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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for February, 2010

Spring? Really?


Spring will get here one day, just not today. When it does, and it brings along a warm rainy night, that will be the call to numerous salamanders and frogs to reproduce.

From the state Department of Environmental Conservation:

While they spend much of the year in their terrestrial habitats, mole salamanders and wood frogs all breed in woodland pools, a type of small wetland found in forests. During early spring rains when temperatures rise above freezing, these amphibians migrate to breeding pools by the hundreds, if not thousands.

To get to those pools, they often have to cross roads and some end up getting squished by cars. To help them out and learn where these crossings take place, the DEC and Cornell University want to hear from folks who witness a large migration of amphibians. To that end, the Bedford Audubon Society will host the following: Why Did the Salamander Cross the Road? With Laura Heady (on March 16.)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 1:20 pm |

Lamont-Doherty scientists assessing Haiti earthquake


A team of U.S. and Haitian scientists, including some from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Rockland County, this week began a 20-day research cruise to map the effects offshore of the Jan. 12 earthquake and to look into the “possibility of continuing threats.”

“They hope to gather sonar images, sediments and other evidence from the seafloor that might reveal hidden structures, how they have moved, and where strain may be building now. Powerful aftershocks  have continued to rattle Haiti and nearby countries, but scientists know little about the potential for further big events and where they may strike; among other things, the team wants to investigate why a small, little-reported tsunami struck the coast during the quake.”

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
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A coyote


Here’s one of the 20- to 30,000 coyotes thought to roam throughout New York. I spotted him today in East Fishkill, justcoyote1 over the Putnam County line.

Coyotes are firmly established throughout all New York counties except Long Island and New York City. Their numbers have been estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000. Coyotes are abundant throughout New York state. As with most wildlife populations, numbers will fluctuate over time as food, weather and disease conditions change.

The above information comes from the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry. Suburbia is replete with all kinds of food for coyotes, as the state Department of Environmental Conservation points out.

As unlikely as it may seem, human development makes surprisingly good coyote habitat. The abundant coyote food supply (e.g., rabbits, squirrels, deer, cats, small dogs, garbage, and pet food) makes living in close to people worthwhile.


Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
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Threats to the state’s forests


New York’s forests provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, protect our drinking water, are the source of some food items and contribute some $4.6 million to the state’s economy every year (according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation).

Therefore, this video that lays out the various invasive threats to New York’s forests is a bit of a horror flick, from emerald ash borers to Asian longhorned beetles and creatures in between.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 11:19 am |

Snow and ice


Ever wonder what happens to pond life in the winter when water turns to ice? Check out the latest family newsletter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
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Eagles, eagles, eagles


Did you know bald eagles can be seen in 49 of the 50 states? Hawaii is bald-eagle-less. Among the top places to see a bald eagle this winter, according to the National Wildlife Federation, is the Hudson River.

You can try and take advantage of that opportunity this Saturday at the 6th Annual Hudson River EagleFest.

In case you missed it, here was a recent story I did about volunteers counting eagles along and near the Hudson.

The photo by TJN photographer Joe Larese shows an immature bald eagle near the Annsville Creek in Cortlandt/Peekskill on Jan. 21.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 1:01 pm |


Fish, fish, fish


Posted by Greg Clary on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
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Folks not happy with Con Ed’s tree-cutting strategy


Posted by Greg Clary on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
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Northern (a.ka. yellow-shafted) flicker


The Northern Flicker was once known as the Yellow-shafted flicker, a nod to its bright yellow undersides. But science being what it is, the yellow-shafted and its red-shafted cousin were deemed to be the same species. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

The red-shafted and yellow-shafted forms of the Northern Flicker formerly were considered different species. The two forms hybridize extensively in a wide zone from Alaska to the panhandle of Texas. A hybrid often has some traits from each of the two forms and some traits that are intermediate between them. The Red-shafted Flicker also hybridizes with the Gilded Flicker, but less frequently.

Photos below show the bird and the last photo provides a glimpse of yellow. He was trying his best, I think, to pull some berries off a vine.



Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 12:13 pm |

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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