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


Two Feet of Snow Last Night

Just when you realize you probably have too much snow on the ground!! (more…)


tree swallows looking for food
Flying on Red House Lake (2007)

I observed a few hundred Tree Swallows flying over Red House Lake today with big snowflakes in the air!! Seeing this behavior reminded of the day in 2007 when I found a dozen birds cuddling together to keep warm. These birds just don’t do well in cold temperatures and my heart was broken after finding a few dozen of them dead in the bird boxes.  Lucky this weather isn’t proposed to last for as many days as in the 2007’s storm.

Salamander Movement Tonight

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander Smile

Allegany State Park has had some outstanding temperatures recently and I have been anticipating this night for the past few weeks! The migration of the Spotted Salamander starts each spring when these yellow spotted creatures emerge from the ground and slowly work their way towards their breeding pools.

Feeling Like Spring

Walk with kenser
Walking with MacKenzie

A heat spell hit Allegany State Park today with temperatures reaching 50 degrees F. MacKenzie asked nicely to have our first walk around Red House Lake and we kept finding critters also enjoying the sunshine.

Nature Haikus – Winter

Redhouse before it froze over!
Red House Lake

By Young Naturalist C

Snow laden branches
Hide secrets in the forest
Waiting to be found


Reminders of Summer

Found this warbler nest in the snow today!! This snow covered nest reminds me . . . that I make it through the winter knowing the Warblers will return in the spring!!

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Ring-necked Ducks hiding from the storm

Ring-necked Ducks
Ring-necked Ducks

The first winter storm of the season moved through Allegany State Park today. We had all kinds of weather from snow, down poring rain, sunny skies, thunderstorm, small hail and even high winds for most of the day making any bird wishing they were not migrating south. Today we had 13 Ring-necked Ducks on Red House Lake who appeared to be ducking out from this storm.

Half a morning of banding

House Wren (baby)
House Wren (baby)

This Saturday morning we had a superb start at the CLDC MAPS banding station but then . . . . (to be continued)!!! We banded only 6 species, recaptured 9 individuals and placed new bands on 8 birdies (17 total captures). Species banded included Blue-winged Warbler, Gray Catbird, Song Sparrow, Field Sparrow, House Wren and a first for the year bird for me (also to be continued ).

Saturdays moving birds!


Spring is becoming much more apparent the past few days with the leaves bringing us some green colors on our dull brown hillsides. A thunderstorm pushed through Allegany State Park area in the afternoon and this rain was very much needed after a few weeks with only a few sprinkles. Things are soo dry that my County has posted an open fire ban after many small fires have started across Cattaraugus County. Campers are bummed for not being allowed to burn their firewood but I have been enjoying this weather with many great birds pushing through the area!!

More Snow

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee waiting for seeds

We are getting another 8-12 inches of snow this weekend!! Our local weatherman isn’t calling this a blizzard but I think it feels like a blizzard (with whiteout conditions)! Poor bird feeder birds were anxiously waiting for me to fill my feeders this morning (while I slept in)! Chickadee’s were saying to me “Chick-a-dee dee deee . . . those SEEDS NOW BUDDY!!”

Tundra Like Weather

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove waiting for the Ice Storm

They are predicting a 1/2 inch of ice by morning and we are already starting to see some mixed perception coming down. If we do get the predicted ice storm . . . expect my power and phone lines to be out (with no internet)! Ugg, lets hope the weather man is wrong! ! Today I heard some very familiar trumpet like calls “klooo . . . kwooo . . .” and I knew it was only a matter of time till these guys started pushing through the area (my first for 2008 – CHECK)!


After Work Walk

American Crow
American Crow

We had the most beautiful day today with temperatures reaching 60°F and melting most of the soft fluffy snow that I was hiking in yesterday. I couldn’t resist walking around Red House Lake after work and enjoying some fresh warm spring air. It’s too bad that they are predicting freezing rain tomorrow and more snow by dusk. These teasers are still needed weather breaks with spring only 17 days away.

