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

Sun Breaks through clouds by the golf course

Stone Valley waterfalls

This was such a beautiful site as I was walking along the trail across from this gorgeous building that I could not resist the urge to capture its beauty 

Brick church in Potsdam on the Island

This was a breath taking experience! Fresh morning dew all over the flowers . It was so beautiful 

This was such an amazing site. Fresh morning dew covered this beautiful flower and it had a tiny little bug collecting nectar

I was walking around with my camera and every time I would go outside, I would always get a big whiff of the lilac bushes! Finally I grabbed my macro camera lens and took some photos of the flowers!

Lilac flowers blooming

Beautiful, dappled sunlight captured on a cool, April evening on the Kip trail at St. Lawrence University. 

Photo of the forest along the Kip trail More Trees

trees trees and sun tree view find the bird

On a nature walk this afternoon outside of St. Lawrence University. Today was a warmer day than usual resulting in the snow melting and being able to see the ground again! 

nice day outside Robin posing for a picture Beautiful blue sky with trees Cool photo of river

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A nighttime stroll on the St. Lawrence XC Trails with the SLU Powerhouse searching for cryptids like Bigfoot or Mothman ended with us spotting an owl!! Most likely a barred owl, we watched it for a while before it eventually took off. Although the picture is a little blurry, I was surprised to even be able to make out the owl since it was dark except for the moon behind the clouds. So exciting!

Beautiful sunsets beautiful place 

Part of a rainbow in a pink sky in a field, with a tree in the foreground Sunset in a field with a yellow full moon

A gorgeous afternoon for a kayak on the Grasse, thanks to SLU’s canoe shack! The first signs of fall are starting to show in the yellowing of leaves. Spotted a few turtles sunning themselves, lots of frogs hanging out on the algae, a few remaining flowers. Followed two belted kingfishers up the river for a while, but they just wouldn’t pose for a good photo. A beautiful day!

Took a lovely afternoon paddle on the little river. Light breeze, few bugs, starting to see some fall color.

As the sun went down, and I walked towards the golf course at SLU, the sound of spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) filled the air! Following their sound and the light of my flashlight, I eventually found one of the tiny frogs in a vernal pool. Herping season is here!

When going out on the back porch of my townhouse last night on St. Lawrence University campus, I saw this Jefferson salamander! I believe this is a Jefferson salamander, but it has been a while since I took herpetology here at SLU.

A fellow classmate and I had a joyous time skiing around the St. Lawrence University Golf Course, sticking to the track for a while until we came upon a wooded area we wanted to explore, where we broke trail, took a quick nap on a log, and appreciated the serenity of it all. I love mixing up some speedy track skiing with slowing down and appreciating the way the snow settles on the trees or how the giant, fluffy flakes puff up around me when I fall.

I was walking on the Saddlemire Trail this evening and saw these little trails under the snow. I thought they were so fascinating, and am wondering what creature is responsible for them! My best guess would be some small rodent, like mice or voles.

A friend and I decided to go Nordic skiing. It was probably the fourth time in my life I’d gone, and it was an absolute blast. We explored the packed trails and through the untracked forest. It was an incredibly peaceful time in a wonderfully snowy afternoon.

With a fresh layer of snow, the woods and fields lay under a blanket of white. This blanket muffles and hides the subtleties of the woods leading the mind to wonder what critters scurry below the layers of snow. Above the snow the trees stand tall awaiting the spring to waken and continue their growth into the sky. But for today, a sun sets on another beautiful winters day.

I was in the zen garden of sykes and played in the snow with my roommate!

I was walking on the Kip Tract Trail in the evening and was lucky enough to see a beautiful owl! I don't know what species it was.

A calm and foggy morning made the Raquette river all the more inviting for a mid-morning swim.

Just love the garden with all the insects and wonderful creatures!

Wonderful photo in my garden. I was using an olloclip zoom lens.

Beautiful experience - it was very dark and the sky very red!!

What a play of color across the evening sky deep, deep purples, light yellows and oranges and magenta’s!!

Walking along the Kip Trail on St. Lawrence property, passing one of the little ponds, spotted a northern leopard frog in the leaves.

Sixty degrees and wet on a March afternoon. The spring peepers we in full chorus in the woods behind the SLU golf course

I was driving by the bridge in Potsdam - next to Trinity Church - I had to stop my car and take the photo - it was just breathtaking!!!

Incredible shot of the snow coming down with Richardson Hall.

Cold but worth it.

One of my favorite features of the North Country is our beautiful skies. This morning the trees are outlined with snow and the colors of the sky were gorgeous. I love the nature in my backyard!

Had a lovely evening paddle on the Grasse and Little Rivers. With all the rain recently, the Grasse was running so high it was difficult to paddle upriver. We saw a muskrat along the banks of the Little River.

