Compiled by Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Naturalist

OVERVIEW

Following the dire reports of no monarch butterfly sightings earlier this season, it was heartening to hear of what may be a resurgence, or just a tardy arrival. The American avocet continued its journey down the river, sighted in three more locations. The Hudson Valley’s immature eagles and ospreys advanced their stories as well. And those readers interested in seeing the river‘s fish at first hand should check out the schedule for the Great HudsonRiver Estuary Fish Count on August 2.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

7/10 – Putnam County, HRM 54: The fields at Copperhead Cut on East Mountain were alive with flashes of bright orange flitting about the milkweed today. I counted dozens of monarch butterflies as they displayed their colors in the sun. They were beautiful to watch and, as I have noted that sightings are scarce this year, I was glad that we had not cut our fields so that the monarchs could access the milkweed plants that are in great abundance.
– Connie Mayer-Bakal

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

7/10 – Ulster County, HRM 90: While taking a morning walk on Spillway Road at the Ashokan Reservoir, we were overtaken by a mama common merganser leading 27 young on their morning’s water-borne exercise. They paddled parallel to us, seemingly effortlessly but at far greater speed than we maintained. [Photo of hen common merganser with young courtesy of Dave Finkelstein.] – Dave Finkelstein, Evelyn Letfuss

hen common merganser with young

[According to the Birds of North America Online, mixed broods of more than 40 young have been observed in northeast Ontario. Although this behavior, called brood amalgamation, is well-known for common mergansers, it has not been well-studied. Amalgamation is not common with ducklings less than seven days old, but occurs frequently afterwards. Some authors suggest aggressive females “kidnap” young from less aggressive females, but no study has documented this. It may simply represent confused young joining incorrect mothers. Steve Stanne.]

7/10 – Town of Poughkeepsie: We had a brisk northwest wind this morning, and in mid-morning one of the eagle fledglings from NY62 was perched on top of a utility pole in the grassy field, a spot that had become a feeding perch. After it left, I went over to look at the portion of a catfish left in the grass. It was torn apart and the head was missing.
– Tom McDowell

[As the two immature eagles from nest NY62 expand their horizons and become independent, we can be fairly certain that this is a common scenario throughout the watershed as about two dozen other families go through the same process. It is rewarding to think back to 1997 when we had our first fledged bald eagle in 100 years (Greene County), and to reflect on how well they have recovered. Tom Lake.]

7/10 – Garrison, HRM 51: A pair of resident eastern phoebes successfully fledged three chicks in a nest over our front door. We watched as they took their first flights. Now the family seems absent from the nest so I guess the youngsters are on their own.
– Kathleen Kourie

7/10 – Ossining, HRM 33: As we rounded a curve this morning we came upon a large bird standing right in the road. At first we thought it might be one of the wild turkey poults that we’ve seen but as it flew across the road we saw that it was a Cooper’s hawk! The bird made its way through the trees, flying parallel to our car before disappearing.
– Dorothy Ferguson, Linda Rivers, Jeanette Redmond

7/10 – Tarrytown, HRM 29: Motoring upriver in the RV Biglane looking for live oyster beds, I counted more than 30 jumping sturgeon over a six-hour period (noon-6:00 p.m.) a quarter-mile south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. I estimated their size range to be from 30-50 inches. Amazing!
– Jim Lodge

[Sturgeon are the stuff of myth and legend. In terms of evolution, they are a very ancient class of cartilaginous (non-bony) fishes whose ancestry dates back at least a hundred million years. Among their many unusual behavioral traits is their predilection for jumping several feet out of the water and then landing with a large and loud splash. There are Hudson River records of sturgeon leaping and landing in canoes and fishing boats. While drift-netting for American shad twenty years ago, Chris Lake and I had a five-footer leap, land on the gunwale of our boat, teeter, and then topple back into the river. Why they leap is a mystery. It may be a way to rid themselves of external parasites or to take in air to fill their swim bladder. Biologists are unsure. Tom Lake.]

