What's Your Nature?

Become a Nature Up North explorer to share your encounters with wild things and wild places in New York's North Country. Post your wildlife sightings, landscape shots, photos from your outings, and even your organization's events!

Encounters

Walking through the woods and came across the site sign of Spring...pussywillows!

It was a beautiful day for an adventure! The 20°F weather felt unusually warm in the sun after all of the cold temps we have had. I snowshoed from Rt. 47 along the Grasse River to the hydro plant and back. The snow depth was quite variable and had drifted up to knee-height in places. Snowshoes were helpful but the snow was too dry to stay on top of it. Gaiters would be a nice addition next time.

It’s that time of year when it sounds like machine guns going off at my sisters camp. She has a metal roof and when these fall it sounds like Gun shots going off.

Protecting her babies as I was driving by them.

Canoeing we saw this momma loon setting on her nest

While out kayaking these two were chasing each other around the lake I thought they were going to fly right into my kayak!

This loon did a nice stretch, I think he wanted to make sure we saw him.

Walking through the woods and there was a beautiful little patch of these the sun was shining down on.

While walking in the woods this little chipmunk ran up the tree . It’s hard to see him because when you look up you notice all the leaves starting to pop open with the beautiful sunshine!

Driving up CR 27 toward Canton, I saw two bald eagles sitting in a mowed field along with several crows and ravens. Perhaps they were at a gut pile?  The smaller birds began to harass the eagles who took flight. One landed on a nearby power pole where it was dive-bombed a few times. The other was harassed in flight, eventually landing back on the ground. The bad pictures from my phone don’t do the observation justice. 

Took another hike at Lampson Falls to enjoy fall colors. The chewed beech was new since being there 2 days earlier. The porcupine on the walk out was a bonus - ran into 2 of my advisees right when we saw it. Amazing given my Twitter name is @porcupinedoc. Without diligent Tulip the Labrador there to notice I don’t think any of us would have noticed it. 

Beautiful fall day along the Lampson loop!

Saw this nice little garter snake while walking in the woods 

I was looking for good photos for the Calendar Contest when I thought to take some pictures of a pond nearby. I think this was the best out of the ones I took.

My grandmother invited me to her house to get pictures of what she calls the "perfect Elm."

I was taking a break from photography to get a drink and I looked up, realizing that the perfect picture is something we look at every day.

I was looking for some great Calendar Contest photos when I found this dragonfly and quickly pulled out my camera to get some photos.

I found a tree that was partly hollowed out and stuck my camera in there.

My dad was once very ambitious and decided to carve an owl out of a stump. Surprisingly, it went very well and we also have a carved mushroom in our lawn!

I love eating fresh blueberries straight off the bush and it tastes so much better than storebought ones.

I wanted to play with depth perception while I had the chance with some hay bales!

I love taking pictures of our garden because you really get to take in the beauty of it all when you truly look into it.

We had a wonderful Garlic Festival this year at Birdsfoot farm, with many friends and community members stopping by to help peel and bunch our garlic harvest. The garlic crop was late this year by nearly two weeks due to the spring/summer rains, and there was some concern over getting all the garlic in and harvested. All worked out in the end though, and we're looking forward to garlic all winter, as are many happy CSA members!

Ther is a half-mile trail from the gate to the pond. I did a bushwhack around the pond and ended up with a two-mile round trip hike. It is easy up until the bushwhacking, then it gets tough. Just before the pond is a maple tree that had been struck by lightning and burned out from the inside, but left the outer wood living. It was plenty big enough for me to fit inside with my pack.

Red Dragonfly at Hart's Falls. 

While enjoying a peaceful gorgeous day at Lampsons Falls I saw this little guy sitting beside me in a shallow pool of water. It was like he was my side kick taking in all the beauty around us and the sounds of the falls. He sat there as long as I did. He was still there when I left a few hours later.

Some of the summer flowers blooming today 

While enjoying a beautiful early morning kayak with my cousin on Trout Lake I love looking for turtles and the beauty of the water flowers!

Saw these two beautiful butterflies hanging out in Lampson Falls! Not sure what kind they are though. 

Enjoyed a nice walk to Harper's Falls this morning.  Lots of wildflowers!  Too many for one encounter, so I'm posting a second one as well!

Second post of flowers from my lovely hike at Harper's falls this morning.

Although this old farmhouse has long been uninhabited by people, it has been home to several litters of red fox over the past few years.

Other than the hungry mosquitos, it was a nice evening to walk along the Oswegatchie River in Edwards.

This is a great short hike that is usually pretty secluded. With a dozen cars at Lampson falls that day, this was perfect.

Perfect timing for Hepatica! Thousands of flowers in white, pink and blue.

Happy Earth Day!  The red maples are in full bloom - it is easy to forget that some of our trees are flowering plants - they flower before they leaf out, which presumably give the wind-dispersed pollen a chance to move more easily.  Very lovely.

This salamander I felt like I wasn't even looking for! Usually I look for larger logs, but I just happened to pick up this stick and it was there. This one is also cool because it shows how dark the sides of the salamander can be.

I went home for Easter Sunday since I am a local student and spent some time on my back porch since it was so nice out. There's a little marshy area in my side yard and I could hear the spring peepers peeping!

Enjoyed a calm walk in the woods after a light spring rain. Pleasantly surprised to see ramps (wild leeks) starting to come up! 

A frigid and snowy day made it tough, but this is always a favorite hike. A nice fire at the lean-to warmed things up.