Even puddles in autumn look pretty! The reflection of clear blue sky and autumnal foliage in a puddle can be heavenly!

Beautiful afternoon at Bayside Cemetery on a glorious autumnal day, 13th October 2019.

What a glorious day! The sun is out today and the blue sky really pops up the colors of fall foliage in Potsdam NY.

A still river becomes a mirror to doubly enhance the beauty that is autumn in Potsdam, NY.

Just before the rain started to drizzle this afternoon, the autumnal view reflected on Raquette River was quite magical. We are lucky to live in this beautiful area.

You never know who is going to show up for lunch at the Potsdam Food Co-op.

Kayaking till the sun sets in Potsdam is a treat because the sunsets are amazing- these are 2 photos on different days in October 2019 in Potsdam

While walking my dog on the Remington Recreation Trail I saw this pink leafhopper, one I had not seen before. A few flower flies were also out on this nice October afternoon.

This picture of an opossum was captured late at night using a game camera set up in a field on the edge of SLU's campus. I have not seen opossum's on campus during the day, so I was surprised to see this picture. Some people think opossum's are ugly, but I think they're very cute!

So grateful that I can still enjoy beauties in my garden. This morning my orange dahlias bloom majestically adorned by rain droplets from last night. My red peppers look so delicious ... what more can I ask on this beautiful day in Potsdam NY?

While St. Lawrence University brought in fall 2019 with a power outage, I enjoyed taking this opportunity to step away from electronic technology and went on a walk to appreciate the beauty of nature. Such an amazing breath of fresh air! 

I saw this Spring Peeper on a window in Bewkes Hall at St. Lawrence University this rainy morning. Maybe he was trying to get some warmth and escape the rain!

In awe of the many beautiful mushrooms on forest floor

Traveled to Parishville Sand Dunes to look for insects, and in the parking lot I spotted this dark, nearly see-through chrysalis. When we came back down to the parking lot an hour later the chrysalis was gone, a little bit of searching revealed the newly emerged monarch expanding and drying its wings!

Glorious day in Potsdam NY is made perfect by majestic sunflowers and grand monarch butterflies.

Gardening is really fun and rewarding! My garden now attracts many butterflies, bees (different kinds of them), hummingbirds, sparrows, and American golden finches. To see this hummingbird sipping the nectar from my canna flowers is heavenly!

The hummingbird is one of my most favorite birds. I really enjoy watching them drink from the zinnias in my garden. An awesome encounter in my own backyard.

Fluttering and dancing among flowers, this swallowtail butterfly took my breath away.

Hummingbird drinking nectar from my sunflowers? Heavenly!

White butterfly or cabbage butterfly (Pleris rapae) fluttered among broccoli flowers, oh, so mesmerizing. Only later did I learn that it's actually not friendly to my brassicas. Oh well .... it is a pretty insect, anyway.

Stone Valley trail is one of my most favorite trails in North Country. The sound of the river, the blue sky above, and the green trees soothe my soul.

The duathlon was hosted by the St. Lawrence Valley Paddling group and consisted of a 1.25-mile run, a 1.25-mile paddle, and another 1.25-mile run.

This week we were gifted with the finding of caterpillars of the (admittedly common) Milkweed Tiger Moth (or Milkweed Tussock Moth, Euchaetes egle) on a milkweed plant in our yard.

These fascinating caterpillars chow all day long on milkweed plants and store ingested toxic cardiac glycosides in their bodies to make them…unpleasant…to predators such as birds. Just like Monarch butterflies do. And notice that they have similar color patterns. It’s no coincidence – the color patterns warn birds and other predators that they carry the toxin, so the predators pass them by.

A short walk at the end of the day at Stone Valley Area yielded an assortment of birds showing signs of breeding activity, plus some fun dragonflies and butterflies.

Purple coneflowers outside of the Johnson Hall of Science at St. Lawrence University 

Paddling down the Little River and the Grasse River. Beautiful afternoon. 

Our Nature Up North summer naturalist interns Emily and Lydia lead a frog walk this afternoon on the St. Lawrence University Kip Trail in Canton. The group was successful, spotting both bull frogs and green frogs in a wetland off the Little River. 

This photograph of a Northern Flicker was captured using a game camera on the Saddemire Trail. Flickers are one of my favorite birds, so this was really exciting!

Spotted a green frog out on the Kip Trail! 

Spotted a painted turtle on the Little River last week! While paddling, I saw him sitting on a log in the water.

This beautiful painted turtle was digging in the sand near one of the boardwalks on the Saddlemire Trail. Perhaps she was getting ready to lay eggs?

Spotted a Pickerel frog this afternoon while on the Kip Trail. Took a while to ID between a Northern Leopard Frog or a Pickerel frog but it seems more like a Pickerel frog..any thoughts?

