Hudson River Almanac 7/15/17 – 7/21/17

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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seining at Croton Point - see fish count calendar listing
Hudson River Almanac
July 15 - 21, 2017
Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Consulting Naturalist


This was a week of fishes, from the East River in Brooklyn to Greene County more than 130 miles up the estuary. Last week’s featured five white ibis and red-headed woodpeckers made return appearances.


Piedmont elimia7/17 – New Baltimore, HRM 131.5: We came to seine but caught very little (banded killifish, channel catfish). All the while, however, an adult bald eagle was fishing the shoreline across the narrow river. It did not appear that the eagle did any better. The find of the day was the hundreds of freshwater aquatic snail shells on the beach at and above the tideline (no live animals) as well as many attached to rocks below the tideline (live animals). [Photo of Piedmont elimia courtesy of Tom Lake.] - Tom Lake, Michael O’Connor

[From photos, Dave Strayer (retired ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies) was able to identify many of the freshwater aquatic snails as Elimia virginica, a native species of the Atlantic Slope often called the Piedmont elimia or Virginia river snail. Dave told us that the shells we found on the beach “could be years to decades old (in hard water, it is common to find shells of species that have been gone for decades). These snails are often common where they occur, and usually are thought of as clean-water indicators (they're gill-breathers, not air breathers).” Tom Lake.]


7/15 – Manhattan, HRM 2: The River Project hosted a City of Water event with a focus on water quality at our Pier 40 research site in Hudson River Park. We did multiple benthic and surface comparisons throughout the day. The average values were 23.4 degrees Celsius/74 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature, 16.3 parts-per-thousand [ppt] salinity, and 6.2 parts-per-million [ppm] dissolved oxygen.
- Nina Hitchings, Elisa Caref

7/15 – Brooklyn, New York City: Our Nyack College Fishing Club Research Squad did some rod and reel fishing from Pier 5 of Brooklyn Bridge Park this morning and caught a mixed bag of fishes including summer flounder, American eel, cunner, and black sea bass. Later we sampled the East River under the Manhattan Bridge in our ongoing effort to document the catch-per-unit-of-effort [CPUE] of our both our gear and our seining techniques. Across fifteen hauls, we caught young-of-the-year [YOY] winter flounder 25 millimeters [mm] long and alewives, as well as Atlantic silversides, a male northern pipefish (gravid, with eggs), and a seaboard goby. The latter was only the second we had caught here, the first coming last September. We found a small (size of a dime) hermit crab in our net that we identified as Pagurus longicarpus (long-clawed hermit crab). The river was 72 degrees F and the salinity was 24.0 ppt, two-thirds the strength of seawater.
- Peter J. Park, Daniel Kaluka, Ye Chan Sung, Maridalia Lillis, Isa Del Bello

7/15 – Brooklyn, New York City: Our Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy held an evening public program sampling the East River under the Manhattan Bridge. The change of tide was just enough to introduce different fish from the morning seining by the Nyack College Fishing Club. We caught Atlantic silverside and YOY alewives (75 mm), but in addition there were YOY striped bass and bluefish (100 mm). As with the morning seining, we caught moon jellyfish and comb jellies.
- Cynthia Fox, Isa Del Bello, Eliza Phillips, Christina Tobitsch

[Young medusae (umbrella-shaped) moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) appear in the East River estuary in summer. They are true jellyfish, plankton feeders, with several hundred fringed tentacles that serve as sticky collectors of both phytoplankton and zooplankton. Adult moon jellyfish, with a pinkish umbrella up to ten inches across, are most commonly associated with ocean beaches. They are frequently stranded at the high-tide line and, while the toxins associated with their stings are so mild that the stings are often not noticeable, they have startled many a beach walker who happened to step on one. Tom Lake.]

