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Nature

Snake Season Is Upon Us

Snakes love warm summer days. As reptiles, their body temperature mirrors air temperature. That’s why snakes are most active this time of year. It’s also why snake complaints peak in July and August. When people ask how to deal with unwanted snakes in the backyard, I offer my standard ...

Lush Growth

Summer is in full swing and our local meadows, woodlands and wetlands are alive with the lush growth and green goodness of solar-powered warmth, light and renewed life. Songbirds fill the air with calls and melodies signaling territoriality, courtship and connection with mates and ...

Global Change

As a kid, there was nothing more exhilarating than walking down the dirt road adjacent to my aunt and uncle’s house, hunting for monarch caterpillars under the warm August sun. I would walk hand in hand with my mother as she pulled my brother along behind in a red wagon, my cousins would ...

‘The Greatest’ Environmental President And His Legacy

Most Americans who remember President Richard Nixon probably associate his name with the Watergate break-in and his abbreviated presidency. Despite Nixon’s self-inflicted problems, I remember him as the greatest environmental president of my lifetime. Among Nixon’s environmental ...

Yard Waste, The Issues Of A Natural Pollutant

Have you ever seen your neighbor push a wheelbarrow full of grass clippings to a nearby empty lot and, without hesitation, dump the load over the edge of the streambank? What about seeing someone rake his or her yard clean of fall leaves and then pile them behind some shrubbery along the ...

A Faster Look

There are many ways to look at a trail, but I have never looked at how to make a trail exactly 3.1 miles before. Last fall, Audubon started looking at ways to create a new course for the Wild 5K that showed off more of the property, avoided parking lots, and was easy to follow. The ...

Grow Gardens, Not Grass

This summer, if you’d like to save some money (and blood, sweat, and tears), convert a portion of your grassy backyard to native vegetation. Maintaining turf is expensive, unhealthy, and to many people, boring. With less grass to mow, you’ll save time and money. American homeowners spend ...

Summer Is Finally Here

Did you hear the story about the conversation between two friends? The one said to the other, “I love summer in Chautauqua County!” “Really?” said the other. “Yep,” the first one replied. “It was on a Sunday last year!” All kidding aside, I thought this joke was going ...

Natural World

I’ve always said that my favorite thing about being a naturalist and an environmental biologist is the fact that there is always more to learn about nature. In my experience every time I answer a question or discover something new about the natural world I am left with even more unanswered ...

Introduce Children To The Cool Side

Relief from the dog days of summer is as close as the nearest spring-fed stream. With just a facemask, a snorkel, and an old pair of sneakers, you can observe aquatic life on its own terms — underwater. Snorkeling is a great way to introduce children to the cool side of nature. First, just ...

Are You Fertilizing The Lake?

Is lawn fertilization contributing to Chautauqua Lake’s algae blooms? Chautauqua Lake has experienced seasonal algae blooms for decades. It has always been a relatively fertile lake, with abundant plants and algae contributing to very productive panfish, muskellunge and smallmouth and ...

A Blank Book

As a child, summer vacation meant no classrooms and often, no walls. The world was like a blank book, open to a page where you could write that day’s adventure as you lived it. I remember bike rides down to the creek, bike convoys down to the tennis courts, or magical lands created around ...

Hercules Beetles Common In Forest

Kids love dinosaurs. I did more than 55 years ago, and so did many of my friends. We collected and played with hard plastic toy models with long, hard-to-pronounce and spell names imprinted on them. Names like tyrannosaurus, stegosaurus, and plesiosaurus. The size, ferocity, and fear of real ...

Poking About My Yard

I took a few minutes to poke around my yard before writing this today. My usual poking involves weeding, planting seeds and checking out how flowers and fruit are developing. Today, I was poking around for ideas to write about. Even though it is not very large, my yard is a delightful ...

Perspective

Working in a garden can force a change in perspective. Kneeling down to get hands in the dirt, plants tower over the gardener. They no longer look down on plants but look through. On one particular day while gardening, I found myself face to face with sturdy stems and broad curved leaves ...

A Most Unusual Nest, Built Low Down

Linda and our grandson, Garek, burst into the apartment a few weeks ago excitedly out of breath. “We’ve got a nest with two white eggs to identify,” she said. “Sounds like a mourning dove,” I replied. “But it was on the ground,” Linda answered. That got my attention. ...

Ferns, Fronds, Fiddleheads Are Diverse

The local woodlands, wetlands and streambanks of the Chautauqua watershed beckon us to explore their gifts of natural beauty and biological diversity, and the complex community of creatures living there has much to teach us. One lovely but often over-looked group of organisms, the ferns, ...

Peace In The Pond

It was peaceful out in the middle of the pond. The wind rustled the cattails, creating a rippling rush of sound that whooshed in from the distance and faded off behind me. The occasional loud monkey-like call of a nesting Common Gallinule echoed out of the deep grass. Geese honked in the ...

Life On A Sandy Beach

Cool sea breezes... Breaking waves playing tag with shorebirds on sandy beaches… Laughing gulls braying like hyenas… Sandy feet… These are a few of the images that dominate memories from long ago summer vacations at the Jersey shore. Near constant winds shape the seashore’s ...

‘Zooming In’

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has been advocating for the establishment of buffers along waterbodies for decades. A “buffer” refers to a vegetated section of land that is set aside along a lake, stream or wetland in order to protect the sensitive habitats that are often found in ...