A nice Christmas trek along Plum Brook in Russell (Whippoorwill State Forest). Combined with the Lariat trail, it makes a nice 2.8 loop.

Though further south in the Adirondacks there has been some "snow that sticks", these are first real flurries this morning, and the snow really shows up on the thin layer of ice forming on this beaver pond.

This is a very neat trek.Usually we hike or paddle to our destination- but this time we changed things up. We rode on a horse drawn wagon that runs the 5 miles (each way) to the great camp. It costs $25 each and was well worth it. The trip in is typical Adirondack mixed hardwoods.after about a mile you stop at the farm site to look around the remaining building there. The camp and outbuildings are open for exploring and there are canoes and a kayak in the boathouse free to use. The fellow driving the team(Larry) did a nice informative tour of the grounds.

I enjoyed a visit to The Forest School at Stone Hill Farm for the new school's October Family Day / Home School Day. It was a beautiful, 70 degree fall day, and we spent the morning in the woods with families and the schools co-founders, Tasha Akins and Megan Holloway letting the kids discover what the forest had to offer. Highlights included playing in the stream, finding a huge snapping turtle, and collecting fall leaves for a color wheel activity. 

I found this tiny snake with the help of some students during a visit to the Forest School at Stone Hill Farm. After some research, I believe he or she is either a juvenile Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) or a juvenile Northern Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata). 

I came across this huge common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) attempting to cross County Route 25. Another concerned motorist pulled over too, and together we used long sticks to coax her/him across the highway in the direction she was facing. While we were successful, snappers are dangerous to move - sticks and/or shovels have worked for me, but I generally recommend staying on the side of caution. 

A nice relaxing hike to Lampson Falls is a great way to get away from college stress.

This is a short (3 mile round trip) hike on the old G&O railroad grade. It starting to look like fall, and the continuous flocks of geese made it sound that way too.

Amelia loves to catch frogs and this one was a prize! From nose to toes it was about 2 feet. We studied it and took lots of pictures of this big boy, the released it back into Boyd Pond.

My family tried to beat the heat on a hot August Sunday with a trip down the Tooley Pond Road to check out the waterfalls. We didn’t make it past Twin Falls because it was such a beautiful and interesting spot, and it was nice and cool in the waterfalls’ floor bottom. Evidence of the area’s past abounds, and the main falls are quite impressive.

Greeted by sunning frogs and a gushing waterfall, the day was a perfect one to carry out water monitoring procedures along the Grasse River. The team waded into clear water about a foot deep to determine water quality using a number of chemical and physical testing methods. After an hour of sorting through dozens of macroinvertebrates including caddisflies, riffle beetles, and mayflies to analyze species ratios of varying tolerances, the water quality of Hart's Falls is looking good!

Took a quick morning jaunt at Harper's falls to see what is blooming.  Nice hike, nice day.

Another gorgeous day in the NoCo and I'm trying, somewhat irregularly, to keep track of the onset of wildflowers. Didn't have much time today, but saw foam flower and I *think* wild strawberry.  Hazards of photography with a lab: ki might stick a nose in the photo - gotta be quick!

White Trillium are quite spectacular this year! Usually by the time they start turning pink they are pretty beat.

After being out of town for a week, I see that spring sprung while I was gone!  This assortment of flowers was up to greet me this morning - as well as some purple violets.  Leaves are out, and spring is here with a vengence!  My maples have fully unfurled leaves, Amelanchior is flowering, and the redbud tree I planted in my yard did not die over the winter (not so sure I can say the same for the flowering dogwood).  After a very long winter, these signs of spring are welcome!

While passing through the area on Sunday, I went for a lovely afternoon hike to Harper Falls with a couple of friends, including Emlyn from Nature Up North. As we made our way toward the falls, we admired an abundance of spring ephemerals, including trout lilies, ramps, red trilliums, and some others that I couldn't identify. It's hard to believe that I never knew about this beautiful trail in the four years I went to school at SLU!

Strange strange "spring" we're having but beautiful nonetheless.  Woke this morning to more fresh snow to sit on top of the ice storm results from the past weekend.  While I'm really ready for flowers, the snow is lovely.

I saw geese returning for the first time this season early this morning, in a group of 20-30. Seems early, but with recent weather they should find plenty of open water.

This icy trip to Lampson Falls turned into a memorable first snowshoeing experience for these two young women in the international student program at St. Lawrence - one from Sweden and the other from Finland. Both did an incredible job staying on their feet. Snowshoes or crampons highly recommended to anyone looking to visit the falls, the recent thaw/freeze cycle has made for slippery conditions!

Walking in my neighbor's fields and stumbled upon some beautiful seeds and animal signs. Usually I'd be skiing this time of year, and it's strange to see the bare ground.

We had a wonderful afternoon hike at Lampson Falls today with our spring crew of Nature Up North interns and research students. The weather was overcast and misty, but temps were in the high 20's and the falls were beautiful. It looks like quite a few people have made it out since last week's snowfall, but snowshoes and crampons helped with wet and slippery conditions, especially around the falls. For a few students, it was their first experience on snowshoes!

The day before was 58 degrees with heavy rain all day, and down to zero by morning. Add in a foot of snow overnight and the Oswegatchie river was as high as it gets in the spring. The water was running at least 6-7 feet above normal, and had already dropped about 18" by the time we were there in the afternoon. There was a pretty big ice jam several hundred yard downstream of the trestle. The water and ice were backed up about 200 yards into the woods from the banks of the river. It was only 2 degrees, but made for a fun and quick snowshoes trek.

