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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for July, 2008

Heading snakeheads off at Waywayanda

July
30

An aquatic pesticide will be used next month in an Orange County lake to keep an invasive, predatory fish from expanding its population and possibly getting into the Hudson River, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said yesterday

The fish – known as a northern snakehead – was found in Catlin Creek near Ridgebury Lake in the town of Waywayanda, Orange County. Native to Asia, snakeheads are aggressive predators that can eat and out compete native fish.
tjndc5-5b40gidbmrr3tk16m5_layout.jpgThe DEC will collect fish other than snakeheads from Ridgebury Lake before applying the pesticide and replace the native fish in the lake afterwards.

The AP photo shows a juvenile northern snakehead. It is thought the fish were introduced to the U.S. by pet owners intentionally releasing them or through the live food fish industry.

This is from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission:

“Northern snakehead, which are common in the aquaria industry and also sold live in some fish markets, are one of 28 species of snakeheads native to Asia and Africa. They can grow to more than 3 feet long and exceed weights of 15 pounds. They are aggressive predators that feed opportunistically on amphibians, fish, aquatic birds, and, on occasion, small mammals. Of greater concern is the snakehead’s ability to survive in waters with low dissolved oxygen and to travel across land. When looking for more suitable habitat, snakehead species have been known to leave poor quality waters and survive out of water for three to four days in search of other bodies of water.”

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 at 10:35 am |
| | 14 Comments »

Big brown moth

July
29

Google large brown moth and sooner, rather than later, you get to a Polyphemus – which is what I think this creature is. moth.jpg

One of the editors here at Lohud/TJN said it was on a tree in his White Plains yard last week. His wife, Terry Hanson, took the photo.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
| | 13 Comments »

More mitten crabs

July
23

The mitten crabs keep coming. The tally for this invasive species is now up to seven in the Hudson River, according to this recent Chinese Mitten Crab Alert. Four were recently found upriver, near Tivoli in Dutchess County.

“The Chinese Mitten Crab is native to East Asia, and could have negative ecological and economic impacts. Mitten Crabs are
already established invaders in Europe and on the West Coast of the United States. We don’t yet know whether the crab has
established reproductive populations in the eastern U.S. The crab is listed as Injurious Wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act, which makes it illegal in the United States to import, export, or conduct interstate commerce of Mitten Crabs without a permit.”

Here’s an information page from the state Department of Environmental Conservation on the creatures and an earlier post on the unwanted crustaceans.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
| | 64 Comments »

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Here comes rock snot

July
22

The invasive algae is technically called didymo but I prefer its other name: rock snot . . . must be the fourth-grader in me. Anyway, more of it is showing up in parts of the Delaware River, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced today.

Why it’s bad:

“While didymo does not pose a threat to human health, it can alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom, potentially causing a ripple effect up the food chain affecting trout and other fish. Didymo has historically been limited to cold, nutrient-poor, northern waters, but in recent decades has been expanding its range and its tolerance to warmer and more productive streams.

Once introduced to an area, didymo can rapidly spread to nearby streams. Anglers, kayakers, swimmers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can all unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats, bodies and other gear. There are currently no known methods for controlling or eradicating didymo once it infests a water body.”

Here’s an earlier post with a photo of rock snot, uh, didymo.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
| | 28 Comments »

Honeybee update

July
21

Ever wonder what happened to Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious problem afflicting honeybee colonies? Well, as a House subcommittee learned last week, researchers are still working on the problem and have possibly made some progress. bee.jpg

“Edward Knipling, administrator of the agriculture department’s scientific research agency, said the Israeli acute paralysis virus may be associated with colony collapse. And the varroa mite, a parasite, may be spreading the virus to other bees.

Knipling added the finding deserves further research.

“Even though research to date has not produced a definitive finding on the cause of or solution to the CCD problem, the research is making important progress toward our understanding of the disorder,” Knipling told the House Horticulture and Organic Agriculture subcommittee.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week awarded $4 million to the University of Georgia to study the problem.

To refresh your memory about CCD and why it matters, go here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, July 21st, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Mount Vernon herons

July
18

Yellow-crowned night herons nesting in Mount Vernon. Make sure to check out that story in today’s paper by my colleague Bill Cary. Seems at least a couple of yellow-crowned night heron families have set up housekeeping along South Fifth Avenue. Here’s an online gallery of photos of the birds.

