The late summer aerial migration was well represented this week by butterflies, warblers, nighthawks, and raptors.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK
9/5 – Ulster County, HRM 91: Returning from a walk, we crossed a stream and climbed the hill to our house. At the top we turned around and looked back at the field in the Hurley Flats and there was a very big dog-like animal, much bigger than a coyote, staring at us. It was a bit frightening; we had never seen anything like it in size or movement – it didn't “slink” like coyotes often do. We quickly walked away to our house
[While research suggests that Eastern coyotes have some wolf DNA, it is a small proportion of their genetic makeup. They are in fact coyotes, slightly larger than their western counterparts, but not more wolf-like in size. The average in New York is about 35-40 pounds based on research and trapping efforts. Wolves average about 70-120 pounds, while Western coyotes are closer to 25-30 pounds. However, coyotes are often mistakenly reported to be larger than they actually are. Kevin Clarke, DEC Region 3 Wildlife Biologist.]
- Megan Mercado, Hilton Mercado
LATE NOTES FROM LAST WEEK
8/28– Rosendale, HRM 84: Last year I added two butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) plants to my garden in hopes of attracting monarchs. I love inspecting the plants for pollinators and caterpillars every morning before I leave for work. In addition to the usual variety of bees, this month I was happy to discover a monarch caterpillar, which I suspect was almost ready to form a chrysalis. I had also observed two smaller caterpillars that I photographed this morning and identified as the larvae of milkweed tussock sedge moth (Euchaetes egle). The addition of native plants to my landscaping has been very rewarding. [Photo of milkweed tussock moth courtesy of Laura Heady.]
- Laura Heady
8/28 – Millbrook, HRM 82: For the last several weeks the roadsides have been at their summer best with the chicory, purple loosestrife, goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace all resplendent from the car window. Walkers can see even more, including the elegantly slouching foxtail grass, delicate strings of jumpseed flowers, polygonal coltsfoot leaves, rough barnyard grass, wild bergamot, wild basil, Japanese hedge parsley, jewelweed and many others.
- Nelson D. Johnson
NATURAL HISTORY NOTES
9/3 – Athens, HRM 118: At the Stewart House garden lounge this afternoon, on the banks of the Hudson River, a dozen hatchling snapping turtles emerged from the ground, breaking out of their shells. For their well-being, we guided them to the river bank so they would not get stepped on by patrons.
- John Miller
9/3 – Esopus Meadows, HRM 87: Four common nighthawks put on quite a show this evening. They arrived just before 6:00 PM, hunting by the park,and then moved down and joined the swallows in front of the park pavilion. They were still flying when I left an hour later, hunting low over the beds of water chestnut.
- Jim Yates
9/3 – Hudson River Estuary: We recently (8/6) reported the catch of a feathered blenny (Hypsoblennius hentz) in the Hudson River from Manhattan. We noted the fish as a “tropical marine stray” in keeping with its designation when it was first added to the Hudson River watershed fish list (1994). In the interim, this had become an obsolete designation. With an increased presence in the New York Bight, that original designation had been changed to “temperate marine stray.” More recently, based on a paper by Bob Schmidt and Paul Mocchio (Description of the larvae of the feather blenny from New York waters. Zootaxa 3646: 581-586), the designation for feathered blenny was changed to “permanent/seasonally resident marine species.” Feathered blennies, benthic dwellers in New York Harbor where they often burrow in the soft bottom or find refuge in old mollusk shells, have extended their range northward along the Atlantic Coast.
- Tom Lake
9/4 – Greene County, HRM 127.5: Five common nighthawks “hawked” over the Coxsackie Creek Grasslands Preserve this evening. Also present were two kestrels, a northern harrier, and 20 turkey vultures heading to their roost.
- Richard Guthrie
9/4 – Columbia County, HRM 113: In early evening, a single common nighthawk cruised over Greenport on the edge of the City of Hudson.