Driving into the Buckhorn Club after a snowy night. It was picture perfect!

Had a great time exploring the Downerville State Forest trails with a friend (and a few pups) this past weekend. The weather continues to be unseasonably warm, but we weren't complaining and the dogs enjoyed splashing around in Harper's Falls. The beech leaves are still hanging on, but most of the others have fallen by now and the open forest was a beautiful sight.

We found a wealth of pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) on a recent hike to Moon Lake, in the Wolf Lake state forest in Hermon. I don't know that they are particularly rare, but I have seen more of them this summer than any other time. These were on a bog like point and there were quite a few "patches" to be seen.

We went here to see the fall foliage. The leaves were beautiful and really added to the views on the lake. There were a lot of frogs and quite a few snakes. Most of the snakes were less than a foot (including a green snake!) but they were all too fast to take pictures of. At one point you literally have to climb over a beaver dam so be careful. Very nice day hike.

We were greeted by a shower of bright reds and golds at Lampson Falls today on a Nature Up North hike with St. Lawrence families for Family Weekend. The group also spotted a few downy woodpeckers above the falls. Despite overcast weather, it was a beautiful afternoon!

Last night was the first hard frost at my house in Canton and at camp in Pierrepont.  Layer of ice on the windshield and beautiful ice crystals outlining so many things.  Lovely.

The launch point for this lake is about 12 miles from the nearest paved road. This means that for the most part the lake is undisturbed. This is a great place to paddle along in a kayak when you have no where to be and plenty of time to get there. The water was very calm and quite clear. You can see the bottom in most places. One thing we did notice was the lack of large fish and waterfowl. After exploring around more we discovered that there was not a lot of aquatic vegetation so this is likely the reason. After a quick lunch we went to the stone dam farther up the road.

St. Lawrence Land Trust volunteers met with Nature Up North interns Liz and Maya to learn more about our new water monitoring project, soon to be publicized on our website. NCPR intern Claire also participated to gain insight for an upcoming story on our project - stay tuned! Volunteers familiarized themselves with the protocol procedures, collected physical, chemical, and biological data to assess water quality, and gave feedback for future volunteer trainings. Thanks to our volunteers for a beautiful, sunny morning on the Grasse River! 

First swim out at Lampson Falls this weekend. Temps were in the high 80's, and the rocks were cooking - glad we brought towels to sit on! Highly recommend taking a walk down the trail past the falls.

Spotted this Blanding's Turtle crossing in the early evening while biking home. The bright yellow throat makes these guys stand out, but they are a state threatened species and quite a rare sight.

Today the students in the SLU Conservation Biology class, composed of all seniors, took our "final exam" as a hike to the giant beaver dam in the Wolf Lake State Forest. Great way to spend some stress-free time together as a group before all these wonderful folks graduate and get out into the world to make a difference for the environment. I'm always proud of these students, and this year was no exception!

Located off of the Dean road- 8 miles in from CR27. It took some doing to get here- the sign is misleading, and we hiked three miles in the wrong place. Still it was worth it when we finally got there. Stone dam was used by loggers to hold back the water and logs, and then open the gates to send the logs downstream to the mills at Lampson Falls. If you are interested, I have the whole story here: https://hikingthetrailtoyesterday.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/stone-dam/

Wild leeks are in! Spent some time walking in the woods the other day and came across a few impressive patches of these early spring arrivals. It's always good to be careful when collecting wild edible plants, but I find leeks (or ramps) are easily identifiable by their soft green leaves, the purple color between leaf and bulb, and their delicious garlic-y smell. These were great sauteed with butter.

Perfect day for a hike to Basford falls. High water always makes it a bit more impressive. Basford falls is located 1.4 miles from the DeGrasse end of the Tooley pond road. It’s a pretty easy .7 (round trip) trail to the falls. Once you start down the hill to the falls, you’ll go through some awesome white pine trees. Well worth the trip, even if you are not going to visit the other falls on the road.

Finishing this year's sugaring in the woods. Great way to spend time outside. My favorite picture is the second one, with maple trees reflected in the not-quite-syrup.

After the sun sets, the sky takes on a beautiful blue toward the end of dusk and just before full on darkness. Beautiful. One shot is with the flash, the other without. I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place as this.

The field by this part of the Little River flooded this weekend, and I was captivated by the shapes the ice formed as it froze in thin layers around the grasses. Nearby, we came upon this impressive scat sample. Best guess is a coyote- one who's been snacking on snowshoe hare by the looks of it.

Most people have been to Lampson falls, and if not you should go. Easily the most popular and one of the easily accessed waterfalls in the region, and it's on the main branch of the Grasse river.. It's an easy 6/10th mile (each way) trip, and there is wheelchair access to a very nice overlook of the falls. The last part of that section is cribbed in and filled with stone for a easy grade. You can also go to the bottom of the falls, and up onto a stone outcropped facing the falls head-on. I don't know how many times i have been here, but it never get's old.

Beautiful trip with a visiting friend down to the Grasse River near Pyrites to see Hart's Falls (also known as Flat Rocks). The water cascades around a bend in the river here and the long flat rocks feature a spattering of well worn holes formed by years of moving water. Owned by The St. Lawrence Land Trust, the spot is a conservation preserve open to the public- worth a visit any time of year!

