We had an interesting mix of seasonally expected occurrences this week, including the first monarch, the beginning of the carp spawning seas (a raucous event), and the appearance of the first young-of-the-year (YOY) fishes including a herring that we rarely see in the estuary.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK
5/30 – Brooklyn, New York City: Our Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy invited our new seasonal park interns out on a hot afternoon for their first seining experience. We netted from a small beach sandwiched between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in the East River. After several hauls of the seine resulted in only algae and snail shells, we almost called it quits. I convinced a fellow educator to go out with me just once more. This effort paid off. We caught what we initially thought to be an odd-looking tomcod, but soon discovered it to be the first ever pollock 55 millimeters (mm) caught at our park! Salinity was 35.0 parts-per-thousand (ppt) and the water temperature was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (F). (Photo of pollock courtesy of Christina Tobitsch)
[Note: one inch = 25.4 millimeters (mm)]
[Pollack (Pollachius virens) is one of eight “codfishes” (Gadidae) documented for the Hudson River. They are far more common in New England waters than the New York Bight. One of their colloquial names is “Boston Blue.” On rare occasions, pollock make their way into the Hudson River. In 1980, a juvenile pollock (53 mm) was captured at Indian Point (river mile 42). Tom Lake]
- Christina Tobitsch, Shad Hospon
NATURAL HISTORY ENTRIES
5/26 – Minerva, HRM 284: I spent a half-hour down at the back forty pond this evening listening for things. It was also interesting what I did not hear. Spring peepers were there mixed with a few mink frogs. I could also hear our seasonally resident American bittern, a swamp sparrow, and a common nighthawk. What I did not hear were toads, which is pretty odd. I was also not hearing or seeing bats. None. Fifteen years ago, we had plenty of bats at dusk and beyond. Nothing now. I'm keeping photographic track of a couple of pink lady-slippers that popped up a few days ago. I'm trying to get snapshots every other day, following the two plants as they get ready to bloom – they bloom, and then they fade. These flowers have been coming up in the same spot for years – just two, very close together. They do not spread easily.
[Pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is an orchid. In the interest of preservation, we never give exact locations where they are found. Tom Lake]
- Mike Corey
5/26 – Fort Montgomery, HRM 46.5: Sometimes, wildlife is observed where they seem least expected. I came upon a large, soft green moth hanging on the outside of a building today in Fort Montgomery. Beautiful.(Photo of luna moth courtesy of William Sherwood)
[The Luna moth (Actias luna), one of the largest moths in North America, is a lime-green moth with a wingspan of up to 114 millimeters (mm). Its native range is east of the Great Plains to northern Mexico, and from Saskatchewan eastward to the Canadian Maritimes. Tom Lake]
- William Sherwood
5/26 – Bedford, HRM 35: The great blue heron rookery was again noisy with their collective vocalizing. It was a warm day and the herons were panting to keep cool. There appeared to be about a two-week difference in ages between the youngest heron nest, with the nestlings having a fuzzy down coat, and the oldest where the young are much larger with their feathers growing out.
An adult arrived at one of the nests with four young herons and regurgitated food into the bottom of the nest for the nestlings to feed. When food arrives the young herons get excited as they try to get their share. While there appeared to be a bit of commotion with wings flapping, the young were not aggressive toward one another. This behavior is very likely why a brood of four or even five young herons will make it to maturity.
- Jim Steck
5/26 – Yonkers, HRM 18: We began our Free Saturday River Explorers seining program today at the Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak with students ranging in age from 5-12. With their assistance, our net caught five kinds of fish, including bay anchovy, mummichog, striped bass, white perch, and YOY Atlantic tomcod (50 mm). Adding to the catch were blue crabs and shore shrimp.
[Young-of-the-year aptly describes the multitude of recently hatched fauna found in the Hudson River each spring through fall. The progeny of shad, river herring, striped bass, white perch, blue crabs, shrimp, jellyfish, and many others, are present by the tens of millions. So many references are made of their presence that scientists have taken to abbreviating the phrase to “YOY,” shorthand for young-of-the-year. Tom Lake]
- Gabby Carmine, Elisa Caref
5/26 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our research sampling gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25 and found a single adult tautog (215 mm) in our crab pot.
