Nature

New Year Is The Time For Beginnings

A new year is a time for beginnings. And the natural world is replete with examples. Though the plant world is presently dormant, a variety of animals have already begun a new cycle of life. Black bears mate in early summer when food is abundant, but embryos do not implant on the uterine ...

A Christmas Myth

The holidays are one of my favorite times to be home. In the days leading up to Christmas, my parent’s house is filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies and the sound of Christmas music. One of my favorite parts of Christmas? Going out and finding the perfect little Charlie Brown ...

Dunder And Blixem?

During a Christmas party a few years ago, a group of revelers broke out in song: “You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen, Comet, and Cupid, and Donner, and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all ??” The answer, of course, is Rudolph, the red-nosed ...

Watershed Notes: Conserve The Important, Common Animals Too

Throughout the history of life on planet Earth, species have come and gone. There have been several mass extinction events, where large percentages of the planet’s life was wiped out. The earliest such event on record occurred around 439 million years ago and was dubbed the Silurian ...

Celebrate The Solstice

The long nights will continue to creep into life for a little over a week more. In the changing world of the living, the mathematical precision of day length is unwavering. There is a comfort there, but also a gauntlet of emotions to run as the winter solstice approaches. The longest night is ...

Shortest Day Of The Year Upon Us

The first day of winter, December 21st, is defined by the year’s shortest day and longest night. The good news is that days get just a bit longer each day thereafter. The first day of winter is often called the winter solstice, but the solstice is actually a moment in time, not an entire ...

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 ...