Hudson River Almanac 11/1/15 – 11/8/15

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Storm King from Little Stony Point - courtesy Steve Stanne

Hudson River Almanac
November 1 - 8, 2015
Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Naturalist

OVERVIEW

Summer weather in November – In the Mid-Hudson reach of the river this week, air temperatures for seven of the eight days exceeded 60 degrees Fahrenheit (F) with five of those over 70, including a day of record highs. The autumn migration of geese and blackbirds intensified.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

11/4 - Dutchess County, HRM 86: A Rare Bird Alert notification went out to interested birders when Chet Vincent found an immature American golden-plover on Ryder Pond off Bangall-Amenia Road. According to the guidebook Birds of Dutchess County, American golden-plovers breed in the Arctic and are rare visitors to Dutchess County during migration; the most recent autumn sighting was in 1998, also discovered by Chet Vincent and Carol Fredericks. The most recent spring sighting was in 2006.
- Deborah Tracy-Kral

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

copperhead11/1 - Hudson Valley: While conducting a white-tailed deer distance spotlighting survey in the Hudson Valley we came upon two snakes, a timber rattlesnake and a copperhead. Other wildlife spotted included two red foxes, a skunk, and a raccoon. The rattlesnake, about three feet long, slowly slithered across the woods road in front of our vehicle. The copperhead was slightly more difficult to see as it blended in very well with the fallen leaves and was staying perfectly still. Only its eerie eye shine in the headlights gave it away. [Photo of copperhead courtesy of Lilly Schelling.] - Lilly Schelling, Environmental Management Bureau, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

[Locations of protected fauna, such as these, are intentionally left vague other than to note their presence in our area. The omission of exact locations of easily threatened fauna becomes necessary following examples of human intrusion. Tom Lake.]

11/1 - Croton Point, HRM 35: A single monarch, likely the last I will see this year, wafted past me. It was headed south in short flights. I wondered where it would find nourishment. For the next hour that I walked I kept my eyes open for nectar sources. With the exception of a few clumps of pale asters, with flowers blown, the prospects were bleak.
- Christopher Letts

11/1 - Bedford, HRM 35: There were not many birds taking to the skies today at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. If it was not for one kettle of 20 turkey vultures in the final hour we would have barely broken ten birds for the day. Non-raptor observations included 86 Canada geese and 65 American robins. A big thanks to Anne Swaim who found a Tennessee warbler near the fencing in front of the watch. The bird was associating with the local chickadees and titmice and was seen occasionally flying up in the air to catch insects.
- Charlie Plimpton, Anne Swaim, Christiana Ricchezza

11/1 - Manhattan, HRM 2: We headed north from Pier 62 on the yacht Manhattan, motoring easily with a rising tide and a following wind. Our destination was Cold Spring, 52 miles upriver. Along the way we counted four bald eagles, the most memorable an adult perched on Rockland Light (river mile 31) in the Tappan Zee as we passed close by. The water temperatures at these two locations, 50 miles apart, were – surprisingly – the same: 57.7 degrees F. We would have guessed the upriver water to be a bit warmer. However, the salinity at Pier 62, 15.0 parts-per-thousand [ppt], was diluted to only 2.5 ppt at Cold Spring.
- Tom Lake

11/2 - Furnace Woods, HRM 38.5: From dawn until mid-morning, the lawn, garden, and woods were filled robins - a jolly sight. Scores if not hundreds were flipping leaves, cocking their heads, tut-tutting at one another. Did they fly all night? They were certainly not in a hurry and showed no signs of moving on. I was going to attack the leaves today but that can wait.
- Christopher Letts

11/2 - Bedford, HRM 35: It was a slow day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch with the exception of some clusters of turkey vultures moving through. Non-raptor observations included 275 American robins, 85 common grackles, and two common loons.
- Charlie Plimpton

