Hudson River Almanac 6/24/17 – 6/30/17

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Banded Killifish
Hudson River Almanac
June 24 - 30, 2017
Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Consulting Naturalist


This was the first full week of summer and the river was heating up, already a bit warmer than last year at this time. Ospreys and eagles were fledging, our very own Hudson Valley cactus, prickly pear, was flowering, and baby lobsters made an appearance in the river off Manhattan.


6/25 – Millbrook, HRM 82: We had seen pictures of it before, but this was our first chance to witness it. We did not want to miss anything, so we did not try to take pictures. A red-tailed hawk was flying high against a beautiful blue sky, its red tail gloriously gleaming in the sunshine. Then, a much smaller bird, an eastern kingbird, began harassing the hawk. The kingbird actually landed on the back of the red-tail's neck and took a ride for five seconds! This performance was repeated over and over, at least ten times, as the annoyed hawk soared in a circle before they both sailed out of sight. Birding is so much more than making checkmarks on a list. [photo courtesy of Nevada Department of Wildlife] - Carena Pooth, Herb Thompson


6/23 – Piermont, HRM 25: The Rockland Conservation and Service Corps joined me to see what was home in the river today. A couple hauls of our seine close to shore at Piermont Pier netted us some young-of-the-year [YOY] herring, including alewives (28) and American shad (3). Also in the seine were four fat female mummichogs, small blue crabs, and some shore shrimp. We were surprised that we caught no Atlantic silversides, but there was a good surprise: a YOY weakfish measuring 38 millimeters [mm].
- Margie Turrin

[Weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) are one of the seven species of drum in the estuary, including freshwater drum, black drum, northern kingfish, spot, croaker, and silver perch. Most of them have a highly specialized swim bladders that serve as sound-producing organs. This has led to the colloquial family name of “drum.” Weakfish (the common name is a reference to its lightly structured mouth and its perchance for tossing fish hooks) are a highly prized sport fish along the Mid-Atlantic coast becoming increasingly abundant farther south into Delaware and Chesapeake bays. - Tom Lake]

6/24 – Rensselaer County, HRM 138.5: I was out for a quiet solo paddle in my kayak on the Moordener Kill. About two miles upstream, I saw some movement in the water. At first I thought it was a beaver – I see them all the time here and one had just slapped his tail a little earlier. Then I saw not one head, but two, and then three, and they were much smaller and “slicker” than a beaver's head. The river otters came swimming right up alongside, just a few feet away, eyes on me the whole time. Eventually they disappeared into the reeds.
- Sharon Askew

6/24 – Millbrook, HRM 82: The milkweed had begun to bloom in the fields, mixing its pink flowers with the yellow of sulfur cinquefoil and St. John’s wort, the violet of Deptford pink and crown vetch, the white-and-yellow of ox-eye daisies and daisy fleabane, and the purple of cow vetch, sometimes blurred under a haze of common bent. I also found a bolete mushroom (Suillus subaureus) in the local oak-maple-beech woodlands, a reminder that these trees are but squatters in the former home of Suillus’s preferred symbiont, the eastern white pine.
- Nelson D. Johnson

6/24 – Beacon, HRM 61: A true summer wind blew from the southwest, strong and warm, pushing the river up on the beach creating a high energy zone in the swash. Predictably, the surf were filled with small white perch small striped bass, foraging on prey swept in the turbulence. There was no so sign of YOY river herring. The river at Long Dock Park was 77 degrees Fahrenheit [F].
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

6/25 – Rensselaer County, HRM 168: I went today to check on the three nestlings in bald eagle nest NY334. They were very active “branching” and flapping their wings. They took turns taking mini-flights from the nest to nearby branches. The smallest of the three climbed out on a thin limb and flapped its wings so hard that it fell off. Luckily, the pine branches below the nest broke its fall. He recovered and hopped back up to the nest. It wasn't the most graceful of fledges.
- Drew Cashman

