Hudson River Almanac June 5 - June 12, 2006
There have been a dozen reports of fawns in the valley this week. Most are similar, with the doe doing what's necessary for the survival of her young. As is frequently the case with harbor seals, black bear cubs, and coyote pups, we see fawns seemingly unattended and believe them to be in peril. Usually, Mama has things pretty much under control. If we intervene, though well-meaning, we can upset things and then the young are truly in trouble. It is far better to leave them as you find them.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK
6/8 - Ulster Park, HRM 87: We woke up to see a female (doe) deer in our yard with a wobbly-legged fawn. The fawn wandered over to a large willow, then lay down at the base amidst the ferns. Our yard had been entrusted with the fawn's safe-keeping. The fawn stayed there all day as mom went off elsewhere. She came back for the fawn shortly before dark, then off they went.
- Peter Relson, Carol Anderson
NATURAL HISTORY NOTES
6/5 - Newcomb, HRM 302: Purple vetch came into bloom over night.
- Ellen Rathbone
6/5 - Tivoli, HRM 100: Early morning is a great time to canoe through Tivoli North Bay. We saw and heard many species of birds, including barn and tree swallows, marsh wrens, Baltimore orioles, yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, goldfinches, great crested and alder flycatchers, song and swamp sparrows, wood ducks, bluebirds, pileated woodpecker, great blue heron, kingbird, catbird, veery, tufted titmouse, an osprey circling over head, and (of course) many of the ubiquitous red-winged blackbirds. Besides this wonderful wealth of birds, we saw a snapping turtle and watched beavers swimming out near the railroad embankment before they tail-slapped the water and swam under to avoid us. The beaver lodge in the phragmites stand on the way to the big pool had grown noticeably larger than it was last year and there was a new lodge on the edge of another phragmites stand. As we paddled along a channel adjacent to the forest, noting many new beaver-chewed stumps, we wondered why they would elect to build out in the marsh, so far from their upland food source. As a final treat, Steve Stanne managed to catch a northern water snake that was sunning itself on the floating canoe dock. After we'd all gotten a good look at the snake he released it and we watched as it swam under the dock.
- Laurie Fila, Jean Valla McAvoy, Kristen Fix, Dan Zinder, Maria D'Alessandro, Mandy Stein, Jason Novak, and Erony Whyte
6/5 - Sandy Hook, NJ: We were out with a dozen 6 year-olds today to pull a seine through the shallow bay waters behind the Hook at dead high tide. We came up with two new catches. One was our first adult northern puffer; we usually get only a few juveniles and those are late in the summer. The fish gave a good account of itself with three demonstrations of its "puffed-up" prowess. The other new find was a single "glass" eel, about 2" long, almost transparent, a year away from its birthplace somewhere near Bermuda but still a few miles from a freshwater stream. Also in the net were silversides, bluefish, sticklebacks, shrimp, and a one-inch windowpane flounder. For the kids, the best part was when the guys hauling the deep end tripped and fell in the water. They loved it! Overhead were 3 ospreys and down the beach was an oystercatcher.
- Dery Bennett
6/6 - Kingston, HRM 92: We had the "pleasure" of taking two boatloads of second graders to the Rondout lighthouse on a rotten rainy day. We were the only ones to see a nice adult bald eagle perched at the site of the old Rondout light. The carp were jumping in the shallows and the kids liked that!
- Fran Drakert, Bill Drakert
6/6 - Town of Esopus, HRM 82: My first kayak trip this season on Chodikee Lake and Black Creek yielded interesting sights and old friends. I set out from the NYSDEC launch at Chodikee Lake for a dusk paddle. At the north end of the lake, I was pleased to see again this year several active great blue heron nests. One very crowded nest included two adults and three juveniles. The adults groomed themselves and each other while the juveniles stood peering over the side of the nest. Paddling downstream, north out of the lake and into the Black Creek outlet, I came upon many red-winged blackbirds sitting in low grasses just above the water and tree swallows acrobatically flying. On several occasions beaver swimming across the creek would dive and slap their tails with the sound of large boulders being dropped in the water. At least 4 beaver lodges lined the side of the stream. Recent rains had raised the water level of the creek, providing easy flow over downed logs and permitting me to reach the waterfall that thundered full of creek water. Paddling back, the beavers remained busy, swimming across the creek and slapping their tails on my approach.
- Jeff Anzevino
6/7 - Saugerties, HRM 102: It was good to see one of our bluebird boxes again being used by tufted titmice. We watched over the past several weeks as the male prepped the nest and his mate seemed to like it. She laid 3 eggs (last year was five), they hatched and were progressing nicely for the first 3-4 days. Then, 5 days ago, gone. Without a trace. I'm suspecting a black snake since I've found them in boxes in mid-summer, but never in the spring. Also, they're not the best climbers. Well, the good news is the male is sprucing up the nest again and Mama is checking it out. I suspect we'll have another clutch in the near future.
- Dan Marazita
6/7 - Hyde Park, HRM 82: Our neighborhood Cooper's hawk returned tonight just after supper. The oversized backyard bird clung to the top rung of the wooden swing set in the yard, with her gaze fixed upon the grass. After a successful stoop on some secret prey, she hopped atop a boulder, behind the brush, to eat in privacy, only to return a few minutes later. Another survey from the swing set, followed by a swoop to the lawn and there it was: like a spaghetti dinner dripping from her bill, she was feasting on earthworms from the sodden lawn.
