Hudson River Almanac 7/8/17 – 7/14/17

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white ibis - photo courtesy of Kent Warner (see 7/13)
Hudson River Almanac
July 8 - 14, 2017
Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Consulting Naturalist

OVERVIEW

As a backdrop to the ubiquitous birds and fishes of summer, we had a reminder this week of the great time depth of our Hudson Valley and even more importantly of our presence here as caretakers. And should you be interested in seeing some of the fishes and sites often described in Almanac entries, consider participating in a Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count program on August 5. See the schedule and locations in the program calendar below.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

7/13 – Orange County, HRM 36: I watched five white ibis picking around in the vegetable garden until 7:45 PM, when they flew to a nearby tree and then disappeared for the night. (They were seen by others on July 14 until late morning, when they disappeared, and have not been seen since.) [See banner photo courtesy of Kent Warner.] - Kent Warner

[The American white ibis (Eudocimus albus), a wading bird more commonly found in marshes and wetlands along the southern Atlantic coastal states, is an “accidental” (found fewer than three times) in Orange County. There was a previous sighting of an immature bird on July 13, 2011 in the Town of Warwick. Ken McDermott.]

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

black rat snake constricting cottontail7/8 – Denning’s Point, HRM 60: While running my usual route near the old brick factory at Denning’s Point, I stumbled onto a large black rat snake in the act of constricting a cottontail on the gravel trail. The rabbit appeared dead but the snake hadn't yet begun to ingest it. I watched for a few minutes; when the snake did not proceed I left it to enjoy its meal in peace. [Photo of black rat snake and cottontail courtesy of Zach Rodgers.] - Zach Rodgers

7/8 – Putnam County, HRM 54: As a part of the Putnam County breeding bird survey, we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail at Fahnestock State Park for nearly four hours. We counted 52 species, some heard only, but looks at most if not all. Highlights were ten species of warblers, flycatchers (including the Acadian flycatcher – this is a great trail for this species), herons, vireos, thrushes, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, Baltimore oriole, beavers sunning themselves, and Canada lily and Indian pipe wildflowers.
- Larry Trachtenberg, Charlie Roberto, Kyle Bardwell

7/8 – Fort Montgomery, HRM 46: While driving a back road one late afternoon, I came across a two-year-old black rat snake sunning itself in the middle of the road. The amount of reptile life around Fort Montgomery and West Point is amazing. It has to have one of the highest densities of black rat snakes in the state as they seem to be everywhere. After a photo, I released this little one back into the woods.
- William Sherwood

7/9 – Beacon, HRM 61: Seining can sometimes be a challenge (an adventure). We had a spring tide (higher than usual) and with a strong south wind, waist-high waves were hitting us as we waded out. On the outboard end, the breakers were crashing over our heads. Hauling the net up on the sand took some finesse with a heave-ho timed for each wave. The catch seemed secondary to the staunch workout. Still, we got into a nice school of young-of-the-year [YOY] striped bass 53-56 millimeters [mm] long. The river was a soothing 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

7/10 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was a warm and quiet day at the great blue heron rookery. The three nests that had branching activity on my last visit were now empty – the nestlings now fledglings. Many others had fledged as well, leaving some nests with just one or two nestlings remaining. The fledged herons were now likely with their parents learning to hunt. On my last visit I counted 50 herons in 17 nests. On this visit I counted 28 herons in 14 nests. It appeared that the survival rate from hatchling to fledgling was 100% and that is unusual when you consider how much food it takes to raise three to five nestlings per nest.
- Jim Steck

7/10 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our collection gear at midday in Hudson River Park at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. The killifish traps were devoid of fish but we did have mud dog whelk snails, shore shrimp, amphipods, and oyster drills. One crab pot had a white perch (225 mm) and an oyster toadfish (230 mm).
- Lucas, Aswhin, Stockton