- Elisabeth Grace
9/4 – Beacon, HRM 61: Along the path to the beach at Long Dock Park, in the lee of trees and shrubs, we saw many butterflies, among them seven monarchs attracted to bright yellow stands of green-headed cornflowers. At the water’s edge, a strong south wind (remnant of Hurricane Harvey) was blowing up through the Hudson Highlands, creating whitecaps offshore and pushing rollers up on the beach. We hauled our seine in time with shoulder-high waves and the occasional head-drencher covered us in duckweed. Our net collected just a single species, albeit in good numbers - young-of-the-year [YOY] striped bass 54-66 millimeters [mm] long. The river was a warm 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson
9/4 – Putnam County: Labor Day broke cool, sunny, and slightly breezy. The gauges in my yard agreed that we'd had more than 1.5" of rain over the weekend so it behooved us to check our favorite southern Putnam County trail to see what mushrooms might be up. We spotted a well-beyond-its-prime fruiting of the bio-luminescent jack-o-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus illudens) and a very fresh specimen of "the blusher" (Amanita rubescens) that, from a distance, looked more like a solitary onion bagel mushroom, along with a smattering of usual specimens in the Russula, Lactarius and Cortinarius genera.
Today was the first time we'd encountered toothed fungi in the Hydum genus – just a few tiny ones – so the fall mushrooms were already fruiting. Because we had at least average rainfall for the past few months, we're expecting it to be a banner year for hen-of-the-woods (Grifola frondosa), so start looking for these very tasty and healthful gray/brown “hens” at the bases of oak trees. [Photo of jack-o-lantern mushroom courtesy of Steve Rock.]
- Steve Rock
9/4 – Bedford, HRM 35: We had our first migrating red-tailed hawks (2) of the season at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch today. Osprey (7), however, were the most numerous. Non-raptor observations included a monarch, migrating ruby-throated hummingbirds (21), cedar waxwings (55), and double-crested cormorants (14).
9/5 – Town of New Paltz, HRM 78: Apparently the Weston Swamp red-headed woodpecker nestlings fledged over the long weekend. This morning, one parent was in the vicinity chittering away. It made a few trips to the nest tree, but not to the nest hole itself, and there was no feeding or heads poking out.
- Peter Relson
9/5 – New Paltz, HRM 78: Our butterfly bushes hosted giant, tiger, black, and spicebush swallowtails, with a single monarch joining the nectar party. I noticed for the first time this summer in the Lepidopteran mix was a clearwing hummingbird moth. It may have been Hemaris gracilis (graceful clearwing) but the sky-blue eyes had me a bit unsure. This individual darted from flower-to-flower for a full 20 minutes before disappearing from our garden.
- Bob Ottens
9/5 – Town of LaGrange, HRM 69: We admired the beauty of a white-marked tussock moth caterpillar on our deck. Ten minutes later, however, I noticed that the caterpillar was in the grip of a praying mantis. She consumed the entire caterpillar, having to battle against bees much of the time.
- Shirley Freitas
9/5 – Bedford, HRM 35: Big day for osprey (9) at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. Just after midday, a group of red-shouldered hawks (at least one adult and several immatures – a family?) slowly moved south playfully chasing each other. Non-raptor observations included monarchs (3), ruby-throated hummingbirds (6), cedar waxwings (22), and a common loon.
-Silvan Laan, Charlotte Catalano
9/6 – Saratoga County, HRM 182: There was some very impressive migrating warbler activity in my yard to start the day, including Tennessee, yellow-rumped, Wilson’s, Cape May, and black-and-white warblers.
- Nancy Castillo, Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club
9/6 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We checked our collection gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. Our crab pot fulfilled its mission with a host of blue crabs including three adult males (110-170 mm) and two immatures (15 mm). Our killifish traps had five tautog (200-280 mm) and a single skilletfish (45 mm).
[A common thread for Almanac entries is a reference to Hudson River miles. These give context to each entry, indicating where in the watershed the observation occurred. For research and navigation purposes, the Hudson River is measured upriver from the Battery (river mile 0) at the tip of Manhattan, in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor: The George Washington Bridge is at river mile 12, the Tappan Zee Bridge is 28, Kingston is 92, Albany 145, and the Federal Dam at Troy, at the head of tidewater, is about river mile 153. While cities and bridges make convenient points of reference, river phenomena do not always occur at such neat and tidy intervals, so we see many references to places in between. While these designations are not exact, they do allow us to create a mind’s eye picture of points on the river and in the Hudson watershed. Tom Lake.]
