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Hudson River Almanac July 30 - August 6, 2006

OVERVIEW

It was a week of record-setting heat coupled with high humidity that made outdoor observations problematic. The Hudson warmed to the low 80s, about as warm as it ever gets. Our Florida manatee had acquired a nickname, at least in the Tappan Zee, but its travels were still a mystery. By week's end, the humidity had eased, making 88°F and a clear blue sky seem like autumn.

HIGHLIGHT OF A PAST WEEK

7/28 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 68.5: Just before the start of the Peter Frampton concert on the river at Bowdoin Park, a beautiful adult bald eagle with its distinctive white head soared above the crowd. The eagle may have stolen some of Frampton's thunder.
- Mike Boyajian, Jeri Wagner, Bill Randazzo, Hanna Randazzo

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

7/30 - Town of Gallatin, HRM 103.5: I paddled my kayak across Lake Taghkanic at sunset and saw a strange sight: a pair of ears in the middle of the lake! They belonged to a very young fawn, swimming strongly, headed for the west beach, but then changing its course toward the cabins at the south end. Arriving, it jumped up the bank and ran off. It still had its spots and Mama.
- Jude Holdsworth

7/31 - New Paltz, HRM 78:. I picked 20 lb. of chanterelle mushrooms near New Paltz. The heat, however, is putting an end to the season. Last year the summer drought caused a scarcity.
- Alice Barner

8/1 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 68: The air temperature reached 97°F today, breaking the old record for the date of 96°F.
- National Weather Service

8/1 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67.5: Shades of autumn: not long after first light, a huge contingent of mixed and noisy blackbirds came through along the river, heading north, cottonwood to locust to ailanthus to cottonwood. Most of them were common grackles. The direction they were heading was less important than the fact they were flocking up for their late summer migration.
- Tom Lake

8/1 - Hathaway's Glen Brook, HRM 63: There is a very nice low-tide beach here. To get to it, you have to wade knee-deep across the mouth of Hathaway's Glen Brook. Today the tide pools were crammed with banded killifish, darters, spottail shiners, and several other species finding refuge in the 73°F water. Not much more than 100 feet away, the river was 83°F. By comparison, the creek felt like ice water. (The air temperature was 96°F.) There was no measurable salinity. In our seine we caught many young-of-the-year [yoy] spottail shiners and a few yoy striped bass (40 mm) with one possible yearling at 110 mm. Conspicuous by their absence, but not surprising given the very warm water, were yoy river herring. On the way out, we counted a dozen butterflies of five species on the edges of the tide pools, including tiger swallowtails, black swallowtails, monarchs, mourning cloaks and a red admiral.
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake

8/1 - Town of Montgomery, HRM 59: A record air temperature for the date of 99°F was recorded today, breaking the old record of 96°F.
- National Weather Service

8/1 - Newark, NJ: A record air temperature for the date of 100°F was recorded today.
- National Weather Service

8/1 - New York City: Record air temperatures for the date of 100°F were recorded at Staten Island and LaGuardia Airport.
- National Weather Service

8/2 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: While repairing crab pots this morning, I noticed that there was a constant chatter of locusts coming from the trees around me - so constant that, quite remarkably, for a twelve minute period there was never a moment when there wasn't at least one locust "singing out." Perhaps triggered by the 90°F temperature at 9:00 AM, the din of locusts was a little heat music on a summer morning.
- John Mylod, Big Jimmy Johnny's Crab Company, a Division of M/T Net Ltd.

8/2 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 68: The air temperature reached 98°F today, breaking the old record for the date of 95°F.
- National Weather Service

8/2 - Town of Montgomery, HRM 59: A record-tying temperature for the date of 95°F was recorded today.
- National Weather Service

8/2 - Little Stony Point, Putnam County, HRM 55: It was 82°F at sunrise - not a promising start to a hot summer's day. By the time I put on my snorkel mask and entered the river a couple of hours later, the air was 89°F. The river did little to cool, as it was a warm 82°F. I was introduced to snorkeling 12 years ago in Lake Erie by C. Lavett Smith. There, in the crystal water, made clear in part due to the effects of zebra mussels, we had views of giant walleye and northern pike that took our breath away. However, the Hudson on a windy day is not Lake Erie. A strong westerly breeze blew over Storm King, making the bay turbid and creating low visibility. Small schools of colorful, male banded killifish darted among the bones of an old barge. There are remnant stands of three-square sedge, arrow arum, and cattails that usually hold young blue crabs, darters, and killifish on half tide. But in the warm water they were empty. The day was similar to one in 2001, August 9, when we held a teacher's workshop on this beach in 103°F heat with a river that had warmed to 84°F.
- Tom Lake

8/2 - Ossining, HRM 33: In the 100°F heat, a movement at the end of the yard caught my eye. Hard to see in the dappled shade of the apple tree, a large doe was kicking at her twin fawns as they nursed. Still spotted, they were quite big and quite insistent, butting their heads against her teats. One, standing at the doe's side, had to twist its head down under the doe; the other was kneeling under the doe's tail. Mom, obviously thinking they were big enough to wean, stood still for a couple of minutes and then leaped away. I put out a wheelbarrow of water for them.
- Hale Sims

