My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!


Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in Allegany State Park


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

In the 1930’s the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was considered “a regular summer bird of Allegany Park but it is not very common. It occurs regularly about the edges of big timber areas such as the Big Basin and other patches of mature Maple-Beech” (A.A. Saunders. 1942. Summer Birds of the Allegany State Park, NYS Museum Handbook 18). Saunders did not document any nesting pairs of Sapsuckers but did indicate that he saw some fledglings. Baird found the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker had gone from 0 breeding pairs in 1930 up to 282 breeding pairs in the Quaker Run Valley in just over 55 years (T.H. Baird. 1990. Changes in Breeding Bird Populations Between 1930 and 1985 in the Quaker Run Valley of Allegany State Park, NYS Museum Bulletin No. 477). I have also found the Sapsucker to be commonly found (if not the most commonly found woodpecker) here in Allegany State Park. But I have also found that they are more commonly heard moving through the woods than being seen. They are quickly identified by their unevenly drumming song and their cat-like call notes that are very distinctive for this species. (more…)

Spanish Day at CLDC Banding Site

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

On Saturday we had a superb day at the CLDC MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding station. We banded 18 different species of birds, 23 were newly banded individuals, 9 were recaptured birds and we were able to collected 14 Avian Bird Flu samples. We had both Young Naturalist J and Young Naturalist C as my banding assistants for this banding session (including their parents). Young Naturalist C brought her friend Amy with her to the station and of course I also assigned some duties for her to do. (more…)

A day of relaxing!

Long Dash (pair)

The female Long Dash was quickly flapping her wings and attracting the male.

Today I spent the day catching up on things I have been neglecting for a while!! Some of these things included sleep, things around the house, spending time with the cats and some time with the family. It was too nice of a day not to enjoy the outside, so I took a quick walk down into the Wolf Run area of Allegany State Park to search for Butterflies (which I have also been neglecting). (more…)

NYS Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (Odonata)

Twelve-spotted Skimmer and group

Twelve-spotted Skimmer and group

Today was the Western New York training session for the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey which has been organized by the NYS Natural Heritage Program. Funds for this project have come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services State Wildlife Grants Program which is administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This year’s training session was held at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and is the same location where the training was held two years ago. (more…)

Allegany Post by Others

Having some problems with the post I had planned! SORRY! So, here are a few other blog post that I have found that are related to the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage that everyone should check out :

Biological Ramblings – You must see the amazing herps that he found here in Allegany!

A Passion for Nature – Jen had such a wonderful time that I rarely saw her!

Dragonfly Eye  – Jeremy is amazing with the Dragonflies! Just check out the Dflies he found! Hint (Common Sanddragon)

Life in the Bristolwood was a blog that I found via a google search!

Jeff  – How cool, found also in the google search and Jeff attended my Old Growth Walk!  Would have commented but not a my space member.

Bill of the Birds – who was our Saturday evening speaker! Heck, he’s BT3 what else can I say!

While you are catching up on the recent Allegany Nature Pilgrimage post, I will figure out what went wrong with the post I had planned!!  BTW:  Wednesday morning I am doing my rescheduled SWAT – MAPS banding that was canceled due to he rain on Monday.  Expect many more great up close banding photos!

Allegany Nature Pilgrimage

This weekend was the 49th annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage held here in Allegany State Park. This is my 12th year attending the pilgrimage and my 9th year as a trip leader. This year I was asked to lead two “Old Growth Forest Hikes” into the Big Basin area. I tried to show everyone a few different forest types so that everyone could have a better understanding of how an older growth forest operates. The two groups I took on the walk were wonderful and I had an opportunity to show the old growth forest to 67 different individuals.

Silk Moth Species (more…)

One Year Ago, I got my …

Way back in high school we never had a camera club but we did have a journalism class. I had dated one of the girls who did the photography in the class and yes, my first kiss was in the dark room! I can still feel the goose-bumps just thinking about it. While spending many hours in the dark room (wink), I also learned about the basics of film processing! She told me which chemicals to use, proper framing of the pictures, and many other tricks in developing black and white photography. This experience ended up getting me the job of developing all the photos for a local weekly newspaper for about 2 years. At that time I used a free 35mm point and shoot camera for all my crazy little pictures that I took. Then I finally purchased my Nikon 6006 (SLR) back in 1995 and carried this camera everywhere I went. Birds were my passion and using a 400mm was essential for me in capturing them on film. This was also my earlier years of doing Environmental Education and I switched over to taking slide film instead of 35mm film. Using slide projectors were the way of life for so many years and I never thought that would ever change? (more…)

Keeping Busy

This year I am starting a second MAPS banding station and of course I waited till the last second to set both of the stations. I have had to pull multi flora rose thorns out of my leg, been bitten by bugs, scratched my eye with a stick, blisters are on my hands and I am just tired for working till 9pm each night. This evening I finally have gotten everything ready for one of the stations to be open and hope to finish setting up the second station tomorrow evening sometime (before the weather gets iffy again).