These flowers caught my attention with their diminutive blue petals and bright yellow centers. What wasn't seen in this picture was that there also seemed to have been pink buds on the same plant that had the blue flowers. They seem to do well in both shady and bright environments.

While taking a walk around St. Lawrence University's campus on a cloudy afternoon, I came across these beautiful Lilacs. The flowers on the different bushes ranged from deep to light purple. These vibrant flowers made the day a little brighter. 

A cute looking bird made my Birdwalk perfect!

phragmites was very tall. It towered over native reeds.

I found Invasive Phragmites by the artificial pond on St. Lawrence University's campus. Invasive Phragmites is a tall terrestrial plant that usually grows in clusters near marshes. It can be identified from native phragmites by its height, and the color of its stem base. This invasive phragmites was found during the spring and is a tan color with a seed/flowering head. Being that it is spring, most of the phragmites plants were knocked over and dead with the exception of these few phragmites stems.

Recent days have seen the return of many species of migrant birds that either breed here in the North Country or move through on migration to farther reaches north. The Phoebe and Swamp Sparrow seen here are among the breeders. And what says spring more than a porcupine completely covered with fresh pollen?!

There was a cluster of phragmites located behind the E.J. Noble medical building bordering the St. Lawrence University golf course.

Out off the Kip Tract with my herpetology class, it was 39 degrees and raining. My classmates were finding amphibians such a redbacks salamanders, newts, and even a few blue spotted salamanders but I was fortunate to find the lone reptile, this lethargic garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). I got to pick him up and I think he was very appreciatative of my bodyheat.

I was walking with my friends in the afternoon. It was fairly cloudy and cold. We originally went out looking for salamanders, but as we were looking we came across this snake! I was with some beginner Herpers and they were pretty alarmed to come across something other than a salamander, but I assured them it was a herp nonetheless.

Warm sunny day in Glenmeal State Forest, Pierrepont, NY. One of three spotted salamander egg masses that I found in this vernal pool.

On this beautiful spring day my herpetology class went out searching for vernal pools and herps. We found this vernal pool inside the Glenmeal State Forest in a vernal pool created by tire ruts in a trail. I identified these as spotted salamander eggs because they held their shape out of water, were attached to a twig in the water, and were laid communally. The outer casing was milky-white colored also.

During our Herpetology lab, I was looking under some leaf litter and found this beautiful Eastern newt! This lovely specimen was no more than 3 cm long, and has the bright orange/red coloring of the eft stage.

My herpetology class went out searching for herps in the glenmeal state forest on a wonderful warm and sunny afternoon for lab. Towards the end of the lab around 3:00 we started to search for dusky salamanders in a fast-moving steam. I lifted up a rock in the steam and saw this little guy swim away downstream. I just barely caught it so I could get a picture. I identified it as a dusky salamander (desmognathus fuscus) because it matched the coloration of a dusky salamander and it had a naso-labial groove that could aid in smelling.

The Herpetology class went exploring in Glenmeal State Forest for lab today, and we found a wide variety of salamanders, frogs, and egg masses. Here's an eastern red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) who was under a mossy log near an intermittent stream. There were actually two red-backs under the same log, within an inch of each other, which is surprising given that this species is usually territorial.

My herpetology class went to Glenmeal State Forest to look for some herps. While at a vernal pool, I came across a red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) nestled in the leaf litter next to the water.

As my herpetology class was on our way back from a day of herping, we saw a painted turtle that was about to cross the road into on-coming traffic. Luckily, we pulled over and were able to rescue it in time!

A pickerel frog (Rana palustris, adult) found next to a fast moving stream at Glenmeal. Pickerel frog are easily confused with southern leopard frogs (Rana sphenocephala), but pickerel have more rectangular/squared spots.

Warm sunny day in Glenmean State Forest, Pierrepont, NY. This salamander was found underneath a decomposing log.

On this beautiful spring day my herpetology class went out searching for vernal pools containing herp eggs and spermatophores. While walking between vernal pools we searched underneath forest debris for salamanders. I flipped over a log and found this beautiful spotted salamander. It was around 4 inches long and seemed very tired because it didn't move much when I lifted the log it was underneath.

I was outside at Glenmeal State Forest for lab with my Herpetology class this past Monday, checking out vernal pools. The day was clear, sunny, and about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Upon flipping many logs, I was finding many Red-backed Salamanders, and this little fellow was underneath a rotting one.

A baby dusky salamander, three red-backed salamanders (2 shown), one frog (possibly wood), and wood frog eggs were spotted in St. Lawrence County between the hours of 1-4 on a sunny day in April!  All herps were found along/near vernal pools!  Red-backed salamanders seemed to be bountiful.  This is in addition to the four photos I posted last week as encounters!

