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Hudson River Almanac May 3 - May 10, 2010


Our "1980s bands and singers" shad continued to reveal amazing migratory movements in the upper estuary, exhibiting a broad range of behavior related to factors we can only guess at. Our third sandhill crane of the season appeared in upper Ulster County, following earlier sightings in Orange and central Ulster counties.


5/9 - Town of Saugerties, HRM 102: Two sandhill cranes were spotted this morning in a hay field off the southwest corner of Fish Creek Road and Wrolsen Drive in the Town of Saugerties. The birds appeared to be resting during a period of moderate but steady rain.
- Steve M. Chorvas

[Recent sandhill crane sightings include April 10 at Liberty Marsh (Orange County, river mile 41) by Michael McKenna, and April 21 at New Paltz (Ulster County, river mile 78) by Brian Houser. Tom Lake.]


5/3-5/7 - Hudson River Estuary, HRM 154-46: To date, we have "heard" 37 of the 44 American shad (see the Almanac: April 26, May 1) caught and tagged this spring with sonic tags along the 85-mile reach from the George Washington Bridge to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. 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. GPS locations will be linked with available or collected habitat information about the river bottom. For 2010, we named the fish after 80s bands and singers!
During the week we covered the river from the Bear Mountain Bridge to the Troy Dam. Each day the crew had a specific section to cover and listen for tagged fish. We heard or detected fish in all sections of the river. Many of these have already been reported, but some are first-timers this week.
- Amanda Higgs, NYSDEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit

- Like last year, the primary hot spot is an approximately 5-mile reach between the Troy-Menands Bridge and the Patroon Island Bridge (river miles 145-150). Seven shad, including Bob Boyle, Michael Jackson, Weather Girls, Bananarama, Culture Club, Stevie Nicks, U2, and Depeche Mode were found between those two bridges this week.

- Culture Club, found on 5/3 near the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, has been very active. Last week she was more than 55 miles upriver near Schodack Island; a week earlier, 10 miles farther north at Albany. By the end of this week, she was back at Troy, 75 miles north of Poughkeepsie.

- Blondie, Prince, Debbie Gibson, the Pointer Sisters, Billy Idol, Tiffany, Cyndi Lauper, the Eurythmics, Indigo Girls, Expose, Journey, Roxette, Talking Heads, and Salt-N-Pepa were all found moving around in the 50 mile spawning reach between the Kingston Flats in Ulster County, and Bethlehem in Albany County.

- Seven first-timers, tagged in Haverstraw Bay (river mile 35), were found, including Michael Jackson (tagged 4/14), Whitney Houston (4/14), Tears for Fears (4/16), Linda Rondstadt (4/16), Pat Benatar (4/20), Olivia Newton-John (4/20), and Styx (4/21). Michael Jackson was detected near the Troy Menands Bridge, 115 miles upriver; Linda Rondstadt was found 96 miles upriver near New Baltimore; Pat Benatar and Styx were both heard 74 miles upriver just south of Germantown, Olivia Newton-John was detected swimming with an ebb current 83 miles upriver near the Athens Lighthouse, and both Whitney Houston and Tears for Fears were heard near the southern tip of the Green Flats about 70 miles upriver.

- Two more first-timers, tagged near Poughkeepsie 4/20 (river mile 75) included the Eurythmics and Stevie Nicks. The Eurythmics was found 60 miles upriver near Bethlehem; Stevie Nicks was heard 74 miles upriver near the Troy-Menands Bridge.

- A final first-timer, Billy Joel, tagged near Kingston 4/26 (river mile 92), was found a couple of miles upriver near the southern end of the Kingston Flats.

5/3 - Fishkill, HRM 61: We had a male ruby-throated hummingbird visit our feeder this evening, our first of the season.
- Eric Shaw

5/3 - Croton Point, HRM 35-34: It was cheering to have the house wrens back and singing once more. The high point of my walk this morning was an upland sandpiper on the service road around the landfill. Our local anglers were enjoying spring fishing for striped bass, yet were wondering "where are the big fish?" Twenty five pounds seemed to be the tops so far. There was a report of an 8 lb. bluefish taken last week. It is early in the season for them, but they were caught in some numbers last year in early May. This is a good indicator that the menhaden (primary forage) have arrived.
- Christopher Letts

5/4 - Fishkill, HRM 61: I spotted a large bird crossing Van Wyck Lake Road that, at first, appeared to be a wild turkey. It was, in fact, a common peafowl, an exotic species and an escape from captivity. However, none of my neighbors are known to keep any peafowl.
- Merrill Spaeth

[The common peafowl, also known as the Indian fowl, an introduced species in North America, is the national bird of India. Tom Lake.]

