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Hudson River Almanac April 28 - May 3, 2010

OVERVIEW

Like a Hudson River "soap opera," we continued to follow the travels of the famous 44 American shad tagged and tracked by DEC's Hudson River Fisheries Unit. Most had arrived in their freshwater spawning reach and their movements had become less predictable.


HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

4/28 - Beacon, HRM 61: First graders from James V. Forrestal Elementary had their second trip to Scenic Hudson's Beacon Point Park to study the river. We have worked with these little "River Buddies" throughout the year. I was talking to a group of them about the tides in the river; one of them said "the river wants to touch the moon." Love it!
- Susan Hereth, Rebecca Houser


NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

4/28 - Minerva, HRM 284: We had an inch of snow overnight; twenty miles north 4-5 inches fell. Most of it will be gone today.
- Mike Corey

4/29 - Germantown, HRM 105: I had my first osprey of the season early this morning. It was just about to take a dive into a pond behind Mr. Potts's orchard along Route 33.
- Mimi Brauch

4/29 - Tivoli, HRM 101.5: My wife and I spotted a red fox on the hunt in a roadside field. It jogged along and dropped to the ground much like a cat would do. Then it sprang into the air, came down on its prey, and ran off with an unidentifiable meal for its kits.
- Marty Otter

4/29 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: Our Mystic Whaler otter trawl along the east side of the river brought up our third adult eel of the season, always a treat with the students and crew. We also landed some small (6") catfish and some baby blue crabs.
- Phil Frandino

4/29- Beacon, HRM 60: The marsh at Madam Brett Park is a wonderful place to watch birds on their migratory journeys. I particularly like this time of year, getting to see ospreys fishing over the marsh and along Fishkill Creek. I shared this with 26 fourth graders from Sargent Elementary who had come to learn and investigate the local history and ecology that is abundant here.
- Susan Hereth

4/29 - Haverstraw Bay, HRM 40-35: A strong rising tide, fueled by the near full moon, was met head-on by a stiff north wind - wind against tide - whipping the river to a froth with topping-over three-foot swells. A coal-black scoter, roused by our passing Metro North train, took off and flew away, too quickly to identify its species.
- Tom Lake

4/29 - Inbuckie, HRM 33.5: After two days of strong north winds, we had a blowout tide. In late afternoon, the marsh at Inbuckie was reduced to mud flats. An adult bald eagle hovered in the wind overhead, looking straight down, searching for stranded fish in the few tiny puddles that remained. A half dozen turkey vultures teetered in the wind over Croton Bay.
- Tom Lake

4/30 - Hudson River Estuary: Excerpts from the Red Hook Journal, for Friday, April 30, 1909:
"The price of shad remains high. The shad coming from off Long Island and Delaware sell for a slight reduction. The cold weather is preventing big catches. The Catskill Mountains are covered with snow. Spring has not yet fully come up there."
"The New York Sun says that the people of New York City 'do not know the river that flows by their doors - they do not understand its uses or appreciate its beauties.' This, of course is said of the Hudson, and the Sun adds: 'It occurs to us that the Hudson-Fulton celebration will educate the people of New York not only in history but in natural beauty and civics, and that, moreover it will change their insensibility into active interest in the future of the Hudson Valley.' "
- Maynard Ham

4/30 - Esopus Meadows, HRM 87: Forty students from High Meadow School arrived in mid-morning and almost immediately spotted a bald eagle and an osprey, both heading north. Lunch was enjoyed in the company of a red-bellied woodpecker, Canada geese, cormorants, and the call of a Carolina wren. In our seine we caught killifish, minnows too numerous to count, tessellated darters, four-spine sticklebacks, and the ubiquitous white perch.
- Eli Schloss

4/30 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 74: We watched an adult bald eagle and then another fly over Springside traveling southwest to northeast. Our tenant says he sees them regularly, soaring overhead, and believes there is a nest nearby. There are some magnificent white pines and other very tall trees on the site but I have my doubts. A quick look did not reveal one.
- John Mylod, Ken Lutters

5/1 - Hudson River Estuary, HRM 154-46: To date, we have detected 30 of the 44 American shad caught and tagged this spring with sonic tags along the 85-mile reach from the George Washington Bridge to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge (see the Almanac, April 26). Tracking (detecting the sonic tag) will help identify migratory routes and the rate at which the fish ascend the estuary, as well as specific spawning locations and congregation areas. For 2010, we named the fish after 1980s bands and singers!
- Amanda Higgs, NYSDEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit

During the week of 4/26, we covered 108 miles of river from Bear Mountain to Troy. Each day the crew had a specific section to cover, "listening" for tagged fish. We heard or detected fish in all sections of the river although most of them were now in Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer and Albany counties. Many of these shad have already been reported, but some are new this week:

The Go-Go's, tagged in Poughkeepsie 4/20, was found at the Bear Mountain Bridge on 4/26, nearly 30 miles downriver. We are discovering that tagging and handling of the fish makes them fall back for a period of time. Some fish sulk for a couple days or even longer. The Go-Go's was on her way back upriver later in the week.