Jackson's slender Caesar mushroom7/16 – Town of Schroon, Essex County: A couple of days near Pyramid Lake yielded an abundance of mushrooms, my favorite of which was a gorgeous fruiting of the bright orange-red Amanita jacksonii (Jackson's slender Caesar). However, the tastiest of all was a small Boletus edulis (porcini or penny bun). I was surprised to see that the lake’s mated common loons had week-old hatchlings being fed morning, noon and night by their attentive parents. By this time of year, I am accustomed to seeing much older offspring. [Photo of Jackson's slender Caesar courtesy of Steve Rock.] - Steve Rock

7/16 – Little Stony Point, HRM 55: I arrived alone but soon had a gathering of beach-goers interested in what was out there in the opaque water. We took turns hauling the 85-foot seine and caught nine species, the most impressive of which were the YOY striped bass (32-44 mm) and blueback herring (26-45 mm). On the final haul we caught the crowd pleaser, a hogchoker (75 mm). The river was 80 degrees F.
- Tom Lake, Lucy Jony, Noah Jony

7/17 – Fort Edward, HRM 202: The sky was black in late afternoon from the impending and severe thunderstorms. I found no fewer than 30 bobolinks, several flocks calling from fields. In the ensuing heavy rain, I watched two osprey flapping at their nest.
- Nancy Jane Kern, Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club

7/17 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was quiet at the great blue heron rookery today. There was no branching activity; some nestlings were standing while others were sitting down but they all kept an eye out for a parent to arrive with food. While I was there, an adult flew to a nest that had a single heron for feeding. There was a lot of wing flapping as the nestling begged for the parent to regurgitate the food. I counted five herons in four nests. Soon they will all leave their nests, but some seem to find it easier to wait to be fed.
- Jim Steck

7/17 – Manhattan, HRM 2: We sampled Hudson River water quality parameters during a late-afternoon high tide at The River Project’s Pier 40 research site in Hudson River Park. We wanted to compare today’s values with those collected July 14. Today’s results: 25.0 degrees C/78 degrees F water temperature (22.0 degrees C on 7/14), 140 centimeters turbidity (105 cm on 7/14), 16.0 ppt salinity (14.0 ppt on 7/14), and 2.8 ppm dissolved oxygen (4.0 ppm DO on 7/14).
Earlier, we had checked our collection gear at Pier 40. Scientists sometimes start research projects that become great habitats for amphipods and other such invertebrates. There was an abandoned biodiversity plate project right outside our research site that we have kept for this exact reason. When we pulled it up this afternoon, besides the usual amphipods, we also found that the plates were covered with baby barnacles. Last year the plates felt slimy from all the algae growing on them. In this instance we collected a good amount of amphipods for our seahorses.
- Melissa Rex, Nina Hitchings, Jacqueline Wu

7/17 – Manhattan, HRM 1: Students from a Bank Street College field trip helped us check our collection gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. One of our crab pots caught three blackfish/tautog (180-255 mm). The killifish traps had three northern pipefish (55-120 mm), as well as a lined sea horse (85 mm), and a tiny skilletfish (10 mm). As always, there were shore shrimp, mud dog whelk snails, and oyster drills.
- Melissa Rex, Ford, Stockton, Lucas

7/18 – Rondout Creek, HRM 91.5: A pair of osprey were building a nest on an abandoned crane on an old barge on Rondout Creek at Sleightsburgh Spit. The pair had been hanging around the area all spring and summer, occasionally joined by a third, fourth, or even a fifth osprey. I assumed this must be a newly mated pair starting on a nest for next year.
- Jim Yates

7/18 – Town of New Paltz, HRM 78: The Weston Road swamp’s red-headed woodpeckers seemed to like this morning, bright and sunny and not too hot. I counted at least four and heard a couple more; they remained quite vocal for the hour I was there. Two of them were defending a nest hole from starlings and red-bellied woodpeckers. One of the pair did a little excavating, tossing out wood shavings from inside. On another tree, a pair of northern flickers were hanging around a nest hole. Neither woodpecker pair was bringing food back at this point. Could both be were interested in mid-summer nesting?
- Peter Relson

7/18 – Orange County, HRM 36: Braving a rough storm, Linda Scrima reported that the five immature white ibis returned this evening just after 7:00 p.m. to roost in the same tree as five days ago (see 7/13).
- Curt McDermott

7/18 – Manhattan, HRM 2: Students from the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation helped us check our collection gear at The River Project’s Pier 40 research site in Hudson River Park. The killifish traps held only sea squirts, some shore shrimp, and amphipods. The single-tier crab pot had an oyster toadfish (200 mm) and three male blue crabs. One crab was missing a leg and “the victor,” as we dubbed him, had a 180 mm carapace width.
- Melissa Rex, Jacqueline Wu

7/19 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was very warm today and there was no activity at the great blue heron rookery. With the sun beating down on the nestlings, they were panting to cool off; it must have been very uncomfortable. Two days ago there were five nestlings, but today there were seven, both nestlings and fledglings, in seven nests and only two adults. This is a normal pattern with some fledglings, leaving but then returning to their familiar nest. My preference would be to find a nice cool shady pond and look for some fish.
- Jim Steck

