Nature

Chautauqua Watershed Notes

Have you ever thought about soil? How it’s formed, what it’s composed of, where it comes from and what lives within it? Soil is so much more than dirt and mud. In reality, it is a precious medley of minerals, microbes and nutrient-rich organic matter, forming ever so slowly, perhaps only ...

Audubon: A Love/Hate Relationship Is Posible With Wildlife

I have to confess that I absolutely love the wetlands at the Audubon Community Nature Center. The swamps, ponds, and marshes provide every day opportunities to see wildlife and plants that are hard to find in other places. There are muskrats swimming in the ponds, mink loping across the ...

There Are Evening Grosbeaks, Finally

It looks like it’s finally going to be a grosbeak winter. Back in early November I read forecasts that evening grosbeaks would head south in impressive numbers this winter. If you’re not familiar with evening grosbeaks, you’re in for a treat. These robust irruptive finches are totally ...

Improving Chautauqua’s Water Quality With Improvement Projects

The scenic and bountiful waterways, forests and fields of the Chautauqua region are what make it a special place to live and visit. Healthy waterways in particular are a vital part of our region’s quality of life and economy. They are sources of recreation, tourism, local industry and ...

Birds Rely On Sumac For Food Supply

It is late fall and Audubon’s bird feeders are starting to see the more activity. Resident birds such as Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals and Black-capped Chickadees are mapping out their winter food locations. Their bright colors a joyous contrast to the drab landscape. Evening Grosbeaks and ...

Deer Smarts: Intelligence Or Instinct?

Every fall I hear about a big buck someone has been tracking and watching for weeks. But when the gun season arrives, that big buck vanishes, only to reappear a few weeks later. Are deer really that smart? Keen senses of smell, vision, and hearing have a lot to do with deer ...

Watershed Notes: Thankful For Living In Western New York

Thanksgiving should be a time for reflection. Reflection on what we have in our lives that really matters. Besides our families and friends, what do you have that really matters? What are your blessings? You are blessed if you have a roof over your head, food on the table and money for the ...

Cruising Through A Winter Wonderland

The true lyrics are “walking in a winter wonderland” but for me, I like to go a bit faster; about 35 mph to be exact. My winter wonderland consists of steep snow covered slopes with plenty of trails to choose from. Practicing tricks, riding through trees, or cruising through the half pipe, ...

Muskrats, Mink Keys To Marsh Management

Sometimes wildlife seems as curious about people as we are about them. I’ve often spotted deer watching me from the edge of the woods. When I see a fox, it’s usually got its eyes on me from a thicket of dense vegetation. Once I was fishing and, between catching fish and watching a ...

Epic Journeys

The arctic north breathes out its birds in one, long slow exhale through the fall. The cold winds blow in new birds with each windy day. These birds are on an epic yearly adventure, leaving the barren tundras and pine forests of the north to venture far into new lands. Some of these birds have, ...

Discovering Magic

A few weeks ago I was sitting in a teacher’s lounge when I got a picture from my sister. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the picture, just a snapshot of a sidewalk and a caption. I couldn’t tell by just looking at the picture, but apparently it was snowing for the first ...

First Chestnut Tree Was Also My Last

When I was a boy, my father and I hiked country roads on autumn afternoons collecting hickory nuts, a favorite snack. One memorable fall day, my dad hopped into our 57 Chevy and said, “Let’s take a ride.” It was 1959. I was seven years old. As we drove, my dad explained, “I’m ...

The Connection Between Land And Water

The space where land meets water holds a special place in our hearts and minds. Humanity instinctively understands the important connection between land and water as evidenced by highly valued lakeside properties, the history of centering communities on waterways, and the many recreational ...

Nature’s Awe

It was pointed out to me that I use the word “awesome” quite a bit. At first I was kind put off, being called out on my lack of mature, diverse vocabulary. I started to think about what the word meant. What is awe? Awe is a feeling we get when we look at something vast that challenges ...

How To Choose A Bird Feeder

When readers ask for help selecting a bird feeder, I’m happy to oblige. I bought my first feeder in 1978 in Michigan, so I’ve had lots of experience evaluating them. I won’t presume to identify the “best” feeders, but I can name my favorites in both general and specific terms. My ...

Autumn On The Outlet

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of kayaking with friends along the Chautauqua Lake outlet, putting in and exiting from McCrea Point Park along Jones and Gifford Avenue in Jamestown and paddling up to CWC’s 81-acre, §-mile Chautauqua Lake Outlet Wetland Greenway Preserve located on the ...

The Deer Woods

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This is a tale of two forests, one with too many deer and one without. Interestingly enough, both of these forests are at the Audubon Community Nature Center. Around 10 years ago, Audubon volunteers installed an eight-foot high fence ...

It’s Time To Feed Wild Birds

Though it’s OK to feed wild birds year round, many people prefer to feed only during the colder months. The colder months are here, so let’s review the best foods to offer backyard birds. Sunflower Seeds. Black-oil sunflowers seeds are the best single food for wild birds. These small, ...

North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District Succeeds In Reducing Phosphorus

Another important goal in improving Chautauqua Lake water quality has been met. Recent sampling results confirm that the upgraded North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District wastewater treatment plant is successfully meeting the new, and more stringent, New York State Department of Environmental ...

Birds Of Prey

The mama hen with her seven peeps let’s out a low growl and they all freeze, some of them mid-step. Mom continues to growl as I look around thinking “cat, dog, or hawk?” but see nothing. Three minutes pass, no motion. Finally, I continue with my task of filling birdfeeders and that ...