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Hudson River Almanac June 22 - June 27, 2013

OVERVIEW

It was a quiet week, illuminated by a gorgeous "Supermoon," that included stories of snakes, mulberries, hungry carp, and the education of eagles.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

6/27 - Town of Poughkeepsie: In the ongoing education of the eagle fledgling from NY62, the adult female has been leaving food (fish) on a couple of tree stumps not far from the nest. The fledgling appears to be comfortable; he perches in a white pine near the nest, spending much of his time preening, stretching, or napping. He occasionally takes a short flight to see if food has been left on the tree stumps.
- Terry Hardy, Bob Rightmyer, Judy Winter

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

A nothern copperhead suns itself in a bed of dry grass.

6/22 - Kingston, HRM 92: Dawn spotted it first: We came upon a beautiful northern copperhead snake sunning itself at Onteora Lake in Kingston.
- Dave Yozzo, Dawn Osselmann

[Coppperheads are one of three venomous snakes in New York State. The other two are rattlesnakes: the timber rattlesnake and the eastern massasauga - the latter not found in the Hudson Valley. As with all protected terrestrial species, due to the often unbridled zeal of collectors, and in the interest of preservation, we do not give exact locations where they are found. Tom Lake. Photo of northern copperhead by Dave Yozzo.]

6/22 - Norrie Point, HRM 85: Twenty-nine anglers of all ages tried their luck at our monthly DEC Hudson River Fishing Program. A strong south breeze softened the 88 degree Fahrenheit air temperature. Of the eleven fish landed, three were caught by five-year-old Erin Cleary, the largest of which was a fourteen-inch-long white catfish. The highlights of the catch included three species of bullhead catfish (yellow and brown bullhead plus white catfish) as well as several yearling striped bass 140-170 millimeters [mm] long. The river, still turbid with runoff from last week's seven inches of rain, was 66 degrees F.
- Tom Lake, Ryan Coulter

6/23 - Minerva, HRM 284: The rainy weather with glimpses of the sun has done amazing things greenery-wise. I was out for an early morning walk and it was a great day for "singers" - a red-eyed vireo, plenty of red-winged blackbirds, swamp sparrows, song sparrows, least flycatchers, and pied-bill grebe (what a swell sound). Mink frogs and green frogs were also making themselves known. In the water we had a veritable field of bullhead lilies with just a handful of white water lilies blooming. Along the trail to the woodland pond, a beautiful pink lady's-slipper orchid was in bloom. It was a fine day for a hike around the back forty for sure.
- Mike Corey

6/23 - Saw Kill, HRM 98.5: An eighteen-inch-long northern water snake was hunting at the edge of one of the series of waterfalls where the Saw Kill briskly cascades down into the Hudson. The snake was busy trying to snap up some sort of small fry that were hurling themselves upstream against the full force of the falls. Down at the mouth of the creek, several large carp (two to three feet long) were also very interested in something and were scouting out the area. To add to the general melee, cicadas were flying and singing everywhere.
- Sarah Underhill

6/23 - Croton Point, HRM 34: While I walked on the Croton Bay side of the Point at low tide, an adult bald eagle flew overhead, taking advantage of the breeze. At times it was being pursued by several small birds that probably took exception to the eagle's presence so close to their nesting area. It settled in a distant tree for a while and then continued soaring. I wondered if this was the same eagle that has been nesting on the other side of the Hudson River just north of Nyack for several years now?
- Dennis Mastafiak

[There was a time, not long ago, when a summer sighting of an adult bald eagle along the Hudson River could quite confidently be attributed to one of the very few nests that existed. Now, however, with as many as 25 nests along the river and in the nearby uplands, we can only guess from where they have come to hunt the river. Tom Lake.]

6/23 - Bronx, New York City: The East River marshes at City Island were draining quickly in the ebb tide just before what would be a blazing red dawn. Three evenly spaced, stark-white great egrets positively glowed as they foraged in the tide pools in the light of the Supermoon. The day's air temperature would reach 91 degrees F.
- Tom Lake

[A "Supermoon" is the coincidental occurrence of a full moon with the closest approach that the Moon makes to the Earth on its orbit. This results in the largest apparent size of the Moon as seen from Earth. Tom Lake.]