It was a warm sunny day and my herpetology class traveled to Glenmeal State Forest to look for herp and egg masses. I found this red-backed salamander under a log near a vernal pool.

On Monday, in my herpetology class, I found this wood frog (Rana sylvatica) egg mass in a vernal pool along with a few others at Glenmeal State Forest. Typically there are many more wood frog egg masses in this particular vernal pool by this point in the season, so hopefully more will be there soon!

This was not my personal encounter, but I am grateful to have permission to share. Students from the Sustainability Program located this lovely wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) near the small river at the farm, they were unsure of the identifiation but didn’t want to disturb it as they thought it may be nesting. They did get this awesome photo and you can clearly see the highly sculpted shell that is characteristic of Wood Turtles.

Warm sunny day in Glenmeal State Forest, Pierrepont, NY. One of three spotted salamander egg masses that I found in this vernal pool.

On this beautiful spring day my herpetology class went out searching for vernal pools containing herp eggs and spermatophores. We found several vernal pools that had some! We found this cluster of spotted salamander eggs in the second vernal pool we stumbled upon. I identified them as spotted salamander eggs because of they were attached to a twig, and their milky-white coloration. They also held their shape when lifted out of the water.

During our Herpetology lab, I found this salamander under a log in the moist soil and litter. This individual was one of the larger red-backs I've found.

My herpetology class went out searching for herps in the glenmeal state forest on a wonderful warm and sunny afternoon for lab. Towards the end of the lab around 3:00 we started to search for dusky salamanders in a fast-moving steam.

Another Herpetology lab find in Glenmeal State Forest -- spotted salamander eggs in a vernal pool. All of these eggs were laid by a single salamander -- they were just the size of the black dots you can see in the picture. Their jelly-like coating then absorbed water and expanded to nearly the size of my hand, in order to protect the eggs and keep them hydrated.

My herpetology class went to Glenmeal State Forest to look for some herps and egg masses. While looking in a vernal pool, I found this spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) egg mass connected to a branch in the water.

Found this red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus, adult) in Glenmeal State Forest, under a log.

Visited Glenmeal State Forest for Herpetology lab where we were recording the number of egg masses at each vernal pool. Spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) eggs are recognizable by their smooth, uniform jelly shell! This compares to frog eggs in which each egg is individually covered and creates a bumpy appearance.

One thing I’m curious about are the small flecks of red located in the membrane of the coating. A potential egg predator?

Warm, sunny day. Another red-backed salamander found in Glenmeal State Forest on this day. Found underneath a decomposing log.

This Spring Peeper was found in Glenmeal State Forest in the town of Pierrepont. It was swimming in a small temporary pool on the remnants of an old logging road. It was a warm, sunny afternoon.

While out trying to find some salamanders that prefer to live in fast moving streams in my herpetology class I found this little crayfish. Surprisingly the little guy didn't pinch me, but was not happy at all to be out of the water. I named it Mr. Pinchy.

While going out to Glenmeal State Forest for with my Herpetology class for lab this past Monday, we were collecting data and counts for Spotted Salamander eggs, Wood Frog eggs, and Jefferson/Blue-spotted Salamander Complex eggs. Here is an egg mass of Spotted Salamander eggs

This was my second salamander of the day. I found it just around where I found my first one, but I made sure to put it back under exactly where I found it because Red-backed salamanders can be territorial. As you can sort of see from the picture, it was a beautiful sunny day!

I went out "herping" with my herpetology class, looking for salamander and frog eggs. I was moving around leaves by a vernal pool and caught a red-backed salamander. Unfortunately, it jumped out of my hand and swam away, but I got to hold it for a few seconds!

It was a warm sunny day and my herpetology class traveled to Glenmeal State Forest to look for herp and egg masses. Under a rock on the edge of a small, fast moving stream I found this dusky salamander.

On Monday in my herpetology class at Glenmeal state forest I found this eastern redback salamander (Plethodon cinerus) under a small rotting log.

A green frog (Rana clamitans, adult) found in a small stream at Glenmeal. Wasn't thrilled to be having its photo taken. This green frog appeared to be a female, as she lacked large nuptial pads.

While at Glenmeal State Forest with my Herpetology class I was surprised to encounter a floating redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus) dead in the second vernal pool we examined. This little guy was out of place as Redbacks do not reproduce using vernal pools but instead lay eggs in rotting logs or stumps which undergo direct development and hatch into mini-adults! So it is curious how this one ended up in this pool. Is it common for them to fall in and freeze in early spring?

Warm sunny day in Glenmeal State Forest, Pierrepont, NY. One of three spotted salamander egg masses that I found in this vernal pool.