7/11 – Manhattan, HRM 2: We sampled Hudson River water quality parameters during an afternoon mid-tide at The River Project’s Pier 40 research site. We wanted to compare today’s values with those collected on 7/7. Today’s results: 80 centimeters turbidity (105 cm on 7/7), 17.0 parts-per-thousand salinity (14.0 ppt on 7/7), 22.0 degrees Celsius/71 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature (22.0 degrees C on 7/7), and 4.4 parts-per-million dissolved oxygen (6.8 ppm DO on 7/7). Later, middle school students from the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation helped us pull up our killifish traps and inside we found an oyster toadfish and a skilletfish.
- Melissa Rex, Elisa Caref, Jacqueline Wu

7/12 – Beacon, HRM 61: We hit the water at Long Dock Park just as the sun peeked over the hills to the east. The air had that delightful combination of summer warmth with a touch of humidity. We often consider just going to the beach for the sand and surf but, like today, we look out at the water and wonder what else is out there. There is no substitute for being in the water (78 degrees F), so we quickly set our net and pulled it in a big arc. Our entire catch consisted of tiny young-of-the-year fishes. The spottail shiners (23-26 mm) were recognizable by the tiny black spot at the base of their tail; the river herring (34-48 mm) were bluebacks [a positive determination made following an hour under the microscope].
- Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson, B.J. Jackson

freshwater drum7/12 – Denning’s Point, HRM 60: I landed a 14-inch freshwater drum on a spinner this evening along with a couple of channel catfish in the two-pound range. I heard and then saw a fledgling barred owl calling for its dinner in the locust trees. [Photo of freshwater drum courtesy of Steve Stanne.] - Steve Seymour

[Freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) are not a native fish in the Hudson. They probably arrived here in the last 25 years through the New York State canal system and the Mohawk River connecting the Hudson River with the Great Lakes. In Lake Erie they are known colloquially as “sheepshead” – they have that look. Freshwater drum are lovers of mollusks and in the Great Lakes are known to consume large quantities of zebra mussels. If you pick one up and shake it, the fish sounds like a maraca, with a belly full of zebra mussel shells. Other members of the drum family found in the Hudson River are marine species and they include northern kingfish, croaker, spot, black drum, silver perch, and weakfish. Tom Lake.]

7/12 – Cornwall on Hudson, HRM 57: Our golden mountain dog, Marley (Burmese mountain dog and a golden retriever mix), got me out of bed early for our daily trek on the numerous trails of the Grail Center property. It was a morning of double sightings: two pileated woodpeckers, two bright yellow goldfinches, a couple of cottontails, and a buck white-tailed deer that snorted loudly at us twice before charging off into the thicket. We doubled back home under the bright light of Venus and the waning moon.
- Robert Anderson

7/12 – Piermont, HRM 25: Our Nyack College Fishing Club Research Squad began our day in the field at Piermont Pier. Among the five species of fish we collected in our net were Atlantic silverside (30-40 mm) as well as YOY bluefish (70-90 mm) and striped bass (30-40 mm). Two of the blue crabs we caught were soft-shelled adults, probably in their last moult. The salinity was 5.0 ppt.
- Peter J. Park, Daniel Kaluka, Ye Chan Sung, Maridalia Lillis

7/12 – Yonkers, HRM 18: After Piermont, our Nyack College Fishing Club Research Squad moved seven miles downriver and over to the east side. After a dozen hauls of our net we had collected five species of fish including YOY striped bass and winter flounder (25 mm), as well as Atlantic silverside. One of the striped bass (125 mm) was likely a summer 2016 fish. Among the Crustacea were shore shrimp (Palaemonetes spp.) and sand shrimp (Crangon septemspinosa). The water was 74 degrees F; salinity was 8.0 ppt.
- Peter J. Park, Daniel Kaluka, Ye Chan Sung, Maridalia Lillis

7/12 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our collection gear high tide in Hudson River Park at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. In the killifish traps we found an oyster toadfish (65 mm), a gravid seaboard goby (40 mm), and a small silvery fish that fell overboard. It may have been a YOY butterfish.
- Jacqueline Wu, Gabby, Ameera, Juliana

[The seaboard goby (Gobiosoma ginsburgi) is a bottom-dwelling temperate marine stray that frequents shellfish beds. This was our first seaboard goby since fall 2010 when we caught three. Peter Park caught a seaboard goby (26 mm) in the East River last September during the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Macaulay Honors College BioBlitz. Jacqueline Wu.]

