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Hudson River Almanac August 12th to August 21st

OVERVIEW

Our manatee alert may be officially over. One was sighted this week in Rhode Island. While it is not impossible, two manatees in the North Atlantic would be a major surprise. The estuary continues to be warm, with an extended period of water temperatures over 80°F in many areas. The late summer songbird migration is underway. With trees still fully leaved out, this move often goes largely unnoticed.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

8/12 - Hannacrois Creek, HRM 132.5: We were on an evening kayak paddle up the creek as far as the water level and rocks would allow. We found blue crab moults on the bottom of a large pool a half-mile up the creek. There were 5 of them, about 4" across the carapace. I've found sheds like these near Coxsackie in the past, but this is the first I've seen near Coeymans (just 10 miles south of the Albany city line). We also found cardinal flower in bloom along the creek. We stopped at the Hannacrois Creek Preserve back on the main river for wine, cheese, and eagle watching (spotted one adult).
- Alan Mapes

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

8/13 - Cornwallvile, Greene County, HRM 125: I woke up to a refreshing 46°F and was pleased to be able to point out a pair of croaking ravens to my sister-in-law. She had never seen one, and has a brother named Raven. Later on, we saw something different: a raven harassing an osprey circling overhead.
- Larry Biegel

8/14 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: the river has dropped from 83° to 81°F.
- John Mylod

8/14 - Beacon, HRM 61: I caught one carp today at Long Dock that weighed about 7 lb. A couple of channel catfish, an eel, and another golden shiner managed to successfully fight off the blue crabs to get at my bait. There are enough crabs around now to apparently sustain modest recreational operations. There were 2 men in a rowboat with a small outboard planting 6-8 crab traps in a large circle outside the water chestnut line and into the channel. They constantly motored around the circle for 3 hours pulling, emptying and re-dropping the traps.
- Bill Greene

8/14 - Croton Point, HRM 34: The shorebird migration is picking up. Today's arrivals: a yellowlegs, a dozen killdeer, and a flock or two of "peeps," too far away to identify.
- Christopher Letts

["Peeps" is a colloquial name given to the smallest sandpipers; several species look much alike and often require close study to confirm identification. Tom Lake, Steve Stanne.]

8/15 - Poughkeepsie HRM 76: Gathering for the third in a series of August testings done by groups of teachers training for Hudson River Estuary Program's annual Day in the Life of the Estuary, we debated whether seining would be profitable in our location just below the mouth of the Fall Kill, a tributary that enters the Hudson at Waryas Park. Yet with each haul a new species was added to the catch, starting with a healthy crop of spottail shiners, some bluegills, and pumpkinseeds. Our second haul added beautifully marked smallmouth bass and golden shiner, and the final pull added tessellated darter, white sucker, and a young shad. The surprise of the day was that the salinity of the Fall Kill was more elevated than the Hudson, probably a result of the late night and morning rains washing old road salt from the riparian area into the water. On this tranquil, peaceful day the only evidence of the working river was a single tug moving an empty cement barge up the river for a refill.
- Steve Stanne, Margie Turrin

8/15 - Town of LaGrange, HRM 75: The first hatchlings of the season popped up today. Thirteen squirming little Blanding's turtles, all ready to start their 70+ year life. Last night's rain softened the hard-baked ground, freeing them from their underground chamber. As I released them, they scampered into the shallow water or dug in under an overhanging fern. I wished them luck; they will need it to survive to adulthood.
- Jude Holdsworth

8/15 - LaGrangeville, HRM 74: My pond is going dry and an osprey has been around the last two days taking advantage of the easy pickings. The koi (a type of carp) were small when I stocked them in early May. It's amazing how fast they grow. But they must be like neon signs to the osprey.
- Bob Geis

8/15 - Fishkill, HRM 61: I saw an interesting moth resting on a window screen this morning. It was a widow underwing moth. They have very mottled coloration that usually camouflages them on the trunks of trees. This moth favors walnut trees that are plentiful in our yard.
- Merrill Spaeth

8/16 - Fishkill, HRM 61: While looking out my kitchen window this morning I noticed some movement high up in a black walnut tree. With the aid of binoculars I was able to identify a pair of Philadelphia vireos foraging for insects in the leafy canopy.
- Ed Spaeth

8/17 - Croton Point, HRM 35-34: This is not the most exciting time of year here, and yet, if you pay attention, there are rewards. Small flocks of mixed peep sandpipers, along with yellowlegs and killdeer, are to be seen in the parking lot margins and along the beaches. A vaguely familiar call drew my attention to a bird similar in size and shape to a mourning dove, but with a faster wing beat. A green parakeet is my best guess. A bird without much hope except to find the window from which it flew, before another month is out. Out on the southwest point, local fishermen are taking blues to 14 lb., lots of short bass, and crabs when they want them.
- Christopher Letts