Happy Earth Day!  Sometimes, actions speak louder than words.  Students in the St. Lawrence University conservation biology class spent 1.5 hours this morning picking up trash at the SLU Sandbanks and also along park street.  Disappointing to see how much trash people leave behind.  Pollution, including littering, is one of the "4 horsemen of the environmental apocalypse" (climate change results from polluation; the other three are habitat loss/destruction, invasive species, and overharvesting).

On this beautiful spring day my herpetology class went out searching for vernal pools containing herp eggs and spermatophores. While walking between vernal pools we searched underneath some forest debris for salamanders. I flipped a log and found this slow-moving red-backed salamander next to a vernal pool.

I was outside for lab with my Herpetology class at Glenmeal State Forest this past Monday. The day was clear, sunny, and about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Upon flipping many logs, this Red-backed Salamander was underneath a rotting one.

I found this green frog on a field trip with my herpetology class. It was is a very small, temporary stream where we were looking for salamanders. The frog was fairly small and had pretty dull colors

My herpetology class went to Glenmeal State Forest to look for some herps. While looking for salamanders next to a vernal pool, I flipped over some leaves and found an eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in the eft stage.

On Monday, my herpetology class went to Glenmeal State forest to look for some herps. I found these two spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) egg masses in a vernal pool with many others.

Another red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus, adult) found at Glenmeal, also under a log! Tried to avoid handing directly with my skin because I wasn't wearing gloves - soaps/lotions from our hands can really hurt their delicate skin - they perform cutaneous respiration.

At Glenmeal State Forest, my herpetology class was shown a small, fast-flowing brook that was ideal habitat for Dusky Salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus). However, finding them was a challenge because not only are Dusky Salamanders well camouflaged but excellent escape artists. This was the first time I have ever held one.

I found this red-backed Salamander under a rotted log off of the Kip Tract. It was a warm, sunny day after a weekend of rain.

Backyard birding is fun!

Encountered this (alive) giant water bug as I was leaving campus at about 10 pm.  These insects hibernate in the leaf litter during the winter and then emerge and migrate back to the water where they are fierce aquatic predators (but not to be feared by humans).  Nice to see that this one hadn't been squished.  I hope it makes it!

I was flipping logs and looking for salamanders in the woods off of the Kip Tract when this common garter snake slithered right in front of me.

Here are a few photos that were recently posted on NUN's instagram and facebook to highlight Big Night for New York's Herps!

Click through to learn more!

I was exploring the vernal pool at the end of the Kip Trail by flashlight last week, and the spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) were deafening. After much searching, I finally spotted one tucked into some fallen cattail stalks. He has a somewhat dubious survival instinct, as he didn't stop calling even when my camera lens was inches from his face. On my way out of the pool, I nearly stepped on two more peepers (second picture). The male (on top) is amplexing the female -- holding on so that he'll have the best chance at fertilizing her eggs when she lays them.

Found this red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus, adult) under a small log along the Kip Trail near Wachtmeister Field Station.

The SLU Herpetology class spent a rainy lab period flipping over logs in search of salamanders. I finallly found this eastern red-back (Plethodon cinereus) under one of the last logs I flipped -- a small moss-covered one beside a small, half-frozen vernal pool, in a stand of white cedar and eastern hemlock.

On a rainy day my herpetology class went out and searched for amphibians in the woods near St. Lawrence University. We walked around looking at vernal pools for signs of salamanders spermatopores, eggs, and frog eggs. We didn't find any eggs or spermatopores that day so we looked underneath forest debris for herps. I flipped over a log and found this little red-backed salamander while out looking! I placed my student ID card next to it for a scale.

I found this salamander under a soft, rotting log, on a cloudy afternoon following a morning rain. The air temperature was around 50 degrees Fahrenheit but parts of the ground were still slightly frozen.

My herpetology class went out to the Kip Trail to look for herps. While I was walking through the woods I found a blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale) sitting on top of some leaf litter next to a log.

My herpetology class went outside for lab to look for amphibians and reptiles, such as salamanders, frogs, and turtles, on the Kip Trail. I flipped over a log and found this little Red-Backed Salamander!

Very exciting finding this Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), also called the Red Spotted Newt. This newt is in its terrestrial juvenile life stage, called an eft. Found near the Kip Trail hiding under a log.

On the search for signs of spring, I stopped in the rain to get a closer look at this lovely pussy willow (Salix discolor) flowering outside Johnson Hall of Science at St. Lawrence University. The fussy flowers are called catkins, and appear on many species in the trees in the birch (Betulaceae) and willow (Salicaceae) families. 

