Monday, September 9, 2013

Dunning Brook

[if photo fails to load, try refreshing the page]
Canon full-frame 5D + EF 17-40mm f/4L wide-angle lens at 17mm + polarizer, exposure 30 seconds, f/19 at ISO 100, then using DPP's "white-point" to correct the greenish-cast from light filtering through the leaves on the overcast day... 12 MP original uncropped but resolution reduced for web use... A higher resolution version is found on National Geographic's "Your Shot" page. (© Dave Spier - photo ref. # D078825)

Dunning Brook, a.k.a. Dunning Creek

By Dave Spier and Donna Mason-Spier

Dunning Brook, often marked as Dunning Creek on maps and trail guides, descends the west slope of the Sacandaga River Valley north of Wells, New York in the Adirondack Mountains. (Park on the shoulder of Route 30 about 0.6 mile south of the junction with Route 8.) A trail leads uphill from Route 30 to Dunning Pond. The boulders in the stream bed are metamorphic rock from the Grenville Orogeny, roughly 1.1 billion years ago (bya). These photos were taken September 22, 2012, when we hiked part way up the hill. In late September, 2013, we hiked further up the hill. A trail description can be found starting on page 134 of the Guide to Adirondack Trails 7, Southern Region, 2nd edition, 1994 by Linda Laing.


DunningBrook,NY_©DonnaMason-Spier_D078833

Corrections, questions and suggestions are always welcome at northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect through Dave's Facebook page and photo page. There is a separate community-type page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature and geology topics can be found on the parallel blogs Northeast Naturalist and Heading Out with Dave and Donna.


DunningBrook,NY_©DonnaMason-Spier_D078854


DunningBrook,NY_©DaveSpier_D078827

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grass-pink (Calopogon)


Grass Pink -- © Dave Spier

Grass-pink (Calopogon tuberosus) has a misleading name due to its single, grass-like leaf that arises near the base and partially sheathes the stem. It's actually a native eastern orchid with an upside-down flower. The yellow-crested lip (called the Labellum) is uppermost. The University of Wisconsin provides an interesting description of how this works to achieve pollination. "The brush of hairs on the lip apparently serves as a "pseudopollen" lure, attracting naive, recently emerged bumblebees. The bees, expecting a reward of nectar and/or pollen, land on the hairs. At this point, the hinged labellum swings down under the weight of the bee and positions the bee on the column, where pollen can be placed on its back. If the bee already carries a load of pollen, it will contact the stigma and thus pollinate the plant. (Thien & Marcks, 1972)"

Calopogon is found in wet, acidic bogs, peat meadows and swamps from Minnesota to Newfoundland and south to the Gulf coast. (There's a range map on the USDA Plants Database, under Calopogon tuberosus.) It does occur locally, but since New York lists it as "exploitably vulnerable," I'll leave it at that.
 


The genera name is a contraction of the Greek "kalos" and "pogon" meaning "beautiful beard." The specific name is Latin for "tuberous," referring to the tuberous corm growing in the substrate (typically Sphagnum moss). Most older field guides list this species as Calopogon pulchellus, now considered a synonym for this species.

Michael Kudish, in his book Adirondack Upland Flora (1992), gives the flowering date as beginning July 1 with median date July 13 (subject to global warming and annual climate fluctuation) within a 30-mile radius of Paul Smiths.

Corrections, questions and suggestions are always welcome at northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect through my Facebook page and photo page. There is a separate community-type page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature and geology topics can be found on the parallel blogs Northeast Naturalist and Heading Out.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brook Trout

Brook Trout in an aquarium at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake

New Record Brook Trout -- © Dave Spier

The D.E.C. announced a new state record Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) caught by Rick Beauchamp, who's from Mayfield, Fulton County, while he was fishing in Silver Lake, part of the Silver Lake Wilderness in Hamilton County, on May 16. The six-pound trout was 22.5 inches long.

