only the third documented for Dutchess County. The first occurred in October 1972 at Fallkill Park Lake, and the second in October 1973 at Thompson Pond. In both spring and fall, buff-breasted sandpipers migrate through the center of North America. In the fall, a few, usually juveniles, are occasionally seen, generally along the mid-Atlantic coast. Barbara Butler.]

immature ruby-throated hummingbird9/9 – Hopewell Junction, HRM 67: Most of the hummingbirds that normally visit here were absent today. It’s been a week since I’ve seen a male but today I was able to lure in a young female with a beach umbrella. The good news is that once she arrived she stayed a good twenty minutes for a photo session. All indications seem to indicate that their fall migration has started. [Photo of immature ruby-throated hummingbird courtesy of Tom McDowell.]
– Tom McDowell

9/9 – Newburgh, HRM 61: There has been no rain for fifteen days, and the air temperature reached 95 degrees F today, tying the record high for the date.
– National Weather Service

9/9 – Bedford, HRM 35: A southeast wind that became stronger in the afternoon at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch brought about a push of osprey and a few northern harriers. Osprey were the high count at nine. Non-raptor observations included nine ruby-throated hummingbirds.
– Christiana Nicole Ricchezza, Charlie Plimpton

9/9 – Piermont, HRM 25: From our view three stories above Sparkill Creek, we have been watching a beaver in the process of felling an eight-inch diameter tree into the creek. Its work site is located just at the water’s edge; the beaver has been working on it for a couple of weeks now and is about half-way done.
– Tim Bartz

The Hudson River in Warrensburg9/10 – Warrensburg, HRM 207: With no rain in fifteen days, the Hudson River in Warrensburg, near the railroad station in the Thurman area, was very low. [Photo of Hudson River in Warrensburg courtesy of Peter Lochmann.]
– Peter Lochmann

9/10 – Kowawese, HRM 59: And then it rained. After fifteen days with no precipitations, it came down heavily (1.1 inches), providing relief after three straight days of over 90 degree air temperatures. We hauled our seine with much anticipation and found dozens of young-of-the-year [YOY] bluefish (94-110 mm) and Atlantic silversides (67-75 mm), as well as hundreds of YOY blueback herring (52-62 mm) and alewives (70-82 mm). The river was still quite brackish at 5.5 parts per thousand [ppt].
– Tom Lake, Evelyn Mora, Elvin Pena

[According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hudson River Salt Front website, today the leading edge of dilute seawater reached HRM 75, very near the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Steve Stanne.]

9/10 – Manhattan, HRM 1: This week we caught an adult oyster toadfish from the river as well as the usual innumerable YOY toadfish in our pots and traps at The River Project’s Pier 40 sampling site in the Hudson River Park. Our special fish of the week was a YOY porgy, also called scup (55 mm).
– Jessica Bonamusa

[Oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau), known colloquially as “oyster crackers,” are a common bottom-dwelling fish in New York Harbor. With strong, sharp teeth, they crush and feed on shellfish such as crabs, oysters, and other bivalves. Their typical coloration is tan to brown dorsally, lighter to white ventrally. Tom Lake.]

<<<<<< A look back fourteen years to 9-11-2001 [from Hudson River Almanac VIII] >>>>>>>

9/11 – Manhattan, HRM 0: It was 392 years ago today, in a relatively idyllic time, that the residents of Manhattan, indigenous Algonquian people, marveled as Henry Hudson and his crew sailed the Half Moon to the edge of their island. On that day, the native people suffered a loss of innocence and, eventually, a grievous change to their culture. Today, on that anniversary, the Island’s residents suffered yet another profound loss of innocence amidst the smoke and destruction in lower Manhattan.

9/11 – Croton Point, HRM 35: We were on the beach at Croton Point and had left our truck radios on as we prepared for our morning school program [American Airlines flight 11 hit the North Tower at 08:46.26].
The school bus arrived with second graders from Coman Hills Elementary in Armonk. They disembarked and were led across a wide grassy field to where we waited on the beach [United Airlines flight 175 hit the South Tower at 09:02.54].
After introductions, we began to haul our seine through the grassy shallows. We positioned the children facing us, away from downriver. A rising trace of smoke, just a smudge on an otherwise brilliant blue sky, was on the horizon from 30 miles away. Young-of-the-year striped bass dominated our catch, along with a dozen yearling tautog. Each of the tautog, or blackfish, told a story of its habitat: those caught in the beds of wild celery were a perfect match of camo-green; those from the beds of water milfoil were a brighter green, and those from the fringes of the light-and-dark sandy bottom flecked with white oyster shell were mottled brown with white specks [the South Tower collapsed at 09:59.04].
From the open water adjacent to the grass beds we caught a half-dozen YOY bluefish with their snapping, toothy jaws. The water temperature was 77 degrees F; the salinity was 7.8 ppt. By the time the children left us for their ride back to school, their innocence was still intact. They were not aware of anything other than the adults were in a tizzy. They also had a guarded sense of our estuary’s magic and that life was going on [the North Tower collapsed at 10:28.31].
– Christopher Letts, Elise Feder, Amy Sher, Tom Lake