8/2 - Newark, NJ: Again today, a record air temperature for the date of 100°F was recorded.
- National Weather Service

8/2 - Queens, New York City: Another record air temperatures for the date of 100°F was recorded at LaGuardia Airport.
- National Weather Service

8/2 Sandy Hook, NJ: Twenty-six children and eight adults showed up for our Wednesday evening seining trip to Horseshoe Cove on Sandy Hook's bay side. The tide was ebbing, the air temperature was 92°F and the water was 77°F. As is usual, we caught hundreds of silversides, tens of killifish, blue crabs, pipefish, juvenile mullet, winter flounder, bluefish, and two species to which we paid special attention: juvenile blackfish, or tautog, and northern kingfish. All three blackfish were a beautiful shade of green, matching almost perfectly the color of the sea lettuce algae that drifts in the bay this time of year. The kingfish, which to me look like miniature "sharks,"are known for their ability to change color according to their habitat, and matched the sandy, silty bottom with diagonal bands of black and gray. Nature provides a way to protect its vulnerable small fry from predators. Kingfish are grouped in with drums, croakers, spot and weakfish. All, except for the kingfish, have swim bladders they use to produce sounds. The kingfish is "bladderless," and that suits its preferred feeding station on the bottom.
- Dery Bennett

8/3 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 68: The air temperature reached 96°F today, breaking the old record for the date of 95°F.
- National Weather Service

8/3 - Ossining, HRM 33: We were on our way to the early morning commuter train, about to merge onto Route 9A, when an imperious mother Canada goose started across the road. Despite my warning honk as I stopped, she marched regally on, dutifully followed by 9 half-grown goslings about half her size. Equally spaced, they looked straight ahead, unperturbed by the cars lining up behind us.
- Hale Sims

8/4 - Delmar, HRM 143: Nancy Payne came in to get us to see a gray phase screech owl. It was in a spruce tree on a branch right up against the trunk. It was absolutely invisible except for the outline of the head with those distinctive ear tufts. The only reason it was spotted was the unmerciful mobbing by chickadees and a blue jay. It was very close to our Five Rivers Environmental Education center building and even closer to the bird feeders.
- Dee Strnisa

8/4 - Delmar, HRM 143: I led a Frog Watch walk this evening. We only heard a few green frogs and one gray treefrog. We saw bullfrogs, but they were silent. We spotted a mass of frog eggs, probably green frogs. I guess that even the bullfrogs have finished their breeding for this year. It was a strange year for frogs. Too warm too early, then very cold, then back to hot. It was also dry and then really wet. Even the breeding cycles seemed out of synch.
- Dee Strnisa

8/4 - Magdalen Island, HRM 100: After 12 hours of sporadic thunderstorms (0.95" of rain), the humidity left. Eight days of 90°+, even 100°F, heat had ended. A strong north breeze was pushing with the ebb tide in mid-afternoon and still the river was capping over. The air was warm (88°F) but at least was dry and moving. An immature bald eagle was perched on a bare limb across the river on Magdalen Island, facing the breeze, finding relief.
- Tom Lake

8/4 - Hudson Valley: A heat wave that began on July 27 and lasted for 8 days finally eased. While the Northeast seared in the sun, we were not alone. Nationally, during this span, more than 2,300 individual daily high records were set.
- National Weather Service

8/5 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75.5: It was afternoon when I was heading home from the city of Poughkeepsie to the town, taking Main Street to Route 9, when, unbelievably, I spotted an immature bald eagle atop one of the street lamp posts!
- Stephanie Koslow

8/5 - Croton River, HRM 34: Two Caspian terns fished near the railroad bridge where the Croton meets the Hudson, and a red-throated loon fished just upstream near the Route 9 bridge. They were doing better than the Boyz at the Bridge, who cast without results from the boat launch. The talk was of several sightings of "Tappie" the manatee. All were near the Croton Yacht Club, a mile and a half upriver. Estimates of the size ran 6-10', color unnoted. Maybe it was attracted to the dense beds of wild celery on the inshore flats between Ossining and George's Island. Gino Garner was having a rough day: half the night was spent drifting a net for bunker (menhaden). He caught no bunker and saw no manatees.
- Christopher Letts

[There have been other unconfirmed reports by boaters and shore walkers of the manatee being at least as far upriver as Kingsland Point Park, Sleepy Hollow, river mile 28.]

8/6 - Cruger Island, HRM 100: An immature bald eagle looked up from its perch on Cruger Island as a biplane flew over the river, banked toward Tivoli Bays, and returned south. The eagle watched, expressionless as always, as the crop duster-type plane, maybe from the Rhinebeck Aerodrome, circled overhead. Was it wondering why kind of new bird this was?
- Tom Lake

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