[Our tautog catch today mirrored our catch from last week, when across two days, we caught six adult tautog, ranging in size from 215 to 315 (mm). Those tautog, or blackfish, added to an already amazing array of fishes, including a skilletfish (45 mm) and an oyster toadfish (310 mm), the latter weighing more than a pound! Siddhartha Hayes, Toland Kister, Alex Safiq, Michele Jacobs, Iftikar Ahmed]
- Nina Hitchings
5/27 – Saugerties, HRM 102: I've seen several black squirrels over the years, but this is the first time I was able to get a decent photo. It actually dropped out of a tree within a few feet of me. The squirrel ran down a steep slope and then hunkered-down on a small log. It looked just like a gray squirrel, which it is, only in black. (Photo of melanistic gray squirrel courtesy of Dan Marazita)
- Dan Marazita
5/27 – Town of Wappinger: HRM 67: In past times, we have occasionally seen a black squirrel in our yard. But this spring we had two. It was difficult to tell if they were mates, siblings, or totally unrelated. One noticeable behavior is they seem to be a bit less frenetic than the gray squirrels that share the woods.
[Melanistic or “black” squirrel is a genetic variation, a sub-group of the eastern gray squirrel, that have increased melanin resulting in black fur. Biologists have suggested that black squirrels may have a selective advantage over gray squirrels due to an increased tolerance to cold. While overall, they are not particularly rare in the Hudson Valley – they are common in parts of Canada – it is estimated that only about one in 10,000 gray squirrels is melanistic. Tom Lake]
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake
5/28 – Town of Poughkeepsie: The two nestlings in bald eagle nest NY62, 65 days old today, had begun “branching,” leaving the nest to explore the nearby limbs of the giant tulip tree.
- Bob Rightmyer
5/29 – Greene County: I paddled over to bald eagle nest NY203 this evening. The river was calm and a very colorful sunset was building in the west. The river had a lot of floating debris, possibly lifted off beaches and out of marshes by the full moon tides. There was an adult eagle perched just next to the nest and another in the vicinity, but no sign of nestlings. Both adults flew off within a minute or so.
- Kaare Christian
5/29 – Yonkers, HRM 18: We seined with Greenville school’s 4th grade class at the Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak. The students were excited which made it that much more fun. The tide was high so we opted to net inshore toward our marsh. Our exciting catch included blue crabs, mummichogs, white perch and, totally unexpected, two YOY Atlantic herring (50 mm). (Photo of Atlantic herring courtesy of Gabrielle Carmine)
[Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) are found along the Atlantic Coast from Greenland to North Carolina. C. Lavett Smith describes them as, “a fish of the open seas that rarely ventures into freshwater.” John Waldman finds their presence in the lower estuary consistent with large numbers he sees in western Long Island Sound beginning each year around Thanksgiving. Tom Lake]
- Gabrielle Carmine, Elisa Caref, Alexa Trujillo, Joshua Cohen, Aman Ali, Maged Saleh, Sherif Ousoumane
5/29 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We started off the new week by checking our research sampling gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25 and found two rather large fish in our crab pot. Although a bit smaller, the most impressive one was an oyster toadfish (205 mm). Almost as special, but a bit more common this spring, was an adult tautog (290 mm).
[Oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau), known colloquially as “oyster crackers,” are common in New York Harbor and along the Atlantic Coast They set up shop on the bottom of the river and, with strong, sharp teeth, they crush and feed on shellfish such as crabs, oysters, and other bivalves. While they are most often found in salt or brackish water, they can tolerate low salinity and even freshwater for a short time. Tom Lake]
- Melissa Rex, Toland Kister, Sage Stoney
5/30 – Saratoga County, HRM 157: We took a walk in the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve, and as we entered east of the Whipple Bridge, we saw at least three families of Canada geese with 40 goslings. But the show was on the other side of the waterway. The canal to the Mohawk River was alive with large, spawning, thrashing carp, some completely leaping from the water only to crash back in.