6/25 – Hathaway’s Glen, HRM 63: For the fourth time this week we went looking for this year’s crop of river herring, and for the fourth time we found none. After finding so many a week ago, 28 miles downriver at Croton Point, it seemed strange to not find them closer to their spawning reach. Our 85-foot seine managed to catch clouds of killifish, a hundred per haul, many sporting the gorgeous iridescence of the breeding males. Over the course of a half-dozen hauls, we netted more than two dozen small blue crabs, 1-2-inch carapace width.
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

[The beach at Hathaway’s Glen is the terminus of a small, cold water brook that spills down the fall line into a short run to the river. The water exiting Hathaway’s Glen today was 67 degrees F. Little more than 150 feet away, the river was 75 degrees. - Tom Lake]

6/25 – Crugers, HRM 39: As we passed Ogilvie’s Pond, we noticed a beautiful green heron scurrying along the cement wall. It stopped and peered into the water, its long beak pointing at something. Suddenly it stuck its beak into the water and came up with a small crayfish. It quickly devoured its prey and continued to walk along the wall. As we watched, the resident great blue heron flew in and landed on the opposite side of the pond. Seeing both herons together really accentuated the difference in their sizes, the green heron being so much smaller.
- Dorothy Ferguson, Bob Ferguson

mushroom Boletus sensibilis6/26 – Westchester County: In search of edible mushrooms, I visited my favorite northern Westchester county park hoping to find choice chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius), despite the absence of any prolonged hot weather that they usually prefer, and the often misidentified (and curry-scented) Boletus sensibilis. We found none of the former and a few very small specimens of the latter in an area where we've often found it in great profusion, so I think their season is just beginning [photo of B. sensibilus by Steve Rock].

Although we found little of what we sought, we thoroughly enjoyed our early morning walk, coming across a vibrantly yellow fruiting of the plasmodial slime mold Fuligo septica, commonly known as the scrambled egg or “witches' butter” (from Finnish folklore in which it was believed to be used by witches to spoil their neighbors' milk).

Later we found a solitary blewit (Clitocybe nuda), which is fairly common in the fall but rarely spotted in the first week of summer. In addition we spotted several clusters of the “ghost plant” (Monotropa uniflora), also commonly referred to as “Indian pipe,” which lacks chlorophyll and is a fungal parasite. All in all a more interesting than productive morning foray but one gladly taken on a truly lovely summer day.
- Steve Rock

6/26 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our collection gear in early afternoon in Hudson River Park at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. Our crab pots held an oyster toadfish (210 mm), two blackfish/tautog (235, 290 mm), and a blue crab. Our killifish traps had also collected fish, including a winter flounder (45 mm) and three oyster toadfish (25, 45, 55 mm).
- Ashwin, Stockton, Ford

6/27 – Poughkeepsie, HRM 76: We were preparing for the upcoming Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count (August 5) by seining at a few places along the Poughkeepsie waterfront in Waryas Park. Five hauls netted us a hogchoker, pumpkinseed sunfish (6), white perch (6), banded killifish (6), American eels (5), tessellated darters (2), and ten blue crabs (7 male, 3 female).
-Kate Phipps, Steve Stanne, Steven Naukam

American lobster6/27 – Manhattan, HRM 1: While completing a microplastics tow for the Hudson River Park Trust around the near-shore area between Piers 26 and 32, we found two juvenile American lobsters in our collection bottle, both about 25-26 mm [photo of juvenile lobster courtesy of Carrie Roble].
- Carrie Roble

[Lobsters (Homarus americanus) in Upper Bay of New York Harbor? John Waldman offers a clue: Peter Kalm (1748) was told that European colonists had never seen lobsters in the New York area. They only ate lobster from New England shipped by well boats, until a well boat broke in pieces near Hell Gate stocking the East River and environs with lobsters. In recent times, divers have occasionally come upon lobsters in the vicinity of Liberty Island. – Tom Lake] [Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment, generally less than 5.0 mm in diameter. They can come from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. Because plastics do not break down for many years, they can persist in the environment at high levels, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems. As a result they can be ingested and incorporated into and accumulated in the bodies and tissues of many organisms. - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration]

