Saturday, December 8, 2012

A pond resident comes to visit.

Just as the ice begins to set up in December, we frequently will spy a mink or an otter enjoying a meal of fresh fish at the ice edge. When Mary spied some activity in the pond in front of the house, I assumed that I would find one of those pond dwellers in my camera's lens. What came into focus was another resident - a muskrat.

Muskrats feed mostly on vegetation, but the foraging evidence they most often leave for us is a pile of fresh water mussel shells from the previous night's meal near the water's edge.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Barred Owls - Who Cooks for You?

Barred Owl on Stoney Lonsesome Road

I think barred owls are my favorites, if for no other reason than their most recognizable call. The mnemonic is "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all".  Today we were driving along Stoney Lonesome Road, on the north side of Eagle Lake in Essex County, and Mary spied this fellow in the woods. Luckily I had my camera on the back seat set up with a telephoto lens. 

I think we should call him Archimedes. Anyone remember why?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Lobster" Mushrooms

It is the first day of autumn and we had some scattered showers overnight. 
We found lots of "Lobster Fungus" mushrooms all over the property today. 

The fungus is technically not a mushroom, but a parasite that feeds on mushrooms. Whatever it is, it's delicious, with a mild "seafood" flavor and firm texture (and it does look like a cooked lobster!)  I found a few rissoto recipes on the internet, but a quick saute in butter yielded great results.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hoffman Notch ~ Trout Brook

Footbridge over Trout Brook West Branch on Big Pond Trail

Yesterday a friend and I walked back into the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area to fish for brook trout in the appropriately named Trout Brook.  We actually ran across a few other hikers, which is most unusual on this little used trail.  One group was coming back from Marion Pond, which is on the list of ponds to be reclaimed and restocked with "heritage" brook trout as part of the Hoffman Notch DEC master plan.
Sulphur Shelf Mushroom

Last week I made the same trip with a group of friends, and as I passed by a bright orange sulphur shelf mushroom, I casually commented "That's edible."  Unbeknownst to me, someone behind me broke some off and ate it. Bad idea.  Many "edibles" still need to be cooked to be edible, and any wild mushroom should be carefully examined to assure its pedigree.  PS - this sulphur mushroom,  a small hen of the woods, tastes like chicken.  They can grow to enormous size.

Artist's Conk Mushrooms are used for drawing.

A cluster of shelf mushrooms sometimes called Artist's Conk, are used by artists for drawing. Impressions made on the mushroom's flat surface in the first day after harvest will dry and be preserved for many years.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

A "Fish Eye" View

Our world as they know it (from the fish's perspective).

From under the dock

Aphrodite Came to Visit

An Aphrodite Fritillary

We had another winged visitor at the pond last weekend, and not the usual Swallowtails that we see this time of year.  She (- why do all butterflies look female?) stopped to sample some flowering chives, before stopping to rest on a nearby hemlock. I had some trouble finding a picture to try and identify the species. I finally found a photo of an "Aphrodite Fritillary" taken in Quebec, on the Duke University website, which seemed to match the color pattern and the geography.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Our loon came to visit yesterday, and sat in front of the house posing for pictures. We have not had a nesting pair on Bullet Pond in many years.  I think there may be too much human activity on the pond for their liking. 

Birds frequently fly over from nearby Horseshoe Pond to fish.  I have read that these birds will not take off from their home water once they have settled in for the summer because it is difficult for loons to get airborne, but my experience disproves that.  They can be heard calling as they fly over from Horseshoe, and they take off and land many times during the season.     


An opsrey brings in branches, one at a time.
We came across two nesting ospreys this week. One was just south of Crown Point near Lake Champlain. The second was in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area, in a beaver pond also being used by Great Blue Herons for a nesting site.  Last year a pair built a nest on Alder Meadow Road on the north end of Schroon Lake, but they abandoned that nest.

This bird was not happy to see me!

Osprey can be induced to build nests on platforms mounted on tops of telephone poles near water. Ospreys are fish eaters, often crashing into the water when seizing fish, rather than skimming and grabbing fish from the surface like other birds of prey.   

On a nest in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bluegills on Spawning Beds

A bluegill guards her nest - called a redd. 
Spring time nesting is not just "for the birds"!  The last week of May brings the pond's bluegills to the warmer water around the shore line, where they clean up a circle of pond bottom - around 18" in diameter - to lay their eggs. They stay on the nest, called a redd, guarding it for a few weeks.

Great Blue Heron Rookery ~ Hoffman Notch Wilderness

A beaver pond on Rogers Brook

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area comprises 36,000 acres of New York State Forest Preserve. The area's southern border is Hoffman Road, running west from Schroon Lake village. Great Blue herons nest there each year, arriving from their southern sojourns in March, and timing their nesting to coincide with the annual ice out in mid April. This year ice out was three weeks earlier than normal.

A beaver pond created by damming Rogers Brook provides the standing tall dead trees that the birds prefer for nesting sites.  This year an osprey also nested on the east end of the marsh.

Three Story Townhouse, zoned multi-family residential

There are birds sitting on sixteen nests this year, compared to thirteen in 2011.  The herons frequently visit Bullet Pond to fish and forage for frogs along the shoreline.    

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yellow Swallowtails

Yellow Swallowtail

We seem to have an abundance of butterflies this year, and this yellow swallowtail spent the afternoon on our chive plants, which are now in full bloom.

These guys shared a lilac bloom in late afternoon.