[One of my favorite C. Lavett Smith, aka “Smitty”, stories was his debunking of the Lake Champlain sea monster dubbed “Champ.” Champ was, and may still be, the lake’s version of the Loch Ness monster. In the late Pleistocene, Lake Champlain was the Champlain Sea, with beluga whales and an outlet to the North Atlantic.
- Debbie DiBattista, Bernie DiBattista
The legend may still have its adherents and, at the time thirty years ago, Champ was almost mainstream. The most compelling “evidence” was a thirty-second video taken by a boater with a hand-held camcorder. It showed a long and broad series of undulating ripples with what could be construed as a “head” on one end and a “tail” on the other. Smitty took that video, slowed it down to study it frame-by-frame, and after a painstaking analysis, he concluded that it was just a very large congregation of spawning common carp, with the males leap-frogging over the females, creating the undulating illusion. Tom Lake]
5/30 – Walden, HRM 65: This evening, after I had released a bunny along a brushy area at the back of Olley Park (I'm a wildlife rehabilitator), I heard a sudden sharp cry. I walked farther along looking into the woods and noticed a couple of large brown forms. One came closer, and I had just enough light to see it in the binoculars: barred owls! One was perched higher up being annoyed by a blue jay and the lower one landed very awkwardly with both wings splayed out on either side of a poison ivy vine. I realized that this was probably a youngster learning the ropes of flying among trees. The parent let out a few more solitary calls as if to say, "Keep trying!" Suddenly, a jet, circling in to the nearby airport, gave a high-pitched squeal. It was answered by a chorus of yips and howls from a roaming band of coyotes not often heard in this area. What an evening!
- Patricia Henighan
5/30 – Beacon, HRM 61: It happens every spring by early June at Long Dock: The new growth of the invasive Eurasian water chestnut had begun to creep inshore; carp fishing may be over until fall. From my spot at Long Dock, I could see that carp anglers were set up on the south side cove where the water chestnut was less intrusive. While I was still able, across six hours of fishing, I caught and released two carp and five channel catfish. The largest carp was 12 pounds 9 ounces; the largest channel catfish, a coal-black male with a white belly, large head and shoulders, and a strongly-developed jaw, was 5 pounds 7 ounces.
- Bill Greene
5/31 – Greene County: I paddled once again to the vicinity of bald eagle nest NY203. It was breezy and the Hudson had confusing swells beyond the comfort zone of my Hornbeck canoe. I saw no activity at the nest for a half-hour, but as I was about to leave, an adult flew in and began arranging things in the bottom of the nest. Soon, a second adult flew to the nest carrying an American eel. For the next few minutes the two adults fed themselves and a nestling that was occasionally in view. I think this is the fourth year that NY203 has produced one or more nestlings.
- Kaare Christian
5/31 – Rhinebeck, HRM 89: I spotted an exquisite monarch butterfly in my garden today. I hope this visit was a sign of good things to come. (Photo of monarch butterfly courtesy of Christopher Quimby)
- Christopher Quimby
5/31 – Cold Spring, HRM 55: Krista Norris and the crew of the Hudson River sloop Clearwater hosted fourth- graders from Yorktown on a sail. As usual, they towed their otter trawl in the deeper parts of the river and caught, among other fishes, three YOY Atlantic tomcod (they had caught 18 the day before). It was beginning to look like Atlantic tomcod, after being almost invisible in the river for a long time, had a banner hatch in late winter.
[Atlantic tomcod (Microgadus tomcod) are anadromous, in that they live in salt water but return to the freshwater of estuaries to spawn. However, unlike springtime spawners like herring, striped bass, and Atlantic sturgeon, tomcod enter the river in late fall and spawn under the winter ice. Tom Lake]
- Tom Lake, B.J Jackson
5/31 – Yonkers, HRM 18: We went seining today with 57 students, grades 1-6, from PS14 in Yonkers at the Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak. The tide was high so we steered our net toward the Beczak marsh. Among the fishes we caught were American eels, causing excitement among the students. In addition to the eels, we caught bay anchovies, white perch, blue crabs, and three more YOY (55 mm) Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus).