6/28 – Columbia County, HM 118: I totaled 15 species of birds along Station Road this afternoon, among them a bald eagle and, most surprisingly, a Caspian tern feeding along a sand bar in the Hudson River, pecking at the shallows at low tide.
- Nancy Jane Kerwin (HMBirds)

6/28 – Poughkeepsie, HRM 79: A feature of Quiet Cove Riverfront Park is its river access. We seined there at midday and discovered that this was not a “low tide beach.” We had to walk quite a distance over mud flats to find deep enough water for our net. The river right off the beach was a toasty 80 degrees F.

We came upon several dozen blue crab moults and about as many live crabs (15-65 mm). A hundred feet up the beach, a small brook comes down the hill, under an overpass, and empties into the river. The water here was much cooler at 62 degrees F. We hauled where the brook filtered through the sand to reach the river and our seine filled with scores of banded killifish and small blue crabs. They were stacked in there, a cool, well-oxygenated comfort zone.
- Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

[Blue crabs, as crustaceans, have an exoskeleton that they must shed periodically in order to grow. A shed blue crab exoskeleton, or moult, is an exact replica except that when you open the carapace, you see that no one is home! The “new” crab is now a softshell crab, noticeably larger, waiting for its new shell to harden, a process that can take up to twenty-four-hours depending on water temperature. - Tom Lake]

6/28 – New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: As a follow up to our last report (May 27), we have had to basically encircle Rabbit Island (1.3 square acres) to keep the beaver out and protect our trees.
Since we had no idea when or where “Bucky” would come ashore, it was our only option. For now, it appears, they have moved on to tastier woodlots.
- David Cullen

Great Blue Heron6/28 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was initially quiet at the great blue heron rookery with some young herons settled down in their nests while others were exercising their wings waiting to be fed. Nestlings are always on the alert for an adult to come into view, which is usually from the southwest. There are many bodies of water available with Byram Lake and Kensico Reservoir being southwest, Croton Reservoir to the west, and Cross River to the north. After a while an adult flew to a nest with four nestlings and pandemonium ensued! The adult was mobbed by everyone wanting to be fed [Photo of young great blue herons courtesy of Jim Steck].
- Jim Steck

6/28 – Manhattan, HRM 2: We sampled the Hudson River water quality parameters during mid-tide in early afternoon at The River Project’s Pier 40 research site. We wanted to compare today’s values with those collected at Pier 40 on June 2. Today’s results: 80 centimeters turbidity (62 cm on 6/2), 15.0 parts-per-thousand [ppt] salinity (6.0 ppt on 6/2), 23 degrees Celsius/73 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature (18 degrees C. on 6/2), and dissolved oxygen (DO) 7.4 parts-per-million (5.8 ppm DO on 6/2).
- Jacqueline Wu

6/28 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our collection gear in midday in Hudson River Park at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. Our crab pots held two blackfish/tautog (205 mm) and a male blue crab (180 mm) as well as a smaller blue crab moult. The male blue crab had one claw that was visibly smaller than the other. A killifish trap held an oyster toadfish (80 mm) many amphipods, mud dog whelk snails, oyster drills, mud crabs, grass shrimp, and small blue crabs the size of orange seeds.
- Jacqueline Wu, Juliana, Ameera

[The blue crab was going through a process called regeneration, when a leg (one of its eight appendages) is lost, often from a “release” called autonomy. Blue crabs frequently do territorial battle with other crabs or find themselves in the talons of an osprey, at which point they can release the leg and escape. Eventually, through many moults, blue crabs has the ability to grow a new leg. - Tom Lake]

