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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for October, 2008

An owl update


Remember the northern saw-whet owl that ended up at the Tuckahoe Animal Hospital? Well, the bird fully recovered and was released yesterday at the Greenburgh Nature Center. Go here to check out photos. Here’s an earlier blog post with more information.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 10:30 am |
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Spiny water flea


A tiny, invasive crustacean that can hatch, grow and reproduce in as little as two weeks, and potentially wreak havoc on fish populations and other native aquatic wildlife, has been found in a lake in the Adirondacks, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said this morning. We’re talking about the spiny water flea and it’s been confirmed in the Great Sacandaga Lake.


“Native to Eurasia, spiny water fleas are crustaceans that can have a huge impact on aquatic life in lakes and ponds due to their rapid reproduction rates. In warmer water temperatures, these water fleas can hatch, grow to maturity, and lay eggs in as few as two weeks. But that is not the only challenge presented by this invasive species. Sometimes, its eggs can remain in a dormant state for years before hatching, making tracking it and limiting its spread very difficult.

The spiny water flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton – putting them in direct competition with fish and other native aquatic organisms for this important food source. In addition, the tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear.”

Here’s some more information on the critter.


The photographs are courtesy of the DEC. The second one shows how the spiny water fleas can hook onto fishing line and be transported to another body of water. The DEC recommends the following precautions:

“INSPECT & CLEAN your fishing and, boating equipment and, remove all mud, plants and, other organisms that might be clinging to them.

DRY your fishing and boating equipment before using it on another body of water. Drying is the most effective “disinfection” mechanism and is least likely to damage sensitive equipment and clothing. All fishing and boating equipment, clothing and other gear should be dried completely before moving to another body of water. This may take a week or more depending upon the type of equipment, where it is stored and weather conditions. A basic rule of thumb is to allow at least 48 hours for drying most non-porous fishing and boating gear at relative humidity levels of 70 percent or less.

DISINFECT your fishing and boating equipment if it cannot be dried before its use in another body of water. Disinfection recommendations vary depending on the type of equipment and disease or of concern. Be particularly aware of bilge areas, livewells and baitwells in boats. These areas are difficult to dry and can harbor invasive species.”

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 11:43 am |

Westchester Land Trust conference and more


Open space protection isn’t just for northern Westchester County. The Westchester Land Trust will point this out at its ’08 Open Space Conference next month.

“The conference is intended to help communities in southern and central Westchester increase the amount of environmentally important lands they protect while also helping north county communities continue their successes.”

State parks commissioner Carol Ash is the keynote speaker.

On Sunday (11/2), the land trust has an educational treasure hunt planned at its Frederick P. Rose Preserve in Cross River. Looks like a family-friendly, fun educational ramble through the preserve’s 110 acres.

Also, the trust’s seventh annual photo show opens Nov. 7.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 11:51 am |
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More than a million from DEC


Fifty projects across the state received Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced today.

In the Lower Hudson Valley, Citizens for Equal Environmental Protection in Peekskill received $21,000 for a partnership with the Hudson River sloop Clearwater to study industrial pollution sources near Peekskill. And Groundwork Yonkers was awarded $45,772 to develop an interpretative trail system along the Croton Aqueduct.

“Interest in the Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant program has grown dramatically. This year, 92 groups from around the state applied for funding. Detailed reviews by DEC staff resulted in 50 grant awards totaling $1,663,258. Individual awards range from $14,500 to $50,000. A wide variety of projects will be supported this year, including community gardens and green roofs, air and water quality monitoring, lead poisoning prevention, urban forestry, subsistence fishing education, environmental education for urban youth, inventories of local pollution sources, and an international climate justice conference.”

The grant awards totaled $1,663,258. Read the entire announcement, which includes a link to all the recipients.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 at 12:20 pm |
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Watch out for moose and deer (and maybe squirrel).


The state Department of Transportation today is giving drivers a heads-up and telling them to be alert for moose and deer along the state’s roadways.

“With a statewide deer population of approximately 800,000, it is estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur throughout the state each year. According to agency records, the peak period for deer-vehicle collisions in New York is October through December. This time period corresponds with the peak of the annual deer breeding cycle, when deer are more active and less cautious in their movements. Approximately two-thirds of the annual collisions occur during this three-month period, with most of the collisions occurring in the two hours prior to sunrise and after sunset.”

Read the entire announcement.

