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Hudson River Almanac July 23 - July 31, 2006

OVERVIEW

Record heat, combined with a new marine mammal record, made this week notable. The month ended with 5 consecutive days of 90+ degree Fahrenheit air temperatures in most of the lower Hudson Valley, as well as the first Florida manatee record for the Hudson River estuary.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

7/29 - Manhattan, HRM 8: The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation received two reports today of a manatee in the Hudson River off the west side of Manhattan. The first sighting was off Pier 63 at 23rd Street (river mile 2.6) and the second farther north at West 125rd Street (river mile 8). This manatee had been making its way up the coastline with sightings reported in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. On both occasions it was observed logging at the surface adjacent to the bulkhead and appeared to be heading upriver. The manatee has been described as being about 10' long with barnacles on its dorsal surface. We do not have any photos yet, although the description matches a photo of a manatee taken off Barnegat Inlet on the New Jersey coast, about 75 miles south of mid-Manhattan.
- Kimberly Durham, Director/ Biologist Rescue Program

In Peter Folkens's Guide to the Marine Mammals of the World, he states, "... the Florida manatee (Trichehus manatus latirostris) [a subspecies of the West Indian Manatee] inhabits coasts, estuaries, and the major rivers of Florida year round. During warmer months they may range along the Atlantic Coast as far north as Rhode Island ..." They can grow to 12' in length and weigh 3,000 lb.

Note: We are very eager to hear and learn more about our wayward visitor. Please spread the word to anyone who may be on the river and in a position to spot the manatee. We are looking for photo-documentation and would like to be advised of any sightings. Contact us at our 24-hour Marine Mammal Hotline: (631) 369-9829. For information: Riverhead Foundation Website.
- Kimberly Durham, Director/ Biologist Rescue Program

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

7/23 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: At 1:30 PM today, the river temperature reached 80°F.
- John Mylod

7/24 - Stockport, HRM121.5: Kayaking around the small island at the mouth of Stockport Creek gave me my first cardinal flowers of the summer. Four plants of assorted sizes, as red as my kayak, and the roses in a youngster's cheeks on a hot summer day.
- Fran Martino

7/24 - Stockport, HRM 121: I saved some Joe Pye weed that was growing on a sandbar south of the mouth of Stockport Creek from the parasitic forces of dodder, or witches hair (Cuscutaceae). The bright orange spaghetti-like strands were tangled over the Joe Pye weed, strangling it of water and nutrients. The dodder reminded me of the insides of a spaghetti squash.
- Fran Martino

7/24 - Stony Creek, HRM 100.5: We were doing our annual electrofishing survey in the mouth of Stony Creek, Tivoli North Bay. We collected a single northern hogsucker, the first we have ever seen in this tributary. We also collected 3 male blue crabs, also a first.
- Bob Schmidt, Chuck Nieder, Mallory Eckstut, Valerie Gono

7/24 - Ulster Park, HRM 87: We heard our first katydids tonight. They seem to be earlier every year.
- Bill Drakert, Fran Drakert

7/25 - Saw Kill, HRM 98.5: To make yesterday's blue crab story more complex, we shocked eels in the Saw Kill today, below the waterfall in Tivoli South Bay, and caught 5 blue crabs in the fastest water in the stream. We also saw quite a few in the tidal mouth at low tide, all males. We shocked a soft crab out of the mud. A backpack shocker catches crabs all too well. Too bad it only works in freshwater. It would be very interesting to tag a number of crabs up here and see where they might end up.
- Bob Schmidt

[The small blue crabs we see in the upper reaches of tidewater in summer were hatched far downriver in the New York Harbor estuary late last summer or early this summer. Initial development of blue crab larvae requires high salinities - 26 parts per thousand or more. Tom Lake, Steve Stanne.]