Many of you are probably more familiar with the more common black-crowned night heron. Here’s more info on their yellow cousins.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, July 18th, 2008 at 10:38 am |
| | 1 Comment »

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Roger Tory Peterson’s birthday

July
17

Roger Tory Peterson, the man credited with changing the way people study the natural world with his “A Field Guide to the Birds”, would have been 100 years old next month. There’s a story about him in the current issue of Audubon. After the break, find an old TJN story about the role Croton Point played in the development of possibly the best known birding book.

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, July 17th, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
| | 15 Comments »

Want to know more about the Hudson River?

July
16

Just got an email about a free Hudson River symposium on Monday that I’m passing on. Here’s the info as I’ve received it:

July 21: The Hudson River Symposium
Hastings-on-Hudson Library
Maple Avenue
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
914-478-3307

10:00 The American Indians in the Time of Henry Hudson: The Munsees
and the Mahicans (Mohicans) of the Hudson River Valley, Larry
Hauptman, SUNY New Paltz,
11:00 The Croton Aqueduct: An Historical Overview, Charlotte Fahn,
Friends of the Croton Aqueduct
12:00 Lunch
1:00 The Hasting’s Waterfront Walking Tour, Stuart Cadenhead, Friends
of Hasting’s Historic Waterfront
2:00 The Torch Has Been Passed to a New Generation: Hudson River Art,
An Historical Perspective, Peter Feinman, Institute of History,
Archaeology, and Education
3:00 Africans in 17th Century North America and the Hudson Valley:
Fred Opie, Marist College
4:00 The Rockefeller Legacy in the Hudson Valley and New, Ken Rose,
Rockefeller Archives

Support for this lecture has been received from the New York Council
of the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations
expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the
New York Council for the Humanities or National Endowment for the
Humanities.

This free symposium is the start of a five-day program of the Hudson
River: The Rivertown Experience. The remainder of the week will
include visits to historic sites in Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry,
Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow along with a ride with the Riverkeeper.
We will be examining the history of the region from the first human
occupants to the abandoned factories being turned into expensive
condominiums. For additional information or to register for the
program, contact Peter Feinman, 914-933-0440, feinmanp@ihare.org.
**************************************************************************
Dr. Peter Feinman
Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education
PO Box 41
Purchase, NY 10577
914-933-0440
feinmanp@ihare.org
www.ihare.org

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Klemens to Millbrook-based institute

July
15

Michael Klemens, who has plumbed the forests, swamps and fields of northern Westchester and Putnam counties for their denizens, has taken his Metropolitan Conservation Alliance to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook in Dutchess County. The CIES will be the formal host to the MCA, according to the announcement. tjndc5-5b1vfedlr4g1djzxpgqo_layout.jpg

“The Cary Institute will become the MCA’s new formal host; Klemens will continue his pioneering work bridging the gap between conservation science and land use planning. His hiring reflects the Cary Institute’s ongoing commitment to connecting decision makers with science-based environmental solutions.

Dr. William H. Schlesinger, President of the Cary Institute, comments, “Through his work with the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, Klemens has shown that ecologically-sensitive land use planning can make a real difference in preserving biodiversity. We look forward to supporting and strengthening his efforts to protect native plants and animals in the mid-Hudson region and beyond. His output is a valuable resource for land managers.”

Here’s a 2004 profile of Klemens, a former Rye resident, that I found online.

The photo by TJN photographer Stephen Schmitt shows Klemens in 1999 searching the swamps of Pound Ridge for wood frog tadpoles and fingernail clams.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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A family affair

July
12

Talk about timing!

My nephew and niece visited today, along with my brother. They live in New Jersey, in an area where there are no deer.

But when you’re just 3 and you think you’re looking at Bambi — THE. ACTUAL. BAMBI. — well, let’s just say the deer that visited my yard today thrilled my niece. My nephew, who’s 7, also enjoyed the up-close-and-personal visitors. We were telling the kids about these particular deer only an hour or two earlier, and then, there they were.

At my house, we’re pretty used to seeing deer and this mama and her babes have stopped by the backyard several times since spring. Overall, it was a great visit with the kids, my brother, and even the deer. It would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the yellow jackets I apparently angered later in the day while trimming some front yard hedges. They got me good — at least five stings.

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Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Saturday, July 12th, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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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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