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Hudson River Almanac July 5 - July 11, 2015

OVERVIEW

Reports this week heralded what appeared to be a recovery of submerged aquatic vegetation [SAV] in the estuary, in particular wild celery (Vallisneria americana). In the wake of tropical storms in 2011 and 2012, many beds of SAV were buried under transported sediments. Beds of native SAV such as wild celery are valuable nursery habitat for young fish and important foraging areas for migrating waterfowl.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

7/11 - Hyde Park, HRM 82: A louder than usual rustling in the woods this evening attracted my attention. The grasses at the edge began to sway. Then out on to the lawn tumbled a red fox kit followed by another in hot pursuit. Then Mama appeared, followed by three more kits. We watched them race and romp and even perform the classic "pounce." Two hours later they were still playing hard. I'd say Mama had her paws full.
- Barbara Wells

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

7/5 - Columbia County, HRM 120: A bald eagle nest in this reach of the river has three nestlings again this year - third time in recent years (see 6/29). The adult pair was around today and the male, with a blue band (P69), was kind enough to devour a catfish at the shore while I watched. When finished, he waded into the water to clean his beak and have a drink. The female (purple band U2) was nearby.
- Michael Kalin, Julie Elson

[The blue-banded male (P69) was banded in 2005 at Rogers Island (one of two nestlings), seven miles south of the current nest. The purple-banded female (U2) was banded in Harford County, Maryland, on January 25, 2008, at which time she appeared to be two-and-a-half years old. She was likely born in 2006 and I suspect that she is a New York-born bird that was wintering in Maryland. She was next seen at Rio Reservoir, Sullivan County, on January 11, 2011. Pete Nye.]

7/5 - Town of Poughkeepsie: It has been two weeks of freedom for the eagle fledgling from nest NY62. While she still spends much of her time in the nest looking to be fed, she does roam. Today she was in a tree a quarter-mile away, next to a small pond where male red-winged blackbirds, defending their territory, harassed her until she was forced to leave and fly back to the nest.
- Kathleen Courtney

7/6 - Castleton-on-Hudson, HRM 138: In early afternoon we were paddling along the east side of the river just north of the Castleton Marina when we spotted a little wake and a pink periscope of a star-nosed mole swimming frantically in a zigzag pattern. We guided it toward the shore where, unfortunately, there were quite a few crows. Best of luck little mole.
- Julie Elson, Michael Kalin

7/6 - Greene County: I paddled my kayak over to check on progress at bald eagle nest NY203. Mom and Dad were perched in a nearby tree and their lone nestling was sitting on the rim of the nest. It was good to see that everyone was doing well.
- Kaare Christian

7/6 - Ulster County: An eagle nestling was perched on the rim of its nest (NY142), its yellow feet gleaming bright in the morning sun. One of its parents grabbed a fish from the river, flew to a perch, and picked at it. He looked to the nest expectantly but the youngster did not join in. The adult then moved up to the nest and was quickly joined by a second fledgling. That one had fledged (it was Day 88), and its relatively clean landing made me believe that it was not its maiden flight.
- Dave Lindemann

7/6 - Town of Poughkeepsie: This morning, I found "Destiny" (NY62 eagle fledgling) panting while high in a white pine well north of the nest tree. She was as hot as I was - air temperature was 85 degrees Fahrenheit - and it was incredibly humid.
- Deborah Tracy-Kral

7/7 - Ravena, HRM 133.5: I have a large wild patch of blackberries on the edge of a grove of pines and I've picked two gallons this year so far. They have passed peak, but this is the best I've ever seen from them. Along with an abundance of berries, there seems to be quite a few more cardinals around this year than I've noticed in the past.
- Larry Roth

water celery, a submerged aquatic vegetation

7/7 - North Germantown, HRM 109: The air temperature was nearly 90 degrees F, so when the wake from Coast Guard tug Sturgeon Bay swamped me and dumped our seine, the river (72 degrees F) felt very refreshing. While the catch was rewarding - hundreds of young-of-the-year {YOY] river herring - the find of the day was wild celery rooted in the shallows where there had been none last year. Several healthy-looking patches were growing between spatterdock offshore and common three-square inshore. All of the fishes caught were young-of-the year: alewives 50-70 millimeters [mm] long, blueback herring (36-39 mm), striped bass (42-50), and largemouth bass (63-65 mm). [Photo of wild celery courtesy of Steve Stanne.]
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

[What made this discovery so special was the nearly total absence of native SAV along the estuary in the last several years in places where it used to flourish. In the wake of tropical storms Irene and Sandy, vast beds of SAV had disappeared. Wild celery used to grow in beds so thick that you could barely wade through them. Tom Lake.]

