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Hudson River Almanac August 18 - August 23, 2005

OVERVIEW

It was a sleepy week on the Hudson. In late summer with the air humid and the water warm, most everything seems to be going in slow motion. However, the cool stirrings in the High Peaks portends the onset of autumn.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

8/18 Fishkill, HRM 62: We spent considerable time watching three river otters play in a tributary of Fishkill Creek. In play they would hide under submerged tree roots and then pop up in the stream. All the while they managed to fit in some fishing.
- Ann LaGoy

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

8/18 Rams Horn River, HRM 112.2: We had 3 bald eagles over the Rams Horn for our paddle and 6 osprey fishing the Hudson near the mouth of the creek. The highlight was 2 great egrets flying over, tree-top high, first northbound then returning low overhead heading towards Embought Bay.
- Larry Federman

8/19 Henderson Lake, HRM 310: On our way to the headwaters, the Hudson River at North Creek (HRM 257) looked especially low and stony with barely enough water to get wet. At Henderson Lake we rolled our guideboat up the gravel road as two contractors removed the last of the huge docks from the formerly private lake. The outlet of Henderson Lake joins Calamity Brook, which flows out of the High Peaks only a few hundred yards downstream. It is at this point that the Hudson River first finds it name. High clouds moved in. A stiff southwest breeze picked up. We rowed by a family of four common loons, then three others, and arrived at the north end lean-to in less than an hour. The lake temperature was 72°F and the air temperature dropped to 67°F. Three loons took flight low, down the lake, and circled back flying high, with one long haunting call echoing off the mountain walls.
- Peg Winship, Doug Reed

8/19 Poughkeepsie to Blue Point, HRM 75-74: The blue crab catch, almost entirely males, has improved, but is still not robust, although the size of the crabs has increased. Two NYSDEC tagged crabs were captured and released today: 01250 along the east shore, 01527 along the west shore.

A little later in the morning I spotted an adult bald eagle perched at the top limb of a dead white pine tree in the west shore forest below Blue Point. The bare limb was almost at the top of the tree and the eagle's white head and tail stood out against the deep forest green background. After a few minutes it relocated to a dead tree closer to the base of the point. Its white head stood out amid the surrounding trees and was visible, if you knew where to look. Eagle spotting brings the work of pulling crab pots to a sudden stop and never gets old.
- John Mylod

Both of the blue crabs had been tagged 17 miles down river in Newburgh Bay by Gregg Kenney: 01527 on August 10, and 01250 on August 17.

8/19 Hastings-on-Hudson, HRM 21.5: This morning I watched a male cardinal (in moult) catch a very large insect (winged, black and white, not sure what it was) and feed it to two fledgling offspring waiting in the grass. They fluttered their wings very rapidly and cheeped, as the cardinal struggled to break the insect into bite-sized chunks and fill their gaping beaks.
- Barbara Morrow

8/20 Wappinger Creek, HRM 67.5: The green expanding mats of water chestnut have left the tidal Wappinger with only a narrow ribbon of open water, marking where the channel is 12-15' deep. Despite being the bane of boaters, it does make the spotting of wading birds much simpler. At low tide today, a bevy of waterbirds were out fishing: great egrets, black-crowned night herons, a possible yellow-crowned night heron, great blue herons, green herons, and two chattering kingfishers. The water chestnut serves as a platform from which to fish and it traps deadfalls that serve as feeding platforms.
- Tom Lake

8/21 Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: A female ruby-throated hummingbird began an inspection of the flowers along our treeline. After rejecting several of them for reasons unknown, she settled for a dozen bright fuchsia impatiens.
- Tom Lake

8/22 Newcomb, HRM 302: Something has bothered me this summer: I have not heard any veery singing. Early on in the season I heard one, but nothing since, certainly none of the usual flutey spiral songs. These thrush seem to be conspicuous in their absence. Meanwhile, fall has started and leaves are falling all over the place. Some red maples have already had scarlet leaves, but most of the airborne leaves are yellow. Cool mornings-Toby Rathbone and I saw our breath again this morning at 6:45-cool evenings in the 50s, and some nights in the 40s have made for a pleasant change from the rest of the summer. I've had a total of six monarch caterpillars on my assorted asclepias plants (butterflyweeds) this summer.
- Ellen Rathbone

8/22 Fishkill, HRM 62: We were watching chickadees at our feeder and the birdbath when a praying mantis flew up and landed by us. It stayed for a while and then flew off.
- Mike Boyajian, Jeri Wagner

8/22 Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: River water temperature this morning at 5:30 was 81°F. The high point for the season was 84°F in early to mid-August.
- John Mylod

8/23 Newcomb, HRM 302: Almost everyone was bundled up like it is winter-the night are quite chilly and warmth is often slow to come in the morning.
- Ellen Rathbone

8/23 Hannacrois, HRM 132.5: I have been noticing quite a few blue jays lately, but this morning, several put in an unusual auditory display. There were at least 5-6 in a group of maple trees. They were sounding their alarm call repeatedly, making a trilling noise that is similar to the sound that a crow makes when begging, and singing their two-note call as well. All the birds were making theses calls in the persistent manner of a catbird. Listening closely, I noted that some of the birds were less practiced at making the calls than others. I wondered if I was privy to a voice lesson for fledglings.
- Liz LoGuidice

8/23 Hathaway's Glen Brook, HRM 63: This small Orange County stream spills down the fall line into a short run to the river. Even with spring tides, the tidal reach is only a couple hundred feet. However, spring spawners like river herring can go upstream twice that far before running into rapids, rocks and a steep rise in the land. The brook temperature was 66°F. Out on the river, the bottom of a small bay formed by the outwash was a living carpet of small blue crabs. There the water was 82°F. A couple of short hauls of a seine produced many young-of-the-year American shad (75 mm) and striped bass (60 mm) as well as silversides, white perch, killifish and tessellated darters. At low ebb, between the brook and the river, scores of yoy banded killifish were trapped in shady tidepools waiting for the next flood. A pair of monarchs fluttered past in the lee of the shore, trying to avoid a stiff southerly breeze.
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

Tidal tributaries with a short run to the gradient of the fall line generally contain higher levels of dissolved oxygen and usually provide a cool haven for aquatic life in the warm water months. It is not uncommon to find these tributaries 10°-15°F cooler during the warmest days of summer.

8/23 Verplanck, HRM 40.5: There was cloud cover and low humidity this afternoon at Steamboat Dock, making it quite pleasant. Besides the usual Canada geese, ring-billed gulls and ducks, we spotted 2 double-crested cormorants sunning themselves (drying out) and preening on the large channel marker. A third one was fishing out in front of the dock. It is amazing how long they stay underwater before resurfacing quite a distance away.
- Dorothy Ferguson, Bob Ferguson

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