The news release also stated that this "brook trout ... reflects the ongoing recovery of Adirondack lakes from the effects of acid rain. Until a few years ago, Silver Lake was too acidified to support a trout population. In 1969 the lake was determined to be fishless and in 1976 it had a pH of 5.0 which is too acidic for brook trout to thrive. After water chemistry samples indicated the pH of lake had risen to almost 6.0, DEC began an experimental stocking program for brook trout in 2002. Currently DEC stocks Windfall strain native brook trout in Silver Lake and brook trout are the only fish species known to be present."

The Brook Trout, actually a variety of char in the Salmonidae family, is New York's state fish. It eats smaller fish, crustaceans, frogs, other amphibians, insects, mollusks and an occasional aquatic vole.



Corrections, questions and suggestions are always welcome at northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect through my Facebook page and photo page. There is a separate community-type page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature and geology topics can be found on the parallel blogs Northeast Naturalist and Heading Out.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Goldthread


© Dave Spier

Threeleaf Goldthread (Coptis trifolia, synonym Coptis groenlandica) is a small woodland wildflower of cool bogs, swamps, and mixed coniferous-hardwood forests in the north. Its distribution includes Alaska, most of Canada, Greenland and the Northeast U.S. The descriptor "threeleaf" is somewhat misleading because each evergreen blade is deeply three-lobed, or compound in effect. The common name "goldthread" refers to the long, underground rhizome that is bright golden yellow. Another common name for this species is "yellow root."

Each flower has five to seven white sepals that can be mistaken for petals. The actual petals are yellow-tipped, club-like and smaller than the numerous male stamens. Three long, green, bulb-tipped, female pistils alternate with the petals. Goldthread is a member of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup (Crowfoot) family which is characterized by numerous stamens forming a button or bushy cluster in the center of the regular [radially symetrical] flower.
 
 
 


Goldthread is an evergreen herb, an adaptation allowing it to take advantage of additional sunlight in early spring and late fall whenever temperatures are above freezing an when any deciduous trees are leafless. That's not much help where it grows under coniferous canopies, though.

Additional information can be found on pages 108-109 in the book Adirondack Upland Flora by Michael Kudish. The median flowering date in the Adirondacks is/was May 20 (subject to change in response to global warming). The plant can be found at a wide range of elevations and often near bogs or other cool, moist habitats with acidic soil.

Corrections, questions and suggestions are always welcome at
northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect through my Facebook page and photo page. There is a separate community-type page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature and geology topics can be found on the parallel blogs Northeast Naturalist and Heading Out. (If you noticed, the font-size button is not working correctly and I can't make all of the text the same size.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Taylor Pond

Taylor Pond, autumn shot, afternoon from near the dam - © Dave Spier
The Taylor Pond Wild Forest Unit Management Plan Final Draft has been released. A copy of the draft plan can be found on the D.E.C. website. A discussion of the final draft and it's key points can be found on The Adirondack Almanack website.

Taylor Pond is north of Whiteface and Wilmington in the southwest corner of Clinton County. It can be accessed from County Road 1 (Silver Lake Road) between Hawkeye and Black Brook. A dirt road leads in to a seasonal state campground and boat launch near the dammed outlet. The water flows to Black Brook and then to the West Branch of the Ausable River.

The orientation of Taylor Pond is SW to NE, typical of many Adirondack waterways that follow fault zones. The lake is moderately forked with an arm extending east and then northeast to the dam. On an aerial photo, the "pond" resembles a one-armed lobster on a long-walk (24 miles) to Plattsburgh.

For birders, there is an eBird hotspot at the state campground, but so far there are only 30 species from three checklists (June and two in October) on the bar chart.

Taylor Pond, autumn shot, seen from the point about a mile west of the campground where the lake forks. From the air, the lake resembles a one-armed lobster. - © Dave Spier
Corrections, questions and suggestions are always welcome at northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect through my Facebook page and photo page. There is a separate community-type page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature and geology topics can be found on the parallel blogs Northeast Naturalist and Heading Out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ravens

Common Raven over Copper Rock Rapids (Grass River), 10/1/12 - © Dave Spier

Here's a bird for Halloween. It was made famous as a symbol of death by Edgar Allen's poem.

