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Hudson River Almanac May 25 - May 31, 2010

OVERVIEW

Our sonic-tagged "rock star" American shad, apparently having concluded their spawning, are quickly exiting the estuary. Tag and recapture results from decades ago tell us that these post-spawning adult shad, many not having eaten in a month, will head up along the coast to northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes for the summer to feed and regain their strength.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

5/29 - Kinderhook Creek, HRM 120: Even the eagles needed to get away for the holiday weekend. I spotted an adult bald eagle eight miles inland from the river as it flew overhead on near Kinderhook Creek in Valatie. I often see eagles in this part of the Stockport Creek Watershed at Patchaquack Preserve in Valatie where the Valatie Kill joins Kinderhook Creek. A recent stream assessment done by the Stockport Creek Watershed Alliance indicated an increase in organisms that are intolerant of pollution, and new and/or larger gravel bars have formed since last year's stream study. Stream velocity was found to be a bit slower compared to last year which may have reduced the stream's energy and ability to transport sediment.

- Fran Martino

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

5/25 - Orange County, HRM 40: A couple of friends and I took a ride in Sterling Forest and watched a family of beavers creating two dams in a new area and listened to the whip-poor-wills calling up and down the power line that goes through the forest. I thought that perhaps the clearing operation along the power line last year might have discouraged them. But, no, they were back and calling back-and-forth at dusk. What a wonderful evening.

- Mary Yrizarry

5/26 - Lake Hill, HRM: 100: One of my neighbors appears to be feeding the wildlife again. I had been seeing white-tail deer and wild turkey in their yard on a rather regular basis. Today, my daughter and I spotted a sow (female) bear and her two cubs lying next to the neighbor's house. I am concerned that these young cubs will be learning bad behaviors and could become nuisance bears in the future. Feeding deer, bears and other wildlife is not good for either people or the animals themselves.

- Reba Wynn Laks

[Reba's concerns are ones we should all share since wildlife occurs everywhere, even in urban settings - coyotes in Manhattan, for example. It is easy to forget the "wild" in wildlife and think of bears, coyotes, and even eagles as cuddly characters you'd like to get to know better. They do not want to get to know you! There is nothing personal in this; they are simply wild animals to be loved and respected at a distance. The greatest defense wild animals have is their fear of us. When we feed them, especially bear cubs, you are lessening that defense and perhaps, in some cases, sentencing them to an unhappy life and early death. Tom Lake.]

5/26 - Croton River, HRM 34: The Boyz at the Bridge were pretty excited this morning. Midge Taube had just hauled in a killie pot with a three-inch [carapace width] blue crab clinging to the funnel. "Not the first one, either!" Gino Garner dropped by with a tale of three blue crabs - "big enough to eat!" - clinging to a bait net off Senasqua. Midge, fishing for whatever with killifish bait, felt a bite and hauled back on his rod, hooking something - turned out to be five-and-a-half-inch blue crab. "Never had crab in May before," he recalled, dropping the crustacean into a cooler. Note: New York State regulations for the taking of Atlantic blue crabs includes a minimum 4.5-inch carapace width, no more than 50 in possession, and no female crab with eggs (sponge crabs).

- Christopher Letts

[The Boyz at the Bridge are an eclectic mix of both men and women whose common bond is social interaction. While they number 30-40 individuals, rarely more than 5-6 are present at any one time. Some of them are retired, but others arrive from their night jobs, extended coffee breaks, or long lunch hours to spend five minutes or an hour, touching base, learning the latest. The bridge is the Croton-on-Hudson railroad trestle over the mouth of the Croton River, where it meets Croton Bay. The setting is a bench at the village boat launch where canoes, kayaks and car-toppers are set into the Croton River. The dirt, sand, and gravel launch is a conduit for stories from crabbers, fishermen, paddlers, birdwatchers, and river lovers. Seasonally the air is filled with ospreys and eagles, shorebirds and wading birds, sunrises, sunsets, and storms. These, in and of themselves, provide context for the stories told and retold. Christopher Letts.]

5/27- Town of Wappinger, HRM 67.5: The last light of day was fading over the river as the full moon rose behind me. Even in the limited light, I could see our first hummingbird of the spring. This was three weeks later than last year, although they certainly could have stopped by when no one was looking. It circled the feeders and then darted away. We had just refilled them so they will be back.

- Phyllis Lake

5/27 - Hudson Highlands, HRM 52-48: Mountain laurel was blooming everywhere on this early date! From mountain summits to lowland ponds, some now encircled with a necklace of pink, the forest has been quietly festooned.

- Bob Kakerbeck

5/27 - George's Island to Croton Point, HRM 39-35: On a late afternoon kayak paddle, I passed by what looked like a length of floating rubber hose. Since I usually try to extract and bag the various types of garbage that are thrown into the river, I turned and retrieved it. It was a dead American eel, hard bodied, brownish gray, approximately a foot long and an inch and a half thick.

- Stephen Butterfass

5/28 - Albany, HRM 145: From the Red Hook Journal, Friday, May 28, 1909 - "Captain Leroy, of Albany, caught a 360 pound sturgeon in the river at that place Tuesday afternoon. It is the first big sturgeon that has been caught in Albany waters in years."

- Maynard Ham

5/28 - Ulster County, HRM 97: I'm happy to report that lightning bugs have been appearing almost every night, especially when it's been very warm. A hummingbird arrived at my window today and the swallows, seemingly late to arrive, are now cruising at dusk over the Hudson River for their bug treats.