Harper's Falls is on the Downerville road, about a half mile off of C.R.27. This is the North branch of the Grasse river. The hike is 6/10th of a mile from the yellow gate at the parking spot on the left. It's a nice hike through the scrubby hardwoods common to the area. Where the trail meets the river,there were not a lot of views, as the falls is pretty well frozen over. Walking upstream a hundred yards gives you much better views. You can see the stone walls from the sawmills flume still. Very nice hike on a February day.

Out for a quick morning ski with the pup. The river was loud in the quiet of the morning, and Tigger had trouble containing his excitement. It may have been an early start for us, but not for some, several fresh white-tailed deer tracks already criss-crossed the field.

. Mother nature is quite an artist with only water & temperature as the medium.

Basford falls is located 1.4 miles from the DeGrasse end of the Tooley pond road. It's a pretty easy .7 (round trip) trail to the falls. Once you start down the hill to the falls, you'll go through some awesome white pine trees. Well worth the trip, an even better if you are going to visit the other falls on the road. For more info on these falls visit this link- they have everything you need to get you there. ............. http://www.nnywaterfalls.com/index.htm

You can see some of the falls right next to the road. The falls are 3.1 miles from the Degrasse end of the Tooley pond road. This is the sight of the former community of Clarksboro, and the location of a iron blast furnace. To get to the main falls, you'll need to get across the small channel, with the ice & high water we didn't try.There are some great views down stream though. For more info on these falls, this link will give you all you need to know to get you started....................................

This is the part of town referred to as the "island" in Edwards. It was the first part to be settled around 1812, and was on the Russell turnpike .The Russell turnpike was built for use by the military to move troops and supplies between Sackets Harbor and Plattsburgh. The Oswegatchie river splits and made the small island, with a gristmill on the side branch, and a sawmill on the main flow, both powered by water. The gristmill was last used as a private residence until sometime in the early 80s, when it burned.

Great day for a quick (and brisk- only 9 degrees!) hike back to Hart's Falls on the Grasse river. The property is now part of the St. Lawrence land trust. I'm sure because of their acquisition, you'll see some property improvements in the near future. It's only about a quarter mile from the road, but worth the trip. For more info on it, please check out these links................................ http://www.stlawlandtrust.org/content/harts-falls ..........................................

The Edwards nature trail was donated to the town of Edwards, by the Iroquois natural gas line. It runs on the old New York central railroad bed. The train ran from 1893 until the late 1970s. Interestingly enough,in the distance, the sound of the train whistle running through Richville and Bigelow could be heard today. The trail runs about 1.75 miles southwest to the Talcville road. At about the 1/2 mile mark you cross the main branch of the Oswegatchie river on the old railroad trestle.

Just a short snowshoe trip back to boy scout bay on Trout lake. The trail-head sign says 1 mile, but it was closer to 8/10th according to GPS. We started from the the Cedar Lake Public Forest Access Road/ north shore road, about 1/3rd mile off county rt 19 in Hermon. We had freezing rain for a few hours this morning, but by noon everything was done. Mid 20s and overcast, so not too bad for snowshoeing. It's an easy trail and leads to a picnic area on trout lake (complete with an outhouse).

This isn't the biggest white oak around, and not the oldest. But this tree has been through 2 world wars, a civil war, 37 presidents and the majority of the years that the town (and village) of Edwards has been in existence. I came to know this tree in the late 70s/early 80s. I have hunted, fished and trapped by this tree. Rode bicycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and dirt bikes past it. Camped and hiked under it's branches. I've thought often of what has happened in this tree's lifespan, so I decided to do some research.

Took a beautiful snowshoe with 3 lovely labs this morning and am thankful for our beautiful north country. A great way to start Thanksgiving day. Lots of snow - though rain predicted for this afternoon. Very few tracks in the snow (other than those the dogs were making) but I did see a porcupine "half pipe" semi-filled in with snow. Also caught this buck on a game camera during the snowstorm the other day.

The foliage was at its peak for this flight! Jake Malcomb and I headed out to shoot the falls and here are some of the best stills we came away with!

On a mission to collect drone footage of Lampson and fall colors from above, but we took a few from the ground as well.

Edwards-Knox Central School Trail Camera (On Loan From Nature Up North)

Edwards-Knox Central School Trail Camera (On Loan From Nature Up North)

I went for a rainy midday walk in this area in old field succession-- that is, a recently abandoned farmland which has been taken over by shrubs and large weeds, with the intention of becoming forest in time. Over the summer, it was full of milkweed and butterflies. Today, it was mostly grasses, vetch, and scattered clusters of these bright purple New England Asters, members of the sunflower family. These tall wildflowers bloom in September, and have just begun to close up.

While on a class trip to Heart's Falls/ Flat Rocks for a Recreation Research class, we came across multiple praying manti on the short walk from the road to the river.

On a trip to Harts Falls Preserve, I saw intriguing purple flowers. These chicory flowers tend to grow in disturbed areas, roadsides, and fields, which is exactly the type of location I saw them in.

One of my fondest memories as a kid was competing in frog jumping contests. My brother and I would spend hours catching frogs and training them to jump by gently squirting or poking them. We would secretly strategize our frogs of choice, based on size and athleticism, each convinced we knew the formula for a winning frog. I always chose the smallest ones; so much more agile. This past weekend, a few friends and I spent the day at Harper Falls which was hopping with small frogs.