During the Herpetology class's lab period, I spotted two-redbacked salamanders under the same log, one red-backed salamander 5 m from those two, one leadback salamander under a different log, and one red spotted newt under a log.  The class collectively heard spring peepers and caught this wood frog in a minnow trap! This all occurred between 1-4 on a rainy and relatively cold, spring day and all herps were found along the Kip Trail near St. Lawrence University.  Here are some photos to help!

The day was rainy, cloudy and overcast, and around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The time of day was around 2:00, and I was herping with my Herpetology class for lab on the Kip Tract trail by St. Lawrence University. This Lead-Back was under a soft, rotting log that I had overturned.

On a rainy day my herpetology class went out and searched for amphibians in the woods near St. Lawrence University. We walked around looking at vernal pools for signs of salamanders spermatopores, eggs, and frog eggs. We didn't find any eggs or spermatopores that day so we looked underneath forest debris for herps.

I flipped over a log and found this little lead-backed salamander shortly after I found a red-backed salamander. The lead-backed and red-backed salamanders are the same species (Plethodon cinereus) with different color morphologies.

My herpetology class went out to the Kip Trail to look for herps. After flipping many logs, I finally found a red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus).

During Herpetology we went looking for various herps. After a long lab period in the rain, I finally found a leadback salamander (Eastern Redback without the red stripe) under a log off the Kip Trail.

For an ecology class, my group is looking at the role of seed-predation in relation to distance to water.  We are doing our project on St. Lawrence University's artificial wetland and Saturday was a really perfect end to day.  We didn't find a difference between the seeds that were closer to the water being eaten or the ones further away for this particular day!  Added some photos to show how nice a day this really was, especially with the river no longer being flooded from all of the recent rain.

We found high water and icy trails at Stone Valley this weekend. It made for slow walking but beautiful views along the way. The last photo is of porcupine chew on a birch tree, both from this winter and a previous winter. 

A still and quiet vernal pool. Tonights rain may bring out the frogs and salamanders to breed in this nursery

Thank you for everyone who was able to make it to our Snow Stravaganza at the Wachtmeister field station! We had a fun-filled time building cardboard sleds, skiing, drinking hot cocoa and enjoying the beautiful day outside! Pictured is one of our digital media interns teaching kids how to Nordic ski, kids enjoying a sleigh ride during a nature walk and everyone enjoying the beautiful fire outside the field station. 

A nice remote hike to Close Pond on the High Flats state forest, off of Donovan drive. Just a little over 2 miles round trip.

Snowflake, heaven, and summer storm.

The first snowfall of the season left my eyes in a magical land of beauty and peace.

One of the largest irruptions of Pine Grosbeaks in many years is happening this season due to a poor cone yield in Canada. Keep an eye on ornamental fruit trees for these birds, as hungry flocks of grosbeaks will gorge themselves upon the fruits (and will probably be unconcerned by your presence).

A perfect end to a busy day drive home from Malone.

We enjoyed clear skies, sun, and the company of an enthusiastic crowd of first timers at our Fall Open House on the SLU Orienteering Course today. Temps were right around freezing, but the sun and activity kept the chill out while the group navigated to the first 10 (of 28) control points on the course. This time of year is great for trying the sport out for the first time, with trees bare and visibility high in the woods. 

As the temperature dropped last Friday this red maple coincidingly dropped all its leaves creating this beautiful display! 

Nature Up North's Erika Barthelmess doubles as a Mammalogy teacher at St.Lawrence University. Here she leads students in the fundamentals of small mammal trapping. This weekend several students, myself included, set up small mammal traps on the Kip Trail behind St. Lawrence where we caught this female red backed vole and this adult male porcupine!

We a great turn out for our naturalist foraging walk with Nature Up North manager Emlyn Crocker! Pictured are some of our finds including; Sumac, strawberries, raspberries and plantain. Emlyn also shared with us some honorable foraging guidelines, including taking 10% or less of an edible plant of as a way to conserve resources. We tasted all plants pictured and had a lot of fun learning about edible plants! Thanks to everyone who joined.

Mushrooms grow throughout the year but are most prominent during the fall months. Over the past few weeks I've seen a bunch of different species on the Kip Trail behind St. Lawrence University. Here are a few of my favorite looking ones. I don't have any knowledge on what species these are so if you know please leave a comment below!

I spotted this snake while I was out on the Kip Trail during lab for my Mammalogy class. I believe it is a Northern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis) a subspecies of the garter snake.

Found a few Puffball mushrooms in the woods behind the Canoe Shack at SLU! The common names of this species are the common puffball, warted puffball, gem-studded puffball, or the devil's snuff-box. The scientific name is Lycoperdon perlatum-- Lycoperdon translates to wolf farts, and perlatum means widespread.

A great afternoon with Girl Scouts from Canton - De Kalb on a fall walk at Stone Valley. We explored how and why trees drop their leaves, and the group created this stunning color wheel with leaves collected on the trail.

