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Hudson River Almanac April 25 - April 30, 2005


While flowers are nice as a backdrop to spring, it is difficult to top the brilliant colors of the season's warblers. Then there is the flame orange of the Baltimore orioles. When they appear in the first week of May, the season takes on the look of a painter's palette.


4/28 - Newcomb, HRM 302: Mike Tracy came into the Adirondack Park Visitors Information Center this morning and asked if I had seen the moose tracks that went through our gazebo, across the path to our flagpole, and down the hill onto the Sucker Brook Trail. We went and looked and indeed, there they were. I tracked the animal and saw where it entered the Rich Lake outlet but not where it came out. I did spot a beaver, however - a light-colored one swimming along the outlet. We have had 3.15" of rain in the last six days. Things are very damp - good for ducks and amphibians.
- Ellen Rathbone


4/25 - Croton Point, HRM 34.5: Brown thrashers had returned and were singing enthusiastically. The first yellow warbler, a bright male, adorned a blooming shadbush.
- Christopher Letts

4/25 - Hackensack River, New York Harbor: In our sampling, the River Dell Regional High School Aquatic Ecology class and I have noticed an increase in yellow perch in the Hackensack River watershed and a decrease in species diversity. We also are calling this the "year of the catfish," with brown bullheads being found everywhere.
- Terry Milligan

4/26 - Ramshorn Creek, HRM 112.2: While we watched a three year-old bald eagle on our "perching pine" at the Ramshorn-Livingston Sanctuary, it took off in pursuit of an osprey. The osprey had a fish tightly clenched in its talons and made a dash to the trees to avoid the marauding eagle. I never got to see the outcome of the chase, but did get to see two more osprey fishing the creek. Additional sightings included several ruby-crowned kinglets singing and our first hermit thrush "working the trail."
- Larry Federman

4/27 - New Baltimore, HRM 131.5: During the third walk of our Greene County Soil and Water, Scenic Hudson, and Audubon Spring Birding Series on the Hudson River Interpretive Trail, we saw our first yellow warblers of the season, as well as several singing ruby-crowned kinglets, two pairs of common mergansers, several Canada geese, and a female sharp-shinned hawk.
- Larry Federman

4/27 - Catskill, HRM 113: Shad fishing has been rough. The wind and the rain really shut them down. We also lost 4°F in water temperature. Today was better. There was little wind and we got some nice fish.
- Jon Powell

4/27 - Mid-Hudson Valley: After 14 days with no rain, today was the sixth day in a row with measurable precipitation.
- Tom Lake

4/27 - Scarborough, HRM 32: At 6:00 PM, coming home on Metro North from Manhattan, we spotted a common loon in the river just south of Scarborough. As we passed it put its head underwater and submerged.
- Mike Boyajian, Jeri Wagner

4/28 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: I was on the river this evening in my shad boat when a storm cell blew through and it was "whitecap city." Two osprey glided effortlessly on the wind currents.
- John Mylod

4/28 - Diamond Reef, HRM 67.5: Aided by a rising tide, the tug Bruce A. McAllister pushed a barge upriver this afternoon. At 3:40 PM, the barge struck Diamond Reef, spilling some of its 3.1 million gallons of gasoline into the Hudson River. Diamond Reef is a mid-river prominence with deepwater channels to the east and west. Much of the spillage drifted to inshore shallows. Gasoline, being a volatile petrochemical, was expected to evaporate rather quickly. A quarter mile south, an adult bald eagle cruised north searching the shallows for dinner.
- Tom Lake

[Diamond Reef is a well-known hazard to shipping. It also has a long and storied past as a fishing hotspot. Here is a cryptic description from The Angler's Guide and Tourists Gazetteer of 1885, compiled and edited by William C. Harris (p.142): New Hamburgh reef [Diamond Reef] is on the Hudson 1/8 mile [offshore]: white perch and striped bass, the first being most abundant; shrimp, worms, live bait used. July, August, and September best; hotels $1.50 per day; guides at moderate cost; boats $1 per day. The above reef is celebrated for its white perch fishing, and late August sport is had in catching snappers (young bluefish 1/4 lb.) on the surface with minnow bait.]