While biking back from Pyrites along Miner St, two friends and I saw a very large, dark bird land on the road. It had a relatively small head of a reddish color and an enormous wingspan (around 3 feet). It took off when we tried to get closer so we couldn't exactly identify its coloration patterns or head shape, but its flight feathers looked a few shades lighter than its dark grey-black-slightly-brown body. I've been leaning towards turkey vulture, but I am not very familiar with that species and could be convinced otherwise.

After a swim at Lampson Falls my sister-in-law went to put on her sandals, when to her surprise a young Northern ringneck snake was sunning itself on top of it. It quickly slithered off and hid in some leaf litter at the base of a rock. Northern ringnecks are not poisonous, and their diets consist of earthworms, insects, salamanders, and frogs.

While out collecting minerals off of Selleck Road in West Pierrepont, I spotted my first Milk Snake! As a young boy, I grew up chasing snakes all over my home state of Maine- but I never once saw a Milk Snake! The non-venomous Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum) was sitting peacefully on a log as a strolled past. He did not flee or strike, but merely watched me as I watched him! I'm so happy that I was able to spot this species in the wild!

Caught this beautiful bear on my game camera. This is only the second time I've caught one this way, just about a year ago. Weird color is due to camera setting. But no mistaking who the visitor is!

Mama raccoon enjoying an easy meal at bird feeder...

It was breathtaking, God's work for sure!

This frog has had better days...

I went looking for the waterfalls and rapids I remember from when I was at St. Lawrence University in the 70s. Much has been wiped out by the hydroelectric facility but it's still a beautiful place.

I'm pretty sure this is a primary feather from a turkey. Such a beautiful design. I heard a gobbler here yesterday. If you find a feather and you'd like to identify it, check out this cool website from the US Fish and Wildlife Service: https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/index.php

On my walk this morning I discovered this interesting spring effect on the ground, resulting in some beautiful ice formations. My hypothesis about how this happens is that now the ground is too warm for ice to form, but while we are getting below-freezing temps at night and while the soil surface is moist, ice crystals form upward, resulting in this very interesting pattern on the ground.

I went out for a short hike with some friends and we stumbled upon the boat and canoe in the middle of the woods. Later on we met the person who put them back there and they said the boat and canoe are for public use, just bring your own paddle. It started snowing heavily after we got there which made for some great photos.

Tooley Pond Road has become one of my favorite hidden treasures of the North Country. Here are some of the many cool encounters I've had today while exploring the waterfalls.

I took a Sunday drive along Tooley Pond Road and came across these unique tracks leading to the water at Basford Falls. I wasn't sure what they were at first but then noticed the paw prints and tail marks and assumed they must be river otter tracks. I followed the slide from the bottom of the falls to the top of the falls where the otter must have exited and re-entered the water. It was pretty neat to see such distinguishable tracks in the winter!

With temperatures fluctuating above and below freezing through the past month of December, Lampson Falls hasn't seen a lot of ice so far this winter! The temperature finally dipped below zero yesterday in Russell and I decided to stop at the falls to check out what they looked like. Here are some of the ice formations starting to grow around Lampson.

Officially, today is the "first day of winter" - which seems surprising, given the weather. We've had a terribly mild autumn. Took these shots on my dog romp this morning in the balmy 45 degrees. Where is the snow and cold?

I went to the Wolf Lake State Forest Beaver Dam with my biology class. It was a beautiful day and the blue sky was reflected perfectly in the water. The most incredible thing, however, was the size of the beaver dam - it must have been at least six feet tall! We explored the edges of the pond, examined the beaver lodge up close, and even saw a beaver! We also heard the beaver slap the water with his tail as a warning. It was a great way to spend a Monday afternoon.

This is a picture of an old beaver dam on Massawepie Lake!

Today, students in Vertebrate Natural History at SLU visited some impressive beaver habitat along the Wolf Lake trail. Starting from the southern trailhead and following the "blue" trail on the Nature Up North trail map, we encountered a series of smallish beaver dams along a creek as we hiked toward Moon Lake. At the top of the series of dams is a larger beaver pond with clear signs of current activity. We continued another 100 meters along the trail to the very large (about 7-8' high) beaver dam depicted in the photo with students in front of it.

It was on a beautiful drive near Newcomb that we drove passed this bison farm. It's the Pleasant Valley Buffalo Ranch.

Waking up early, looking out the bedroom window to see a jaw dropping visual gift made me run for my phone to capture this memory. They usually are only there for a minute or so until the light changes.

We caught a Ruby Throated Hummingbird in my mist netting class!! PC: Michelle Knuepfer

It was a beautiful day at Lampson Falls to go for a swim with friends. There was blue skies and was about 85F

Walking into Lampson Falls and saw this beautiful leaf on the ground...first color seen down. Beautiful but sad to see summer ending at the same time.

Walking into Lampson Falls saw lots of various Mushrooms. This one looked so fragile.

Enjoying the beautiful walk into Lampson and Nature!

Everyone seemed to be out enjoying the warm summer sun this afternoon, including some unique wildlife. The Nature Up North team ventured out on a scavenger hunt for wildlife with the Massena Boys and Girls Club this afternoon, which yielded some interesting discoveries, such as flowering jewelweed, vibrant damselflies and an unidentified caterpillar.

Mergansers feeding on a pond in West Pierrepont.

For the most part this summer, I've gotten pictures of a stray cat on my game cam. Happy to see this pop through - I know these critters are in the area, but hadn't seen evidence yet at my camp. This same trail is host to deer, fox, raccoon, porcupine, and many other critters.

