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Hudson River Almanac November 7 - November 13, 2008


Our elusive dolphin(s) remained at large, last seen in the upper estuary at least 100 miles from the sea. Winter continued to edge its way into the High Peaks as autumn hung on in the lower estuary.


11/12 - Newcomb, HRM 302: We had a group of 7th graders today for journaling at the Adirondack Park Visitors Interpretive Center. It reached a high of only 36 degrees F, with some wind, so it was cold out on the trails where the students sat at their journaling spots for 30 minutes. The icing on the cake, so to speak, was when students came up to me so excited to share the things they found at their spots. It was one of those moments when you realize that you actually made an impact on someone's life. It's a good feeling.
- Ellen Rathbone


11/7 - Cornwall Landing, HRM 57: I was on a "dolphin watch," with no luck (see 11/6). I spotted a long black ribbon, maybe a quarter mile long, drifting downriver far out in the ebb tide. Through the scope I could see it was a large raft of black ducks or scoters, inconclusive at the distance, 200-250 birds in migration. Crossing the view was something much smaller, wings beating furiously as it made its way across the river. It was a monarch, one of the last, one step ahead of a killer frost. If the butterfly played it right, its next challenge would not come until it reached Delaware Bay 180 miles to the south.
- Tom Lake

11/7 - Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: Two days ago, the Japanese maple trees in my yard suddenly turned brilliant. I stood looking up into the magic tent of alizarin crimson shapes, each of the hundreds of leaves an individual gem. Today I stood in the same place with the magic tent at my feet , now an unbelievably beautiful magic carpet.
- Robin Fox

Contributor Profile: After graduating from Bard College with a degree in English Literature, Robin Fox worked as a book designer, a profession involving two of her main interests: literature and art. She grew up camping, hiking, wandering the woods, and painting with her family all over the United States. She is a member of Riverlovers and Walkabout Clearwater, organizations devoted to conservation and environmental education.

11/7 - New York City, Staten Island: Traveling to nearby business, and dressed in a shirt, tie, and better shoes than I should have been wearing, I took a quick peek at one of my orchid sites. The air was 65 degrees F on this November day, and spring peepers called in surprising numbers. Not one, but two garter snakes slithered away as I headed into the woods, sluggish, but taking advantage of the last warmth this season will probably offer. I was excited to note that one of the pink moccasin flowers I'd photographed this spring was one of the rare ones that had actually been pollinated. Additionally, I counted 13 seed pods on the large whorled pogonias. After swapping "naturalist notes" with two very pleasant can-recyclers taking a break on some rocks in the woods (at least someone else enjoys this woodland), I crossed the street, bought a soda and headed for my meeting. All in all, a strangely "New York City" kind of moment.
- Dave Taft

11/8 -Sandy Hook, NJ: Half a dozen buffleheads showed up this morning on the bay side of the Hook. These are our first real winter ducks. Alongside the brant, small geese, they look tiny. There has also been a build up of red-throated loons on the ocean side.
- Dery Bennett

11/9 - Ulster County, HRM 90: The dolphin last spotted at river mile 75 three days ago might not have continued downriver. There was a reported dolphin sighting this morning from 15 miles upriver.
- Kris McShane

11/9 - Kowawese, HRM 59: On a beautiful warm autumn day, hauling a seine in the 54 degree F shallows was just too tempting to pass up. As we circled our 85-foot net out and back, two monarchs passed overhead using the lee of the hillside to gain headway into a southerly breeze. Each haul found the same three species in the seine: spottail shiners, golden shiners, and banded killifish, all residents of this reach of the river. The biggest surprise was what we did not catch, migratory fishes, such as striped bass or river herring. Unless we simply missed them, it would appear that most of them have already exited the estuary for the sea.
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

11/9 - Upper Bay, New York Harbor: My son Jake and I visited the Statue of Liberty today and while we were walking around we saw a flock of about 50 brant circling the island not more than a couple of yards off the sea wall.
- Scott Craven