These leaves stopped me in my tracks while running one fall morning. It reminded me that although change can be hard, it can also be beautiful.

I worked with Nature up North to moniter water quality on the Grasse River in Canton, NY and we found a bunch of different macroinvertebrates! I learned that this means that the quality of water here is very good.

Incredible.

For Nature Up North, fall means maple monitoring season, and I'm enjoying getting outside to record observations for the maple trees we're monitoring on the St. Lawrence campus. If you drive along Park St, you'll probably see the purple ribbons! This tree, a silver maple (Acer saccharinum), was distinctive. Not only does it have some spectacular orange lichen clinging to it's trunk, but it has pretty significant damage/loss of leaves in the crown. Clearly, not a happy tree, but we'll need to study it longer to learn more about what's going on here.

We had a great turn out of mushroom enthusiasts for the first Nature Up North fall Naturalist Walk on Friday. Led along the St. Lawrence University Kip Trail by our guest, local mycologist Claire Burkum, the group was lucky to see a diversity of mushrooms - thanks to some recent rains. Sightings ranged from common puffballs and boletes to dainty bird's nest fungi (an exciting first for me). Thanks to everyone who joined the fun! 

Super cool to see several monarch caterpillars on milkweed near the artificial wetland on the SLU campus. I'd never seen one in the wild before!

Found this in our back yard, almost stepped on it. Grand daughter and I were both barefoot. Ouch, moved it to a location futher away from our house.

At the start of our remarkably biting-insect-free August, this sunset in Stone Valley was particularly gentle.

Saw a fawn nursing when I pulled in. Grabbed my camera and fired off this shot. The fawns are pretty funny when they nurse because they wag their tails and stamp the ground with their front feet.

I'm glad that I let the milkweed grow this year!

We spotted this beautiful moth camouflaged on the bark of an ash tree -- he's maybe an inch and a half long. Does anyone know what kind he might be?

Cloud covered day near the Grasse River, but the plants are reaching for any remnant sunlight none the less.

Awesome view on an overcast day!

One of my favorites times of year has arrived!  We are hosting the 5th annual teachers' workshop at Nature Up North today and tomorrow, and I always find it totally inspiring to collaborate with a group of dedicated North Country K-12 folks.  Let the fun begin!

Learning how to post encounters during a NUN workshop while walking cross country trails around campus. Love me some Nature Up North!

The weather cooperated beautifully for our exploration of Stone Valley's waterfalls -- sunny and not too hot. Very impressive whitewater and geologic formations!

Had a great hike on the stone valley Trail. Many beautiful water falls on the Raquette River. Great views of a fast moving river. Shady hike on a sunny day.
Nice day trip from our home base of camping in Higley Flow State Park.

Garden Spider- very beautiful and large--about the size of a half dollar with brilliant yellow and black markings- has made his home among my Siberian Iris foliage. Notice the central zig-zag on his web--I think this is to stabilize the web for this very large spider, but I'm not sure. Supposed to be "common", but first time for me to see in my many years of gardening.

Homeowners and concerned citizens joined us for a walk on the Remington Trail to learn how they can hep monitor and slow the spread of emerald ash borer (EAB).  EAB was confirmed in St. Lawrence County last August and is already on the way to becoming a public safety concern.  Infested trees can die in 1-3 years, and are at risk of falling on homes and powerlines. Together, we learned how to I.D. an ash tree and signs of infestation.  Using our Community Ash Tree Survey, citizens can contribute to our online visual database and monitor infestation throughout the county.

Sunset is one of my favorite times of day -- especially the quiet sunsets when the air is utterly still, and it seems that time has paused at the edge of night. I went down to the Grasse River and the colors of the sky were doubled perfectly in the water. The twilight was ringing with birdsong -- I could hear two veeries, a hermit thrush, a catbird, what might have been a red-winged blackbird, and others I didn't recognize.

This week's evening paddle was full of surprises.... We saw no less than five beavers, one of whom was snacking on some tasty pickerelweed (second picture). We also spotted a river otter den dug into the bank (third picture). A gleaming orange sunset made for a fitting end to our adventure.

We found this sweet little nest in the woods near Postwood Park... does anyone know what kind of bird might have made it? It's a tiny cup (2 or 3 inches in diameter) built directly on the ground in open deciduous forest, near a swampy area.

The Nature Up North team had a blast leading a papermaking workshop on Saturday. We started out by exploring the plants around the Wachtmeister Field Station, and learning which had the best papermaking potential. Then we headed inside to make paper out of pulp made from the invasive common reed, decorating it with flower petals and leaves.

The sweltering heat subsided just in time for a comfortable stroll down the Kip Trail while learning about nocturnal animal adaptations. After recognizing the heightened senses used in nocturnal navigation, the group turned back for a relaxing evening around the fire, enjoying s'mores and an impressive array of summer fireflies.