4/28 - Pollepel Island to West Point, HRM 58-51: A thunderstorm blew in from the south. The skies to the west were clear, however, and the sun was blazing. We thought there had to be a rainbow, and we were not disappointed. As we drove over Storm King Mountain, a beauty was seen arching from Pollepel Island across the sky to West Point.
- David Baker

4/28 - Manitou to Bear Mountain, HRM 47-46: In a lifetime of living in the Hudson River Valley I have never seen a rainbow like the double rainbow we saw tonight. Stretching from the foot of the east tower of the Bear Mountain Bridge to the cove just above Manitou marsh, it was breathtaking. A series of thunderstorms had swept over the Hudson Highlands and then cleared as quickly as they came. My son Jake wanted to go over to the other side and look for the pot of gold.
- Scott Craven

4/28 - Peekskill, HRM 43: Woodside Elementary participates in Cornell University's Classroom Feeder Watch and we have been thrilled to see new birds at our feeder this month. Our "Bird Study Club" is open to all fourth graders. The students come all year - once a week during their recess, 15 minutes a week - and they really learn a lot. They were impressed with the brilliance of a male goldfinch and his mate along with an eastern phoebe and four brown-headed cowbirds! Perhaps spring has caused confusion but the familiar red-bellied woodpecker was sampling the sunflower seeds along with the sparrows on the flat feeding station while a tufted titmouse was eating from the suet feeder.
- Kay Barthelmes

4/28 - Westchester County: Where have all the flowers gone? And the shad and herring for that matter? Riverman Cal Greenberg of Verplanck landed barely 20 shad today. Plagued by striped bass in the net, he decided to call it a season, after two days of fishing. Gino Garner, fishing for bait herring out of Croton, noted the drop in herring catches and first mossbunker of the season. Dogwood has been blooming for days now. Horticulturalist Andra Sramek exclaimed, "We're two weeks ahead of ourselves." And this after the long-lingering cold season that had folks wondering if spring would ever arrive.
- Christopher Letts

4/29 - Minerva, HRM 284: Forsythia was in bloom.
- Ellen Rathbone

4/29 - Eagle Nest, Dutchess County: Not long after dawn we spotted Mama's big white head, yellow beak, and piercing eyes staring at us as we "hid" in our blind. She sat, patiently waiting for Papa to come in from the river with breakfast. As the rising sun bathed the tree in light, we saw a small, gangly shape scamper across the nest. With awkward movements, the fuzzy little bird disappeared from sight. Despite a daily vigil for the last 2½ weeks, this was the first time we had caught a glimpse of at least one nestling.
- Andra Sramek, Tom Lake

4/29 - Oscawana Island, HRM 38.5: This pretty little park was loaded with warblers, kinglets, and singing house wrens this morning. As usual, the first big wave of warblers arrives just as the emerging foliage makes it ever harder to spot them.
- Christopher Letts

4/29 - Croton Point, HRM 34.5: Spring and fall migrations of kestrels are always to be anticipated here. With 40 and more of the little falcons hyperactively hunting, it can be a lively place. This spring was a bust. The most I saw at one time was three. They came late, left early, and we wonder why.
- Christopher Letts

4/29 - Manhattan, HRM 5: New York City Audubon reported that it does not look as though red-tailed hawks Pale Male and Lola's eggs will hatch this year. Their nest is located 12 stories above Central Park at 920 Fifth Avenue. The incubation period is 35 days and this is day 50.
- Mike Boyajian, Jeri Wagner

4/30 - Newcomb, HRM 302: While leading some students on a night hike at Johnson Flow, just to the south of the Hudson, we may have heard a moose! From a marshy area came a call that I just couldn't identify. I spoke with Ray Masters, wildlife researcher at the Adirondack Ecological Center (SUNY ESF), and he imitated a moose call for me. I think that was it. He said that moose really don't call until the fall, but perhaps it was a yearling that had been kicked out by its mom and it was calling to find her. I took the class there instead of doing the VIC trails because (A) I saw was moose tracks there yesterday - one is ever-hopeful, (B) I knew we might see or hear woodcocks and hermit thrushes, (C) with the marshy area(s), we would get to hear great choruses of frogs (peepers, wood, and chorus) and (D) I was hoping that, in more open areas, we might find bats. As it turned out, the thrushes didn't sing, only one woodcock called briefly, there were no bats, no beavers, and it was too dark to look for the moose tracks. But, since we may have heard a moose, that makes up for it. I'm one step closer to actually seeing one!
- Ellen Rathbone

4/30 - Peekskill, HRM 43: I have been catching channel catfish in the river for several years, some of them in the 15-18" range. The largest was taken fishing from shore near a boat launching site on the Peekskill-Buchanan border, September 19, 2004, using corn kernels and dough ball for carp. It was 24" long, and weighed 4 lb. 11 oz.
- Bill Greene

4/30 - Croton River, HRM 34: At the bottom of a very low morning tide, three snowy egrets were splashily feeding in the shallows along with a great blue heron and a great egret. Greater yellowlegs and spotted sandpipers presaged the beginning of the shorebird migration.
- Christopher Letts

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