- Siddhartha Hayes
9/7 – Saratoga County, HRM 182: I ran into a migrant fallout today at Saratoga Spa State Park that was only surpassed by a trip to Cape May one September. I worked fast with binoculars and camera to identify as many as I could, but was lucky if I got 10% of the birds flitting through the trees. Of the 40 bird species I counted, 11 were warblers, including blue-winged, black-and-white, Tennessee, American redstart, northern parula, magnolia, Blackburnian, blackpoll, black-throated blue, pine, and black-throated green. [Photo of black-throated green warbler courtesy of Mike Pogue.]
- Ron Harrower, Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club
9/7 – Bedford, HRM 35: There was modest raptor migration throughout the day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch with osprey (9) again leading the count. There were also broad-winged hawks (7) and three bald eagles. A group of five black vultures passing through were thought to be local wanderers and not counted as migrants. Non-raptor observations included monarchs (19), ruby-throated hummingbirds (16), and cedar waxwings (100). A flock of 25 bank swallows moved west in the morning and up to 70 common nighthawks showed well in the last hour, providing viewing pleasure for those present at the watch.
-Silvan Laan, Charlotte Catalano
9/7 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We had early and cool autumn weather as we checked our collection gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. We found a blue crab (120 mm) as well as a huge number of comb jellies and juvenile spider crabs. The carapace of the young spider crabs had already begun to accumulate algae and sponges.
- Siddhartha Hayes
9/8 – Beacon, HRM 61: The Hudson River can make us humble, continually reminding us that you cannot choreograph such a dynamic system – expectations must be flexible. We hauled our 40-foot seine today no fewer than ten times with nary a fish. There were a few blue crabs, but the fish had eluded us – a rare occasion. We were comforted by the knowledge that scientists recognize that no data is still data – a poor substitute for a seine writhing with small silvery fish. Cool nights had dropped the river temperature six degrees to 71.
- Tom Lake, B.J. Jackson
9/8 – Bedford, HRM 35: It was an entertaining day at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch with our best day yet for broad-winged hawks (13) and American kestrels (4). An immature northern harrier was a nice addition near closing time. Non-raptor observations included our best count so far for ruby-throated hummingbirds (24), as well as monarchs (18), cedar waxwings (65), and common nighthawks (17).
-Silvan Laan, Charlotte Catalano
9/8 – Manhattan, HRM 1: We returned for the last day of the week to check our collection gear in Hudson River Park at The River Project's sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25. There were no fish but plenty of invertebrates including quite a few juvenile spider crabs, some comb jellies, and a larger number of isopods and shore shrimp.
- Siddhartha Hayes
SUMMER/FALL 2017 NATURAL HISTORY PROGRAMS
Saturday, September 16: 2:00 PM
Eighteenth Annual Hudson River Valley Ramble Seining Program at Kowawese Unique Area, New Windsor [Orange County]. Join Tom Lake, NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program consulting naturalist, to haul a net in the warm shallows to see “who” is home in the river today and then hear their fascinating stories. Wear shorts and sandals and help us seine. For more information, email Tom Lake email@example.com
Saturday, September 23, 2:00-5:00 PM
Science on the River at the Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg [Dutchess County]. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Research Reserve invites the public to celebrate National Estuaries Day. Help take a sediment core from the cove and discover what it can teach us. Canoe a tidal marsh of the Hudson (weather and space permitting). Enjoy a live birds of prey program. Help fish the waters around Norrie Point to find out who lives there. See how the types of organisms living in a stream indicate its health. Learn what SAV means and why it’s important to the river. Also, many games and activities are planned especially for our youngest visitors. This program is free and most exhibit areas are wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 845-889-4745 x109.
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
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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 email@example.com