Nature

Under The Ice And Snow

Like most of Western New York I decided to use the recent warm winter weather to thaw and get outside. After going back and forth about where I wanted to go hiking, I finally decided on Bear Cave Trail, a four-mile trail on the Quaker side of Allegany State Park. After parking my car at the ...

Why Feed The Birds?

Is it true that birds in my backyard will starve if I don’t feed them? And my neighbor insists that if I start feeding them, I must continue all winter long. Is this true? These are questions I hear many times every year. The simple answers are “no” and “no.” Though birds happily ...

Revisiting The Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan

In September 2010, the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan was finalized after years of study and coordination among numerous interested agencies, scientists, local officials, sportsmen and other specialists. More than seven years have passed since the issuance of this Plan, and it is ...

The Transitions

Change is inevitable. Night becomes day. Winter gives way to spring. Caterpillars turn into butterflies, eggs into baby birds, acorns into mighty oaks, seedpods into clouds of fluff. I close my eyes in the dark and wake up with the sun streaming in my window. The change seems instantaneous. ...

Tiny Kinglets

If asked to name the smallest bird that visits backyard feeders, I suspect most people would answer “hummingbird.” And that would be correct. At less than four grams (28.3 grams = one ounce), these tiny dynamos are marvels of physiology, anatomy, and aerodynamics. But if we limit the ...

Get Educated, Get Involved

The lakes and streams in Chautauqua County are some of our region’s most valuable assets. These waterways have been impacted for decades by the landscapes which “shed” water to them. Chautauqua Lake, for instance, is impacted by tributaries subjected to excessive flood volume, erosion, ...

Tracking

One of my favorite things to do on winter walks is look for animal tracks. Creatures can hardly avoid leaving their mark in the winter snow. I headed out on a short walk at lunch, without agenda or destination but curious to see who was about in this winter weather before me. The conditions ...

2018 — Year Of The Bird

“If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.” — Thomas Lovejoy, biologist and conservationist In a nutshell, this explains why conservationists celebrate 2018 as the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the most important ...

The February Skies

“We live in a changing Universe and few things are changing faster than our conception of it.” Timothy Ferris Little Mercury is behind the sun during February and cannot be seen due to the solar glare. Bright Venus ...

Find Your Happy Place

Do you have a “happy place”? If so, is it somewhere you feel peaceful and content, somewhere that makes you smile all over? That’s how I feel when I am in mine, but my “happy place” isn’t always the same. It changes with the seasons. In the spring, it’s in my garden. Summer’s ...

Dead Things Spark Curiosity

I have a sign that says “if people bring you dead things and it gets you excited, you might be a naturalist.” It is part of campaign that the National Association for Interpretation is running, but that one made me laugh, and is quite accurate so I printed it and hung it up where I ...

The Lagomorphs

If asked to name the group of mammals to which biologists assign rabbits, many would answer “rodents.” But that would be incorrect. Rabbits, like the familiar cottontails we see in our backyards, and hares are lagomorphs, members of the mammalian order Lagomorpha (from the Greek, hare + ...

A Moment In Time

As I write this in early January, the world is hushed in a blanket of snow and icy stillness. It’s a time to pause and ponder, with renewed awareness and appreciation of the fleeting nature of the seasons of life. Life’s wondrous tapestry weaves its story of beauty, mystery, and miracle in ...

TV-Worthy Nature Moments

Nature on TV is so amazing. There are eagles diving for fish and flying off to a tree to munch on them, with videography showing close ups so remarkable that you could count the feathers on the eagle’s head. It is easy to watch River Otters diving for fish or frolicking across the ice. ...

How Insects Survive The Winter

The last few weeks of frigid temperatures made it clear that surviving winter is one of nature’s toughest challenges. Animals must either avoid the cold stress of winter or somehow cope with it. Groundhogs, black bears and most reptiles and amphibians hibernate. Triggered by shorter days ...

Curious Naturalists Love Owl Pellets

My wife, Linda, does most of our Christmas shopping, but occasionally I’m inspired to buy a few special gifts. A few weeks ago I introduced my grandson, five-year old Garek, to owl pellets. I had been browsing through the www.acornnaturalist.com website when I noticed it offered owl ...

‘The Shape Of Water’

“The Shape of Water” is a phrase scrolling on my social media feed. It is the title of a current movie. I’m not sure of the movie plot but I find the phrase intriguing. It conjures up an image of water in a glass. If the glass were to suddenly disappear, water would spread in a puddle ...

CWC: Working With Landowners For Conservation

Are you familiar with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy? CWC is your local land conservation, watershed education and pollution prevention organization. Our mission is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and ...

Natural Reflections

Another year bites the dust. Today it is a memory. In 10 years it will be a fuzzy memory. In 20 years it will be history and the music from this year will be cool “retro” music on the radio and all of this year’s fashions, which will be embarrassing 10 years from now, will look cool ...

A Tribute To Great Friends

A new year brings an opportunity to look both ahead and back. I look to the future because I have two grandsons, ages three and five, and a granddaughter who will probably arrive before you read this. Their future knows no limits. I also look back to remember friends I’ve lost. One of ...