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Hudson River Almanac September 3-September 10, 2004

OVERVIEW

The considerable rain from Hurricane Frances shaped many of our entries this week, from lower salinity and the absence of fish (always good to have an excuse explaining why we catch no fish) to the early uprooting of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). When the storm left and the wind switched to the northwest, the autumn migration continued. Note that we backtrack on dates in this issue to pick up a few observations received too late for publication in the last one.

HIGHLIGHT FROM A PREVIOUS THE WEEK

9/1 - Manhattan, HRM 2: Jeremy Frenzel found a 14" tautog, a large blue crab and the remains of a second blue crab when he checked our one of our fish traps this morning at The River Project. He returned to the trap minutes later with a larger bucket to find a 27½" American eel, probably after the crab parts. It's our biggest eel of the year so far.
- Chris Mancini

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

9/3 - Yonkers, HRM 18: I found a plastic bottle with a message in it on our shoreline at the Beczak Environmental Education Center. We are waiting to hear back from the sender on the original release date and exact release location.
- Cynthia Fowx

[The bottle was thrown from Tellers Point, 16 miles upriver in Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, on July 18 at 3:00 PM. Tom Heimer]

9/4 - Schodack Creek HRM 134.5: A Cooper's hawk made a pass at two adult bald eagles sitting in a dead tree along the creek. We were kayaking the creek, trying out the new kayak and canoe launch installed this year at Schodack Island State Park. We saw two adult and two immature eagles along the creek. The Cooper's hawk made a very close pass at the perched adults, then landed on a branch on the far side of the same tree, sitting there for several minutes before flying on. The eagles seemed to pay no attention at all to this smaller raptor.
- Alan Mapes

9/6 - Yonkers, HRM 18: An early flight of 23 broad-winged hawks passed over the Lenoir Preserve during the hawk watch today. A few American kestrels and a number of ospreys were also observed. A surprising number of red-tailed hawks were on the move as well. It was a good day for the 15 visitors to the site. Our youngest hawk watcher was Liam Orth (age 21 months) who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the day out in the field with his dad. The best sighting of the day was a cloudless sulphur butterfly.
- Joe O'Connell, Ellen O'Connell

[To see an updated raptor count from Lenoir Preserve, go to HAWKCOUNT.ORG and scroll down to Lenoir. Joe O'Connell]

9/7 - Albany to Castleton, HRM 145-137: With the effects of Hurricane Frances due to make much of this week quite wet, John Ozard and I took advantage of a beautiful evening and kayaked from Henry Hudson Park downriver to the Berkshire Spur Bridge and back. Two ospreys flew up from the trees on the east side of the river a little below Castleton-on-Hudson, and great blue herons flushed frequently from the shore as we passed. The sunset was beautiful, and our paddle continued well after dark. What struck us most was the absence of boat traffic on this perfect evening. One barge and tug passed early in our trip - that was the only traffic during our two hours on the water. We relished the peaceful river!
- Alan Mapes

9/7 - New Paltz, HRM 78: Bill Robinson brought his SUNY New Paltz class to see the vernal pool (see April 9). They found a marbled salamander (we don't see many of those here) and several red efts changing from red to green, becoming newts. For the last few days we have seen several of these "green efts." Their tails are getting flatter and their skin is mainly green but with a reddish tinge. They are still on land, but will be in the water any day.
- Fran Dunwell

9/7 - Fishkill, HRM 62: As the sun was slowly setting in the west and shadows lengthened, a swarm of green darners and other dragonflies patrolled on several levels of our yard's airspace. There were loop-de-loops and other fast-paced maneuvers that were dizzying to watch. Meanwhile, a lone ruby meadowhawk perched placidly on a lilac shrub and would only periodically join the fray. This late day air patrol continued for forty minutes, gradually dwindling to one large green darner darting about the clearing, now totally in shadow.
- Ed Spaeth

9/8 - Croton River, HRM 34: "First light" was a relative thing; the dark gray gloom of Hurricane Frances, the remnants of which was battering New York City with torrential rains (3.5 inches in Manhattan by nightfall) never gave the sun a chance. I was checking for storm surge, but the tide did not appear to be extra high. There may have been one the night before, since there were barnacle-studded branches up above the usual tideline. The Croton River and Croton Bay looked placid and relatively uninteresting. The water was 73°F, unchanged from a week ago; the salinity was barely measurable (~1.0 ppt), up from undetectable after a week of no rain. I saw no osprey, waders, or shorebirds. A troupe of semipalmated sandpipers was in the Metro North commuter parking lot. I spotted a lone cormorant at Inbuckie and watched it with binoculars for ten minutes. It dived and surfaced many times but never with a fish. As I stood next to the trestle an immature black-crowned night heron flew toward me from Inbuckie. I stood motionless and it passed just ten feet over my head, close enough for me to hear it sigh, "No fish."
- Tom Lake

9/8 - Yonkers, HRM 18: We did some beach seining in the rain at the Beczak Environmental Education Center beach and caught striped bass, Atlantic silversides, white perch, shore shrimp and one 200 mm bluefish. The salinity was only 2.3 ppt.
- Cynthia Fowx

9/8 - Staten Island, New York City: Just past the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, we were stuck in traffic on the Staten Island Expressway. I was traveling with rangers Chris Olijnyk and Kathy Krause on the way to a meeting. Chris looked out the car window and stated flatly, "There are turkeys over there." And sure enough, just north of the parkway were two adults and five nearly flighted poults feeding on a grassy slope near the Richmond Road exit. I'd been hearing of occasional wild turkey sightings on Staten Island, but never anticipated seeing juveniles as well. These birds had to have been born on the Island. No saying how many years it's been since wild turkeys had reproduced here, but I wondered if we had just seen the first brood in perhaps fifty years?
- Dave Taft, National Park Service

9/9 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67.5: When the clouds parted and Frances was gone, 2.73" of rain had fallen. For the third day in a row, ruby-throated hummingbirds came by, paused to visit our flowers, and then continued on south.
- Phyllis Lake

9/9 - Beacon, HRM 62: As the sky cleared in the wake of Hurricane Frances, warm, humid air was drawn in from the south - it felt like Florida, very tropical. One hundred gulls were sitting on a rocky breakwater, 50 ring-billed gulls near one end of the jetty and 50 herring gulls near the other. Right in the middle was a lone greater black-backed gull. Rain squalls were moving quickly upriver, driven by the strong southeast wind. Uprooted water chestnut, wild celery, duckweed, and pondweed were piled two and a half feet high on the beach.
- Tom Lake

9/9 - Queens, New York City: On my way to work, this was the scene at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens: an angry van driver screamed at a Mazda who had tried to pass him on the right. There was a North Fork Bank on the right, and an Exxon Gas station on the left, and an enormous great blue heron above it all, flying southbound slowly and silently. He was just a few yards above the traffic light but miles above the lunacy.
- Dave Taft

9/10 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67.5: After several cloudy days and 3" of rain, the early morning sun felt good as it peeked over the hills to the east. The breeze had swung around the northwest and with it came dozens of cedar waxwings, tree-hopping, heading down river, shining like new toys.
- Tom Lake

9/10 - Bronx, New York City: Threading through the toll plaza of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and negotiating my way onto the Hutchinson River Drive, I was suddenly surrounded by starlings. Sure enough, just behind the starlings, winging his way across ten lanes of toll plaza, was a beautiful Cooper's hawk that had just missed his breakfast.
- Dave Taft

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