Nature

The January Skies

The planet Mercury can be spotted very low in the east-southeast predawn sky during the first two weeks of January. On the morning of the 13th, it is joined by Saturn as the ringed planet rises higher while little Mercury sinks lower each day. Mercury then begins to swing behind the sun in ...

Ball Creek Water Quality Improvement Project:  What A Difference!

What a difference a few weeks can make! My first visit to the Ball Creek Preserve was on a bright, warm October day, when the oranges, maroons, and golds of the fall leaves were still in full display. One of the most accessible of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s nature preserves, the ...

A Christmas Poem

When I first wrote 'Twas the Morning of Christmas back in 1988, readers responded enthusiastically. I get requests to reprint it every year. When the excitement of Christmas morning settles down, sit down with your younger children and/or grandchildren and read my Christmas poem aloud. See how ...

As The Crow Flies

In an effort to counteract the effects of holiday treats, after-work walks in my neighborhood have been more frequent this fall. Living in town, these evening walks are usually accompanied by the “caw, caw, caw” of crows. I easily recognize their large silhouettes and their distinct, ...

Seen Any Gulls Lately?

Large groups of birds usually attract attention and curiosity. If several thousand crows roost in trees above someone’s driveway, I hear about it. Or if during a mid-January thaw 400 robins show up and begin hunting for earthworms in a backyard, I’ll get a call. The frigid cold air that ...

Gathering The Greens

Traditions are an important part of any holiday. As children, we witnessed and then participated in our family’s traditions. Many of us passed those traditions onto our children with the hope that the next generation would also embrace them enough to keep them alive. At Christmastime, one of ...

Be Safe Out There

I like to hike on Sundays, but on this first Sunday of December, I will not hike. I stare out the kitchen window while my second cup of coffee drips through. It is a cloudless day with the subtle brightness of late fall. Lanky shadows, disproportionately long, crisscross the lawn. A diligent ...

Looks Like A Snowy Winter

A snowy owl is a charismatic bird. Most people have heard of it, and only dream of seeing one. Virtually all birders, however, want to add it to their life list. Perhaps it’s because they so infrequently push south into the lower 48 states from their natural habitat in the arctic tundra. And ...

Otter Time

The air was cool and crisp on a recent morning when I had an extra hour with nothing on the schedule: no meetings, no chores, no anything. I took that time to go for a seed nature hike to see what there was to see. My swift walk carried me past fields and forests until a sudden splashing in a ...

The Christmas Bird

It was one of those days when I didn’t want to go outside. The weather was frigid with that special damp cold when the temperature hovers in the upper 20’s and wet snow is falling, the kind of cold that seeps through layers of clothes and right down to your bones. New snow was unplowed ...

Welcome Back!

Each spring birders anticipate the return of colorful neotropical migrants — warblers, vireos, orioles and tanagers. Their vibrant colors and melodious songs remind us that another year of warm weather has returned. In the fall we eagerly await the reappearance of migratory birds that ...

Please Practice Conservation Every Day

At the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, our primary, mission-driven focus is on land conservation. We work to conserve the important areas of Chautauqua County as they relate to wildlife, water quality, and scenic/rural character. While this is critical in order to maintain healthy and ...

Snowy Creatures

I scowled as I watched the snowflakes fall outside the window. Yet 15 minutes later, driving through the fat puffs of white, like Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon in hyperdrive, I comment on the beauty of the snow coated branches. Finally, I worry about the trees that still hold their ...

The December Skies

“Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything” — Neil deGrasse Tyson The little planet Mercury is lost in the solar glare during most of December as it swings between Earth and the sun. It will reappear very low in the east before dawn at the end of the ...

More Books For The Holidays

Two weeks ago I recommended some books as holiday gifts, but I ran out of space to include my entire list. As promised, here are a few more that would make great additions to any nature lover’s library. “The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl” by Richard Crossley, Paul Baicich, Jessie Barry ...

Readying For Winter

November’s chilly temperatures, brisk winds and frosty mantle have recently premiered in our area, and harsher, colder days are on their way. How will the maples, oaks, cherries, hemlocks, dogwoods and sumacs of our watersheds manage to survive Western New York’s long, icy months ahead? ...

Fall Hope

November comes around each year with its early nights, brown landscape, and cloudy skies. Bleak is the word that comes to mind as I write this on day where there is a skim of ice on the pond, fog obscuring the distant tree line and pockets of leftover snow among the weeds. After the October ...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. It’s a time to gather with family and friends, have a nice meal, and catch up on family news. No gift-giving stress, and except for preparing the food, it’s a few hours to unwind, watch a football game, and enjoy some birds on the feeders. I ...

Giving Thanks Throughout Changing Times

With the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, I am reminded of the many riches this country offers, and how truly thankful I am to experience the bounty offered to me during my lifetime. But how different that first Thanksgiving Dinner on this continent must have been! The holiday originated from ...

The Big Picture

There was a flock of birds at Audubon last week whose population has dropped by 85 to 99 percent in the last 40 years. That’s a huge number. For every 100 birds around when I was born, only one exists today. No one even knows what has caused the decline and, truthfully, no one has really ...