11/2 - Inwood Hill Park, HRM 13.5: The path up through the Clove was covered with leaves - one side was a curtain of bright yellow spicebush. Up in the woods I saw white-throated sparrows for the first time this season. The only flowers left were blue-stemmed goldenrod, but the trees were a potpourri of colors as they continued to change.
- Thomas Shoesmith

11/3 - Selkirk, HRM 135: I came upon a massive flock of blackbirds in a cornfield, totaling an estimated 10,000 birds. About three-quarters of them were common grackles, the rest mostly red-winged blackbirds with some European starlings mixed in. The big flock was also attracting the attention of at least one immature Cooper's hawk. Two common ravens were busy doing some bonding or courtship flight overhead, often flying in formation.
- Will Raup, Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club

11/3 - Coxsackie, HRM 124: I spotted a red-throated loon in the cove area north of the boat launch in Coxsackie.
- Rich Guthrie

11/3 - Ulster County, HRM 96: Although most of the leaf color was gone there was still beauty in the crimson black alder berries hanging over the bullhead lily pads as I paddled my kayak on Onteora Lake. The midday air temperature was a balmy 68 degrees F and there were a number of eastern painted turtles taking advantage of the fall weather, resting on the many floating tree trunks. As an added bonus, largemouth bass, bluegills and a chain pickerel were still interested in taking my artificial lures.
- Bob Ottens

11/3 - Clinton Point, HRM 69: As we approached the beach, an adult bald eagle took off clutching a ten-inch-long white perch in its talons. There is much evidence that the confluence of the Casperkill and the Hudson River has been attracting people (and eagles) to fish and forage for as long as 8,000 years. It may have been a popular “fusion point” for clans long before villages were established. If we were fishing for our meals today, rations would have been limited. Repeated hauls of our 85-foot seine netted only schools of adult spottail shiners 100-120 millimeters [mm] long and banded killifish (60-80 mm). The water temperature in the shallows was still a warm 61 degrees F.
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

[In the time before organized village life, when Hudson Valley residents were primarily hunters and gatherers (c.1,000 years ago and before) bands and clans would come together at spots along the river several times a year, spring and fall, almost always at confluences of tributaries where resources were concentrated. They would mingle with people they rarely saw, swap stories, share experiences, and find mates. Anthropologists call these places “fusion points,” archaic social networking. Tom Lake.]

11/3 - Bedford, HRM 35: The morning brought flashbacks of August at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch with a hot sun and few birds. However, mid-to-late morning did provide some movement as an osprey was spotted just to the east. Then two adult bald eagles appeared as if out of nowhere in almost the same spot. All three birds headed off to the west south-west. Non-raptor observations included five common ravens.
- Charlie Plimpton

11/3 - Sleepy Hollow, HRM 28: Our little suburban half acre met the National Wildlife Federation’s requirements to be certified as a Natural Wildlife Habitat. Our property, and the similarly sized properties on our side of the street, all back up to the railroad tracks and yet there is a surprising amount of animal activity that passes by night and day. In the past week our trail cameras have caught gray and black squirrels, crows, rabbits, an opossum, a raccoon, a fox and our neighbor’s runaway Yorkie. An eight point buck browsed only 50 feet from our back terrace in broad daylight. Unfortunately, the pair of coyotes that appeared in the trail-cam photos last spring have not come back.
- Doug Maass

11/4 - Essex County: Snow geese migration along the northwest shore of Lake Champlain was at its peak with large flocks of 25,000 to 50,000 geese in the area.
- NYSDEC Bulletin

11/4 - Coxsackie, HRM 124: The red-throated loon, in gray and white plumage, first spotted yesterday by Rich Guthrie, was still rolling and preening in the cove just north of the boat launch.
- Nancy Kern