- Peg Duke

5/28 - Esopus Meadows RM 87: It was a banner fishing day today with 5th graders from Woodstock Elementary. We had every student in waders and each one pulled in at least one fish from our beach seine. Our final tally in a dozen hauls: 15 white perch, 10 killifish, 2 pumpkinseed sunfish, 2 six-inch striped bass, 2 eels, and one male blue crab.

- Eli Schloss

5/28 - Beacon, HRM 61: It was a banner day for carp catch and release at Long Dock - three of them: the largest weighed 20 lb, 2 oz (length 35 inches, girth 23 inches); a second weighed 17 lb 4 oz; the smallest was 10 lb, 4 oz. A 2 lb. channel catfish, caught on the same corn kernels and bread bait as the carp, completed the fishing day. I could see no sign yet of carp spawning.

- Bill Greene

5/29 - Hudson River Estuary, HRM 154-46: To date, we have detected 37 of the 44 American shad that were caught and tagged this spring with sonic tags along the 85-mile reach from the George Washington Bridge to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. Tracking continued this week; each day the crew covered a specific section of the river from the Bear Mountain Bridge to the Troy Dam, "listening" for tagged fish. However, as the spawning season nears an end, we were only able to detect four shad - the fish are leaving the river, real fast!

- "Expose" was found near Cold Spring (river mile 54). Last week we heard her 90 miles upriver near the Corning Preserve boat launch.

- We found "Michael Jackson" near Newburgh (river mile 61). Last week he was detected 90 miles upriver above Albany.

- The following day we moved farther north and found "U2" near Sturgeon Point (river mile 91). "U2" was heard 60 miles upriver the week of May 8.

- We had our final detection, the "Weather Girls," the next day near Matthew Point, just south of New Baltimore; she had been in the "hot spot" north of Albany during the week of May 8.

- Amanda Higgs, NYSDEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit

[Our sonic American shad tags are able to work in salt water; that's the beauty of sonic signals rather than radio signals. The tags are guaranteed for 110 days, with the idea that they will probably last a little longer. So about a month after the fish leave, the tags will cease to transmit. Other researchers on the coast have receivers that can detect 27 of our shad during the fish's coastal migration. Last year one of our fish was heard by a researcher from Connecticut in Long Island Sound near Plum Island. Plum Island (Suffolk County) is in Gardiners Bay, east of Orient Point at the eastern end of the North Fork of Long Island. Amanda Higgs.]

5/29 - Castleton-on-Hudson, HRM 137.5:

- Covered in whitish bud scales

pine candles stand erect

on a chilly, May morning

for spring's first growth is up;

but in the noon day heat

they go flaccid,

start to turn green and spread out.

Summer's growth mimics mid-life;

once tall, leggy children

develop midriff bulge.

- Wilma Ann Johnson

5/29 - Red Oaks Mill, Town of Poughkeepsie, HRM 74: I was taking down an old dried Christmas wreath that I had placed near my bird feeders for small birds to perch on in winter. As I removed the wreath I saw a flutter and then discovered a small shallow round nest. Two eggs had fallen out; one was cracked but the little chick was trying to emerge from the shell. I replaced the wreath hoping the adult bird might return and within minutes it did. To my surprise the bird was a mourning dove and she sat in her nest to protect her chicks. Now she sits day and night and is not deterred by the nearby feeding birds nor humans peeking at her. What a Mom!

- Victoria Powell

5/30 - Castleton-on-Hudson, HRM 137.5: Driving north from Hudson the thick undergrowth and even the trees, from the road to the railroad tracks and the river, are drowning in miles upon miles of prolific mutiflora rose vines with clusters of small, white flowers each with five petals. In other places, I have seen it growing along stream beds and in open fields. I asked a local farmer about it and he told me that it was an invasive, native to Asia, introduced to stop erosion and serve as a living fence in the 1930s. Instead of keeping the cattle in, however, it is the plant which has gotten out and is presently dominating the landscape in lower Rensselaer County, creating Schodack's Moon Garden.

- Wilma Ann Johnson

5/30 - Wappinger Creek, HRM 67.5: There has been an absence so far this spring of the loud explosions from carp leaping and cavorting as they spawn. In the shallows at low tide I can see their huge shapes milling around but very few are causing a ruckus.

- Tom Lake

5/31 - Stuyvesant, Columbia County, HRM 127: The invasive yellow flag irises were blooming profusely in the Mill Creek freshwater tidal wetlands. The boardwalk at the Lewis A. Swyer Preserve seems to be in extreme disrepair. I think the frequent flooding has contributed.
- Wilma Ann Johnson

5/31 - Ravena, Albany County, HRM 134: We have a small bathtub-sized garden pond in our backyard; today one of the water lilies in it opened up a lovely blossom. But, there is a shortage of frogs; usually we have a dozen or more green frogs taking up residence in and around the pond by this time of the spring, along with a leopard frog or two. I've heard the spring peepers and tree frogs over the past several weeks, but nobody else seems to have made their way to our little pond. What we need is a good soaking downpour some night; then the frogs seem to come up out of the marshes and ponds to roam across the area looking for habitat. At dusk tonight I did find one amphibian. I was putting up additional boards around the sides of the potato box in the garden when I spotted a good-sized American toad hopping out of my way. Now that's the kind of wildlife I like to find among the vegetables!

- Larry Roth

5/31 - Sparkill, Rockland County, HRM 25: While stopped at a red light just south of Sparkill Creek, I spotted an immature bald eagle soaring above the intersection.

- Linda Pistolesi

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