7/19 – 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. The crab pots held two blackfish/tautog (215, 250 millimeters). One killifish trap had a female northern pipefish (195 mm), another had captured a feather blenny (100 mm), and last one had a small skilletfish (10 mm). We found oyster drills, mud dog whelk snails, a few mud crabs (one as small as uncooked couscous), and small isopods the size of a grain of jasmine rice. We were also starting to see a lot more of small sea squirts the size of M&M minis, but also large ones the size of red globe grapes.
- Jacqueline Wu, Lucas, Eric, Gabby

[The feather blenny (Hypsoblennius hentz), a temperate marine stray, is a small, scaleless fish with fleshy cirri (“feathers”) on its head. The lower jaw has a row of small, close-set teeth like those of a comb, thus the family name, combtooth blennies (Blenniidae). Blennies are benthic dwellers where they often burrow in the soft bottom or find refuge in old mollusk shells. C. Lavett Smith (1997)]

Atlantic tomcod7/19 – Brooklyn, New York City: Students from Saint Francis College joined Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy educators for a productive morning seining in the East River under the Manhattan Bridge. Our catch included striped bass, all of which were young-of-the year except for one yearling (150 millimeters), Atlantic silversides, winter flounder and, the grand prize, an Atlantic tomcod (110 mm). Invertebrates included oyster spat (likely drifters from a nearby oyster reef), shrimp, moon and comb jellies, sandworms, and five blue crabs. [Photo of Atlantic tomcod courtesy of Christina Tobitsch.] - Christina Tobitsch

[Bigelow and Schroder's Fishes of the Gulf of Maine (1953) cite the general range of tomcod (Microgadus tomcod) as “... northern Newfoundland to Virginia.” They are one of eight members of the cod family found in the Hudson River estuary. The others are the Atlantic cod, pollock, silver hake (“whiting”), red hake (“ling”), spotted hake, white hake, and the ephemeral fourbeard rockling. Tomcod spawn in late fall through late winter in cold water, often under the ice in the Hudson River, thus earning them the nickname “frost fish,” a Dutch Colonial colloquialism. This tomcod was likely both a young-of-the-year as well as nearly an adult (they mature in 11-12 months. Tomcod numbers in the river have been declining over the last few decades and, being a boreal species, climate change has been suggested as a possible cause. Tom Lake.]

7/20 – Piermont, HRM 25: Our Secondary School Field Research Program was in full swing at Piermont Pier and marsh as our fiddler crab team launched into the phragmites [common reed] to check their pit traps. We were surprised to see in the midday sun a very busy red fox pacing back and forth as it checked out the brush at the rear of a field bordering Sparkill Creek. As we hiked, we startled a large snapping turtle (with a foot-long carapace) that quickly pushed off into the water leaving a zigzag trail of mud behind. The turtle looked very large compared to the Atlantic marsh fiddler crab (Uca pugnax) we caught at our sampling site that had an 11 mm carapace and weighed 3.8 grams.
- Margie Turrin, Patrick Callahan, Dasia Brim

7/21 – Minerva, HRM 284: Nine students and their counselor from the Minerva Youth Program joined me today to hike one of my favorite trails, the Moxham Ridge Trail in Minerva. What a great trail. I spent much of my time with several sixth graders looking under downed logs for salamanders and we were not disappointed. We had good diversity but few numbers: a red eft, a red-backed salamander, and something I haven't seen in years, a spotted salamander. We also found American toads of various sizes. Up in the trees and beyond, making lots of sound, were winter wrens, a broad-winged hawk, and hermit thrushes. It was an excellent day for a hike.
- Mike Corey

7/21 – Milan, HRM 90: A large black bear that I estimated at more than 200 pounds came to visit last night. It was not aggressive and did not seem to be afraid. All he wanted was a meal of sunflower seeds and apparently a nap (he kept yawning). When all efforts to scare him off failed, a loud bang convinced him to move on.
- Marty Otter

7/21 – Little Stony Point, HRM 55: We were forced to seine at high tide today which, on this beach, is not the best time for good results. First we snorkeled in the waist-deep shallows through shoals of small fish. We thought they might be river herring (the water was a bit turbid). Then we hauled a short seine and discovered they were nearly 100% YOY striped bass (30-49 mm). The few odd fish were spottail shiners (30-32 mm). The river was a delightfully warm 81 degrees F.
- Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

