Nature

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 ...

October Speaks To Me

My father has been gone for 40 Octobers, a victim of the cigarettes that hooked him while he served and earned a Purple Heart in World War II. Memories of the times we spent in the woods and walking country roads may explain why October remains one of my favorite months. He set me on a path ...

The November Skies

“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.” Carl Sagan, 1934-1996 Mercury passes between the Earth and sun during November and the little planet cannot be viewed because of the solar glare. As November begins, brilliant ...

Respecting The Desirable ‘Undesirables’

These past few months have really opened my eyes to the beautiful area just footsteps from my front door. And I literally mean footsteps. Instead of spending my free time kayaking because of the deplorable conditions in Burtis Bay, I have been running. Starting off the summer barely able to ...

‘Old Growth’ Forests

A common misconception about trees is that the bigger they are, the older they are. This is not always true. Using size to gauge tree age is very similar to comparing people’s age to their size. Humans start small, hit a growth spurt, and remain mostly the same in size as they age; very hard ...

Birds Get As Drunk As Skunks

It doesn’t happen very often, but a few weeks ago a flock of song birds made national news on radio and television broadcasts and in major newspapers. Back in early October, residents of Gilbert, Minnesota were alarmed by flocks of birds behaving erratically and flying into traffic. The ...

What’s That Good For?

It’s a question I get all the time, especially when showing people something about nature. What’s that caterpillar good for? Why is that mushroom important? What is good about that insect? Why does it matter if I kill that? Sometimes, if I am honest, I just want to say “ . . .. and ...

What’s That?

I don’t always look for scientific names when I’m learning about plants and animals, but when I stumbled across meaning of the Eastern Newt’s scientific name while working on my last article I had to see what else I could learn about scientific names. I have to be honest, I didn’t ...

Introducing The ‘Social Climbers’

Mixed flocks of gregarious, acrobatic, arboreal (tree dwelling) birds frequent feeders during the fall and winter. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, creepers and woodpeckers make up the group of birds I call the “social climbers.” Offer suet and sunflower seeds and learn to identify this ...

Problems Of Productivity

In addition to my usual fishing and boating on Chautauqua Lake, over the last few weeks I have been invited to visit several lake sites where the astoundingly high biological productivity of the lake was evident. One such visit was with a homeowner in Burtis Bay to view the conditions in that ...

Nature’s Scratch ’N Sniff

Spicebush is a non-descript plant. There seems to be very little that makes it stand out when you first look at it. It is a medium-sized shrub. The leaves are an oval shape with smooth edges. They are an average green color and blend in with other, similar, green shrubs. This plant is only ...

Get Ready For FeederWatch

In 1987 a group of volunteers launched Project FeederWatch, a citizen science program to study winter bird populations across North America. Last year FeederWatchers submitted 156,076 checklists, a new record. They reported a total of more than seven million birds. Since the count began 31 ...

The Spirit Of Bentley Sanctuary

Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s new Bentley Nature Preserve embodies an extraordinary legacy of local environmental stewardship and an enduring love of nature, thanks to generations of foresight which have conserved and protected a much-beloved wetland forest rich in history and lush with ...

Phragmites

Peace and mud surround me as I stand in the middle of Audubon’s Big Pond. A Northern Harrier, also known as a Marsh Hawk, dips and glides over the cattails. Rails call like monkeys from the reeds. The water and mud come up to my thighs as we walk, plop, and sink through the pond to get to ...

It’s Time To Molt

Birds face three major energetic challenges over the course of a year. Nesting and all its associated behaviors dominate spring and early summer. Parents must build nests, defend territories, and feed their constantly hungry broods. Migratory species travel great distances, often over ...

The October Skies

“Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope & the telescope.” — Theodore Roszak, 1972 This is not a good month to view the small planet Mercury but it can be spotted just above the western horizon during the last week of October. Use binoculars and look for ...

Starve The Algae, Save The Lake

The Chautauqua County landscape is already vibrant with the colors of fall. Goldenrod and purple aster highlight open fields, and trees are just starting to turn from green to yellow, orange and red. Our focus turns to harvest time, a new school year or winter home preparations. Soon, the ...

Puzzle Of The Past

When I drive back and forth to my parent’s house in North East, Pa., I pass an old homestead on the ridge. Now, all that remains are old trees, roughly in the shape of a square. When I was growing up there, a house and barn were part of the footprint. Now the trees stand stoically, alone, ...

Thoughts From North Carolina

You may have noticed that my United States Postal Service mailing address has changed from West Virginia to North Carolina. We relocated back in August, primarily to be closer to our three grandchildren, and all is well. Last week, however, Hurricane Florence gave us quite a scare. ...