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 you organization's events!

Encounters

Habitat: Grassland, field, small shrubs and grasses. Some deciduous trees.

Although I never got close enough to examine it fully, these three trees may be American elms, or Ulmus americana. These trees are common through the United States and much of eastern Canada. Dutch elm disease is a threat looming over trees like these. A fungal disease that has ravaged elm populations in much of New York (including my hometown of Buffalo), arborists are on the watch for signs of it in the North Country.

Habitat: Alpine Zone - 4,098 feet above sea level. Characterized by low pressures, wind, cold, little cover. Direct sunlight.

Habitat: Frozen River - Near lowland mixed-wood forest.

Right before the end of our hike, as the last bit of elevation at Azure Mountain leveled out, I spotted this fuzzy brown caterpillar crawling along the thawing snow. At the time I thought it was a strange for a caterpillar to be around, because I'm used to seeing them strictly in the summer. After some research of common Adirondack caterpillars, I believe it belongs to the family Arctiidae. I couldn't narrow it down to one specific species, but the caterpillars in this family are recognizable by their hairy bodies.

I saw this fish swimming around with a turtle at the Wild Center, and snapped a shot while it was alone in the frame. I believe this is a lake trout, a freshwater fish with a long body, a forked tail and a squat head. This species is typically gray and covered with cream spots, which are faintly visible here. In the North, they reside in shallow lakes and rivers, and feed on mainly other fish but also insect larvae and plankton. Lake trout are commonly fished for sport and in the Adirondack region they are threatened by overfishing.

I saw this fern during a trip to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The light really brought out the earthy combination of browns and greens so I stopped to snap a shot. After some research, I believe this species is the hayscented fern, known to grow in a manner that "carpets" the forest floor. It is very common, with light-green lacy fronds, and thrives in any woody area (perhaps partly because deer ignore this particular fern). The hayscented fern is often confused with the New York fern, but this species has triangular fronds while the New York fern tapers at both ends.

The Raquette River cuts through Stone Valley in Colton, NY. 3-mile trails exist on both sides of the river, making it a prime location for cross-country skiing or just a recreational walk. A popular whitewater rafting site, the first mile has a 200-foot elevation drop through 7 rapids. In this photo I tried to capture a lapsed flow of the river as well as I could. A dense hardwood forest surrounds the river, and during our hike we saw a variety of greenery, including hemlock and pine needles and even the small ferns in the bottom of my picture.

During this visit to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, our primary goal was to learn about the maple syrup production process. However, there was a group of fluffy sheep as well as these friendly cows, who looked up to pose for the camera as they munched on some hay. The contrast between the bleak day and the richly colored hide of the cows inspired me to take this shot. The dairy industry is critical to the Northern New York economy.

Walking through some desolate woods, a mossy rocks nestles into itself for warmth. Moss is a category of soft, photosynthesizing plants that have a non-vascular system. Unlike most plants which use a vascular system, moss does not have any vessels to transport water and sugar. Instead, the structure of the moss is such that it can trap water all throughout itself to prevent it from evaporating. Moss can survive in conditions with limited nutrients, and it would make for a wonderfully comfortable lawn.

After waking up late for class and looking out the window, even in February I could have sworn it was Christmas morning. Snow poured on over everything, including the spruce trees that are the subject of this photo. Coniferous trees never lose there needles in the winter, like deciduous trees which shed their leaves. This way, the spruce tree saves a lot of energy because it does not have to grow a whole new set of needles in the spring. The dark green makes a striking contrast with the pure white snow.