7/11 – Norrie Point, HRM 85: A young great blue heron walked on a floating carpet of water chestnut, stalking and stabbing at fish. Suddenly it took a misstep, slipped, and fell beak-forward into the water. It recovered just as quickly and resumed its stately progress as if nothing happened.
– Pat Joel

7/11 – Croton Point, HRM 35: After fishing for three hours I managed only a single, 14-inch-long channel catfish. I’d hoped to catch some carp, but there was no jumping or other signs of their presence.
– Bill Greene

7/11 – Croton River, HRM 34: Lengthy observation this morning has convinced me the cell tower osprey is an only child. It seems unlikely that a healthy sibling could remain unseen in the nest, as the only child grows larger and more active each day. Two greater yellowlegs were foraging along the tide line at the boat ramp, the first I had seen here for many weeks.
– Christopher Letts

7/12 – New Baltimore, HRM 131.5: This evening, I watched dozens of northern rough-winged swallows winging south down the Hudson River. Also, there were about 150 tree swallows flying around and perched in a dead elm at the Coxsackie Creek Grasslands Preserve.
– Richard Guthrie

7/12 – Croton River, HRM 34: This morning we spotted one of the adult ospreys perched near its nest on the cell tower near the Croton-Harmon train station. For a while there was no action aside from the bird preening its feathers. Then another adult, we guessed the female, circled high above the nest, a fish held tightly in its talons. It made several wide loops around the nest and then landed, poking its head inside, feeding the nestling.
– Dorothy Ferguson, Bob Ferguson

7/13 – Ulster County, HRM 85: On our annual family blueberry picking outing in the Shawangunks, we came across a beautiful timber rattlesnake, about 30 inches long, just about to moult. This was my first Hudson Valley sighting of a rattlesnake!
– Rebecca Houser

[The timber rattlesnake is the largest of the three venomous snakes in New York – copperhead and massasauga being the others. It is a threatened species in New York State and, as with patches of orchids, reports of sighting locations are purposely vague to protect them from collectors. They typically reach three to four feet in length but have been reported to grow to more than six feet long. Tom Lake.]

 

spatulate-leaved sundew

 

7/13 – Harriman State Park, HRM 42: On a hike through Harriman State Park, it was pleasant to see the carnivorous plants now fully in bloom in a remote bog. On floating mats of lime-green sphagnum moss, the flowers of the pitcher plants, vaguely reminiscent of ruddy daffodils, towered above the diminutive white floral clusters of the sticky sundews. Despite their affinity for insect flesh, these unique plants produce exquisitely beautiful blossoms – the whole scene resembling something from the Amazon rainforest. [Photo of spatulate-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia) courtesy of Mike Adamovic.] – Mike Adamovic

7/14 – Town of Poughkeepsie: The two bald eaglets were certainly vocal but were pretty inactive by the time I arrived today. Mom (banded N42) flew in with a small fish at midday. Both eaglets were high in their nest tree, but visible.
– Debi Kral

7/14 – Town of Poughkeepsie: When Mom brought a fish to the nest in midday, only one of the fledglings got to eat. The other was visible unhappy. He followed Mom out to the river before returning back to the nest tree to complain some more.
– Bob Rightmyer

adult and immature great blue heron

7/14 – Bedford, HRM 35: The great blue heron rookery was very quiet today. Most of the nests were empty, with six nests having one to three young and three adults at three of the nests. The number of remaining youngsters in the nests is about nine or ten. It appears that their development was behind the others and they are not ready to fledge. Many of the young were seen flying about the area, but not back to their nest. The ones that have left are likely perched nearby waiting for a meal from their parents or are learning to fish for themselves. [Photo of adult and immature great blue heron courtesy of Jim Steck.] – Jim Steck

7/14 – Croton Point, HRM 35: I scanned the low tide beach: mallards, geese, a couple of gulls, and an avocet. Wow! And a lovely specimen! This was my first Westchester County avocet [See 7/8 – Newburgh]. It was healthy, taking off and landing several times, spending most of its time wading along the shore.
– Christopher Letts

[This was only the fifth Westchester County record of American avocet and the first since 1997. Croton Point had one other sighting in 1979. Mike Botchnick, Larry Trachtenberg.]

