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Hudson River Almanac August 31 - September 6, 2005

OVERVIEW

The remnants of Katrina, passing through on August 31, only impacted the northern and far western parts of the Hudson's watershed. Otherwise, this was a week with no rain in the river basin. Runoff from the storm had only a minor impact on the salt front, pushing it from Hudson River Mile 73 south to Mile 68 at New Hamburg over the course of a few days. Salty conditions in the lower estuary are keeping bluefish, hickory shad, weakfish, and other saltwater species in the river. While lawns are browning, anglers are using their free time to enjoy some of the best fishing of the year.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

9/3 - Newcomb, HRM 302: We had a spectacular rainbow this evening to the north towards the High Peaks. The clouds north of 28N were dark, but behind us to the west the sun was shining. We love the lighting that makes. And then there appeared the fattest, brightest rainbow we have ever seen. There was even a double rainbow for a while, but the second was very faint and didn't last. The first one was so wide, across the bands of color, that it actually started to repeat the colors: ROYGBIV ROY... although the last ROY were thin, giving mostly a hint of a yellowish glow to the inner purple edge of the arc. Most rainbows come and go in the span of a few breaths, but this one lasted for several minutes.
- Ellen Rathbone

[For those who may not know the acronym for the colors of a rainbow, ROYGBIV translates as: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Ellen Rathbone]

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

8/31 Town of Esopus, HRM 88: Trying to avoid the quickly rising tide as we walked along the shore at Sleightsburg Spit, David Diaz and I surprised a mother muskrat swimming onto the beach. We gave it such a scare that it dropped the young baby it was carrying, only 5'' or so long, into the water and made a dash for the bushes. After a couple seconds of awe, we realized the little one was drowning and we fished it out with a clipboard and placed it on dry land. Its heart was beating at quite a pace and probably had swallowed some water but it seemed ok. We left it where we hoped the tide would not get to it before its mama returned.
- Michael Morris

9/1 - Rams Horn, HRM 112.2: An immature bald eagle was spotted soaring low over the mouth of Catskill Creek. The eagle came out of our RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary. A second immature eagle - age indeterminate due to silhouette view - was seen flying west towards the northeast corner of the sanctuary.
- Larry Federman

9/1 - Croton Point, HRM 34.5: The scene was reminiscent of winter months, though that was more than a season away. A fresh north breeze swept over Haverstraw Bay and up the slopes of the dump. Half and hour before sunrise, it was pleasantly cool. A harrier was coursing the fields, flight pattern and silhouette clearly visible. A kiting red-tail was also searching for a meal. And hovering nearby, on beating wings, working the top of the hill, was a rough-legged hawk. It seemed way too early for this bird, but there it was.
- Christopher Letts

9/1 - Piermont, HRM 25: A customer came into my bait shop all excited. He had been fishing off the tip of Piermont Pier with cut bunker [menhaden], had a hookup, and watched helplessly as the fish ran off most of his line before breaking off. We agreed that it was probably a large bluefish (blues, 10-11 lb., have not been uncommon this summer), although last week a fisherman caught a 38" striped bass on a bunker chunk off the south side at Piermont in no more than 18" of water. What a puzzle that was. The shallow water in there had to have been in the high 80s!
- Bob Gabrielson Sr.

9/1 - Liberty Island, Upper Bay, New York Harbor: I joined our new Student Conservation Association interns on a tour through the National Parks of the New York Harbor. Even at our nation's most potent symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty Statue National Monument, a naturalist can get no rest. I dutifully admired the torch, genuinely acknowledged the symbolic nature of the French gift, and even marveled at the sculptural beauty of Liberty's flowing robes. A park ranger led us on an inspired tour and it was all historically wonderful until a pair of small shorebirds flew past, and then all bets were "historically" off. After chasing them down with my binoculars, I felt confident that the two brown streaks in question were either a pair of semipalmated or least sandpipers. In either case, they afforded me a few moments to cut class. I discovered laughing gulls schmoozing under the statue's stern gaze, and herring gulls begging from picnickers. Mockingbirds flew from perch to perch scolding, and cormorants earned a living diving near the old piers. When I snapped out of it, three worried looking seniors from a neighboring tour looked at me in that puzzled sort of way. Not sufficiently patriotic, I guess. My tour had long since moved on to discuss the statue's star shaped platform. Spotting them, I sheepishly returned to the fold.
- Dave Taft

9/1 - Governor's Island, Upper Bay, New York Harbor: There are nuts of the vegetable persuasion all over Governor's Island National Historic Park: huge old oaks dropping massive acorns and buckeyes dropping land-mine-like fruits. Even sweetgums left their handiwork.
- Dave Taft

9/2 - Cheviot, HRM 106: For five days now three bald eagles, an adult and two immatures, have been fishing, eating, and resting in the trees on the island pier off Cheviot. They seem to arrive about 7:00 AM and usually leave by 8:00 AM.
- Susan Droege