6/29 – Ulster County, HRM 85: The nestlings from bald eagle nest NY92 successfully fledged (took its first flight) this morning. Unfortunately I missed the actual flight; it was branching and flapping its wings on a branch above the nest but I looked away to check on the adults perched on power poles at the dam for a few seconds, and when I looked back it had left the nest, a flight of about 100 feet to a nearby tree.
- Jim Yates

flowering Prickly Pear cactus6/29 – Rockland County: The prickly pear cactus were in bloom along a mountaintop in Rockland County. It was wonderful to watch the honeybees bouncing from flower to flower [Photo of flowering prickly pear cactus courtesy of Chris Galligan].
- Chris Galligan

[The eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), the only native cactus in northeast North America, is present in the Hudson Valley in a few locations best kept secret (from collectors).  Prickly pear is protected under the New York State Protected Native Plants Program where they are classified as an “exploitably vulnerable native plant.” Prickly pear are always found in full sun and almost always open to a south-southwest exposure. While tolerant of marginal soils, they are sensitive to human disturbance - their survival is often tenuous. Just north of Croton-on-Hudson in Westchester County, there is a hill called Prickly Pear. Habitat loss due to development over the last several decades destroyed the considerable number of cacti that once grew there. - Tom Lake]

6/29 – Manhattan, HRM 2: We sampled the Hudson River water quality parameters during mid-tide in early afternoon at The River Project’s Pier 40 research site. We wanted to compare today’s values with those collected yesterday at Pier 40. Today’s results: 105 cm turbidity (80 cm on 6/28), 15.0 ppt salinity (15.0 ppt on 6/28), 23.0 degrees Celsius/73 degrees Farenheit water temperature (18.0 degrees C. on 6/2), and dissolved oxygen (DO) 8.0 ppm (7.4 ppm DO on 6/2).
- Jacqueline Wu

Black Sea Bass6/29 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our collection gear during a midday high tide in Hudson River Park at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. A crab pot held an oyster toadfish (185 mm); a larger toadfish was collected by a killifish trap (340 mm). Another killifish trap caught two black sea bass (90, 105 mm). Other aquatic life included shore shrimp (Palaemonetes sp.), though many fewer than a month ago, mud crabs, including one about the size of a quarter, our largest of the season, six blue mussels the size of orange seeds, amphipods, and mud dog whelk snails. We also found a long-clawed hermit crab (Pagurus longicarpus) living in a mud dog whelk snail shell, our first one since late April [Photo of black sea bass courtesy of Jacqueline Wu].
- Jacqueline Wu, Juliana, Zef, Justin

6/30 – Warren County, HRM 210: Today was the first day I actually saw the newly-fledged ospreys flying. I was cleaning up the river bank and heard them before they came into view: two adults and three new ones. They circled in a small group keeping to the edge of the river 100 feet above the trees. They seemed to screech at each other as though the adults were giving commands. Their nest is across the river downstream on a tall power pole below the feeder dam. Everyone watches all spring from the park on this side as the adults work on the nest. It was so good to see them off and flying.
- Peter Bishop

6/30 – Little Stony Point, HRM 55: This little peninsula, part of the Hudson Highlands State Park 66 miles upriver from the open sea, never fails to please. Even if wildlife is scarce, the views of the Hudson Highlands from Crow’s Nest to Storm King to Breakneck Ridge to Mount Taurus are always exquisite. However, we were seining against the clock as a thunderstorm was brewing over Storm King Mountain. For the first time in five days, we found some YOY river herring. These had me baffled – big eyes, must be alewives. However, under the microscope, all had black peritoneum – these were “big-eyed” blueback herring (29-39 mm). We also caught a slew of YOY striped bass (22-46 mm). Despite barely measurable salinity, there was a single brackish-water-loving Atlantic silverside in the net. The water was 77 degrees F.
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth


Thursday, July 27: 7:00 PM
The River before Henry, presented by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Contract Naturalist; part of the Huntington Lecture Series at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, 5922 State Route 28N, Newcomb [Essex County]. For more information, email


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

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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 twelve monitoring stations, visit the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System website.

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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