7/15 – Town of Poughkeepsie: We searched the tree-tops for the two immature eagles from nest NY62, but then spotted both of them feeding in a grassy field. As they came together one spread its wings and went at the other. They tussled for a second before one walked away. However, within minutes they tussled again – apparently the meal was not enough for two and the adults had not covered the chapter on sharing as yet.
– Denise McGuinness, Christopher McGuinness

7/15 – Putnam Valley, HRM 55.5: I witnessed a garter snake (about 18 inches long) grab and jaw-down a small frog. The frog had been in mid-leap into adjacent candytuft when it was taken. The strike-to-grab took about a second; in no more than eight seconds, no part of the frog was still visible in the snake’s mouth. The snake slithered into the adjacent candytuft within ten seconds after the frog disappeared into its mouth.
– Nancy P Durr

[Candytuft is a low-growing evergreen perennial (Iberis sp.) that blooms in spring with umbels of flowers. Nancy P Durr.]

7/15 – Piermont, HRM 25: What was most probably the American avocet spotted at Croton Point yesterday was now at Piermont Pier.
– Evan Mark

7/15 – Manhattan, HRM 13.5: James Knox found an American avocet loafing with some gulls on a wooden dock along the Hudson River at the west end of Dyckman Street at Inwood Hill Park.
– Nadir Souirgi

[This was the fourth sighting of the American avocet across one week and 47 river miles. Its origin and destination were very much unknown. Tom Lake.]

7/16 – Westchester County, HRM 44: Today I counted at least fifty bobolinks, mostly fledglings, but adult males and females as well, in North Salem.
– Jim Nordgren

[Thanks to the North Salem Open Land Foundation and Bedford Audubon, a group of landowners has agreed in recent years to delay haying of large fields until mid-July. With earlier springs, haying now overlaps with nesting which results in near 100% mortality of bobolink chicks. This effort began in 2009 and has resulted in the successful rearing of several generations of bobolinks. This is a wonderful example of citizens coming together for a good ecological cause. Jim Nordgren.]

7/16 – Croton River, HRM 34: As I watched the osprey nest on the cell tower at the south end of the Croton-Harmon train station today, I saw two nestlings jumping up and down while flapping their wings. One of the adults perched on an antenna out of the reach of the excited and energetic activity in the nest. Judging by today’s observation, it appears that they may be only a short time from fledgling.
– Hugh L. McLean

  1. HUDSON RIVER FISH COUNT – Saturday, August 2.

The public is invited to join naturalists from the Capital Region to New York City for the third annual Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count, exploring amazing variety of slippery, wriggly, and fascinating creatures usually hidden below the river‘s surface. The programs themselves are free, but some parks may require an entrance fee. For more information, email  [email protected] or call (845)256-3077.

  1. Manhattan –River Park, Pier 42: Lower East Side Ecology Center. 12:00 noon-2:00 p.m.
    Manhattan – Hudson River Park, Pier 84: Hudson River Park Trust. 1:00-4:00 p.m.
    Manhattan – Inwood Hill Park, tidal basin: Hudson River Estuary Program. 10:00-11:30 a.m.
    Yonkers – Habirshaw Park: Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River (formerly Beczak Environmental Education Center). 10:30-11:30 a.m.
    Piermont – Piermont Pier: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
    Sleepy Hollow – Kingsland Point Park/Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center: Teatown Lake Reservation & Strawtown Art and Garden Studio. 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
    Cold Spring – Little Stony Point, Hudson Highlands State Park: Hudson River Estuary Program. 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Beacon – Long Dock Park: Scenic Hudson11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
    New Windsor – Kowawese Unique Area: Hudson River Estuary Program. 9:30-10:30 a.m.
    Staatsburg – Norrie Point Environmental Center: Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. 10:00-11:00 a.m.
    Kingston – Kingston Point Beach: City of Kingston Parks and Recreation/Forsyth Nature Center. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Coxsackie – Riverfront Park: Hudson River Estuary Program. 12:30-1:15 p.m.
    Castleton – Schodack Island State Park: Hudson River Estuary Program. 2:00-3:30 p.m.
    Waterford – Peebles Island State Park: Hudson River Estuary Program. 10:00-11:30 a.m.