Walked into Lampson Falls and their were about 40 Lady Slippers along the trail.

Went out to camp to clean up my sugaring operation for the season and was treated to nice weather and some nice spring wildflowers (plus ramps, aka wild leeks). First is a red trillium, then spring beauty, then ramps, blue cohosh (I haven't really noticed the lovely but subtle flower on this plant before) and finally trout lily. April showers bring May flowers, after all.

I was happy to see these hepatica flowers sprouting from the forest floor near the Downerville State Forest trailhead. There was significant variation in color within a single patch. A true sign of spring!

Took a snowshoe this morning in about 4' of untrammeled snow. Good work out, and quickly the 8 degree outdoor temps felt like 60 degrees! My first step into the snow, sans snow shoes, put me in up to my hips. The dog pushed on ahead of me for about 2 minutes before realizing how much easier it was to travel in my snowshoe tracks. Return trip was much easier! My sugar shack is enrobed in snow - I've got a bit of work to do before sugaring season starts.

Lampson Falls in an officially named waterfall on the USGS GNIS data base. The falls about about 40 ft high and 100 ft wide. The area is a genuine, natural beauty. I chose this photo because it's a great example of a porcupine track. Porcupines often use the same trail to move in the same direction, so the tracks look like tunnels. Because they travel on the same path it is common to see urine and pieces of hemlock branches (the porcupine's favorite food!) scattered along the trail.

While snowshoeing near one of the most popular waterfalls in St. Lawrence County, I took a close up shot of this cottontail rabbit hopping through the snow. I thought that this rabbit left a pretty noticeable imprint. But I remember that the track were spread out far apart and it seemed a little rushed, so it could have been avoiding a predator. Most likely it was a coyote because I do recall seeing coyote tracks that day as well. Hope this little bunny got away safely!

Type: Animal Sign
Habitat Description: Forested Waterfalls/River

Natural History Info: While not conclusively a trail of porcupine tracks, the depressions in the snow surrounding the footprints would suggest some low-rising mammal. Given that we saw porcupines in the surrounding area, it would make sense for these tracks to belong to a porcupine.

What drew my attention: We were trying to track a porcupine, so this was a really neat find.

During our adventure in Lampson Falls for our lab on February 18th, we saw many animal tracks. Deep within the softwood forest, I saw white-tailed deer tracks scattered around. This pair of animal tracks stuck out to me in particular because it was crisp and seemed to be relatively fresh tracks in the snow. I wondered if the deer had just passed through before us five minutes earlier. White-tailed deer are a medium-sized deer located in the United States, Canada, and in Central and South America.

This was a fun trip to Lampson Falls. As part of our nature walk we spent a good amount of time looking for porcupines and their dens. We spotted a lone porcupine up about 35 feet in a hemlock tree, their favorite snack. Hemlock branches were scattered everywhere along the ground as well, good sign that porcupines were in the area. As I was looking for more I came across what appears to be an old den. There was nothing inside, but it was full of droppings from its previous occupant. A really nice shot of a winter hideout!

Type: Animal sign. Habitat description: mixed hardwood forest. Natural history information: Snowshoe Hares have a very large surface are on their hind feet, which allows them to stay on top of the snow without sinking in. As a camouflage adaptation, their fur turns white in the winter and a brownish color during the summer. As they move, they plant their smaller front feet and bring their large pack feet in front of them in order to propel their movement. I like this photo because they are very distinctive snowshoe hare tracks based on the size ratio of the front and back feet.

As I stated in another post, we trekked around Lampson Falls one day and I stopped to take this picture of the frozen falls in the winter. I think it gives a neat perspective, from a diagonal view. The Lampson Falls trail provides a nice, relatively easy nature walk along in a soft-wooded habitat. Once arriving at the falls, one can swim, canoe, fish, and even white-water kayak. Located in the Grass River Forest, in the St. Lawrence Country, in a town called Clare, Lampson is a .6 mile walk until arrival at the falls.

Type: Landscape
Habitat Description: Snowy Woodland

Natural History Info: This thawed, flowing body of water is still moving despite the rest of its surroundings being completely frozen. This is possible because a larger body of water will take more time and require colder temperatures to freeze completely. This contrasts to the surrounding snow that fell from the atmosphere above, as the water/snow particles are quite small as they fall and thus can more easily freeze.

This picture of a small waterfall was taken on the Stone Valley hiking trail in Colton, New York during a snowshoe hike for a lab field trip. This waterfall emphasized the powerful speed that water flows at during the winter months. The sound of rushing water was one of the only prevalent sounds during this hike, which is a major reason why this picture drew my attention.

It was a brisk but beautiful morning to explore Lampson Falls in early winter. The falls had not frozen over fully yet and to my surprise, the conditions were just right to form "pancake ice," which are small patches of floating ice that look a lot like round pancakes!

I was shocked to fine this beautiful racked buck. This is a rare find in the Adirondacks. This picture was taken in the town of Degrasse, NY

This Picture was taken in the Adirondacks near Degrasse, NY. This nice looking bear looks like he was posing for the camera. These animals are always on the move so I was excited to see he stood long enough to get a decent picture of him.

I was amazed when I view my card to find this magnificent creature. This picture was taken in the Adirondacks in the town of Degrasse, NY

Taking a fall drive on the Coffee Road near Trout Lake, there is a small pond area that was on fire with color. What a beautiful scene to encounter. One of the many reasons I love to take long, slow drives on seasonal use roads!

