Nature

Hemlock boughs add color and texture to Christmas wreaths. 
Photo by Susan M. Songster-Weaver

Gathering The Greens

Traditions are an important part of any holiday. As children, we witnessed and then participated in our family’s traditions. Many of us passed those traditions onto our children with the hope that the next generation would also embrace them enough to keep them alive. At Christmastime, one of ...

Red squirrel.
Photo by Jayne Gulbrand

Be Safe Out There

I like to hike on Sundays, but on this first Sunday of December, I will not hike. I stare out the kitchen window while my second cup of coffee drips through. It is a cloudless day with the subtle brightness of late fall. Lanky shadows, disproportionately long, crisscross the lawn. A diligent ...

Looks Like A Snowy Winter

A snowy owl is a charismatic bird. Most people have heard of it, and only dream of seeing one. Virtually all birders, however, want to add it to their life list. Perhaps it’s because they so infrequently push south into the lower 48 states from their natural habitat in the arctic tundra. And ...

A quick, quiet walk can sometimes reveal a lot, like these five River Otters swimming in a pond. 
Photo by Jeff Tome

Otter Time

The air was cool and crisp on a recent morning when I had an extra hour with nothing on the schedule: no meetings, no chores, no anything. I took that time to go for a seed nature hike to see what there was to see. My swift walk carried me past fields and forests until a sudden splashing in a ...

Snowy Owls are moving into the area because the population of their food in the north has crashed.

The Christmas Bird

It was one of those days when I didn’t want to go outside. The weather was frigid with that special damp cold when the temperature hovers in the upper 20’s and wet snow is falling, the kind of cold that seeps through layers of clothes and right down to your bones. New snow was unplowed ...

Welcome Back!

Each spring birders anticipate the return of colorful neotropical migrants — warblers, vireos, orioles and tanagers. Their vibrant colors and melodious songs remind us that another year of warm weather has returned. In the fall we eagerly await the reappearance of migratory birds that ...

There is much waste this time of year, so let’s keep conservation in mind as the holidays are upon us.

Please Practice Conservation Every Day

At the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, our primary, mission-driven focus is on land conservation. We work to conserve the important areas of Chautauqua County as they relate to wildlife, water quality, and scenic/rural character. While this is critical in order to maintain healthy and ...

A vole.

Snowy Creatures

I scowled as I watched the snowflakes fall outside the window. Yet 15 minutes later, driving through the fat puffs of white, like Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon in hyperdrive, I comment on the beauty of the snow coated branches. Finally, I worry about the trees that still hold their ...

Picture 26

The December Skies

“Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything” — Neil deGrasse Tyson The little planet Mercury is lost in the solar glare during most of December as it swings between Earth and the sun. It will reappear very low in the east before dawn at the end of the ...

More Books For The Holidays

Two weeks ago I recommended some books as holiday gifts, but I ran out of space to include my entire list. As promised, here are a few more that would make great additions to any nature lover’s library. “The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl” by Richard Crossley, Paul Baicich, Jessie Barry ...

The golden yellows and rich reds of fall leaves bless human viewers with a breath-taking symphony of color, hue, and texture, but for the trees, it’s all about timing and preparation for the challenges to come. 
Photo by Becky Nystrom

Readying For Winter

November’s chilly temperatures, brisk winds and frosty mantle have recently premiered in our area, and harsher, colder days are on their way. How will the maples, oaks, cherries, hemlocks, dogwoods and sumacs of our watersheds manage to survive Western New York’s long, icy months ahead? ...

Fall Hope

November comes around each year with its early nights, brown landscape, and cloudy skies. Bleak is the word that comes to mind as I write this on day where there is a skim of ice on the pond, fog obscuring the distant tree line and pockets of leftover snow among the weeds. After the October ...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. It’s a time to gather with family and friends, have a nice meal, and catch up on family news. No gift-giving stress, and except for preparing the food, it’s a few hours to unwind, watch a football game, and enjoy some birds on the feeders. I ...

Chestnuts are a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving meal and a reminder of our natural heritage.

Giving Thanks Throughout Changing Times

With the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, I am reminded of the many riches this country offers, and how truly thankful I am to experience the bounty offered to me during my lifetime. But how different that first Thanksgiving Dinner on this continent must have been! The holiday originated from ...

Rusty Blackbirds are disappearing and scientists do not know why.
Photos by Jeff Tome

The Big Picture

There was a flock of birds at Audubon last week whose population has dropped by 85 to 99 percent in the last 40 years. That’s a huge number. For every 100 birds around when I was born, only one exists today. No one even knows what has caused the decline and, truthfully, no one has really ...

Holiday Reads

It’s time for my annual list of books that I recommend as great holiday gifts for outdoor lovers. Imagine the Great Lakes: five huge self-contained bodies of water that hold 20 percent of the planet’s liquid freshwater (much is also tied up in glaciers, icebergs, snow, and ice). From the ...

These familiar bulbs that form on goldenrod stems are caused by a developing fly larva. 
CWC photo

The Gall Of Some Insects!

Have you ever noticed the bulbs that form on the stems of goldenrod? Believe it or not, those bulbs house the larvae of an insect called the goldenrod gall fly. This fly is completely dependent on the goldenrod and cannot complete its lifecycle without the plant. In the spring, the adult ...

Watching a salamander.

Salamanders

Imagine a small, slimy creature. They are ubiquitous in the good forests, the ones with leaf litter, plenty of debris, and good soil quality. Not too wet, but dampness is essential. They are carnivores, eating myriad tiny invertebrates but known to eat the eggs and young of its own kind. ...

Winter Roosting Boxes

As colder weather approaches, I often get questions about winter roosting boxes. Many cavity-nesting birds roost (that is, sleep) in natural cavities, nest boxes or specially designed roosting boxes. It sure beats sleeping out in the open on cold winter nights. Bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, ...

One of nature’s most beautiful sights — a full moon. 
Photo by D. Arlene Bonnett

Shine On, Harvest Moon!

One balmy evening this fall, my friends and I were sitting outside enjoying a bonfire, when the Harvest Moon became the topic of conversation. Everyone has heard about Harvest Moons, but no one had an answer when I asked, “What exactly is a Harvest Moon? Is it larger or brighter than a normal ...