SUMMER 2014 NATURAL HISTORY PROGRAMS

July 26: 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m.
Family Fishing Day at Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg [Dutchess County]. All ages welcome to this free program; rods, reels, and bait provided. Wheelchair accessible. For information: 845-889-4745 x109.

August 9: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Family Fishing Day at Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg [Dutchess County]. All ages welcome to this free program; rods, reels, and bait provided. Wheelchair accessible. For information: 845-889-4745 x109.

  1. HUDSON RIVER MILES
  2. Hudson is measured north from Hudson River Mile 0 at the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan. The George Washington Bridge is at HRM 12, the Tappan Zee 28, Bear Mountain 47, Beacon-Newburgh 62, Mid-Hudson 75, Kingston-Rhinecliff 95, Rip Van Winkle 114, and the Federal Dam at Troy, the head of tidewater, at 153. The tidal section of the Hudson constitutes a bit less than half the total distance – 315 miles – from Lake Tear of the Clouds to the Battery. Entries from points east and west in the watershed reference the corresponding river mile on the mainstem.

TO CONTRIBUTE YOUR OBSERVATIONS OR TO SUBSCRIBE

  1. Hudson River Almanac is compiled and edited by Tom Lake and emailed weekly by Steve Stanne, education coordinator at DEC’s Hudson RiverEstuary Program. Share your observations by e-mailing them to   [email protected].

To subscribe to the Almanac (or to unsubscribe), go to DEC’s Email Lists page, enter your email address, and click on “Submit.” A page listing available subscription topics will appear. Scroll down; under the heading “Natural Areas and Wildlife” is the section “Lakes and Rivers” with a listing for the HudsonRiver Almanac. Click on the check box to subscribe. While there, you may wish to subscribe to RiverNet, which covers projects, events and actions related to the Hudson and its watershed, or to other DEC newsletters and information feeds.

  1. Hudson River Almanac archive allows one to use the DEC website’s search engine to find species, locations, and other data in weekly issues dating back to October 2003.
  2. New York State Conservationist – the award-winning, advertisement-free magazine focusing on New York State’s great outdoors and natural resources. Conservationist features stunning photography, informative articles and around-the-state coverage.

USEFUL LINKS

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s high and low tide and tidal current predictions are invaluable for planning boating, fishing, and other excursions on and along the estuary.

  1. Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System [HRECOS] provides near real-time information on water and weather conditions at monitoring stations from Manhattan to the Mohawk River.

Historical information on the movements of the salt front is available on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hudson River Salt Front website.

New smartphone app available for New York outdoor enthusiasts!
DEC, in partnership with ParksByNature Network®, is proud to announce the launch of the New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App for iPhone and Android. This FREE, cutting-edge mobile app gives both novice and seasoned outdoorsmen and women essential information in the palm of their hands. Powered by Pocket Ranger® technology, this official app for DEC will provide up-to-date information on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching and serve as an interactive outdoor app using today’s leading mobile devices. Using the app’s advanced GPS features, users will be able identify and locate New York’s many hunting, fishing and wildlife watching sites. They will also gain immediate access to species profiles, rules and regulations, and important permits and licensing details.

NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative
Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.
In support of this initiative, this year’s budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone largely untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.
This year’s budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.

Copies of past issues of the Hudson River Almanac, Volumes II-VIII, are available for purchase from the publisher, Purple Mountain Press(800) 325-2665.


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