Just a beautiful autumn scene

A prolonged visit from a monarch butterfly - attracted to my watering can (thirsty?) I was able to get several good close-ups. First time I've ever had this favorite butterfly 'pose' and stay still for me!

Harper's Falls Trail was a terrific hike for children with a waterfall that was easy to get to. A wonderful day hike for any skill level.

Very foggy summer morning with promise of a sunny and warm day.

I was walking down to the barn when I ran across this snake. We have lots of garter snakes that enjoy our wood pile, and they slither off pretty quickly if I stomp my foot--and they usually lie coiled in some form. This snake was lying straight out. I stomped my foot at it, and it was completely motionless, so I assume the dogs had killed it. I looked it up and down (it was pretty big), took this picture, and then went down to the barn. A few minutes later, Dan came out, and I told him to go look at the snake.

As I was biking around at Downerville State Forest I heard a loud rustling sound only to be met at eye level with this guy. Must've scared him a bit since he scurried all the way up the tree, about 50 ft. or so.

Phoebes have nested just outside our front door ever since these beams went up. The first fledgling from the first brood of the season flew today. The first landing pad was my car, about 15 feet away, but nearby shrubs soon proved more attractive. Even with one of the five gone, it is a crowded nest, and my guess is that these siblings won't be far behind. (6/8/14 The other four have all left the nest.)

Porcupine season starts for me when I spot this distinctive profile against the sky. I've seen porcupines, at dawn and dusk, in various -always slender branched - trees - in this area, but never two in a tree.

This a picture of the water moving in Lampson Falls; I liked this picture because you can really see how flooded the river is right now; when I took the picture I was standing as close to the falls as possible. Lampson Falls is one of the most frequently visited falls in the North Country. These falls are an estimated 40 feet tall and 100 feet wide. These falls can be described as shallow and broad faced; during the spring there is a high volume of water caused by melting snow.

This picture of a Spruce tree was taken while I was hiking towards the Lampson Falls area. The Spruce tree is from the genus Picea; when mature they can range from 66-195 feet. As you can see in this image the needles are connected individually to the branches in a spiral fashion. Each needle is on a peg like structure called a pulvinus. I like this image because after my lab with an arborist I learned a lot of interesting things about Spruce trees and I was happy that I could identify the pulvinus on my own.

The dogs found it first. When we caught up to them, we saw two distinct beds of fur strewn across the ground. There were no blood or bones we could see. It simply appeared an animal stood in one spot, was shaved, and left behind the extra fur. It was quite awesome.

I found this porcupine up on a tree branch as I was walking towards the Lampson Falls. I was a little scared as I was just under the tree trying to capture the best shot of this animal.

The temperature was below freezing (24° F or -6° C) when this tap was photographed. We didn't get any sap that day.

It seems like a waste to go a day without production during the short sugaring season, but then again maybe not. This cold day was preceded by warm days, and followed by warm days: a warm-cold cycle that leads to optimal production. While this cycle works best when the days are warm and the nights are cold, a cold day surrounded by warm days is by no means a loss.

This picture shows a sugar maple taken at the Co-Op when we went there to learn about sugaring. This picture shows a fungal disease that killed this tree. Thankfully it did not look like other trees have been affected by this disease. I thought this picture was cool because it looks like someone just took a pencil and drew a bunch of random lines on a tree stump.

A build up of ice and snow at Lampson Falls has created the potential for flooding, but also quality recreation. As temperatures begin to rise, the Grasse River does as well; bringing numerous kayaking and rafting fanatics to the area. These individuals will bring their business to the surrounding area making this now frozen falls a beneficial attraction. This ice buildup, therefore, is advantageous for the recreation that it will bring in the spring.

This is a plant picture, which I took at Lampson Falls on February 26th. This tree is a deciduous tree as it keeps its leaves during the winter season. The advantage of keeping its leaves is that it does not have to use energy to grow new ones after the winter season however the disadvantage is that the weight of the snow on top of it may break branches. This tree could also be used for shelter and cover for little animals, as they could hide under it to avoid the risk of predators.

Type: Animal Track
Habitat Description: Forest / River
Natural History: Lampson Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in St. Lawrence county. The falls are an impressive 40 feet tall and 100 feet wide. At the bottom of the falls a small beach has formed. The photo of the animal tracks were taken down the trail towards the falls after a fresh snow.
Interest: I was drawn to this image because the clarity of the tracks in the light versus other animals tracks spotted on the walk down to the falls.

This photo depicts movement of water as it descends in a waterfall from higher to lower elevation. These falls are 40 ft tall and 100 ft wide. In this specific photo, taken in mid-February, much of the water was still frozen, but there was still large amounts of water flowing. These falls were most likely formed as a result of water flowing over different layers of rocks which have different erosion patterns. Over time the earth underneath the water gets steeper and steeper until, eventually, a falling out may occur (which causes the drop).

Icicles in Sunlight
taken March 26th on the way up Azure Mountain in Waverly, NY

Movement Photo: This picture was taken on February 26th, 2014 on a field trip in Lampsons Falls. This waterfall is the most popular in the St. Lawrence County because of how big it is. On my field trip we walked right along side to the waterfall, which was a very cool experience. Lampsons Falls is about 40 feet tall and 100 feet wide. Grass River Wild Forest is a trail that leads you to this wonderful waterfall. The thing I found most interesting about this photo is the large amount of water rushing over the Falls. This photo really captures the movement of this beautiful waterfall.

