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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for January, 2008

It’s like a late-night TV joke

January
31

Consider these three things: 1. There are deer on Staten Island. 2. They most likely got there by swimming over from New Jersey. 3. They’re becoming a problem.

Somewhere in there (attention Letterman and Leno) is a Sopranos/mob joke.

Apparently, deer have been popping up in the NYC borough known for its ferry and for holding up one end of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. And it hasn’t worked out positively for the deer.

It’s enough of a problem that the state Department of Environmental Conservation today said it would begin monitoring the population in response “to a growing number of sightings from local residents and (it) represents an initial step toward developing an effective strategy to monitor this deer population and minimize any damage it may cause.”

Got a good punch line?

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Houses for the birds

January
31

More houses for the birds are in the works, thanks to BOCES students in Yorktown. Read about it after the break and check out the photos. Read more of this entry »

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

More bat troubles

January
30

The information Mike loaded up to the blog today about bats is disconcerting at best because these nocturnal beings consume so many insects in their daily food foraging. I ran across another story that gave me pause, especially since PCBs has been such a hot topic in the Hudson Valley. It’s hard to say how significant the research is or how widespread the problem, but it’s worth a read anyway. It’s not exactly in our backyard, but might be a canary-in-the-mindshaft alarm nonetheless.

Posted by Greg Clary on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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Bat troubles

January
30

Quick, to the bat cave . . . Actually, that’s exactly where state wildlife authorities and caving organizations DON’T want you to go – at least until the cause of whatever is killing thousands of bats is determined.

Seems thousands of hibernating bats spending the winter in caves in New York and Vermont are succumbing to a disease of unknown origin.

“The most obvious symptom involved in the die-off is a white fungus encircling the noses of some, but not all, of the bats. Called “white nose syndrome,â€? the fungus is believed to be associated with the problem, but it may not necessarily contribute to the actual cause of death. It appears that the impacted bats deplete their fat reserves months before they would normally emerge from hibernation, and die as a result,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Until a cause is determined, people are being asked to stay out of caves, so the disease isn’t transmitted from one cave to the next.

Indiana bats, a state and federally endangered species, are possibly the most vulnerable, the DEC pointed out.

If you’re asking yourself why we need bats, go here.

And, for a good overall view of bat conservation, go here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Homes for bluebirds

January
30

Bluebirds who avail themselves of some new housing in North Salem this spring should thank the local Girl Scouts. North Salem’s 5th grade Troop 1053 helped the 1st grade Troop 1046 this month build 10 nest boxes for eastern bluebirds, the official state bird.

Sandy Morrissey, a local bluebird expert (read about her in my colleague Bill Cary’s gardening blog) helped the Scouts. The boxes will be put up in March at various locations in North Salem, such as Outhouse Orchards. Check out the photos, which come courtesy of Morrissey. The information above comes from troop leader Julie Wolfe.

bluebird1.jpgbluebird2.jpg

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Area schools take part in national teach-in

January
29

At least two local colleges are participating in “Focus the Nation,” a national educational initiative on global warming solutions for America that will culminate Thursday, Jan. 31 with sessions run at the same time at more than 1,000 colleges, universities, high schools and other institutions.

The College of New Rochelle kicks off three days of programs a day earlier, with a keynote speech at 7 p.m. by Andrew Revkin, the New York Times environmental reporter and author of “The Daily Planet: On the Front Lines of Climate Change, from the North Pole to the White House,” and ending Friday morning with faculty and students from the college hosting visits by local school groups. Full listing at CNR’s Web site.

Purchase College is also participating with a discussion among state Sen Suzi Oppenheimer, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, Harrison Mayor Joan Walsh, Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz and students at 6:30 p.m. There will also be other panel and classroom discussions, as well as a student-sponsored sustainability fair. Check out Purchase’s Web site.

For more on the national effort, log on to the the “Focus the Nation” Web site

Posted by Greg Clary on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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Global warming worries? How about this for a solution?

January
29

Those worried about global warming and the effect it might have on their waterfront properties ought to check the NPR story about what architects are coming up with in the land of the legendary little boy who stuck his finger in the dike. I heard it last night driving home and it made me think about buying a houseboat. See what you think.

Posted by Greg Clary on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Dead squirrels

January
29

There were two dead squirrels within 10 feet of each other on Route 311 in Patterson this morning, casualties of the road’s traffic . I’m pretty sure they were relatively fresh when I spotted them because I had just gone that way 20 minutes earlier and they hadn’t caught my attention then. (Full confession: I’m a roadkill watcher.)

Anyway, I don’t often see two roadkilled animals of the same species practically on top of each other. So, I started thinking of what the possible backstory could be –

1. First squirrel gets flattened by a car, second becomes heartbroken and just can’t take it anymore.

2. First squirrel gets killed. Second one goes to cross the road, spots first victim and his last thought is: “Would you look at that. Some squirrels are just so dumb.”

Steeped in Bugs Bunny cartoons and The Far Side comics, I’m definitely attributing some anthropomorphic qualities to the gray, furry creatures. In all likelihood, it was a coincidence the two were killed so close to each other or maybe one was chasing the other across the road and some driver got a twofer.

Such a scene would have been a bonanza for this guy, a Brit whose main source of protein is roadkill.

“I mostly find pheasants and rabbits and squirrels and hares and foxes and badgers and occasionally sea gulls,” Fergus Drennan told Nightline recently.

Don’t forget Mike Huckabee.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 12:44 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

Good owl news

January
28

A “little owl concussion” was the diagnosis on the barred owl who, most likely, was struck earlier this month by a car. The owl was taken to the Green Chimneys School in Patterson, which, in turn, took him to a vet for a brief visit. bo.jpg

But everything seemed to turn out fine, as you can see from these photos. The photos come courtesy of Deborah Bernstein, the Patterson school’s communications director. The school’s wildlife director, Paul Kupchok, is holding the owl, moments before he was released just a little while ago today.

Bernstein said the owl had been recuperating at the school and Kupchok was waiting for the most recent cold snap to end before releasing him. Plus, Kupchok wanted to let the owl go at dusk so he (the owl, not Kupchok) wouldn’t be mobbed by crows.

The owl “flew away just beautifully,” Bernstein said.

bo2.jpg

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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Indian Point relicensing inspections starting

January
28

So it begins – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s first on-site inspection at Indian Point “associated with license renewal,” as one agency official puts it. A team of seven inspectors will start looking at the nuclear plant’s workers’ plans to manage aging of the infrastructure through 2035 and what the environmental impacts would be should the plant be relicensed. The NRC will issue an inspection report and conduct a public exit meeting in a few months. No specific date has been set. For more information on the NRC’s review of the Indian Point license, log onto the agency’s site

Posted by Greg Clary on Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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About this blog
The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.

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About the authors
SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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