Nature

LiDAR is a surveying method that can be used to create high resolution land cover datasets that can, in turn, be used to practice precision conservation. 
Photo courtesy of USGS

Precision Conservation

As many of you may know, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has been active in land conservation for nearly three decades. Our mission is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. To ...

Audubon Naturalists see over 2,000 students at the Nature Center in the spring, sharing local nature with them and giving the experiences they might not get otherwise.

A Naturalist’s Year

Every season has its own sound. Summer is the sound of insects buzzing in the fields, of birds chirping in the wee hours of the morning and of hawks screaming in the sky. Imagining those sounds brings memories of camping sunrises with birds all around in a deafening chorus and of hot humid ...

Is It Praying Or Preying Mantis?

The first time I saw a praying mantis my dad explained that it ate lots of insect pests so I should never kill one. I suspect that everyone has learned that lesson as a child. Measuring up to four inches long, mantises are hard to miss. And because they are such beneficial insects, they get a ...

The Chautauqua Belle took a rare steamboat excursion up the outlet of Chautauqua lake last weekend as part of the dedication of McCrea Point Park. 
Photo by Jeff Tome

The Wild Lake

The Chautauqua Belle took a rare steamboat excursion up the outlet of Chautauqua Lake last weekend as part of the dedication of McCrea Point Park. The outlet is the wildest area of Chautauqua Lake, with an unending parade of trees, water lilies and various shades of pink and purple wildflowers. ...

A female Hairy Woodpecker looking for lunch on a birch tree among the rocks.

Panama Rocks

During most of my youth, when I was growing up on the south side of Jamestown, my family did not have a car. Our transportation was by bus, bicycle or on foot, which Dad called “shank’s mare.” So it was a special occasion when, one summer day at age nine, I went with a group of boys ...

Meet The Midsummer Blob

Sultry summer days practically beg to be enjoyed near the shady edge of a lake. The shade keeps it cool and makes it possible to enjoy birds, dragonflies, butterflies and fish. One organism that’s noticeable in July is a mysterious floating mass of jelly. It looks like a football-sized ...

These ancient “standing ones” have much to teach us, and we have much to celebrate. Trees deserve our admiration and appreciation not only for all the gifts they give but also because they are intrinsically amazing beings in their own right. 
Photo by Becky Nystrom

Treasure Of The Trees

Trees are the green guardians of a healthy planet. Their gifts are priceless and essential to life as we know it, but they often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Trees generate the oxygen we breathe, cleanse the air, and filter, detoxify and recycle our water. They hold the earth in place and ...

Garter Snake

Ssssssave The Snakes

We have all been there before, walking in a garden or along a pond edge, when all of a sudden a snake slithers out onto the path. Snakes, especially bigger ones, can look intimidating. Around here, though, almost all snakes are totally harmless to humans. The two most common types of snake ...

Campfire Memories

Summer is just three weeks old, but I can already feel it slipping away. The morning chorus is quieter, and days are getting shorter. So if you have kids in your life — your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or neighbors — plan to make a difference in their lives. Treat them to ...

Following a few easy tips when you mow, like leaving your grass clippings in your yard, can make for both a healthier lawn and cleaner waters. 
Photo by John Jablonski III

Mowing Tips For Cleaner Waters

Warm weather has arrived. The grass is growing at its peak pace for the season. Did you know that how you mow can affect the health of your turf, the abundance of weeds in your lawn, its susceptibility to drought, its nutrient needs and the amount of storm water runoff that flows into the ...

An Eastern Phoebe, a close relative of the Alder Flycatcher.

Eagle Eyes

It was a perfect spring day, with sparkling sunlight and a hint of a breeze. I was out in the woods, binoculars in hand, watching birds on a count day. There are several times a year when birding organizations ask volunteers to take to the fields, waters and woods and record the species and ...

Seen Any Tent Caterpillars?

Usually I write about something I’ve seen, because if I’ve seen it, chances are some readers have too. This week, however, I’m wondering about something that’s missing. Over the last two weeks I’ve gotten several phone calls from readers asking if I have seen any tent caterpillars ...

The Joy Of Gardening

I love gardens. Formal gardens. Wild gardens. Flower gardens. Vegetable gardens. Elaborate gardens. Simple gardens. Monochromatic or colorful. Cozy or sprawling. Sunny or shady. Each with its own personality, each with its own effect on my senses and my psyche. Sadly, I’m not nearly as ...

Conservation Funding Explained

Sometimes a headline can leave a false impression. Last week, for example, I received a press release announcing that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, a branch of the Department of the Interior, will dole out $1.1 billion to state wildlife agencies in Fiscal year 2017. I saw it as great ...

Scientist-astronaut Gene Cernan is shown standing next to a large split lunar boulder during the Apollo 17 mission. The Lunar Roving Vehicle is parked on the right side of the boulder. Take a look at the moon with binoculars or a small telescope this month – it’s amazing what you can see.
 Courtesy NASA, Eugene Cernan

The July Skies

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge” — Carl Sagan, 1934-1996 Approximately 30 minutes after sunset this month, use binoculars to view faint Mercury low to the west-northwest horizon. On the evening of July 25th, the bright star Regulus will shine just ...

This forested area near Mayville helps deliver clean water to Chautauqua Lake. 
Photo by CWC

Land Use And Forest Trends Point To Declining Water Quality

Approximately 8,000 part-time and permanent residents depend upon Chautauqua Lake water for drinking and domestic use. Chautauqua Lake is a public drinking water source for Chautauqua Institution and the Town of Chautauqua Heights Water District. It is also incidental drinking water to ...

Purple fungus by Jeff Tome.

Look Beyond The Purple

I always wanted to make a nature crayon series. The array of hues that color our world is inspiring and perhaps infinite. Often we don’t realize that, or even teach it. I hear myself saying as I teach kids “What colors can you see in that?” and their answers are red, blue, green, yellow ...

Are Cowbirds Bad Parents?

Every spring I get reports from astonished readers describing a small bird feeding a much larger, obviously begging chick. Can you explain this, readers ask. The answer is “brood parasitism.” Brown-headed cowbirds are members of the blackbird family, and they are brood parasites; they ...

More than 1,000 pounds of mixed metals was pulled from the Chadakoin River at the third annual Chautauqua Lake Cleanup held on May 20.
Photo by Susan M. Songster-Weaver

A Good Day On The Water

A good day on the water doesn’t have to revolve around calm winds and sunshine. My good day revolved around picking up trash and rubbing elbows with some hard working volunteers. I was fortunate to be able to participate in the 3rd annual Chautauqua Lake Cleanup, spearheaded by the Conewango ...

Screech Owls come in both gray and red (rufous) phases. They make a noise similar to a horse whinny.

Dusk To Dark

Nightfall turns everything new. When the dark slowly takes away vision, every sound is magnified. A small animal scurrying through leaves sounds like a bear crashing through the brush. Familiar places turn unfamiliar when they disappear from view. There are many terms for that time of day. ...