5/4 - Senasqua, HRM 36: I had been waiting for Gino Garner to run his bait net in hopes of getting some bycatch for spring school programs. Swallows were busy gathering nesting materials and, in a few minutes, I identified barn, tree, cliff and rough-winged swallows all on the tiny beach. Gino returned with a paltry catch of a dozen mossbunkers [menhaden]. The herring run has proceeded upstream. The bunkers were large - one was 16 inches long, the size of a buck shad. Another had a narrow bite taken out of the vent area; an eel, we decided, and not the first time this season Gino had seen this. But, none of the hogchokers, catfish or white perch that I had been hoping for.
- Christopher Letts

5/4 - Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: A "rabble of butterflies," swallowtails, were clustered in the azaleas now that the lilacs were fading. Amidst their flashing yellow there was the occasional black swallowtail. Today's high wind and spattering rain tossed the butterflies as they darted and fluttered over the lily-of-the-valley carpet which was beginning to fill the air with delicious perfume. Then, like magic, the winds quieted, the sun came through the gray clouds, and our first hummingbird of the season zipped up to the feeder!
- Robin Fox

5/4 - Yonkers, HRM 18: The crew of the Science Barge and Groundwork Hudson Valley has been participating in the DEC glass eel survey this spring. Our "eel mop," set at the mouth of the Saw Mill River, has been consistently capturing glass eels every day. The daily catch record is 10. The glass eel mop raise has become a community event with as many as 16 students counting out loud as we give the mop the required 30 dunks. Today Michael Singaro, an intern from Kenya, Jonathan Biber, and I had 2 glass eels and 2 six-and-a-half-inch "shoestring" eels, probably three year olds. Back at the Barge, we pulled our killifish trap hung off the gangway and found 3 two-inch blue crabs, 2 grass shrimp and a one-and-a-half-inch Chinese mitten crab.
- Bob Walters

5/5 - Hunter's Brook, HRM 67.5: I was checking the streambed on low tide for purple quartzite cobbles for a fire-cracked rock demonstration (associated with prehistoric cooking). I could hear the lovely flute-like call of the wood thrush in the woods and my first Baltimore oriole of the spring flew across the stream ahead of me.
- Tom Lake

[Fire-cracked rocks are artifacts of hearths, campfires, and human food-processing that can predate the advent of pottery in the Northeast about 2,000 years ago. They are often quartzite and when fire-heated will crack, spall and fracture in a way that is diagnostic to archaeologists. Given the number of campfires that have been used in the Hudson Valley across 12,000 years, it is easy to see why "FCR" is commonly found strewn along the river. Tom Lake.]

5/5 - Beacon, HRM 61: Second graders from schools in Beacon have been using Scenic Hudson's Madam Brett Park to study habitats such as Fishkill Creek, the forest, and the marsh. Today they spotted some shorebirds, killdeer, in the marsh.
- Susan Hereth

5/5 - Edgewater, NJ, HRM 8.5: The fiddler crab population in the catch basin of Edgewater Commons, although still limited to the northern end, seems to be slowly increasing (perhaps 300-400) compared to recent "bust" years. The muddy bottom is gradually shifting in its depth at high tide, as well as length-of-time of exposure at and near low tide, making more of the basin acceptable habitat. This comes after years when the catch basin habitat gradually became uninhabitable, until there were fewer than 100 left.
- Terry Milligan