11/4 - Bedford, HRM 35: A southeast wind provided a bit more activity than yesterday at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. Generally, more sharp-shinned (10), red-tailed (11), and red-shouldered hawks (7) were present. An adult northern goshawk was spotted to the south in midday. The bird circled for a minute before heading off to the southwest. Non-raptor observations included 75 American robins.
- Charlie Plimpton

ruddy duck11/4 - Croton Point, HRM 34: A raft of more than 110 ruddy ducks and 30 lesser scaup was on Croton Bay this morning. Bufflehead numbers were growing as well, from five last week to more than 50 this morning. Two adult peregrine falcons were perched on the same branch of a dead tree along Croton Bay, with only a two-foot distance between them. They sat together for several minutes before each launched out in different directions over Croton Bay. [Photo of ruddy duck by Lee Karney, courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.] - Anne Swaim

11/5 - Town of Stuyvesant, HRM 127: I counted ten species of birds today on my survey along Route 21 west of Kinderhook, including a greater white-fronted goose feeding in a harvested cornfield with 250 Canada geese. The greater white-fronted was smaller than the Canadas, white at the base of the bill, with orange legs and feet.
- Nancy Kern

[The greater white-fronted goose, an Arctic breeder, appears once or twice most years during the fall or winter. They are usually found in large flocks of Canada geese, a reward for the patient birder who checks them carefully. Barbara Butler.]

11/5 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 69: Passing Cobalt Lake on my way to Clinton Point, I noticed considerable disturbance out on the water. The ruckus was caused by double-crested cormorants, about 40 by count, although an accurate number was difficult since half of them were underwater at any one time. Several surfaced with small fish, impossible to identify at a distance even with 10x50 optics. When I passed by an hour later, all had left and the lake appeared empty.
- Tom Lake

11/5 - Dutchess County, HRM 68: There were 23 ruddy ducks and two pied-billed grebes on the north side of Sylvan Lake. I watched as an adult bald eagle made an unsuccessful pass at the ducks. I think it was just bad timing that a flock of Canada geese zoomed in to land at the same moment.
- Deborah Tracy-Kral

11/5 - Bedford, HRM 35: One turkey vulture was the only migrant seen today at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. Non-raptor observations were limited to a single brown creeper.
- Tait Johansson

11/6 - Rensselaer County, HRM 162: I spotted a greater white-fronted goose in with a large flock of Canada geese in the northwest corner of Tomhannock Reservoir this afternoon.
- Alan Mapes

11/6 - Germantown, HRM 108: I counted 16 species of birds today in my survey at Germantown. Among them were 80 Canada geese and 100 red-winged blackbirds.
- Nancy Kern, Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club

11/6 - Albany, HRM 145: The air temperature reached 73 degrees F, tying the record high for the date.
- National Weather Service

11/6 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: The air temperature reached 77 degrees F today, establishing a new record high for the date.
- National Weather Service

11/6 - Little Stony Point, HRM 55: Eleven members of the New York State Outdoor Education Association joined us on the beach at Little Stony Point with a gorgeous backdrop of the Hudson Highlands. We seined on the rising tide and netted seven fish species including young-of-the-year [YOY] striped bass and American shad, as well as tessellated darter, spottail shiners, white perch, golden shiner and banded killifish. The water temperature was 60 degrees F; salinity was 84 mg/L chloride, just shy of the 100 mg/L chloride concentration that the U.S. Geological Survey uses to fix the location of the salt front. We also flushed an adult peregrine falcon from a dead snag along the beach and watched an adult bald eagle hunting over the river.
- Steve Stanne, Katie Freidman

11/6 - Bedford, HRM 35: It was a better day than we expected at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch, with a nice mix of species including a peregrine falcon moving through in midday. Non-raptor observations included 60 American robins.
- Charlie Plimpton, Kelsey Lawrence, Trish Goense

11/6 - Manhattan, HRM 5: The air temperature reached 74 degrees F today, tying the record high for the date.
- National Weather Service