[Tide terminology: Tide is a vertical measurement of the river; current is a horizontal measurement. The flood refers to an incoming current or rising tide; the ebb is a falling tide or outgoing current. Spring tides are more extreme tides - higher highs and lower lows - tides associated with full and new moons. Neap tides are less extreme tides – lower highs and higher lows - occurring around quarter moons. Tom Lake]

7/21 – 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. A crab pot had a male blue crab (105 mm) and a killifish trap had captured another tiny skilletfish (10 mm). We also caught shore shrimp, mud dog whelk snails, oyster drills, blue mussels the size of lemon pips, clam worms, and a comb jelly. Oh, and sea squirts of all sizes!
- Melissa Rex, Jacqueline Wu, Siddhartha Hayes


Do you own or manage land along a stream? You can apply for free native plants to help reduce erosion and improve habitat along your stream! The Hudson Estuary 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.
We are now accepting applications for fall planting projects. Applications received by August 1, 2017 will be given preference. For more information about the program or to download an application, please visit the Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs website. If you have questions about a potential planting site, please contact Beth Roessler by phone (845) 256-2253 or email.


Saturday, August 5: The Sixth Annual Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count
DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and partners from river education groups will introduce visitors to some of the slippery, wriggly, and fascinating creatures usually hidden below the estuary’s surface. Except as noted, programs will involve use of seine nets. Visit the Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count website for more information. Programs are free, but some require pre-registration and there may be parking fees at some parks.
Brooklyn/Valentino Pier at end of Coffey St, Red Hook: 12:30-2:30 PM [Hudson River Estuary Program/DEC] Brooklyn/Brooklyn Bridge Park at 99 Plymouth St; beach under Manhattan Bridge: 1:00-2:30 PM. RSVP requested. [Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy] Manhattan/Steamship Lilac on Hudson River Park Pier 25 at West St & North Moore St: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM. Minnow & crab pots. [The River Project & Lilac Preservation Project] Manhattan/Hudson River Park Pier 84 at 12th Ave & 44th St: 11:00 AM-3:00 PM. Angling. [Hudson River Park Trust] Manhattan/Randall’s Island Park on Harlem River north of 103rd Street footbridge: 2:00-4:00 PM [Randall’s Island Parks Alliance] Yonkers/Habirshaw Park at 35 Alexander St, 1 block from Metro North Hudson Line Station: 2:00-4:00 PM. RSVP requested. [Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak] Piermont/near blockhouse at end of Piermont Pier: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM [Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory] Sleepy Hollow/Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center at Kingsland Pt. Park: 1:00 PM. RSVP requested. [Teatown Lake Reservation & Strawtown Studio] Croton/Croton Point Park at Mother’s Lap waterfront just west of swim beach: 2:30 PM [Westchester County Parks] Cold Spring/Little Stony Point at north end of Sandy Beach: 3:30 PM [Hudson River Almanac/DEC] New Windsor/Kowawese Unique Area/Plum Point county park beach: 5:30 PM [Hudson River Almanac/DEC] Beacon/Long Dock Park: 8:00-10:00 AM [Scenic Hudson] Poughkeepsie/north end of Waryas Park: 6:00-7:00 PM [Scenic Hudson] Staatsburg/Norrie Point Environmental Center: 10 AM [Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve] Kingston/Kingston Point Beach: 5:00 PM [Hudson River Estuary Program/DEC] Coxsackie/Riverfront Park boat launch during Riverside Festival: 10:00 AM-12:00 noon [Hudson River Estuary Program/DEC & Capital District Marine Aquarists Society] Castleton/Schodack Island State Park boat launch: 10:00 AM [RiverHaggie Outdoors & Rensselaer Land Trust] Waterford/Peebles Island State Park just east of bridge to Waterford: 10:00 AM-12:00 noon [Hudson River Estuary Program & DEC Region 4]

Saturday, August 12: 1:00-3:00 PM
Fish Tales (mostly true) recalling the “golden years” of Hudson River commercial fishing. An afternoon with Tom Lake, NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program consulting naturalist, John Mylod, and Christopher Letts at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, Kingston [Ulster County]. Free; sponsored by Hudson River Maritime Museum, Mid-Hudson Folk Arts, New York Regional Economic Development Council, and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, email Elinor Levy.


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), 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 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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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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