The next day we moved upriver and heard Joan Jett, tagged the day before near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, now 20 miles downriver just north of Poughkeepsie - another fallback. We found Tiffany near Norrie Point. A week earlier she was 9 miles upriver near the southern end of the Kingston Flats. U2, tagged at Kingston 4/22, was also found with Tiffany near Norrie Point.

Moving upriver, we heard Kenny Rogers, tagged near Poughkeepsie 4/20, 30 miles north near the southern tip of Green Flats. Bananarama was detected swimming quickly upstream south of the power lines in Athens. An hour later she was 2 miles upriver outside Murderer's Creek. Tiffany, found earlier at Norrie Point, was on the move again 35 miles upriver near the northern tip of Middle Ground Island.

The next day we found Depeche Mode, tagged in Poughkeepsie 4/20, near Watervliet's Congress Street Bridge, 75 miles upriver. Bob Boyle (name requested by Riverkeeper's John Lipscomb), tagged near Poughkeepsie 4/20, was now 70 miles upriver just north of the Patroon Island Bridge in Albany.

The Go-Go's, detected earlier in the week near the Bear Mountain Bridge, was now near the Route 20 bridge. She had traveled 100 miles in 4 days. We also found The Weather Girls with the Go-Go's. Last week the Weather Girls was heard 9 miles south near Castleton-on-Hudson.

Cheap Trick was just north of Bethlehem in the same general area he was last week. Indigo Girls, tagged in Haverstraw Bay 4/16, was found just north of Bethlehem, over 100 miles upriver.

The Bangles, heard last week near the Coxsackie, was found 10 miles upriver near Schodack Island. Hanging out near the Bangles were Culture Club and Talking Heads, tagged in Kingston 4/22. Culture Club was heard last week near the Patroon Island Bridge, 10 miles upriver.

During the last day, Cyndi Lauper was heard at the northern end of Middle Ground Island, 5 miles north of where we found her last week. Journey, detected near Port Ewen last week, was now 30 miles upriver just south of Stockport Creek. Expose, tagged near Poughkeepsie 4/20, was found near Fitch's Wharf.

Billy Idol, tagged near Kingston 4/26, was heard near Coxsackie with Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul. Debbie Gibson was found moving upriver last week near Rondout Creek and then near the Roeliff-Jansen's Kill later on. Paula Abdul was heard twice last week, near Germantown and then later 40 miles upriver, near the Patroon Island Bridge in Albany.

Tiffany, heard earlier in the week near Middle Ground Island, was now 8 miles upriver near Stuyvesant. Roxette, tagged in Haverstraw Bay 4/16, was found more than 90 miles upriver just north of Stuyvesant. Prince, found twice last week near Stockport Creek and then at Castleton-on-Hudson, was found 8 miles downriver near Mill Creek. Blondie, tagged near Poughkeepsie 4/20, was heard near New Baltimore, 56 miles upriver.

5/1 - Stockport Flats, HRM 124: A paddle on the river and the tidal Stockport Creek brought with it the usual spring sightings: several ospreys successfully diving for river herring, a flotilla of recreational anglers catching herring for striper bait, and a continual chorus of songbirds. The warm weather appears to have resulted in early herring and striper runs and many people were competing for both. At Stockport Middle Grounds another fish hunter made a surprise appearance: a harbor seal stuck its head up fifty yards offshore. Though I have spotted harbor seals closer to Manhattan in winter, this was the first time I had seen a seal so far upriver.
- Colette Lemmon, Dennis Mildner, Nancy Nieder, Chuck Nieder, Dana Neider, Maggie Neider, Galina Wimbush, John Wimbush

[The list of Hudson River marine mammals is lengthy and includes seals, dolphins, porpoises, and even a one-time visit from a manatee in summer 2006. Among the seals, we've recorded gray, harbor, hooded and harp seals in the estuary. However, the overwhelming majority of seal sightings, perhaps 95%, are harbor seals. Almanac records include sightings as far upriver as Albany (river mile 145). Tom Lake.]