8/18 - Lake Hill, HRM 100: A very healthy looking glossy black bear walked at a good pace through my backyard. I knew a bear had been around due to reports from the neighbors as well a previously deposited pile of bear scat. We've also had a doe and her spotted fawn, as well as a flock of 3 adult hen wild turkeys with about 17 young between them.
- Reba Wynn Laks

8/18 Tivoli North Bay, HRM 100.5: While heading to Magdalen Island, we spotted an immature bald eagle flying low, circling the south end of the island. Perhaps it was one of the fledglings from a Hudson River nest site. Shortly thereafter we were treated to a clear view of an adult bald eagle (we thought it one of the parents, considering the proximity) as it sat in one of the bare trees on the southern tip of the island. The adult eagle gave us plenty of time to get out our binoculars and marvel at how huge it looked when compared to a crow in a nearby branch. Later, as we headed back toward the bay, one of the boats in our party saw a pair of osprey circling above the marsh. We've seen a pair of osprey near Tivoli North Bay almost every time we've been there this summer, sometimes circling high, sometimes being pestered by smaller birds, sometimes actively fishing - a real treat!
- Laurie Fila, Maria D'Alessandro

8/18 - Hathaway's Glen Brook, HRM 63: We caught quite a few young-of-the-year [yoy] striped bass in our seine. They averaged 50-52 mm in length. Eighteen days ago on this beach, the small stripers averaged 40 mm. While these were not the same fish, the increase in size is fairly typical in the summer nursery that is the Hudson estuary. The warm shallows (82°F) held no yoy river herring or shad. The Hathaway's Glen Brook that enters the river here was a chilling 69°F.
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake

8/18 - Ossining, HRM 33.5: 3 pm. While taking a break from kayaking on Crawbuckie Beach in Ossining, I observed two mature bald eagles circling just above the tree tops. They were fighting each other in mid-air. Seems like they were challenging each other over territory. This went on for about 20 minutes. One flew out of sight to the north, the other to the south.
- Greg Fratianni

8/20 - Newcomb, HRM 302: Our leaves are turning. The cherry tree in my yard has been yellowing and exfoliating since June, but as I was driving up to the farmer's market in Elizabethtown today, I noticed quite a few individuals that already have some pretty stunning colors. I'm beginning to think it might be a brilliant autumn!
- Ellen Rathbone

8/20 - Nutten Hook, HRM 124: We were seining for yoy blueback herring at Nutten Hook. Our disappointment in getting few bluebacks was balanced by an immature bald eagle overhead. We did catch a small school of Atlantic menhaden and a single bay anchovy. Along with the shed blue crab exoskeleton, it looked more like we were seining 100 miles down river in the Tappan Zee, instead of miles upriver in freshwater. These fish do appear upriver from time to time almost every year, but it's still fun to see them.
- Bob Schmidt, Kathy Schmidt, Alec Schmidt

8/20 - Croton Bay, HRM 34: Persistent stories have surfaced this season concerning a mystery catfish: "Green!" "A flathead cat." "A hacklehead!" (the last a colloquial name for sea robins). A number of specimens have been caught and eaten, but when shown pictures of channel catfish, the response has been "That's it." This is the first year I have been aware of multiple catches of channel cats. Having been established upriver for almost a decade, are they moving down river?
- Christopher Letts

8/20 - Rhode Island: The Mystic Marinelife Aquarium received a phone call this evening from the Department of Environmental Management in Rhode Island. A manatee had been sighted in Greenwich Bay off the coast of Warwick, Rhode Island, a new coastal record for the species. The manatee was seen near a dock drinking from a freshwater hose. It was initially reported as a whale. We are not sure if this is the same manatee that was first seen in the Hudson on July 29.

To report a sighting of a healthy, sick, alive or dead marine mammal or sea turtle, contact us at our emergency our 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (631) 369-9829. For more information: http://www.riverheadfoundation.org/
- Kimberly Durham, Director/ Biologist Rescue Program

8/21 - Gardiner, HRM 75: On my way to work this morning I spotted about 200 blackbirds swarming around and flying over fields by the Shawangunk Kill, getting ready for their migration.
- Rebecca Johnson

8/21 - Hathaway's Glen Brook, HRM 63: The river had not cooled off since we were here three days ago. In the chest-deep shallows it was still 82°F. A little more than 100 feet away, Hathaway's Glen brook was filling its tide pools with 69°F water. The cool pools, shaded by ashleaf maples, teemed with killifish. Once again the warm shallows contained no yoy shad or river herring. There were, however, abundant yoy striped bass, perhaps more tolerant of the warm water, and one 3" female blue crab, a "Sally" crab.
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake

[Atlantic blue crabs have several colloquial names known mainly to rivermen and crabbers: Adult males are called "Jimmies," mature females are called "Sooks," and immature females are known as "Sallys." Tom Lake.]

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