9/2 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 68: For the past few weeks, an immature red-tailed hawk has been making a lot of noise at Bowdoin Park. It circles around in different areas and cries and squawks. Today I spotted the immature low in a tree very near an adult, and the immature was still screaming. Shortly it flew off with the adult following.
- Mary Borrelli

[Much like young bald eagles, fledgling red-tails will look for Mama as often as they can get away with it over their first summer. It may be that this immature had not yet honed its hunting skills, and was getting frustrated. In their minds, begging for food might be easier than learning how to hunt for themselves. Tom Lake]

9/2 - East Mountain Road South, HRM 55: Every evening we have been treated to the flute-like music of a veery singing from the woods just beyond our fields, near Cold Spring. The veery was late in arriving this year, and we were worried that something was amiss. Now, however, we have been enjoying these evening concerts for several weeks.
- Connie Mayer

9/2 - Breezy Point , Queens, New York Bight: I enjoyed an evening's fishing at the tip of Breezy Point, Gateway National Recreation Area, accompanied by a beautiful common loon in full summer regalia. As the loon rode the tide well within casting range, it passed me several times. I was grateful he was smarter than the average fish - he never once went for my fly. I fooled a few short summer flounder, and then an odd tussle at the end of the line turned out to be a banded rudderfish, a species of jack. It was not particularly large, but at 11" it was one of the largest I've seen around here. My first on a fly rod.
- Dave Taft

[Jacks: These tropical-looking fish are late summer and autumn visitors to the New York Bight and lower Hudson estuary from more southerly waters. Their presence can be attributed to the Gulf Stream; its northerly flow brings us tropical and semi-tropical larval and juvenile fish and other aquatic life. Among the jacks found in our area are the banded rudderfish, amberjack, crevalle jack, Atlantic moonfish, permit, lookdown, scads, and pompanos. Tom Lake]

9/3 - Newcomb, HRM 302: At a mushroom identification program today I finally had the humongous mushroom from my front yard identified. It is Boletus edulis, "porcini" in Italy. The instructor was thrilled that I gave it to him. We had many mushrooms on the trails, more than we could get out to see. The coolest in my opinion were the dead man's fingers. We also had some cute eye lash cups, and even a destroying angel.
- Ellen Rathbone

9/3 - Tappan Zee, HRM 25: The warmer-than-usual river water this summer seemed to encourage growth of submerged aquatic vegetation. It also forced me to remove my crab pots for cleaning. The efficiency of crab pots decreases dramatically as algal growth increases. After a brief lull in mid-to-late August, my pots are clean, the blue crabs are back and customers are lined up at my door.
- Bob Gabrielson Sr.

9/4 - Newcomb, HRM 302: Unlike the drought downriver, up here we are happy, happy, happy from all the rain. The river came up several feet. At the pump house on the Hudson, all the rocks upstream were submerged, and the water that had been about 2' below the stairs rose up to submerge the first five steps. By today it was down to only covering three steps. Everything has put out flowers. Grass is growing. All my rain barrels are full. We have a bumper crop of apples this year, as well. I had written earlier of all the cherries, but the apples are equally numerous. The bears are going to be happy. I have already come across bear scat full of apple skins.
- Ellen Rathbone

9/4 - Jamaica Bay, Queens, New York Bight: Rangers Chris Olijnyk, Bill Parker and I took a walk around the East Pond of the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge this afternoon searching for shorebirds. We turned up the usual culprits: semipalmated and least sandpipers, semipalmated plover, greater and lesser yellowlegs, and dowitchers. Each were hunting for food in its own way. A pair of great blue herons chased each other until they got a look at the three of us, then sped off. A gull-billed tern worked the algae mats in the middle of the south basin of the pond, and a small painted turtle basked on one of the old pilings. As we left, a pair of sharp-shinned hawks reminded us that there was still a lot of migration left to come.
- Dave Taft

9/5 - Warwick, HRM 40.5: It was clear and chilly this morning with a hint of autumn, and half a dozen monarchs were southbound over our hilltop.
- Sacha Spector

9/6 - Hannacrois, HRM 132.5: Several barred owls were hooting like raucous monkeys in the bright morning sunlight. I recall similar behavior late last summer. Perhaps it is last winter's nestlings jockeying for territory before the winter breeding season? Sounds like they're having fun!
- Liz LoGuidice

9/6 - New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: What there was of first light had come. A heavy mist drifted across the river, pushed by a slight breeze. Autumn fog, the product of cool air, the warm earth, and warmer water. The air temperature was 50°F, the river was 77°F. At the extent of my sight range, maybe 40', a cormorant popped up in the cottony air. In a matter of second it slowly began to descend in the water. The bird needed drying out. Instead it dove out of sight, fishing for breakfast. I flipped a small lure out into the ebb current and watched as a white perch followed it in, but failed to strike. Like the rest of the landscape, the fish seemed to be moving in slow motion.
- Tom Lake

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