Stewart's Soda and Ice-cream (more…)

Its has been 206 days since. . . .


. . . . I have seen a Monarch Butterfly.  While walking around Red House Lake here in Allegany State Park this evening, I observed my very first Monarch for 2007! It is so hard to believe that it was over 6 months ago when these wonderful butterflies were migrating south to winter in California and Mexico. Their offspring continue their cycle and now moving back north again! I would assume the one I saw was a female and probably laying numerous eggs while moving north. Shouldn’t be too long before they become very common and they begin their movements south again.

When you find your first monarch butterfly, make sure you report it on Journey North’s website at:

Gardens and Meredith with Monarchs

Tom's Garden

Recently I have been seeing post from my blogging friends about how they have been working on their gardens. I figured I probably should post something about my garden that I have!! This photo was taken of my garden in my back yard which does require pruning of weeds. I spend absolutely no time planting any flowers but somehow these flowers always find their way growing in this garden of mine. (more…)

Robin Chicks Hatched!!

American Robin

The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) builds their nest in shrubs, trees forks or any sufficient ledge that they find. The nest is built with grasses, string and then stuck together by mud. They will line the nest with very fine grasses. Adults will not start incubating the nest until all the eggs have been laid (normally 3 or 4 eggs). They will sit on the eggs for about 12-14 days and nestlings will leave the nest in about 14-16 days. Weather pending the American Robin have anywhere from 2 to 3 broods throughout the year. This video clips below is very long (look out dial-up people) but shows the numerous efforts by both the male and females Robins while raising their young. (more…)

Allenburg Bog

Allenburg Bog

Dragonfly Eye gave me a call yesterday and asked if I wanted to join him in search of the Boghaunter. If you are not familiar of the Boghaunter (I wasn’t), it is a rare Dragonfly that is frequently found in areas associated with bogs. Jeremy informed me that none of the Boghaunter species have ever been found at Allenburg Bog (Cattaraugus County, NY) area. He wanted to visit the bog to see if we could find any of them flying yet. Of course I am always up for an adventure and couldn’t resist in also taking the time to look for newly arrived warblers! (more…)

Spring Butterfly Day


I had a late start in getting outside this morning, which resulted in seeing a few birds. I worked hard to come across the Cedar Waxwing (CHECK) and Baltimore Oriole (CHECK) which were both first for 2007’s. I took advantage of the late day to search for some spring butterflies. I started my search in an area where the Toothwart (Dentaria diphylla) grows. I had hoped to find Allegany State Park’s only butterfly species of concern called the West Virginia White. What is interesting is that the NY State Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) list Allegany State Park as the best place to see the West Virginia White here in New York State. If you head over to the West Virginia White cover page, you will see that someone (hint) has a photo credit! (more…)

Dead Swallows and my Cousins Blog!

Spider photo by kirispupis

It has been such a busy week for me and I am trying to get things done before the weather gets better. Just seems like everything is happening at once!! I did get out today and checked all the bluebird boxes before all the birdies start building their nest. My stomach dropped as soon as (more…)

Food that helps the bluebirds during the storm

We have another storm moving up the east coast this weekend and I believe this storm will continue to put pressure on our insect eating migrants. I wanted to check all of the bluebird boxes but decided not to disturb the boxes until after the storm has moves through. I believe it is possible that the substances inside the box could help the surviving swallows stay insulated and I do not want to stress any swallows more than they could possibly be already. I did settle on checking the two boxes back behind the house where the Eastern Bluebirds were showing some interest in nesting. It was only a week ago when these two boxes were completely empty. With a closer inspection it appears the bluebirds have left numerous clues of how they are able to survive the snow storm that we had last week.

Bluebirds at Night (more…)

Risk and Benefits of Early Migration

Here on my nature blog here you will constantly see me noting my first of the year sightings! Normally those are the birds trying to be the first on their breeding grounds. These early birds are the experienced adults taking advantage of the many benefits of arriving early. Those males who arrive first will have their first choice in the most suitable nesting habitat and provide a better chance for the males to be pair up with a female. These earlier nesting pairs will then have a longer nesting period with a better fledgling success rate. Those individuals that show up later will then result in a less suitable habitat where they could have less available food for their young. Obviously this will reduce their chances of producing successful fledglings and open up the opportunity for predators finding their nest.

tree swallow on box

These long-distance migrants have many hazardous obstacles that the birds will need to avoid during their migration. My Ornithology text book by Frank Gill states “More than half the small land birds of the Northern Hemisphere never return from their southbound migration”. This is so hard to believe but there are so many physical risk that they encounter like: exhaustion, predators or even the weather. It was my post yesterdays where I discussed temperatures being in the ~70sF (Tuesday’s 1/2 day off). There were a few species including a dragonfly which I had listed as my first for the year find. Could they be risking their lives for the possible benefits of arriving early? (more…)