7/25 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 76: Every once in a while, a bald eagle shows up where you least expect to see one. We had just exited Hudson Hall at Dutchess Community College, heading to Lot E along Fallkill Creek, when we heard a red-tailed hawk "ki-r-r-r-r-r-ing" overhead. We looked up to see an immature bald eagle, 150 feet overhead, making evasive maneuvers as it headed west to the river, away from the territorial red-tail.
- Tom Lake, Phyllis Lake

7/26 - Chelsea, HRM 65.2: For a brief few minutes, I spotted 2 two adult and 2 immature bald eagles flying down the west side of the river before they dissolved into the greenery across the Hudson. It brought to mind Christine Kozma's recent, and similar, observation. She had wondered if bald eagles hunted in "packs." In this instance, we had both seen adults with their fledglings, spending their first couple of months learning to be eagles. While paired adults may hunt cooperatively, it would never be mistaken for a wolf pack.
- Tom Lake

7/27 - Newcomb, HRM 302: I have not seen any cardinal flowers so far this summer on this end of the Hudson. I had been contemplating their absence for a couple of weeks now; someone else mentioned it to me this morning. We talked about it for a while and speculated that maybe the heavy rains earlier this summer, the unusually high water, had an adverse effect on the growth cycle of these plants? Summer just isn't quite the same without the brilliant red along the shoreline.
- Ellen Rathbone

7/27 - Denning's Point, HRM 60: Another steamy day (91°F). On a tour of the Point at low tide I counted 8 butterflies, all tiger swallowtails, lighted at the edge of tide pools, getting a drink, cooling down.
- Tom Lake

7/28 - New York Harbor: Our Wildlife Trust Colonial Waterbirds of NY/NJ Harbor cormorant team color-banded ~200 cormorants (fledglings) this field season. Most of the birds were banded on Swinburne Island, off the coast of Staten Island. Nine were banded on Muscoot Reservoir in Westchester County. Our color code, an orange band with black alpha-numerics, is letter-number-number. Our alpha numeric series are: H00-H99, J00-J99, and K00-K99. If you see these or any color-banded cormorants in this area, please e-mail elbin@wildlifetrust.org and let us know where and when you saw them.
- Susan Elbin

7/29 - Ulster County, HRM 100: We were completing our investigation of a 48-acre site less than 2 miles west of the Hudson, along a small meandering stream that had been a popular stopover campsite for Indians as long as 5,000 years ago. On the hottest summer day this site would have provided cool water and a height of ground to capture breezes. A young snapping turtle (5" carapace) ambled along the edge of small beaver pond where the stream was dammed. We were ready to leave when one of us accidently disturbed a nest of black-and-white bald-faced hornets. Unlike some wasps, they give no warning. Suddenly you feel as though someone is sticking you with red hot pokers. We dashed away and, lucky for us, they did not follow. We survived though my left arm swelled to the size of a loaf of bread and my right hand looked like I was wearing an oven mitt for several days.
- Tom Lake, Beth Selig

7/30 - Fishkill, HRM 61: Today was surely a butterfly day in our small garden that includes such flowers as monardia, coneflowers, buddleia, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susans, zinnias and coreopsis. In 40 minutes of observation this afternoon, I identified monarch butterfly, eastern tiger swallowtail, black swallowtail, spring azure, Harris' checkerspot, Peck's skipper, silver spotted skipper, Leonard's skipper and several cabbage whites. My wife, Merrill, saw a Baltimore checkerspot. Other interesting flying insects out and about in the yard were widow skimmer dragonfly and many wild honey bees and bumblebees, all very busy at the coneflowers and monardia. There also was a fall webworm moth, a tiny white moth, resting on a lilac leaf.
- Ed Spaeth

7/30 - Beacon, HRM 59: The evening temperatures had cooled to the upper 70s and a walk along Beacon's Riverside Trail was generally pleasant as the blazing sun set in the west over Newburgh. There were many great mulleins with their yellow flower stalks standing sentinel along the path. Farther along, a few locust tree limbs had been blown down across the path, presumably in Friday's violent thunderstorm. Some birds sighted in the adjacent cove were great blue herons, Canada geese and a black-crowned night heron. Also, several American robins, an eastern phoebe, a few yellow-rumped warblers and a warbling vireo were spotted in the trees lining the path. Cottontail rabbits scampered into the brush at my approach. A white-tailed deer made her way across the railroad tracks to graze the "greener grass" on the other side just minutes before a speeding train rushed by.
- Ed Spaeth

7/31 - New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: Today was the fifth consecutive with air temperatures in the 90s. The chest high river water at New Hamburg measured just shy of 85°F. I cannot recall ever seeing the Hudson as warm.
- Tom Lake

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