Rabbit Run
Taken February 26th at Lampson Falls in Canton, NY

This is a wintery image taken during a hike at Lampson Falls in St. Lawrence county. Porcupines, otters and other small animals are found in the area surrounding the falls, making it a rich environment. The falls are part of the Adirondak park, surrounded by forest, so much of the trees found in the area are of the coniferous and hardword variety. The falls drop is an impressive 100 feet that roars even throughout the coldest of winters. Beaches along the bottom of the falls has created lots of recreation possibilities for its visitors.

This is a photo I took on February 24th, 2014 while hiking a trail near Lampson Falls of a dog print I found in the snow.

Habitat Description: This photo was taken on a hiking trail that followed the Grasse River. The weather was approximately 20 degrees Fahrenheit. There was substantial snow coverage and I estimated that the snow coverage of the trail was somewhere around 3 feet.

This is a photo of I took on February 22nd, 2014 while hiking at Lampson Falls of the waterfall itself.

Habitat Description: This photo was taken at the top of Lampson Falls during the winter months. The Falls was frozen over, but there were some parts of the waterfall that were unfrozen. The waterfall was very rocky, and it flowed into a deep pool below that was frozen over.

We walked the wooded trail that leads directly to the falls and then we followed the trail by the banks of the river in search of porcupines and hopefully even some otters. The half frozen falls were very cool. Even though much of the river was still frozen the waterfall still had a very strong flow.

This is a photo of I took on February 24th, 2014 while hiking at Lampson Falls of a Beech tree.

Habitat Description: This photo was taken while hiking on a trail near Lampson Falls. There was adequate snow coverage on the ground (aprox. 3 feet) and the temperature was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I found this tree just off the path of the trail and any other trees did not surround this beech tree.

Warm day! Temp about 38 degrees as we enjoyed a nice snowshoe. The old yellow labrador did ok as long as he walked in our snowshoe tracks.

CLOSE UP 2: This was another picture of the perfect, wet, snowball snow at Lampson Falls. This was taken in the wooded area on the path to the actual falls. I liked how precariously this snowball was balancing on this tall stump. It reminded me of Andy Goldsworthy's work creating beautiful, impossible sculptures out of natural materials.

CLOSE UP: This picture was taken on our class trip to Lampson Falls. We went there to do some tracking, but there wasn't any fresh snow so it was a little bit difficult. There were a lot of signs of porcupines - though we didn't see one. We learned that the primary (land) predator of a porcupine is a fisher which goes for the part of the porcupine without quills (its face). Because there was no fresh snow and it had rained earlier in the week, this mini snowman was still in perfect form though it looks like the rain took away part of it.

Deciduous Forrest/ River environment

River habitat

Deciduous Forrest
The forest area near Lampson Falls has been created over many years of of the bank area that has been shaped by the winding Grass river. The forests haven’t changed much in the area for hundreds of years. The landscape was most influenced by glacial recession from the last ice age. This photo is neat because I have never seen a wood pecker or its markings all my life, and I still want to see one. Seeing its handiwork and the effect it has on a tree is quite neat.

After the ice storm, and with the sun shining, the trees and plants looked as if they were encased in glass! So beautiful!

8-10 inches of fluffy powder transformed the landscape last weekend, creating true winter hiking conditions. Along the way to Harper Falls we encountered a porcupine in a small beech tree. It had stripped nearly all of the bark off the upper third of the tree. I'm always impressed by the resiliency of winter wildlife. The tree, on the other hand, will not be long for this world.

Cold but beautiful morning all over the North Country this morning. The first photo is the Grasse River at Pyrites, and the second is the temperature display in my car when I stopped to take the picture!

A light snow makes a great substrate for animal tracks. The first two photos are from turkey, third is a squirrel, and fourth is a mouse or other small rodent. Also saw but didn't photograph snowshoe hare. Snow tracks are a neat way to know these animals are around us and active in the cold even when we can't see them.

Beautiful and COLD (7 degrees F) morning today. I've been watching this beaver pond regularly and enjoy seeing how it looks under different seasons and conditions.

A hollow, fallen tree provides a den for a small porcupine.

Harper's Falls is on the North Branch of the Grasse River, and it may be my favorite spot in the North Country (though to be honest, my favorite spot changes all the time). The falls cascade through a narrow chute, and empty into a lovely stretch of the river, which you can walk parallel to on the River Trail. It was an ideal fall afternoon, with comfortable temps, blue skies, and some great foliage.

A Path Down to the Grasse

The prodding sun
Seeps between the trees
Concurrently with the crunching of the leaves

Fast with twists,
I quickly float over puss-covered ground.
The woods dormant silence
is broken.
Tires hard, temps low, screeching loudly across frigid snow.
Like a class room and squeaky chalk
I stop.

Breathing gets harder,
escaping the drops, trying to flee
to the forest. The leaves, splayed like a fan, begin beating
like a pulsating drum.
I flow, shattering puddles, letting tires role
like paralyzed symbols.
I stop.

If you would like to witness the impressive ability of beavers to structure a forest community, take a hike at Wolf Lake State Forest. There is a very significant beaver dam that has been there for years. As you hike, you approach from below the dam, walking across the dam outlet and slowing going up hill until first your eyes are level with the water and then you find yourself standing on the shore of the beaver pond. Very impressive (not to mention beautiful) spot.