11/7 - Saratoga County, HRM 164: It was Day 106 for the gray seal residing in the Hudson River above tidewater. The recent lack of sightings was not encouraging. I am inclined to think that if we do not hear or see anything from here on, that it might have gotten the message and moved down river. If the seal could make it to the vicinity of the Federal Dam at Troy, about ten miles, it might just figure it out. We shouldn’t underestimate the intelligence of a seal; it might somehow sense, or remember, tidewater just below the dam - the “glass half-full” approach.
- Tom Lake

11/7 - Bedford, HRM 35: It was a slow day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch with a few bursts of activity. We saw four bald eagles being harassed by a raven as well as another late osprey and two more northern harriers. Non-raptor observations included 98 Canada geese and 85 American robins.
- Charlie Plimpton, Christiana Ricchezza, Kevin McGrath

11/7 - Croton River, HRM 34: A pair of noisy ravens put on quite a display with aerobatics that would have made the Blue Angels proud. Hearing and seeing “the birds from up north,” always lifts my spirits. Happily, the experience seems to be more frequent in recent years as they have slowly set up aeries along the river.
- Christopher Letts

11/7 - Sandy Hook, New Jersey: A strong west wind had pushed waterfowl closer inshore, yet it was still easier to count rafts than individual brant on the bay side of the Hook. We stopped counting at two dozen, at least several hundred birds. This is a major wintering area for these small geese. We hauled our seine in the still-warm water (60 degrees F) and each haul produced scores of both adult and YOY striped killifish (40-80 mm) and Atlantic silversides (70-125 mm). The water was quiet on the ocean side. “Baitfish” (menhaden) had been pushed offshore by the wind and the fish-hunters were out of business - three red-throated loons idled in the chop and a single northern gannet cruised offshore, searching in vain for targets. Sanderlings and other “peeps” chased the waves foraging in the foam.
- Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

[“Peeps” is a collective noun describing several small, very similar shorebird species whose exact identities can be revealed only by paying close attention to subtly different field marks. Tom Lake.]

11/8 - Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: I'm not usually up at 4:00 AM, but for some reason I was this morning. I wondered why my room was dimly lit and then I remembered the autumn alignment of planets. I could see it clearly now that most of the leaves were down - the sliver of waning moon lying near the horizon in the east. And, just as the astronomy charts illustrate, the three visible planets were there in a straight line high in the night sky. First the brilliantly blazing Venus hovered over the moon's cup; three-finger-widths higher Mars shone clearly; another three fingers distance up the line was dazzling Jupiter. Six more fingers above the planets, very faint, hung a star, Regulus. This wonderful display continues to change a bit every near-dawn for much of November and is well worth the loss of some sleep!
- Robin Fox

11/8 - Bedford, HRM 35: Today had the potential to be a big hawk day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch but the northwest wind seemed to be too strong. Three golden eagles were spotted far out to the east, only visible by scope. We also had an immature bald eagle fly through in midday. Non-raptor observations included a flock of 20 snow geese, 309 Canada geese, 25 red-winged blackbirds, 100 American robins, and 50 common grackles.
- Charlie Plimpton, John Gluth, Steve Walter

angler with adult bluefish11/8 - Sandy Hook, New Jersey: Day two at Sandy Hook and the wind had shifted strongly to the north pushing “baitfish” (menhaden) in along the beach. Large bluefish followed. A typical catch, made on a chunk of menhaden, was Thomas Lazicki’s ten pound, 28-inch-long bluefish. Photo of angler with bluefish courtesy of Tom Lake.] - Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

[Sandy Hook, New Jersey, borders on the Lower Bay of New York Harbor and is either the beginning or the end of the Hudson River estuary, depending upon your perspective. Migrants, from fish to songbirds to raptors to butterflies, closely follow the coastline in autumn and springtime, making Sandy Hook an important way station in and out of the watershed. Tom Lake.]

HUDSON RIVER MILES

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.

TO CONTRIBUTE YOUR OBSERVATIONS OR TO SUBSCRIBE

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 trlake7@aol.com.

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 http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/25611.html . 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 http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/conservationist.html

USEFUL LINKS

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 http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4920.html .

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 purple@catskill.net

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