7/13 – Town of New Paltz, HRM 78: On a brief stop at Weston Road, I spotted a red-headed woodpecker in the swamp. It flew to a tree and went into a hole. The Weston Swamp has been very reliable for at least the past decade where they have successfully bred with as many as twelve individuals recorded there during the breeding season.
- Peter Relson

[Overall in the state, the red-headed woodpecker does not seem to be doing well; New York lists it as a Species of Special Concern (see DEC’s red-headed woodpecker fact sheet). In Ulster County, this woodpecker is listed on the John Burroughs Natural History Society Checklist of the Birds of Ulster County as “local” in all seasons, but its distribution has been limited to the Humpo Marsh and Weston Marsh vicinity. It prefers large beaver impoundments where there is an abundance of dead or decaying trees. This woodpecker’s population has been increasing in Ulster County over the past decade and appears to be expanding its range northward although it is still a rarity in most surrounding counties. Rich Guthrie, Steve Chorvus, and Steve Stanne contributed to this sidebar.]

preform Stone Age projectile point7/13 – Westchester County: A hiker along a rocky beach in lower Westchester County happened upon a piece of “worked” chert today indicating a Stone Age artifact. This was a small (51 mm) and rather thin (6-7 mm) projectile point made of high grade black chert (probably Normanskill). The presence of Hudson River Indians and their artifacts dates back to at least 11,000 years ago, so this find was a delightful reminder of the impressive time depth of the Hudson River Valley.
- Tom Lake

[This spear-thrower (atlatl) point appeared to be a preform, a work in progress. While it was not immediately recognizable as a “type,” it did have enough form to suggest that it was not a utilitarian tool. Typing Stone Age projectile points often seems like finding images in clouds: one person’s horse is another’s ostrich. This seemed to be a preform for a Fox Creek-type point that have been dated from AD 400-650 on Hudson Valley archaeological sites. The black lithic (rock) from Greene and Albany counties is typical of these points as well. In our area, this time period is called the Middle Woodland, when hunters and gatherers were increasing their dependence on new technologies such as horticulture, ceramics, and the bow and arrow, eventually leading to more permanent settlements. The type site is Fox Creek, a tributary to Schoharie Creek in Schoharie and Albany Counties, and was named by New York State Archaeologist Bob Funk. Tom Lake.]

7/13 – Plattekill, HRM 69: As I was driving on New Hurley Road heading toward the hamlet of Wallkill, I spotted a beautiful adult bald eagle feasting on a large Canada goose in a field. I pulled over to watch. Another driver stopped to let me know that the goose had been hit by a car three days before and each day since the eagle had shown up to scavenge.
- Monica McDonough

7/13 – 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. Surprisingly, all of the pots and traps were absolutely empty of fish. We only found mud dog whelk snails, shore shrimp, and small mussels.
- Melissa Rex, Juliana, Justin, Jessy

7/14 – Warren County, HRM 207: I spotted a large bird today in the shadows of my neighbor’s house in Queensbury. It was an immature bald eagle finishing off a fish. All that was left were some bones and the fish’s tail – it looked like a largemouth bass. A bald eagle at Glen Lake is not a common sighting. Our pair of common loons that I first reported last year (see 8/11), had returned to the lake. Loons used to just pass us by but last year a pair stayed the summer. Our two osprey nests successful fledged young this year.
- Linda Whittle

7/14 – Montrose, HRM 39: I was surprised to see a very fit looking coyote wander into the parking area of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital today. Despite being surrounded on all sides by buildings and an overwhelming human presence, he seemed to be totally at ease. [Hudson Valley coyotes truly have “street cred,” and they show it.] - Alan Groth, Janice Groth

SUMMER 2017 NATURAL HISTORY PROGRAMS

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 cdemers@esf.edu

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: 10:00 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]

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), 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.

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 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 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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