The squirrel reference in the headline is, of course, a nod to Rocky and Bullwinkle. And, if you’re wondering why squirrels always do that crazy dance in the road as you’re bearing down on them, check out my colleague Greg Clary’s column from a couple of weeks ago. It’s mainly about flying squirrels but includes some info on gray squirrels, with this being my favorite:

“The squirrel’s erratic path while crossing a street is an attempt to confuse the oncoming vehicle… thereby causing it to change direction. This is obliviously the squirrels biggest, and often last mistake.”

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, October 27th, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
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Money for the Hudson and students


The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, along with Clarkson University in Potsdam, announced yesterday that they are sharing in a $1.4 million National Science Foundation grant.

“Beacon Institute and Clarkson received the award to expand their Student Enabled Network of Sensors for the Environment using Innovative Technology (SENSE IT) curriculum, a program that will teach 9,000 New York high school students over three years to design, build, test, deploy and interpret environmental sensors used to monitor water quality in the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers. The program also includes intensive teacher training sessions on cutting-edge technological and education skills, and requires long-term commitments by schools to utilize these methods. Students and teachers will work directly with the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON) initiative that is being implemented by Beacon Institute, IBM and Clarkson.”

Read the institute’s announcement here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, October 24th, 2008 at 10:24 am |
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Things before sunrise


The sun rose at 7:16 this morning. In the half-hour or so before that, I saw the constellation Orion in the sky, two Canada geese sitting at the edge of a pond with frost on their backs and a muskrat silently swimming along in another pond.

Read more about Orion here. Read more about muskrats here. To get sunrise and sunset times and moon data for any day, go here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 at 8:56 am |
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Year of the Frog


Did you know 2008 is the Year of the Frog? Did you know one-third of all amphibians are in danger of extinction? Go here to read about efforts to boost frog populations.

tjndc5-5b516ufd0slxturh7p4_layout.jpg The 2004 TJN photo shows a blue poison dart frog climbing up the glass of his tank at the American Museum of Natural History.

(A clarification: 2008 is the Year of the Frog, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is not meant to trump any other zodiac calendar. Besides, Kermit said so.)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
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Duck stamp


Duck stamp? How much postage does a duck need? (I’ll be here all week, folks.) Anyway, duck stamps aren’t about postage but about raising money to protect wildlife habitat. The federal government holds a competition every year (the only federally sponsored art contest) to find a new design for the stamp, which waterfowl hunters need to purchase ($15) and carry.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

“To date, Duck Stamp funds have been used to acquire habitat at hundreds of refuges, in nearly every state in our nation. There are 548 national wildlife refuges spread across all 50 states and U.S. territories. A current Duck Stamp can be used for free admission to any national wildlife refuge open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled recreational opportunititjndc5-5f8ei0ymm7pbfs3q1qv_layout.jpges, including hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography. “

Read about the stamp and this year’s winner here.

Other than having ducks in it, this photo doesn’t have much to do with this post, but I thought it was cute. Here’s the caption information:
Kipper K keeps a watchful eye on three abandoned ducklings he and two other golden retrievers have adopted as their own at the Nickel-O-Farm in West Nyack June 7, 2007. (Vincent DiSalvio / The Journal News).

Coen Brothers fans might recall all the talk about a duck stamp in this movie. But there it was a contest about postage stamps, not the Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, a.k.a duck stamp.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, October 20th, 2008 at 11:12 am |
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Tuberculosis threatens deer population


The discovery of tuberculosis in a herd of captive deer upstate could threaten wild deer populations and livestock, the state said yesterday, and hunters should take precautions. tjndc5-5hcj32oy9ax1g4vd13yg_layout-1.jpg

The state agricultural department said one animal in a captive herd of red and fallow deer tested positive for TB in routine testing and was euthanized.

The infected deer was in Columbia County, according to the announcement.

“The presence of TB in this captive deer herd could threaten the health of wild deer populations, as well as the health of nearby domestic animal populations. Thus, the affected herd has been quarantined and animals on nearby farms will undergo testing over the next few weeks to ensure that the disease has been contained to this one herd.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be looking for signs of TB in wild deer in and around Columbia County. DEC biologists intend to examine and collect samples from both road-killed and hunter-harvested deer to be sure the infection has not spread to New York’s wild deer population.”

The state is also alerting hunters to be careful when dressing deer and how to spot a TB-infected animal.

“Hunters or others who handle deer should take basic precautions, such as wearing protective gloves when field dressing deer and minimizing exposure to blood and other body fluids. When field dressing deer, hunters should be alert to abscesses in the lungs and rib cage, intestines, liver or stomach. Anyone seeing these signs or other unusual lesions in deer should contact DEC at 518-402-8965.”

Read more about livestock TB here. Go here to learn more about deer farming.

(Photo by TJN photographer Frank Becerra.)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, October 17th, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
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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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