Found a cool plant on the other side of the Little River from the Saddlemire Trail: this Canada Moonseed, a climbing vine that strongly resembles wild grape. Its fruits look exactly like grapes, but they are toxic! The best way to tell the two apart is by looking at the seeds: moonseed fruits have a single large, crescent-shaped seed, while grapes have multiple teardrop-shaped seeds.

I smelled woodsmoke while swimming at the sand banks on the Grass River. At first I assumed there was a bonfire at one of the houses, but the scent was odd, and very bitter. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye: beside the remains of a fire, there was smoke coming out of the ground. The fire must not have been put out fully, because it had burrowed under the ground, burning through fallen pine needles and fine rootlets. When I found it, it had spread in branching patterns over about a square foot of ground, and it was expanding towards the rest of the forest.

Late June is a great time to explore water plants - a variety of species are flowering this time of year, making finding them easier and even more interesting. During a paddling program today led by Nature Up North intern Maggie, we found a variety of species, including pickerel weed (flowering!), hornwort, ditchmoss, soft-stemmed bullrush, and sensitive fern. We also talked about some water-loving trees that like to grow along the river, such as silver maple, box elder and willow. 

 

 

Last Friday afternoon allowed me a few minutes to walk the Kip Trail at St. Lawrence University out to the marsh deck and snap a few photos. I was fortunate to run into interns of Nature Up North who reminded me to get an encounter posted (thank you, interns!). The initial stretch of the Kip Trail features a number of different microhabitats (field, marsh, river, scrub, pine, and deciduous forest), so there is a nice diversity of flora and fauna to observe. Birdlife was vocal with many signs of breeding activity - singing, agitation, carrying food, etc.

The rain ceased just in time to enjoy a calm canoe along the Grasse River. As the start of our summer paddling series, we had a mix of beginner and experienced paddlers, and a lot of fun!

I found this painted turtle on a roadway the edge of the St. Lawrence University campus. I'm not sure where they had come from -- they were surrounded by parking lots and athletic fields. I carried them to the wetland they seemed to be headed towards. It was just after sunset, and the marsh was full of splashes and frog-sounds. I pushed through some reeds to deposit the turtle within sight of water. There was a loud rustle and a flash of yellow eyes and then a black cat came shooting out of the cattails like a shadow come alive.

Today was such a good day. My kids WANTED to go hiking, and my son's 5th-grade class had recently taken a field trip to the Stone Valley trail. So, we packed a lunch and drove to check it out. The weather was perfect for hiking, not humid at all and a beautiful breeze to keep the bugs (mostly) away. My daughter had fun keeping track of the different maples (striped, sugar & red), and my son was happy with the occasional hill or steep section to challenge him. I got to see a lot of neat things, including some fungi and cool plants.

The Nature Up North team had a great time leading an Introduction to Fishing workshop at Ives Park in Potsdam. After much untangling of fishing poles, guests made two catches: both rock bass.

The rain held up just enough for a successful event this afternoon! After delving into some history of dyeing and foraging the landscape for potential plants for dye, the group learned the process of creating homemade dye. We wrapped the program up by dyeing bandanas to take home! Among the plants used to dye were daisies, yellow dock root, buckthorn, spearmint, and false indigo.

Nature Up North's campfire in honor of the summer solstice was a great success! We shared stories and animal sightings, and s'mores flavored with locally gathered wood sorrel and pineapple weed.

Walking back to my office after a meeting, I noticed a stunned cedar waxwing lying on the ground.  I could see its tail moving, so I gently set it up on its feet.  Got this photo after righting the bird.  I suspect it had flown into a window.  The area is planted with juneberry trees (shadbush, Amelanchior) which are in fruit right now and attract lots of cedar waxwings.  The second photo is one of the waxwings in one of the trees.

Though I hate to see the birds hit windows, their presence and the lovely churrs they make really improve my day!

One of our tasks this week as interns for Nature Up North was to set up two funnel traps for the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle over the course of yesterday and today. The purpose of these traps is to determine the presence of EAB within the area. Each trap has pheromones that attract nearby insects and a fluid that preserves each specimen. These will be checked every two weeks and taken down in the fall!

Nature Up North and the Canton Garden Club teamed up this week to pull garlic mustard from where it's growing in Canton and make homemade pesto! Garlic mustard, while invasive today, was a common addition to gardens in the 1800's for the delicious garlic-y flavor of it's leaves. After a successful hour pulling (we collected 7 bags!) we headed back to the TAUNY kitchen to make garlic mustard pesto and share a meal together. Thanks to the Garden Club for their help, and to TAUNY for the use of their beautiful kitchen.