7/7 - Town of Poughkeepsie: In midday, the eagle fledgling from NY62 was perched in a tamarack not far from the nest tree. Mom arrived with a fish, headed to the empty nest, and instantly the fledgling came screaming and chortling after her to the nest.
- Debbie Quick

7/7 - Town of Poughkeepsie: At last light, Dad brought a brown bullhead to the nest (NY62) for the fledgling that was still receiving meals at home.
- Bob Rightmyer

7/7 - Bedford, HRM 35: Things were quiet at the great blue heron rookery. Several nestlings were perched out on branches that supported their nest. Some adults flew in to make food drops and quickly departed.
- Jim Steck

7/8 - Millerton, HRM 94: I came upon a spotted turtle sunning itself in the grass at the Irondale Cemetery. It was a classic example of the species with the yellow spots on its carapace and black-and-yellow markings on the plastron. I was unsure of the sex but its back end was well ensconced in the grass so I guessed it to be a female.
- Amy Schuler

7/8 - Town of Poughkeepsie: The bald eagle fledgling from NY62 left the nest and headed south this morning while being hotly pursued by a lone red-winged blackbird.
- Bob Rightmyer

mat of water chestnut on the Hudson at Beacon with Dennings Point and the Highlands in the background

7/8 - Beacon, HRM 61: The carpet of Eurasian water chestnut was growing day-by-day, choking off the bay for most waterfowl and certainly from preferred forage. Exceptions included herons and egrets. Today it was a great blue heron that was using the thick mat as a platform from which to stalk fish. As it went to take off, however, several of the strong stems became tangled in its legs and the heron looked trapped, tethered to the water chestnut. On its third try the tendrils broke free and off it went. Good thing for the heron that we have no alligators in the bay. [Photo of water chestnut bed at Beacon courtesy of Steve Stanne.]
- Tom Lake

7/8 - Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: At the cell tower osprey nest this morning, Mama was perched on the side of the nest and two little heads could be seen popping up from inside. Dad circled the nest and flew in with a large orange fish that seemed to be half the length of his body. He placed it on top of a pole right next to the nest and proceeded to pick it apart. All three heads, Mama and the two nestlings, turned in his direction. But it seemed that Dad had no intention of sharing until he had his fill.
- Dorothy Ferguson, Bob Ferguson

7/8 - Bedford, HRM 35: The great blue heron rookery in Bedford was getting crowded with fledglings and adults occupying all of the nests. The young ones were virtually indistinguishable from the adults now and would undoubtedly be fledging soon. One nest was empty already. The nestlings were hopping from branch-to-branch as the nests no longer had room for four or five birds.
- Rick Stafford

7/9 - Cheviot, HRM 106: We (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies) were searching for indications of SAV recovery. Here, as well as North Germantown three miles upriver, we found excellent examples of healthy patches of wild celery.
- Stuart Findlay

7/9 - Town of Poughkeepsie: Dad brought a fish for the fledgling to "his tree," a tall white pine near eagle nest NY62. Unfortunately, she grabbed it before he was ready to release it and their talons got mixed up. A tug-of-war ensued until the nestling finally got her fish. Patience will come with maturity.
- Bob Rightmyer

7/9 - Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: Every year about this time I search the woods near my house - where the ground is covered in decaying leaves, branches and twigs - for the ghostly Indian pipe, also known as ghost plant or corpse plant. Today I found this year's patch of the spooky white beckoning "fingers" sticking up through the woodsy layers.
- Robin Fox

[Unlike most plants, Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments like the understory of dense forest. Ray Neyland, Melissa K. Hennigan: 2004.]

