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Hudson River Almanac August 1 - August 6, 2005

OVERVIEW

Warm air and warm water continue to be the theme of mid-summer on the Hudson. In the High Peaks, berry crops continue to ripen and black bears seem to be enjoying them. While it is only mid-August, autumn bird migration is well underway.

HIGHLIGHT FROM LAST WEEK

7/28 - Poughkeepsie to Rensselaer, HRM 75-145: The Hudson River sloop Clearwater made a transit today from Poughkeepsie upriver to Rensselaer. Along the way we saw at least eleven bald eagles. Five were spotted over the river (two adults, three immatures), as well as one in New Baltimore, one adult and one immature at Coeymans, and three others.
- Tracey Toufali

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

8/1 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: At 5:20 this morning, the river temperature was already 82 degrees F.
- John Mylod

8/2 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: The river is still very warm, 82 degrees F, even early in the morning. While I was setting crab pots late this morning near Blue Point, a two-year-old bald eagle (judging by the extensive white on the undersides of its wings) flew into view not 50 yards away. It circled and cruised over the flooding tide 40-50 feet above the water. It seemed to be working both the river and the tidal cove at Blue Point, swooping in through maple trees and then back out over the tracks to eyeball the river. It repeated this maneuver several times, then landed in a dead tree. In minutes, it was airborne again scanning the river. After a few passes against the wind, it disappeared behind a matched pair of maple trees.
- John Mylod

8/2 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: I was loading my truck this morning for a seining program at Cohotate when I heard a familiar call, one that I had not heard for a month and a half. An eagle. It was that squeaky cheep-chirp that sticks in your mind when you spend some time around them. This was an immature hovering in the face of a southwesterly breeze. It epitomized the lazy days of summer, just hanging there in the breeze. I allowed myself the possibility that it was the young female that had fledged nearby in mid-June. Facts can get in the way of fantasy, and besides, maybe it was.
- Tom Lake

8/2 - Tappan Zee, HRM 28: We've been catching the largest blue crabs I've ever seen in my life this summer. Nice bluefish, 5-8 lb, are here as well. There are some summer flounder around but anglers keep that information to themselves.
- Robert Gabrielson Sr.

8/3 - Town of Athens, HRM 118: We had a training session at Cohotate Preserve, hosted by Liz LoGuidice, for our October 12 Hudson River estuary Snapshot Day. A dozen naturalists and educators hauled a seine in the sweltering heat (mid-90s). Our catch included a mix of young-of-the-year [yoy] river herring (blueback, alewives, and American shad), as well as banded killifish and white perch. As is usually the case, we were not alone. Doug Reed spotted two immature bald eagles, one heading upriver, the other down. Several spotted sandpipers flitted past as we netted as well as two great blue herons and a kingfisher. We found a 4" blue crab moult in the swash and later netted a blue crab in the process of moulting, pushing its body out of its old, too-small shell. It was one day to the new moon and the higher and stronger spring tides of the new and full moon tend to increase their shedding. The river was a toasty 83 degrees F.
- Tom Lake

8/3 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: The air temperature reached 96?F today, breaking the record for the date of 95?F.
- National Weather Service

8/3 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: Two of the four newly-fledged robins from a nest under my deck were perched on fence posts, panting, and looking totally bewildered. Mom and Dad were not far away. The afternoon heat and humidity was intense.
- Tom Lake

8/3 - Sleepy Hollow, HRM 27: Two or three times a week a huge bulk carrier will slide by my window delivering gypsum to wallboard plants in Haverstraw, Buchanan, and Rensselaer. The regulars are Gypsum Baron, Gypsum King, AV Kastner, and MH Baker, with occasional visits by Iokasti and Demetrios. Today the Gypsum Centennial made a pass, the first time I'd seen this one.
- Doug Maass

8/3 - Manhattan, HRM 5: A record air temperature of 97 degrees F was recorded today, breaking the record for the date of 96 degrees F.
- National Weather Service

8/4 - Newburgh, HRM 61: The air temperature reached 97 degrees F today, breaking the record for the date of 96 degrees F.
- National Weather Service

8/5 - New Baltimore, HRM 131.5: This afternoon a soft front went through. No rain, no wind, no lightning, no thunder, and no dramatic drop in temperature. But the sky cleared of low hanging heavy clouds and the air was much drier. Later in the afternoon, I noticed the first migrant songbirds going through my yard on the west bank of the Hudson River. At first it was a familiar "chip" call, but not familiar in my yard. There were two yellow warblers foraging in the sugar maple. Two. Together. Chasing one another. Following from branch to branch, then into the mulberry. Yellow warblers don't nest in my yard, nor in the immediate vicinity. In my years of banding, I've noticed that many times when there's one of a species showing up, there may also be another, or two others, or more. My belief is that family groups travel together, at least for a while anyway. These looked like two sibling yellow warblers, traveling together. Also, hundreds of swallows, mostly tree and barn swallows, were feeding out over the river in wide, swirling groups; generally working their way south. The first herring gull of the season here, a juvenile, was flying northward.
- Rich Guthrie