- Gabrielle Carmine, Elisa Caref
5/31 – Brooklyn, New York City: As a part of our after-school program, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy educators led 25 middle school students into the East River for an afternoon of seining at the beach at Pier 4. The students were very quick to pick up the skills and techniques of using a seine net as evident by their impressive catch. We ended the day with four northern pipefish, a winter flounder, a green crab, nine YOY Atlantic tomcod (40-60 mm), and shore shrimp galore. It had rained a lot in the morning so the salinity was low at 24.0 ppt and the water temperature was 67 F.
- Christina Tobitsch, Haley McClannahan
6/1 – Esopus Meadows, HRM 87: As part of our Clearwater education program, we hosted fifth-graders from Brinckerhoff Elementary today at our Esopus Meadows Field Station. The students helped us seine the near shore shallows in an effort to determine what species of aquatic life were present. Among the four species of fish we caught were banded killifish, spottail shiners, quarter-sizes hogchokers, and an Oriental weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus). We have captured the latter here before, theorizing that they emigrate from the nearby Klyne-Esopus Kill. However, at 190 (mm), this was by far the largest we had ever seen. (Photo of Oriental weatherfish courtesy of Eli Schloss)
- Eli Schloss
6/1 – Millbrook, HRM 82: This year’s grand and fragrant display of black locust blossoms was now coming to its end. Black locusts reportedly produce abundant crops every other year or so, but this year the blossoms were especially profuse. From underneath a mixed stand of trees, flowering locust branches can be difficult to notice because even the lowest may be high overhead, with the locust’s presence evident only as a white carpet of shed blossoms. From a distance, the locusts are more apparent, standing out in white stands against the green canopy.
- Nelson D. Johnson
SPRING 2018 NATURAL HISTORY PROGRAMS
Sunday, June 9, 9:00am - 12:00pm
Seminar on Fishing for Carp!
Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg
The Hudson River Research Reserve and the Carp Anglers Group will conduct a hands-on seminar to teach and promote the sport of angling for common carp (Cyprius carpio)
Free. All equipment provided. Angling is wheelchair accessible.
Information www.carpanglersgroup.com or James Herrington 845-889-4745 x109
Wednesday, June 20, 7:00pm
The Changing Ecology of the Hudson Valley Flyway
Hadley-Luzerne Public Library, 19 Main Street, Lake Luzerne, NY
Join DEC Hudson River Estuary Program's naturalist Tom Lake as we discuss the dynamic ecological changes to the Hudson Valley Flyway from the Pleistocene to the Present.
Sponsored by the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society
Information: John Loz president
Free Trees for Streamside Planting
The Hudson River Estuary Program’s Trees for Tribs program offers free native trees and shrubs for planting along the tributary streams in the Hudson River Estuary watershed. Our staff can help you with a planting plan and work with your volunteers. Since 2007, Trees for Tribs has provided more than 40,000 native trees and shrubs for planting along 20 miles of stream with the help of more than 9,000 local volunteers. We are now accepting applications for spring planting projects.
For more information about the program or to download an application, please visit the DEC website at: HudsonEstuaryTFT.
Hudson River: Striped Bass Cooperative Angler Program
Do you fish for striped bass in the Hudson River? You can share your fishing trip information and help biologists understand and manage our striped bass fishery.
- Here’s how it works: Fill out a logbook provided by us whenever you fish on the Hudson River (by boat or shore). Record general location, time, gear used, what you caught (or if you didn’t catch anything) and return the logbook when you are done fishing. You’ll receive an annual newsletter summarizing the information in addition to the latest news regarding regulations and the river.
- Whether you catch-and-release or take home a keeper, you can be part of the jessica.best
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.
To subscribe to the Almanac (or to unsubscribe), use the links on DEC's Hudson River Almanac or DEC Delivers web pages.
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. Visit the Conservationist webpage for more information.
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 sixteen monitoring stations, visit the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System website.
DEC's Smartphone app for iPhone and Android is now available at: New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App.
NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative: Under Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. This initiative will support the completion of more than 75 projects over the next three years, ranging from improvements to youth camps and environmental education centers to new boat launches, duck blinds, and hiking trails. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative. For more information on planning an outdoor adventure in New York State, visit DEC's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor.
Information about the Hudson River Estuary Program is available on DEC's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4920.html.
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