5/6 - Ulster County, HRM 78: Lynn Bowdery sent photos of a giant swallowtail and a promethea moth that she encountered this afternoon on a walk at Duck Pond at Mohonk Preserve. This is about 35 miles south of where I spotted a giant swallowtail two days earlier. Lynn's butterfly appears to be in fresh condition - Lynn indicated there is extensive northern prickly ash along the old farm roads on the east side of Mohonk Preserve. The swallowtail was photographed nectaring on what appears to be some form of blue phlox. The promethea moth in Lynn's second photo was pristine and had apparently just emerged. Numerous red admirals were appearing in the northern part of the county in association with nettles, and a first-of-season viceroy butterfly emerged today in Saugerties.
- Steve M. Chorvas

5/6 - Staatsburg, HRM 85: During a morning field trip to the Indian Kill, one of the students from Hyde Park's Roosevelt High School saw a turtle in the creek. Only when I picked it up did I realize there was a second one as well - we had interrupted a male and female wood turtle in an important spring ritual. Lesson learned. With many apologies to the turtles, we took photos and measurements and returned them back to the stream. Both had been notched previously by biologists, and we noted their codes. The stream itself was 60 degrees F and had 82% dissolved oxygen saturation.
- Chris Bowser

5/6 - Hunter's Brook, HRM 67.5: A couple alewives were still drifting downstream on the ebb tide in this clear water tributary of a tributary (Wappinger Creek). I was fighting my way through a haze of black flies but the bouquet of honeysuckle and Dame's rocket in the air made the hike worthwhile. They were both in bloom a week early.
- Tom Lake

[One of the signs of the waning spring season is the appearance of Dame's rocket along the river and its tributaries. This non-native wildflower comes in white, pink, violet, and purple. Its wonderfully sweet fragrance accompanies me as I make early morning checks of pots, traps, nets and other education and research collection gear. Tom Lake.]

5/7 - Hudson, HRM 118: The color of the day seemed to be red as I walked along the Ridge Trail at the Olana State Historic Site. A male cardinal flitted back and forth across the trail, red efts lolled down its middle, with a smattering of red columbine along its edge.
- Fran Martino

5/7 - Piermont Pier, HRM 25: During our noon walk on the pier the tide was low exposing large expanses of mud flats. We stopped to watch a single dunlin, a shorebird, methodically working the mud flats with his beak. After awhile we continued on to the end of the pier and were surprised on our return to see the same busy dunlin working away at the flats. Perhaps he was storing up energy in preparation to head back to the Arctic for the summer.
- Margie Turrin, Linda Pistolisi

5/8 - Ulster Park, HRM 87: Our first hummer of the season arrived this morning. I've heard an oriole and some unseen warblers, but no wrens yet! The house is ready and waiting.
- Bill Drakert

5/9 - Esopus Meadows, HRM 87: Today's low tide was unusually low at Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. When Ed Weber and John Ralston and I tried to leave the lighthouse in mid-afternoon, we discovered the work barge was grounded. We ended up using a skiff to take us to Norrie Point - abandoning the work barge at the lighthouse until a higher tide tomorrow morning.
- Phyllis Marsteller

5/10 - Sloansville, Schoharie County, HRM 159: My bluebirds are nesting again this year in one of the houses I put up in 2006. This is their third year of nesting. The other two boxes have tree swallows in them, also for the third year. For the second year in a row I've had robins trying to build a nest on my truck tires. They must have been looking for a mobile home.
- Gary Ovitt

5/10 - Beacon, HRM 61: Fourth graders from Sargent Elementary School hiked Mount Beacon today (1300 feet). The windy day brought down large numbers of "oak apples" or galls. The students were intrigued with the galls, moss, lichen and ferns that we passed on our extensive hike on the mountain. We began at Scenic Hudson's Gateway to Mount Beacon entrance, had lunch at the summit enjoying the magnificent views of the Hudson River Valley and beyond, then traversing the ridge taking in a view of Beacon's reservoir and fire tower before heading down the white trail that follows the water flow downhill.
- Susan Hereth

5/10 - Blooming Grove, HRM 55: The Carolina wrens that had nested in our open garage fledged and left. I'm wondering if the parents will come back to raise a second family? They are now off exploring other areas and haven't been spotted at or near the suet feeder.
- Betsy Hawes

5/10 - Garrison, HRM 51: On a cold, late spring afternoon, I saw a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering near the back door. I usually see them in July and August when the Rose-of-Sharon are in bloom.
- Kathie Kourie

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