8/5 - Saugerties, HRM 102: At sunrise, a great egret landed in the top of the mulberry tree next to the lighthouse. Later in the day, from 4:00-5:00 PM, two adult bald eagles perched in a shoreline tree south of the lighthouse. An osprey perched in a snag overlooking the same tide flats as the eagles. Eventually, the eagles took off and flew north, but the osprey stayed on its perch for the remainder of the evening.
- Patrick Landewe

8/5 - Tivoli South Bay, HRM 98.5: We were paddling north along the Amtrak railroad bed in Tivoli South Bay. The water chestnut had gotten too thick to push through, so we were on an alternate route to our seining stations. We spotted an osprey hovering over the river and watched it dive feet-first and come up with a fish (too far away to tell what kind). The osprey flew a short distance, then dropped the fish and veered away. We then noticed an adult bald eagle flying from the south end of Cruger Island. We had read of eagles stealing fish from osprey; apparently the osprey had read the same material.
- Bob Schmidt, Mer Mietzelfeld, Perry Vasta

8/5 - Doodletown, HRM 45.5: We walked up the hill to the reservoir in the heat, hearing the birds we had heard here all summer: indigo buntings, cerulean warblers, redstarts, and wood peewees. Waxwings and a turkey vulture perched in a dead tree, and a ruby-throated hummingbird hovered around trumpetvine flowers. There were tiger swallowtail, painted lady and mourning cloak butterflies. In trees linked together with abundant wisteria and swallow-wort we saw worm-eating warblers, hooded warblers, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. A female kingfisher flew across the reservoir, rattling. Doodletown Brook was full of waterstriders. Desiccated by the sun, a dead crayfish lay on a rock in the middle of the brook, perfectly preserved. We passed a fresh pile of bear scat, full of seeds.
- Amy Silberkleit, Michale Shiffer

8/5 - Sleepy Hollow, HRM 27: In contrast to the big bulkers of 400-500 feet, today a tiny 15' home-made plywood sailboat wallowed by, heading south. It had aluminum poles for spars, to which was lashed a blue tarp gaff sail. The plywood rudder, cocked at an odd angle, looked like it might break off. On the unpainted plywood hull, which looked like a big flat-sided bathtub, was painted the name "HMS Novak." The lone occupant was bearded and wore an olive green safari hat. He looked like he was enjoying himself.
- Doug Maass

8/6 - Town of Esopus, HRM 87: An American linden tree (a.k.a. "Bee Tree") planted by my grandfather behind his farm in Plutarch around 1921, was aswarm with honey bees this summer. It was the first time the tree has seen honey bees in many years, as feral bee populations have been decimated by loss of habitat, fungus infestations, and other problems. Their colony is in an old maple in front of the farmhouse. Welcome home.
- Vivian Yess Wadlin

8/6 - Hunter's Brook, HRM 67.5: I had not been back to this stream since our spring eel monitoring ended on May 31. That wild coursing brook fed by spring rains was now, at low tide, nearly emptied of water. The isolated pools were teeming with yoy banded killifish and tessellated darters. The stream flowing down over the fall line was 69 degrees F, at least 13 degrees cooler than the current river temperature. Mats of water chestnut choked the mouth of the brook and, despite the low tide and ample forage, there was not a single heron to be found. My only company was a female wood duck.
- Tom Lake

[The fall line is the point at which a stream reaches sea level, usually marked by falls or rapids. In the eastern U.S., it most often describes the point where rivers flow off resistant upland bedrock on to softer, more easily eroded coastal plain rock.]

8/6 - Kowawese, HRM 59: For the first time in several days, the river was warmer (82 degrees F) than the air. We were there to see who was home in the nearshore shallows. Only one haul of our seine was needed; it came ashore bulging with hundreds of shiny yoy river herring. Blueback herring (51 mm) outnumbered the alewives (70 mm) by a 2:1 ratio. A couple of dozen yoy striped bass were mixed in as well as a few Atlantic silversides, a summer visitor from saltier waters closer to the sea. The salinity was barely measurable at about 1.0 ppt.
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake

8/6 - Cornwall Bay, HRM 58: I was kayaking across the river in mid-morning between Pollepel [Bannerman's] Island and Moodna Creek when I saw a sturgeon leap clear of the water. It hung there, body flexed in a nice little arc, before splashing back into the river. I estimated that it was 5' long. As I paddled up along the west side to Kowawese, I counted four immature great blue herons sprinkled along the shore on snags.
- Chris Kuhlow

8/6 - Sleepy Hollow, HRM 27: For the past couple of weeks our backyard, backing up to Metro North and the river, has been alive with more than the usual natural wonders. Fireflies, as noted earlier by others, have returned in abundance. Monarch butterflies, a dozen or so, have flitted by. The honeysuckle vines that are choking the hedge are aquiver with hundred of bees of various stripes. The cat returns with a cicada now and then (which doesn't seem to quiet their racket even one decibel), or a mole. A coyote or fox has left his scat and the local herd of deer hungrily eyes the fenced in vegetables before leaving behind their own pelletized droppings.
- Doug Maass

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