11/9 - Sandy Hook, NJ: This spit is not a great place to spot mammals, but there are special days. This evening it was two large, antler-less white-tailed deer moving fast through underbrush and later a raccoon and a 'possum [opossum] crossing the road. There were no feral cats around or it would have been a bases loaded home run.
- Dery Bennett

11/10 - Kingston, HRM 90: Another unconfirmed dolphin report, this time of two dolphins in the river near Kingston.
- Kathy Hattala

[While dolphins are rare in the Hudson, the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), easily mistaken for a porpoise, are not uncommon in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor and the lower estuary. The most common marine mammal seen in the estuary is the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Three other species of seal have also been seen, though much less often: harp seal (P. groenlandica), hooded seal (Cystophora cristata), and gray seal (Halichoerus grypus).The rarest of the marine mammals to visit the river is the Florida manatee, last seen in the lower Hudson in July and August 2006. Tom Lake.]

11/10 - Beacon, HRM 61: Another nice carp caught and released today, 28", about 11 lb. There were also 4 channel catfish, all in the 20-22" range. These were terrific-looking, well-filled-out, 3-4 lb. catfish. I seem to catch these large and attractive channel catfish at Long Dock during the final "fishable" weeks each season, before the ice and cold weather take over.
- Bill Greene

11/10 - Croton Point, HRM 35-34: Many flocks of songbirds were moving past the point, most of which were cedar waxwings. A single merlin, a small falcon, was also migrating through. The striped bass sport fishermen were out in numbers on the Tappan Zee and none reported any sign of the dolphin.
- Christopher Letts

11/11 - Newcomb, HRM 302: It was a white world out there this morning with an inch of new snow. Despite the likely presence of bears, I've put out the feeders, filled them up, and will have the birds and squirrels as company today.
- Ellen Rathbone

11/11 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: The local pair of bald eagles has been scarce this fall with only an occasional sighting. So I went looking. With a great deal of stealth I moved through a small grove of tall tamaracks to within a couple hundred feet of a known day perch. There was the male, Papa, perched in the shadows near the top. His eyes were heavy as he teetered on the horizontal limb in his afternoon nap. The faint background noise included a hum of spring peepers. I waited for a brisk breeze to blow through the trees to mask my retreat before moving away.
- Tom Lake

11/12 - New York City, Staten Island: Ranger Ilyse Goldman and I walked along the old rocky groin separating the sandy beach from the rocky shoreline under the Verrazano Bridge at Fort Wadsworth. I'd heard that Japanese shore crabs were especially abundant here, but I had no idea to what extent. Flipping one flat rock, I estimated that fifty crabs scurried off like roaches in the kitchen when the light is flicked on. Flipping several other stones, we found dozens more but not a single native crab. Even our last invader, the green crab, seems to have lost the war with these newest crab invaders. Can the Chinese mitten crab be far off? We don't have much sod bank here, but who knows what they'll adapt to in their time here.
- Dave Taft

11/13 - Newcomb, HRM 302: It was an overcast, chilly, damp, frost-on-the-car-windows morning near the headwaters of the Hudson. Most of our snow was gone.
- Ellen Rathbone

11/13 - Wappinger Creek, HRM 67.5: The midday full moon high tide had the creek up to the belly of the bridge. A dozen black ducks probed the Metro North railroad trestle, but with no headroom, it had become a barrier. "Fly up and over," I thought. They paddled in circles, mulled it over, perhaps considering their options, and apparently decided to wait a few hours for the tide to drop. Why rush migration? It's only mid-November.
- Tom Lake

11/13 Bergen County, NJ, HRM 12: For 4-5 years now, a red-shouldered hawk shows up in my neighborhood just before Thanksgiving and stays around until mid-December. I spotted it in the yard behind my house today. It had been checking some underbrush and moved up to a low perch, where it stayed a while, even with umbrella carrying folks from a warehouse on the next street walking along the sidewalk 50 feet away. I know there are many squirrels, chipmunks and rodents around and this terrain must be what passes for open country in Tenakill in the Hackensack watershed, down the back slope of the Palisades.
- Bob Rancan

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