6/24 - Town of Poughkeepsie: On this steamy summer day the new fledgling from eagle nest NY62 was perched in a white pine, panting like a puppy. It is not uncommon on days like this for an eagle to find some shallows along the river and go wading to cool off.
- Tom Lake

6/24 - Kowawese, HRM 59: The high tide from yesterday's Supermoon, coupled with the high river level from all of the precipitation in the watershed, pushed the tide line far up on the beach and into the flood plain. The only higher reach of the tide I have seen here occurred with surge attributed to tropical storms.
- Tom Lake

A northern map turtle on a stack of lumber

6/24 - New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: While heading out of our driveway, I encountered what may have been the same female northern map turtle that crossed the drive last year to lay her eggs, and at virtually the same location. She must have been at the upper end of the size range for map turtles, as I measured her carapace at 11.5 inches long. She tried excavating several nest sites but the combination of Item 4 and road gravel was resistant, so she moved on. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay around long enough to see where she finally nested. [Photo of map turtle by Steve Stanne.]
- David Cullen

6/24 - Orange County, HRM58: I went out to the mouth of Moodna Creek this morning, hoping for a smooth cruise in my kayak and sightings of a few birds. I got the birds, but a steady southerly wind kicked up a healthy supply of waves. It was low tide, the mud flats were fully exposed, and perched here and there were two adult and two immature bald eagles. The adults' white heads were visible from a long ways off. The highlight of the morning was an eagle-osprey chase. When an osprey appeared overhead, flying out of Moodna Creek with a fish, both adult eagles quickly took flight in pursuit of a "free" meal. The osprey, however, won this one and made it down toward Storm King Mountain with its catch.
- Michael Pogue

[This adult pair is probably from the Sloop Hill nest (NY50) and appears to have fledged two young this spring. Tom Lake.]

6/24 - Fort Montgomery, HRM 46.5: Just north of the old Fort Montgomery Marina, soon to be the Mine Dock Park thanks to Scenic Hudson, I saw a group of blue jays mobbing a raven. There has been a pair of ravens hanging out all spring between the south face of Anthony's Nose, Fort Montgomery, and Con Hook two miles upriver. I would have thought that with their kinship with crows they would be "mobbers" not "mobbees."
- Scott Craven

6/25 - Blooming Grove HRM 55: I have noticed a decline in the number of cardinals at the feeders and only one pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks. At this time there are usually quite a few hummingbirds zipping in and around the feeders as well, but sadly I have seen only one. The gardens are full of their favorite flowers as well. Has anyone else noticed an apparent decline?
- Carol Coddington

6/25 - Croton River, HRM 34: As we crossed the railroad bridge over the mouth of the Croton River heading south on Metro North this morning, I saw an adult bald eagle flying over the Hudson River and headed toward Croton Point. It was only ten feet over the water and twenty yards from the bridge, so it was clearly visible from the train.
- Hugh L. McLean

6/25 - Garnerville, Rockland County HRM 45: While heading to the backyard to fill the bird feeders, I was delighted to see a large wood turtle on the path. This was the first one I had ever seen, and one that I did not expect to see in my yard.
- Caroline McDonald

6/26 - Esopus Meadows, HRM 87: Looking out over the Hudson, I watched three great blue herons, one of which was having plenty of success catching blue crabs close to shore. Farther out, two groups of double-crested cormorants were sitting watching the passing water traffic. Just upriver from all this, an adult bald eagle crossed the river and disappeared behind some trees.
- Jamie Collins

6/26 - Hunter's Brook, HRM 67.5: We electro-shocked Hunter's Brook today, assessing if it would serve our purposes as an autumn sampling site for "silver eels." We caught 30 eels where the brook meets the tidal Wappinger, half of which were of a size that we could tag (>250 mm). One of them was 700 mm (28" long). We also caught a few rock bass. There are stone walls on either side of the creek stream that have great hiding places for eels. We also caught a huge northern clearwater crayfish (Orconectes propinquus), a native species.
- Sarah Mount, Chris Bowser, Bob Schmidt

["Silver eels" refers to American eels, 20-30 years old, that have undergone physical changes preparatory to spawning. They have changed from the green-and-yellow coloration of their yellow eel phase, to dark black and stark white. Their eyes become enlarged and their alimentary canals atrophy. These changes are adaptations to traveling in the deep, dark waters of the North Atlantic to the eels' Sargasso Sea spawning sites, the exact locations of which are still a mystery. Tom Lake]

6/27 - Hudson, HRM 118: Comments in the Hudson River Almanac about carp eating mulberries reminds me of when I was a child. We used white mulberries for bait to catch carp in the river at Hudson.
- Sal Cozzolino

6/27 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: Windrows of dead cicadas lined the shore in places where the tide could not reach. On Day 36, their hum had receded to what sounded like a pretty average late-summer level.
- Tom Lake

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