Nature

Aquatic plants and algae provide many benefits for a healthy ecosystem, but they can also be problematic for lake users and residents.
Photo by Jennifer Phillips Russo

What’s With All The Weeds?

There has been ample discussion about the over-abundance of weeds in Chautauqua Lake recently and in years past. These “weeds” are a group of plants called macrophytes – macro meaning large enough in size to be seen with the naked eye, and phyte from the Greek word for plant. All the ...

A monarch butterfly. 
Photo by Jeff Tome

Support The Monarch

For many, a connection with nature is made at a young age. Today, I can recall one of my first connections to the natural world. It was a third grade science lesson on monarch butterflies and pollination. My paradigm began to shift as I learned about the ecological importance of these ...

Good News For Monarchs

Over the last 20 years monarch butterfly populations that overwinter in the mountains of central Mexico have fluctuated wildly. Some years the species’ survival has been in doubt. The news this year, however, is good. Dr. Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, ...

With a supply of milkweed close by, the Monarchs return to the garden.
Photo by Dawn Krotz

Monarchs And Milkweed

How long has it been since you saw a Monarch butterfly flittering around? I can’t remember the last one I saw, but I haven’t really thought about it either. So, I was both surprised and saddened to see my sister-in-law’s Facebook post the other day. She wrote, “What a treat this ...

Tuning into Nature 1

Tuning Into Nature

Walking along the trails at the Audubon, the ones I’ve walked so many times this summer, I take in the fresh air and the calming atmosphere of the forest. With each step through the woods, my senses are flooded with the various sights, sounds, and smells of my surroundings. I see a chipmunk ...

Sights And Sounds Of Summer

One evening a few weeks ago my wife and I played cards with our daughter and her husband at their home near Asheville, North Carolina. A cool breeze drifted through an open window and so did the cacophony of a katydid chorus. Hundreds, if not thousands, of katydids sang almost in unison. It ...

Later instar of Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar with eyespots. 
Photo by Jeff Tome

Caterpillars

If there was any doubt about the diversity of life on Earth, one just needs to look at caterpillars. The variety of colors, shapes and pattern of different species are astounding. It is estimated that east of the Mississippi, there are approximately 5,000 different species of butterflies and ...

Lost Bird Rediscovered In Venezuelan Jungle

It’s often been said that extinction is forever, but sometimes that label can be applied prematurely. Consider the 7.5-inch-long T’chira (TAH-chee-rah) Antpitta. It has not been seen since the mid-1950s, when ornithologists first recorded and described it. The International Union for ...

LiDAR is a surveying method that can be used to create high resolution land cover datasets that can, in turn, be used to practice precision conservation. 
Photo courtesy of USGS

Precision Conservation

As many of you may know, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has been active in land conservation for nearly three decades. Our mission is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. To ...

Audubon Naturalists see over 2,000 students at the Nature Center in the spring, sharing local nature with them and giving the experiences they might not get otherwise.

A Naturalist’s Year

Every season has its own sound. Summer is the sound of insects buzzing in the fields, of birds chirping in the wee hours of the morning and of hawks screaming in the sky. Imagining those sounds brings memories of camping sunrises with birds all around in a deafening chorus and of hot humid ...

Is It Praying Or Preying Mantis?

The first time I saw a praying mantis my dad explained that it ate lots of insect pests so I should never kill one. I suspect that everyone has learned that lesson as a child. Measuring up to four inches long, mantises are hard to miss. And because they are such beneficial insects, they get a ...

The Chautauqua Belle took a rare steamboat excursion up the outlet of Chautauqua lake last weekend as part of the dedication of McCrea Point Park. 
Photo by Jeff Tome

The Wild Lake

The Chautauqua Belle took a rare steamboat excursion up the outlet of Chautauqua Lake last weekend as part of the dedication of McCrea Point Park. The outlet is the wildest area of Chautauqua Lake, with an unending parade of trees, water lilies and various shades of pink and purple wildflowers. ...

A female Hairy Woodpecker looking for lunch on a birch tree among the rocks.

Panama Rocks

During most of my youth, when I was growing up on the south side of Jamestown, my family did not have a car. Our transportation was by bus, bicycle or on foot, which Dad called “shank’s mare.” So it was a special occasion when, one summer day at age nine, I went with a group of boys ...

Meet The Midsummer Blob

Sultry summer days practically beg to be enjoyed near the shady edge of a lake. The shade keeps it cool and makes it possible to enjoy birds, dragonflies, butterflies and fish. One organism that’s noticeable in July is a mysterious floating mass of jelly. It looks like a football-sized ...

These ancient “standing ones” have much to teach us, and we have much to celebrate. Trees deserve our admiration and appreciation not only for all the gifts they give but also because they are intrinsically amazing beings in their own right. 
Photo by Becky Nystrom

Treasure Of The Trees

Trees are the green guardians of a healthy planet. Their gifts are priceless and essential to life as we know it, but they often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Trees generate the oxygen we breathe, cleanse the air, and filter, detoxify and recycle our water. They hold the earth in place and ...

Garter Snake

Ssssssave The Snakes

We have all been there before, walking in a garden or along a pond edge, when all of a sudden a snake slithers out onto the path. Snakes, especially bigger ones, can look intimidating. Around here, though, almost all snakes are totally harmless to humans. The two most common types of snake ...

Campfire Memories

Summer is just three weeks old, but I can already feel it slipping away. The morning chorus is quieter, and days are getting shorter. So if you have kids in your life — your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or neighbors — plan to make a difference in their lives. Treat them to ...

Following a few easy tips when you mow, like leaving your grass clippings in your yard, can make for both a healthier lawn and cleaner waters. 
Photo by John Jablonski III

Mowing Tips For Cleaner Waters

Warm weather has arrived. The grass is growing at its peak pace for the season. Did you know that how you mow can affect the health of your turf, the abundance of weeds in your lawn, its susceptibility to drought, its nutrient needs and the amount of storm water runoff that flows into the ...

An Eastern Phoebe, a close relative of the Alder Flycatcher.

Eagle Eyes

It was a perfect spring day, with sparkling sunlight and a hint of a breeze. I was out in the woods, binoculars in hand, watching birds on a count day. There are several times a year when birding organizations ask volunteers to take to the fields, waters and woods and record the species and ...

Seen Any Tent Caterpillars?

Usually I write about something I’ve seen, because if I’ve seen it, chances are some readers have too. This week, however, I’m wondering about something that’s missing. Over the last two weeks I’ve gotten several phone calls from readers asking if I have seen any tent caterpillars ...