June 1, 2011
- Stream Life
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center and Norrie Point Environmental Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
Streams form when volumes of water are pulled across the surface of the earth by gravity. They are filled with all sorts of life; plants, insects, fish, amphibians and even some mammals rely on streams. It may seem like a tough place to live, but some plants and animals are specially suited for it. Algae and moss can grow in the current, but most plants with roots must grow near the shoreline. Small aquatic animals have very streamlined bodies and other adaptations that enable them to live in fast water, where they do everyday things: eat, breath, move or hold fast. Some even have built-in suction cups that secure them to the rocks.
A riffle is a shallow area of a stream that flows swiftly when the water level is low. It is covered by gravel-size or larger bed sediment that builds up during high-water levels. Stream life in fast-moving riffles has its advantages. As the water tumbles and churns over the rough bottom, oxygen is mixed into it from the air above. In addition, the water picks up nutrients from decomposing plant and animal matter and carries it to other parts of the stream. Trees along the banks of small streams provide shade that keeps the water cool. Riffle habitats contain a greater variety of organisms than other areas of streams, and these organisms serve as food for many of the fish and wildlife found in and along streams.
So what types of creatures live in a stream? Crayfish, fish, salamanders, snails and plenty of insects can be found in a stream, where each habitat provides a home for different plants and animals. Many aquatic insects spend much of their lives under the water. Look for the water strider, an insect with hair-fringed legs that skates along the surface. Or, by pulling a rock out of a riffle, you may discover it is covered with tiny blackfly larvae or stonefly or mayfly nymphs. You may even find caddisfly larvae that build cases around themselves made of various materials. Caddisflies attach these cases to underwater objects to anchor them in the fast-moving currents.
Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think about Outdoor Discovery.
Subscribe to Conservationist magazine-New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
Scope It Out
Want to get a close look at what is underwater? You can make your own underwater scope with just a few materials: a large can (like a coffee can), plastic wrap, a sturdy rubber band, scissors and a can opener. Use the can opener to open both ends of the can. Cut a circle of plastic wrap to fit tightly over one end of the can and secure it with the rubber band. Make sure there is enough extra wrap to hang over the edges of the can slightly. You can also tape around the edge (on top of the rubber band) to keep the plastic firmly in place.
The next time you go out exploring, bring your underwater scope. Stand still in shallow water, and place the plastic-covered end of the coffee can in the water until it is about an inch below the surface. Look down into the water through the scope, and watch the water life. Although most aquatic life lives in the faster-moving riffle areas within small streams, fascinating critters can be found along the edges of ponds. Here, diving beetles and dragonfly larvae are easy to discover and to catch.
Get Your Feet Wet
Now that you know what is swimming around your feet, take a closer look. Head to a stream or pond, and bring a bucket, a shovel for sand, cheesecloth, magnifying lens and rubber sandals or water shoes. (Make sure your footwear fits well. Flip-flops don't work.) Wade a few inches into shallow water, and dig an inch or two into the bottom. Fill your bucket halfway with the soil you dig up, and add a little of the water to keep it wet. Scoop a cup of the soil and water onto your cheesecloth and allow the water to drain back into the stream or pond. What is left on your cheesecloth? Remember to quickly and gently return everything you find to its original spot.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Old Fashioned Family Sing-a-Long with Chris Ruhe
Friday, June 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Fishing at Norrie Point
Saturday, June 11 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
How to Do It: Nature Photography
Saturday, June 4 at 10:00 AM
Bring your camera, storage media and extra batteries to this beginners' program for aspiring shutterbugs. Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, June 1.
Saturday, June 4 at 2:00 PM
Watchable Wildlife: Beavers
Friday, June 10 at 7:00 PM
Watchable Wildlife: Waterfowl
Saturday, June 11 at 2:00 PM
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center
Wild Blue Lupine Walk
Saturday, June 4 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Please wear long pants, long-sleeve shirt, sturdy walking shoes and bring a drink. Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Central New York
45th Anniversary of Rogers Environmental Education Center
Saturday, June 11 at 9:00 AM
Register on the Friends of Rogers website.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursdays, June 2 and 9 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Tuesdays, June 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM
Assist with hour-long projects to help maintain and improve ecosystems and trails throughout the preserve.
Saturday, June 4 at 9:30 AM
Saturday, June 4 at 11:00 AM
Alien Invader Investigation
Friday, June 10 at 6:00 PM
Saturday, June 11 at 10:30 AM