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Hudson River Almanac June 7 - 14, 2004

OVERVIEW

The frenzy of the spring spawning season in the estuary is slowly slipping into the quiet languor of early summer, except for the thrashing of big carp spawning in weedy shallows. Our tidewater eaglets are perched on nest rims, ready for their first flights; some may already be airborne. Water chestnut has greened up the tidal tributaries and nearshore shallows. Skies over the river have that hazy look of summer.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

5/30 - Manhattan, HRM 5.5 (a late report from last week): Sailing out of the 79th Street Boat Basin on the west side of Manhattan, the crew of the Hudson River sloop Clearwater caught a 48" Atlantic sturgeon in its trawl net. The fifty passengers responded with amazement, both at the sight of such a fascinating creature, and at the rapturous glee of the educator, captain and crew. It was marveled at, and then quickly released.
- Daniel Kricheff

[The Hudson's Atlantic sturgeon spawn from May to early July. While carp go about their business in shallows where they are easily observed, sturgeon spawn in deeper water. This four footer was probably a male; females returning to spawn are usually larger, and can easily be twice the size of this one.]

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

6/7 - Ulster County, HRM 101: Walking to Cooper Lake on Route 212, I spotted a red eft (the juvenile form of the red-spotted newt) about to cross the road. Surprised to see it out on such a warm, sunny day, I helped it cross. At Cooper Lake I saw a large mixed flock of about 15 mallards, 55 geese. All were Canadas except for a lone snow goose. Yellow hawkweed was blooming.
- Reba W. Laks

6/9 - Coeymans Landing, HRM 133.5: At midday it was already 94°F. The heat was juxtaposed with a breeze that showered park goers in a blizzard of white: cottonwood seeds, appearing like a June snowstorm.
- Tom Lake

The National Weather Service reported that in the Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 72, an air temperature of 95°F tied the record for the date, set in 1974. In Newark, NJ, an air temperature of 97°F was a record high for the date.

6/10 - Green Island, HRM 153: The air temperature had dropped from 93° sixteen hours ago to 63°F at dawn today. The tide was halfway up and the water temperature was 70°F. A month ago the shoreline was alive at first light with fishermen casting for American shad and striped bass. Today there were only two anglers fishing cut bait in the current and casting leadhead jigs. All of the spawning shad and most of the striped bass had left. They were content with a slow pick of 5-8 pound striped bass and the ubiquitous 12-16" smallmouth bass.
- Tom Lake

6/10 - Boreas River, HRM 284: As I walked to the bank of the Boreas I was immediately besieged by blackflies. I saw an oriole and I could hear ravens in the distance, but I was most struck by the seemingly endless parade of tiger swallowtail butterflies.
- Tom Lake

6/10 - Thompson Island Pool, HRM 191.5-192.5: Two months ago this pool held hundreds of snow geese. This quiet stretch of Hudson River serves as a convenient stopover on their spring migration. The geese were now a thousand miles to the north on their breeding grounds. The pool held no waterfowl, not even local ducks. Scores of bright goldfinches flitted along the edges. I watched a leafy branch drifting in the current until it made a turn and then I realized it was being carried by a beaver.
- Tom Lake

6/11 - Minerva, HRM 284: This seemed to be the peak time for Minerva snapping turtles to haul themselves out of their aquatic homes. With apparent disinterest in the dangers posed by speeding vehicles, I watched two females as they dug sandy nests along the highway in town, a mere two feet from the pavement. These normally fierce critters were intent on laying their white, leathery eggs, despite my presence.
- Mike Corey

6/12 - Newcomb, HRM 302: An intern at the Adirondack Park Visitors Interpretive Center saw a moose today. Sightings have become common enough in this area of Essex County that Moose Crossing signs are now seen on Route 28N.
- Tom Lake

6/12 - Minerva, HRM 284: I had the pleasure of listening to two marsh birds in the fine wetland behind my house this evening: an American bittern, with its bizarre plumbing sounds, and a pied-billed grebe. Both birds were present during the late spring and summer in the marsh last year, and it's comforting to know that they find the area pleasant enough to return.
- Mike Corey

6/12 - Cornwallville, HRM 125: It was near dusk when I noticed some good-sized birds investigating the wood duck box at my log cabin camp. I listened to their calls; it was a pair of great-crested flycatchers. It would be a first if they nested. I have four such boxes still hanging and - besides the usual squirrels - have documented nesting by wood duck and kestrel. I found red-phase screech owl feathers there one year but could not confirm its nesting.
- Larry Biegel

6/12 - Saugerties, HRM 102: I was surprised to see an immature bald eagle today flying south down the river from Saugerties Lighthouse cove. As it approached the peninsula it was persistently attacked by a small dark bird that I could not identify. The eagle was bothered enough that it circled several times right over our heads trying to avoid the attack at treetop height. The attacker was relentless until the eagle resumed flying south.
- Dan Marazita

6/12 - Eagle Nest, Dutchess County: Day 69. Bald eagles fledge, that is take their first flight from the nest, on average between day 72 and 90. At midday, both eaglets were alert but did not seem to be contemplating flight. Papa was in the nest having just delivered lunch. He soon left and for the next half hour flew around the nest tree in widening circles, calling in clicks and croaks, all the while hotly pursued by a pair of red-tailed hawks. The hawks would dive on the eagle; at the last second he would fold in a wing and the hawks would zoom past. Another stoop and the eagle would do a roll-over to avoid the attack. Eventually the red-tails returned to their nest nearby and the eagle landed in the top of a dead tamarack near its nest.
- Tom Lake

6/13 - Eagle Nest, Dutchess County: Day 70. As has been the case in recent days, my arrival in the blind prompted Papa to begin flying around the nest tree, vocalizing in his clicks, chirps, croaks and squeaks. Immediately the pair of red-tails came hurtling down from their adjacent hillside nest to add their chorus: K-i-r-r-r-r-r-r-r. With all the racket, two big brown curious heads popped up out of the nest. Both eaglets were still there. High overhead, an immature bald eagle hung motionless facing the southwest breeze.
- Tom Lake

6/14 - Eagle Nest, Dutchess County: Day 71. Both eaglets had made their daily six-foot flight to a horizontal limb over the nest. Out on the very tip of the limb, hanging over open air, was the adventurous male (blue band Y56) with a small white blaze on his chest; down the limb, directly over the nest, was the more cautious female (blue band Y57). Both appear to be full-sized and the male is making overtures of leaving.
- Tom Lake

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