Nature

Monarch Butterflies, The GBBC

There’s good news from the mountains of central Mexico this winter. World Wildlife Fund Mexico and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve announced on Jan. 30 that 14 overwintering monarch colonies occupied a total area of 14.9 acres, up from 6.1 acres last winter. Counts of individual ...

No Two Are Alike

When I was working as an environmental educator in Syracuse, one of my all-time favorite programs to teach was all about a man named Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley. During our program we would teach first graders how as a boy little Willie Bentley loved snowflakes more than anything else in ...

Get To Know The Sparrows

Among birders, sparrows tend to be disrespected or at least ignored. Most are small, drab little brown birds. Brightly colored show stoppers such as yellow-throated warblers, Baltimore orioles, and scarlet tanagers usually steal the attention on spring bird walks. Sparrows are certainly ...

Storm Water – Is It Just Water?

Storm water is just water, right? How could this be an environmental problem? Because it is not just water. Precipitation and dust deposit atmospheric pollutants on our parking lots, streets, roof tops and yards. In natural landscapes, most rainwater typically soaks into the ground, which ...

Ripples In The Water

Have you ever tossed a pebble into a pond? Or a stick, or a pine cone… anything really. Those ripples that result continue to go out and out and out. And sometimes back in toward the point of origin. The ripple effect is the idea that one action, or word, emotion, event, and so on, can have ...

Jumping Mice Hop Along Fields, Meadows

If during warmer weather you’ve ever seen what you thought was a miniature kangaroo hopping across a grassy field, you weren’t seeing things. It was a tiny rodent with huge hind feet and a long tail called a jumping mouse. I’ve only ever seen them while mowing trails through hayfields ...

Climate Change and More Frequent Downpours Exacerbating Erosion

The vast majority (97%+) of the scientific community’s experts on Earth’s climate agree that our climate is changing, that this change will be enormously disruptive and that it is centered around humanity’s impacts on the planet. It isn’t just fossil fuel use that intensifies the ...

Adapt Or Die

Life in the natural world can be harsh, especially when environmental conditions change. Species that specialize in certain foods or habitats or require particularly large expanses of land become rare or even die out. Passenger pigeons, Kirkland’s warblers, grizzly bears, and hellbenders ...

Mammals In Winter

When it comes to animals, I have a special spot in my heart for every creature. Whether it is a turtle crossing the road or a spider trapped in my bathtub, I have always been one to help an animal in need. Most of my life, I have interacted with mammals; I am fascinated by their diversity yet ...

Warming Worries

Evidence of climate change is all around us. The lack of snow and increasingly wetter, warmer winters here in the Chautauqua region are troubling warning signs. I worry about the trees and the creatures dependent upon them, and about our seasonal economies based on recreation, tourism, ...

Into The Gloaming

The grass, stiff with frost, crunches under my feet as I walk swiftly along the dimly lit trail. The sun isn’t due to come up for a few minutes. The birds are just starting to wake up, with lazy tweets and chirps coming from the trees and bushes nearby. A deer, startled by my early ...

King Of The Woods

About a week before Christmas my wife and I were back on the ridge in West Virginia getting the house ready for new owners. We planned to leave before dark. When we finally got into the car at about 6 o’clock, I cracked a window. At 6:03 a tremulous whistle rose from the woods below. As ...

Chautauqua Watershed Notes: 2019 CWC Initiatives

Once again, the start of a brand new year has come upon us. It is a time when many of us make new resolutions or recommit to previous goals with renewed energy. For 29 years, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has been a leader in Chautauqua County with education and conservation efforts ...

Seed Hoarding Can Explain Empty Bird Feeders

By mid-January I’ll begin getting mail asking, “Where are my birds?” The timing of these queries varies geographically, but by mid-winter some people somewhere will wonder what happened to their birds. Unusually mild weather can be responsible. A January thaw with temperatures well ...

Visiting An Old Friend

Sometimes you lose track of how long it has been since you spent time with an old friend. Work, family and other obligations seem to get in the way. Then, you find the Christmas holidays and the New Year approaching. Your mind goes back to all those beautiful memories you’ve stored in your ...

Bizarre Trees

Trees can be the backdrop to our outdoor adventures. They are key in defining the forest. But how often do we take in the bigger picture and not focus on the individual. Earlier in the year trees get plenty of attention for showy flowers, interfering pollen or delicious fruit and in the fall ...

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 ...