7/10 - Tivoli North Bay, HRM 100: I have found many patches of wild celery in Tivoli North Bay as well as twenty miles upriver in the southern portion of Hudson North Bay. I think the species has persisted, or is recovering well, in the marsh creeks and pools. These patches may provide propagules for colonization of the main river. Other SAV present included Ceratophyllum, Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), Najas, and pondweed (Potamogeton species). I have not, I think, seen clasping-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton perfoliatus) yet this year.
- Erik Kiviat

7/10 - Red Hook, HRM 97: A doe white-tailed deer and her two fawns passed by our back fence this morning. They were welcome as long as they stay on the other side of the fence. Our village deer herd is healthy and continuing to grow.
- Bob Haan, Angie Haan

7/10 - Kowawese, HM 59: There were nineteen of us, park-goers, who had assembled to learn about the Hudson River and its aquatic life. The shallows were warm (78 degrees F) and that made for wonderful wading. We hauled our seine and collected several hundred YOY fishes, almost all blueback herring (32-38 mm). On warm summer days like this, we try to keep our net in the water as much as possible and still be able to view the catch. Otherwise many of the delicate river herring would die unnecessarily.
- Tom Lake, C.T. Lake

[Kowawese - a 102-acre park site directly on the Hudson River in New Windsor - is owned by New York State and managed by the Orange County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It is one of the premier spots in the estuary to seine. Tom Lake.]

7/10 - Bronx, HRM 14: For the last two days I have watched what appeared to be a family, or just several fledglings, of great blue herons, no fewer than four, flying together over the Harlem River to Spuyten Duyvil to the Hudson River. They were truly magnificent.
osprey with chain pickerel - Jen Scarlott

osprey in flight carrying a chain pickerel against a blue-grey sky

7/11 - Essex County: While the area was on the fringe of the watershed, it was no less delightful to watch an osprey fly past us today carrying a chain pickerel. The fish may have come from Lake Champlain. [Photo of osprey with chain pickerel courtesy of Debbie Quick.]
- Debbie Quick

saw-whet owl perched in a tree from below

7/11 - Hadley, HRM 208: We had a pair of robins that seemed excited all day. I thought they might have had young fall out of their nest. It was late afternoon before I finally discovered the cause of their anxiety: a young saw-whet owl was perched nearby. It finally flew off and we had our first quiet moment of the day. [Photo of immature saw-whet owl courtesy of Lee Winchester.]
- Lee Winchester

7/11 - Norrie Point, HRM 85: It was perfect weather and tide for a public fishing program. However, fish can be fickle and today they were. Fifty-one anglers caught just nineteen fish (fifteen of them white perch). The highlight was a handsome pair of yearling smallmouth bass (7-8") caught by Matthew Walden. While the rest of us were using earthworms and cut bait, Matthew used an artificial lure, a silver spinner that successfully imitated the silvery YOY river herring that were so abundant in the river.
- Ryan Coulter, Kacie Giuliano, Tom Lake

7/11 - Town of Poughkeepsie: The NY62 eagle fledgling was in her usual spot in the nest tree, calling loudly and waiting for a food delivery. Dad was in "his tree," a tall white pine not far from the nest, with a fish. He waited for the fledgling to come to him but finally gave up and flew to the nest, making a food delivery. Later, the fledgling, took off and joined a red-tailed hawk in flight overhead, flying around and around for several minutes in an unusual instance of harmony between hawk and eagle.
- Kathleen Courtney, Bob Rightmyer

7/11 - Cornwall-on-Hudson, HRM 57: Just short of midnight, we were traveling home on Route 218, which runs around Storm King Mountain high over the Hudson. We were looking for white-tailed deer - our car had twice gone to the body shop after car-versus-deer collisions. Suddenly a small-dog-size adult red fox jumped up in the headhlights, making a successful dash for it. It was a rare sighting for us. It doesn't make the bodywork expense worthwhile, but it sure is nice to live in a place where there are so many opportunities to observe wildlife no matter how briefly.
- Stephan Wilkinson

7/11 - Crugers, HRM 39: Ogilvie's Pond was choked with spatterdock, with only a few areas of open water. We saw movement on the other side of the pond; a beautiful hen wood duck was swimming through the spatterdock followed by eight adorable ducklings, all in a row. The "train" of ducks proceeded to weave in and out of the spatterdock, sometimes becoming invisible when the foliage was taller than they were. The drake wood duck was nowhere in sight.
- Dorothy Ferguson, Bob Ferguson

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