- Beverly Whalen
6/8 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67.5: A swirling nor'easter ended after 24 hours and 1.65" of rain. The two eaglets were on the rim of the nest looking towards the river. Out there somewhere, possibly in sight of the nestlings, Mama and Papa were catching breakfast.
- Tom Lake
6/8 - West Point, HRM 52: It must have something to do with the fine living for wildlife in the Hudson Highlands. The Pendragon pair of red-tailed hawks at West Point, Uther Pendragon and his mate Igraine, have produced triplets for the third year in a row. I was able to finally confirm it when this year's chicks got too big for them all to fit comfortably in the nest. I was only able to see the full bodies of 2 chicks; one is definitely male, the other female. I will have to wait and see how the third chick compares with its two siblings. Arthurian names are being considered but likely won't be chosen until all 3 chicks fledge from the nest. The proud parents, meanwhile, were enjoying a nice break together atop the Catholic Chapel's spire. Foraging to feed the chicks appears to be fairly easy this spring, with lots of gray squirrels, snakes, cottontail rabbits, chipmunks and pigeons out and about. Having watched these red-tails now for six years, I'm seeing how little humans understand of the social interactions within a species.
- James Beemer, West Point Natural Resources Manager
6/8 Verplanck, HRM 40.5: On my morning commute past Lake Mehaugh, I counted at least 30 upended mute swans feeding in the shallows.
- Pat Korn
6/9 - Middle Ground Flats, HRM 119: I was paddling with Rich Bennek toward Middle Ground Flats today when we saw a bald eagle sitting on a branch at the north end of the island. As we paddled south, the eagle dropped out of the tree and flew off. A moment later a dark-headed immature eagle dropped out of a nearby tree. Then another adult dropped out of yet another tree. The immature eagle headed across the river by itself. After a minute we saw the two adults flying in tandem and headed north.
- Wes Ostertag
[It is an easy guess that the immature was a late spring fledge from a nearby nest. Shadowing by the adults for the first few weeks, or even longer, is common. Tom Lake.]
6/9 - Eagle Nest NY62, Dutchess County: Day 68. It was just after dawn, and eaglets were not in sight. With a nest that is 12' wide and 4' deep, that is not difficult for 2 nestlings to accomplish. But this time the nest had an empty look. They were not there. Mama was in the pine, 200 feet west, facing the nest, chortling. The eaglets might be close by but with trees fully leafed out, they would be hard to see unless you got lucky. They had been in the nest at dusk last evening, and Papa spent the night in a pine 400 feet south of the nest. That behavior suggested the eaglets were still in the nest overnight. But now they are fledged; I missed it again this year.
- Tom Lake
Bald eagles fledge, on average, 72-90 days after hatching. This was the fifth year that nest NY62 has fledged young, for a total of 7. The dates have been getting progressively earlier each year:
2004==73-74 (2 fledglings)
2006==68-68 (2 fledglings)
6/10 - Eagle Nest NY62, Dutchess County: Day 69. More rain overnight for a two-day total of 2.1". Papa was in a dead tamarack 300' south of the nest; Mama was again in the pine 200' west of the nest. A north wind was blowing steadily at 25 mph. The pines, the tamaracks, and the nest tree were all was swaying. The eaglets could have been close by, but it they were vocalizing, their words were lost in wind.
- Tom Lake
6/11 - Town of Saugerties, HRM 102: Papa titmouse had been sprucing-up the bluebird house nest again, and Mama had been checking it out, so we figured another clutch would be coming. Then, this evening, I checked the box and found 2 flying squirrels huddled in each other's embrace, just as cute as can be! It was nice to see that they're still around. This is the first time I've seen them in one of our bluebird boxes in about 20 months.
- Dan Marazita
6/11 - Eagle Nest NY62, Dutchess County: It was still breezy and cool at dawn. No one was home in the nest. When they get hungry, fledglings will, on occasion come back to the nest a few days after leaving. They seem to remember where it was they had their last good meal. And the adults will bring fish to them. For a while. I spent considerable time this morning along the river looking for the fledglings. I spotted Papa flying down the river from Bowdoin Park, carrying a fish. It was nearing low tide, and it would be easy fishing in the shallow tidal pond behind the railroad tracks. I followed him as best as I could, hoping to see where he was heading, but he wasn't giving up any secrets and I lost him in the green of the hillside.
- Tom Lake
6/12 - Newcomb, HRM 302: Ten of the last 12 days, rain. At my house, Mama bluebird was sticking her head out of the nest box. Probably wondering where the sun had gone. I think I have a confirmed bluebird nesting on the golf course. The squirrels are on their second litter; the box is all filled again with nesting material and a little foot poked out when I was checking it a couple days ago.
- Ellen Rathbone
6/12 - Eagle Nest NY62, Dutchess County: The nest was empty. Mama and Papa were out on the river and the 2 immatures were doing a good job hiding from me. The sky was once again the domain of the local red-tails.
- Tom Lake
The Department of Environmental Conservation has announced adoption of amendments to its marine crustacean regulations,including one of importance to Almanac readers who catch blue crabs. After June 1, 2006, no person shall possess or land any blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) with a carapace width [point to point] less than four and one half inches in length for hard shell blue crabs, three and one half inches in length for soft shell blue crabs, and three inches in length for peeler or shedder blue crabs.
A hard shell crab is a crab whose shell is fully formed and hard. A soft shell crab is one that has just moulted; its new shell, though fully formed, has not yet hardened. This process can take a day or two depending on water temperature. A peeler or shedder crab is one that has a fully formed soft shell beneath the hard outer shell and will soon be moulting.
Complete details on Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Proposed, Emergency and Recently Adopted Regulations.