Found completely circling the northern hemisphere, the Common Raven (Corvus corax) is one of the most widespread bird species in the world. Across North America, they occupy a wide swath from Central America to Alaska and east across most of Canada to the Atlantic, northern New England, and the Adirondacks, then south through a disjointed narrow band marked by the Appalachian Highlands. This range covers a great variety of climates and wild habitats, and sometimes they can be found near rural settlements and towns.


Ravens are larger than crows, but it's hard to judge size at a distance. In flight, ravens can be mistaken for hawks until they're overhead. Note the raven's long neck and long tail that ends in what's described as a "wedge" shape (meaning it's longer toward the middle of the tail). They are all black, but several hawk species have dark-phase members, which can be misleading. Like hawks, ravens also alternate flapping and gliding, unlike crows that have a steadier flight. When perched, ravens have shaggy throat feathers and long feathers covering their nostrils and the base of their heavy, thick bills (likened to a "Roman" nose because of the downward curve).

Common Raven eating a roadkill, Rts. 8/30 south of Speculator - © Dave Spier
The raven's diet is omnivorous; it eats anything edible. As scavengers, they can be found feeding on carrion beside country roads (in areas where they are common). I've heard people talk about ravens flying down the middle of a road as they search for new roadkills. You're less likely to actually see them when they're catching insects and rodents or eating eggs, birds, seeds, grain, berries, acorns and buds.

raven above DeGrasse, St. Lawrence County, NY

Ravens generally make croaking sounds, sometimes written "cr-r-ruck," plus gurgling and snoring sounds and woodpecker-like knocking calls. It's hard to realize they are actually songbirds (technically, passerines, or perching birds) obviously related to crows but also to jays, all in the Corvid family, and all can be year-round residents of their chosen locations. All About Birds has several recordings for your listening enjoyment. (There's also a page to help you ID and separate the crow/raven corvids.)

Corrections, comments and questions are always welcome at northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect on  my Facebook pages including Dave Spier (photographic naturalist) or my personal page, Dave Spier with the profile photo, birding through a spotting scope. There is now a community page for The Northeast Naturalist.


Please report your sightings to eBird.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk circling above DeGrasse on October 21, 2006 (note the wing tips pushed slightly forward, a typical soaring aspect for this species) - © Dave Spier

Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) can be expected anytime from mid-March through early November in the Adirondacks, based on the combined eBird bar chart for four northern New York counties. More of the reports come from St. Lawrence and Franklin, with few from Hamilton and a moderate number from Essex. The red-shoulder is considered a woodland species associated with mature deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests and likely to be found near rivers, streams, ponds and swamps. It typically avoids pure-conifer stands and it may hold to this pattern during migration.

Their primary diet is rodents followed by frogs and snakes. (A Michigan study placed small birds a close second behind mice.) It was getting late in the season for reptiles and amphibians when I found a red-shoulder soaring near DeGrasse in St. Lawrence County one October 21st.

Red-shouldered Hawks breed across the entire state of New York, with heavier nesting concentrations in southwestern NY, the Tug Hill Plateau and the Catskill Mountains. Slightly lower densities occur across south-central NY and the Taconics. There is a scattering of possible, probable and confirmed nest records across the Adirondacks with Essex County having the highest number of confirmed blocks at six. (Each Breeding Bird Atlas block is 5 x 5 km or roughly nine square miles.) Overall, nesting activity has increased statewide since the initial 1980-85 Atlas, although it may have declined slightly in the Adirondacks.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, so to speak, you can learn more about Red-shouldered Hawks at the All About Birds website along with a variety of photos. If you have The Sibley Guide to Birds, the species is illustrated on page 117. (There's a smaller Eastern version of Sibley's which I don't own.)

For a list of birds in St. Lawrence County and their seasonal abundance, I've linked to that eBird bar chart too.
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Corrections, comments and questions are always welcome at northeastnaturalist@yahoo.com or connect through my Facebook page and photo page. There is a separate Fb page for The Northeast Naturalist. Other nature topics can be found on the parallel blog Northeast Naturalist.