9/11 – New York Harbor, Upper Bay: What to say and what to do when the unspeakable happens? On a boat heading back from Ellis Island, jet black plumes of smoke issued up from hell itself where the World Trade Center once stood. It was still smoking after ten hours. The triage center I’d help staff at Ellis Island went completely unused. There was no need for one – the saddest truth of all.
– Dave Taft, National Park Service

9/12 – Croton Point, HRM 34.5: The quarter moon and Venus were sharply etched overhead when we arrived. We climbed to the highest point on the landfill to offer our prayers at sunrise: peace for those who were lost, succor for those still trapped, solace for all of us in this hard, hard time. The sun rose, a flock of bobolinks called from overhead, a monarch butterfly flexed its wings on a clump of goldenrod. We turned toward home. The commuter parking lot at the Croton-on-Hudson railroad station was half-filled with vehicles at a time when it should have been almost empty. Parked there less than 24 hours before, their owners had not been able to return to them at the end of the workday. We said another prayer.
– Christopher Letts, Nancy Letts

September 11, 2001, will continue to remind us of how fragile we are within the realm of our community of life: We can perish while eagles soar; we can crash and burn while shad and herring swim past on their way to the sea. The earth endures; we survive. Tom Lake.


9/12 – Chatham, HRM 125: There was an exceptionally large flight of songbirds down the Hudson River corridor last night. An acoustic station southeast of Albany detected 4000+ flight calls of migrant warblers. There have been six nights with 2000+ calls, three nights with 3000+ calls; last night was the first with 4000+. This is the fourth year of monitoring fall flight calling from this location atop the Columbia Land Conservancy building in downtown Chatham. There is no indication the calling was exacerbated due to disorientation by artificial light; it appeared to be just one and sometimes two calls per individual passing over. This suggests an unusually large pulse of migrants today in the New York City area, more than 100 miles to the south.
– Bill Evans

9/12 – Kowawese, HRM 59: Despite the recent rain, salinity held at 5.0 ppt. However, the bluefish and silversides, indicators of brackish water, had left. Storm clouds drifting in from the west would later produce heavy rain (1.25 inches), and that gave us reason to hurry. Our seine collected some unusually large YOY striped bass (118-120 mm), but it was the several dozen small fish that told us the story of the season: our first YOY banded killifish (30-35 mm). The river had cooled off just a bit to 79F.
– Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

9/12 – Bedford, HRM 35: This was our busiest day yet at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch, with many broad-winged (29) and sharp-shinned (32) hawks. Osprey continued their pace with sixteen. Non-raptor observations included nine ruby-throated hummingbirds, two common ravens, eight eastern bluebirds, and one monarch butterfly.
– Charlie Plimpton, Charles Bobelis, Christiana Ricchezza, Jack Kozuchowski, Nancy Evans, Sandra Wright

two happy kids with summer flounder9/12 – Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: The Croton Yacht Club held its annual “Hudson River Day” today. With the assistance of the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association, who provided equipment, bait, and volunteer helpers, we had a “largest fish” contest. Our granddaughters, Madison (7) and Siena (5) jointly caught the second largest fish, an eleven-inch fluke (summer flounder). The contest winner was a thirteen-inch-long channel catfish. This was a catch-and release contest so all fish went back in the river after measurement and a photo. [Photo of children with summer flounder courtesy of Mary Ann Boothe.]
– Bob Boothe, Mary Ann Boothe

[Summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) regulations in New York State include a minimum size of eighteen inches, no more than five fish in possession, and an open season running from May 17 to September 21. NYSDEC.]

9/12 – Manhattan, HRM 4: The river was as clear today as I could remember from Pier 84 in the Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s west side. For our sampling at this teachers’ workshop, we brought a 120 cm sight-tube for measuring turbidity and found we could see all the way down its length. We had to resort to a Secchi disk to get a precise reading of water clarity. Sampling on a rising tide, we measured 140-150 centimeters of visibility throughout the four-hour period. Salinity was 24.0 ppt; water temperature was 79 degrees F; and dissolved oxygen concentration was 7.0 parts per million [ppm].
– Margie Turrin, Chris Bowser, Rebecca Houser, Katie Friedman

[Dissolved oxygen refers to the amount of free, non-compound oxygen present in water. The reading of 7.0 ppm was a healthy one, especially for such high salinity and warm water – conditions which tend to lower dissolved oxygen concentrations. Often in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor we find levels as low as 4.0. By contrast, twenty miles upriver in Sparkill Creek we usually find DO to be a bit higher, pushing closer to 8.0 ppm. But in summer, warm water makes it difficult to hold onto the oxygen. Margie Turin.]


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 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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