Half Day of Butterfly Searching


I started getting spring fever (again) after taking my lunch break yesterday (temps were in the 70’s). Something told me to get my butt outside and start search for butterflies!! At 1:30 I took off from work and drove over to the Wolf Run area of Allegany State Park (one of my favorite butterfly spots). In about 1 1/2 hour’s time I had found 17 species of birds and a few wildflowers peaking out of the ground. Leaks were really teasing me and YES, their odor did follow me for the rest of the night. I saw the leaves of trout lilies, toothwort and something else that could have been spring beauties peaking out of the ground. Leaving my favorite little forested flower area, I heard a Barred Owl vocalizing in the middle of the day (about 3pm)! A second owl some distance away began responding back (who cooks for you? who cooks for you all?). (more…)

Sping Animals are Fun to Watch

This time of the year I find myself bombarded with things to write about but very little time to actually do the writing. I will try to focus on some important things instead of every little encounter that I had. Yesterday morning the Eastern Bluebirds were actively singing around my bluebird box and I am soo pleased to have them around. Not sure how I am going to accomplish this but I am currently trying to come up with a plan on getting some video of these guys for the blog. While working on the computer in my office there was a wonderful little song coming through my window. I had to think for a few second “who is this bird” and then it hit me “Brown Creeper”. The Brown Creeper is a common little brown bird which is rarely seen but commonly heard singing in the springtime. (more…)

Stinky Bug

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Whenever the outside temperatures start warming up, we will get many flies and ladybugs around the house. Living in the woods for the past three years has introduced me to a new resident living with me over the winter months. I had always called this a “stink bug” because whenever someone accidentally steps on one or grab it quickly the bug will produce an unpleasant odor. It has only been recently that I started to investigate the proper identification of this insect. I am proud to introduce you to my new room mate Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis).


Salamander Migration

Spring is a magnificent time of the year when nature does so many wonderful things. This is when I find myself on a set routine waiting for the next major natural event to happen (and it normally happens right on schedule). My biggest and most favorite activity to participate in is the migration of the Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).

Spotted Salamander (more…)

Day One – The Trip

Turkey Vulture

After being out on the road for 10 long hours, you start to find yourself doing some 65m/hr nature watching. My adventure started at 5:30 this morning with a few mammals like the Deer, Raccoons and an Opossum. Further down the highway it started looking a bit like large snow flakes in the air! Nope, to warm for snow but there were many little moths that were attracted to my headlights. Finally the sun came up and I started seeing many of those common roadside birds like the Canada Goose, Red-tailed Hawk, American Crow and even a few American Kestrels. I did happen to see many Turkey Vultures flying around which is a species that I have been looking for my first for 2007 list! Finally – CHECK. (more…)

Such a Warm Stinking Flower

As promised, I have finally gotten around to writing something about Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). My interest in this flower started late last week when two of my friends were posting pictures of their first of the year wildlfower; Jennifer photo 1, photo 2, and photo 3 & Salamanderdance photo 1 and photo 2. But, after thinking about it, this isn’t my first wildflower for 2007. In January before the 2007 “Ice Age”, I saw dandelions growing out on the lawn. So, this really is my 2nd flower species for 2007 but, does very much feel like my 1st flower also this year.
You might ask why this is a remarkable wildflower? (more…)

Things you find at dusk!

This evening I went out searching for some early arrivals of the American Woodcock here in Allegany State Park. My searching started close to dusk where I almost stepped on a caterpillar while getting out of my truck. Not exactly sure which species of caterpillar this is but looks like it could be in the dagger family (See photo below). Finding this little fuzzy caterpillar had encouraged me to continued searching for little things on the pavement. It didn’t take long before I located another caterpillar called the Woolly Bear. But, this one wasn’t photographable because it was about as flat as a quarter. You can only find on so many dead Woolly Bears on the pavement before you start focusing your energy on something else (like unusual sounds).

Along the Road

Didn’t take long before I heard my first sound of the night …. Could it be the twittering sounds of the woodcock during its display?? …. (more…)

Kenn Kaufman at RTPI

Kenn Kaufman spent the evening talking to many guest and members of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI) in Jamestown, New York. Kenn is the fourth author who has been invited to speak at the Distinguished Speaker Series at RTPI (funded through the Johnson Foundation). Kenn is best known as the author of the book Kingbird Highway and his Kaufman Focus Field Guides. Tonight was the official release date for his newest Focus Guide on the Insects of North America and it looks like a very useful guide for any nature enthusiast (I know its going in my library).

Kenn Speaking (more…)