5/1 - Milan, HRM 90: Our first ruby-throated hummingbird of the season arrived today and investigated a bleeding heart shrub before quickly returning to the hastily hung feeders.
- Marty Otter

5/1 - New Hamburg, HRM 68: Lawson Edgar alerted me that a seal was hauled out on a dock at the New Hamburg Yacht Club. This may have been the same harbor seal we saw last week (see the Almanac, April 25); it was hauled out in the same spot on the far corner of the southernmost dock. The seal seemed relaxed, probably digesting a bellyful of river herring. However, as is often the case when curious people are around, someone had to get closer, either to get a better photo or perhaps to interact with the seal as though it were tame. As he grew closer, the seal slipped of the dock and was gone, robbing all of us of a special moment.
- Tom Lake

[There is a reason why locations of eagles nest are not publicized. We would do the same with marine mammal sightings except that they are far too serendipitous. Some people have an obsession with getting close. The "wild" in wildlife does not register. Besides being unlawful, when protected wildlife such as an eagle or seal is disturbed, everyone loses. That is why we have binoculars and digital cameras with zoom lenses. Tom Lake.]

5/1 - Scarborough, Westchester County, HRM 32: Sailing near the Scarborough light tower in the Tappan Zee I saw a pile of sticks that told me there was, as there has been for the past three years, an osprey nest. A female was sitting on a brood of eggs and gave off a high "pip-pip-pip" sound as I sailed past, warning me to say away. I have seen young near this nest in early summer and will return this year to check. A half hour later, in mid-channel, I heard the distinct call of a common loon. A moment later I saw the sharp silhouette of a loon, which dove and was - "ffft" - gone!
- Dan Wolff

5/1 - Alpine, NJ, HRM 18: Year 26 of our Hudson River fish festivals. With a closed fishery, they would be "shadless." For the first time in arguably 12,000 years, residents were not allowed to catch an American shad for dinner. Instead, we smoked, baked, and served 200 eager river watchers Atlantic salmon and steelhead (rainbow) trout. We heard a soft and wonderfully clear chortle overhead. Looking up, we saw an immature bald eagle emerge from the shadows of the Palisades.
- Tom Lake

5/2 - Delmar, HRM 143: Through the window I heard a lone gray tree frog calling in the 80 degree F weather - the first one I've heard this year.
- Jesse Jaycox

5/2 - Castleton Bridge, HRM 135.5: While we were boating on the Hudson this evening, we saw a seal on the buoy just south of the I-90 bridge. He did not seem to be in any kind of distress, and the people fishing in the area kept their distance from him.
- Julie Gonia

5/2 - New Paltz, HRM 78: Saw our first male ruby-throated hummingbird today.
- Janet Chapman

5/2 - Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 75: The air temperature reached 92 degrees F, a record high for the date.
- National Weather Service

5/2 - Town of Newburgh, HRM 60: The air temperature reached 93 degrees F, also a record high for the date.
- National Weather Service

5/2 - Blooming Grove, HRM 55: Black flies were out and biting; ticks were also happy to find us out in the hot weather. While I was still seeing a few white-throated sparrows, a towhee and a bluebird were near our feeders. Lilacs were almost finished and irises were beginning to bloom.
- Betsy Hawes

5/2 - Edgewater, NJ, HRM 8.5: It has been a strange year for barn swallows. They usually arrive by about 4/20, but this year, amid many reports of things appearing early, they were not to be seen. Today I spotted 3 pairs apparently nesting under abandoned piers 100 meters north of our pier. I should have been able to see them if they were around earlier this week.
- Terry Milligan

5/3 - Newcomb, HRM 302: I may never get to see a moose, but this morning I saw my fourth fisher, second one this year, third along this particular stretch of road. I was driving eastward out of Newcomb when, zip, a beautiful fisher dashed across the road not twenty feet in front of my car. It was the best view I've had of this rather secretive forest dweller. The tail was stretched straight out behind as it moved with all possible haste. I'd be willing to say it was a lope, if not a full-out gallop. It was a great way to start the morning.
- Ellen Rathbone

5/3 - Crugers, HRM 39: This morning I spotted a pair of wood ducks perched on the limb of a tree. They were twenty feet above ground and, on occasion, one would fly to the ground and then return. During the decade we've been here, this is the first time we have had wood ducks.
- Jim Grefig

5/3 - Yonkers, HRM 18: I visited the Science Barge and watched Bob Walters and his staff collect five glass eels and a crayfish out of the Saw Mill River on the Yonkers waterfront. They used a mop-like structure that provides a sheltering habitat for the eels. The students were knowledgeable and skillful and gave me great hope for a new generation of urban environmentalists.
- Ned Ames

5/3 - Edgewater, NJ, HRM 8.5: They are here. I can now see barn swallows dog-fighting with insects as I look out my windows at the river. At least 1-2 pairs appear to be nesting under our pier where I have seen them every year for the last ten. I have no idea what took them so long.
- Terry Milligan

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