Where Adult Butterflies Winter

fallen into the snow
Fallen into the snow!

When temperatures reach – 0°F you don’t expect to find any adult butterflies in your back yard. Ok, here is my story . . . Yesterday I planned on starting a fire in the fireplace to help defray the cost of my gas bill (because temperatures are soo cold). I brought my first load of wood into the house and then returned for my second load! I notice in the white snow something that looked exactly like a butterfly standing up! Naa, it had to be bark right? Nope, with a closer inspection it was an Eastern Comma that fallen out of the woodpile and into the snow! (more…)

Last Saturdays Frost

Red Oak leaf and black locus
Frosted Red Oak and Black Locus.


Allegany the Winter Wonderland

Administration Building
Allegany State Park’s Administration Building.


Allegany by Moonlight

Administration Building At Night
The Administration Building.

You keep asking if my Owl season is over! The answer is No but . . . I have run into many reasons for needing to keep the station closed for the past two weeks. Which include fog, rain, high wind, snow, lake effect and tonight temps being around 20 degree F. If I was open this evening . . . . I would be battling the bright moon that is out (see photos). As much as I miss catching and banding these fluff balls . . . . their safety is our first priority. Maybe even with the bright moon tomorrow . . I can open some nets?? Till then I will be trying to get out to take some new pictures!

Don’t Forget to Turns Your Clocks Back!

Photo by Young Naturalist J.

We had another busy night at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station here in Allegany State Park. We had a fellow birdbander and 3 others from the Allegheny National Forest visit us this evening. They were able to see 2 of our Saw-whet Owls being banded and then be released (before heading home). We also had Sarah from Jamestown Audubon visit for most of the evening (and she was able to see 4 of the birds)! I tried to convince her to stay later but she needed to head home. I know that she made the right decision since we did not catch anything again until the wee hours of the night. It has been wonderful with so many visitors visiting the banding station this week. (more…)

Owls and other kinds of Owls!

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Another busy Owl night this evening!! Obviously looking at the photos . . . . I captured my first Barred Owl for the season!! Yes, I did get taloned on the finger by this bird but nothing too bad! 😦 (more…)

Less Daylight Hours and Spotted Salamanders

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander heading towards the woods.

I did a post almost 7 months ago on the migration of the Spotted Salamander. Each spring these large salamanders come out of the ground and migrate to special mud puddles called vernal pools. It is in these vernal pools where they breed and the females will lay their eggs. It is such an amazing spring time event and who would expect that I would find two of these salamanders crossing the roads during mid October (going the opposite direction?)? (more…)

Surprised Big Fluff Ball Night!

Don and NSWO
Don and a Fluff Ball

Saturday evening a fellow bird bander Don Watt and his family joined me for some Saw-whet Owl banding here in Allegany State Park. He is interested in starting his own owl banding station and joined me to get a better idea on how I am catching these tiny owls. I was happy to capture a Northern Saw-whet Owl for them just before they headed home (High Five!). (more…)

Glow Worms and Saw-whets in that order!

Lighting Bug Larva
Glow Worm (Lighting Bug Larva)

Last night (9th October) was another successful evening with my Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Project here in Allegany State Park. I opened the nets just after dusk and then headed out for my first net check at 8pm. I had hoped for some owls but was more dazzled by the number of lighting bug (or firefly) larva that I found moving along the ground. (more…)

Fluff Balls

Northern  Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

Yeah! I finally caught not just one but two fluff balls last night (8 October 2007)! I have had the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station open here in Allegany State Park since the 30th of September and was starting to wonder “where are they”!! This isn’t my latest dates but it was very close to it! Back in 2004 when I first started banding Saw-whets . . . . I caught my first bird on the 9th of October and was my first night “ever” trying to catch any! Then in 2005 we caught our first one on the 3rd of October and last year (2006) we caught one on the 1st of October. It has been promising to know that other local (Western New Yorkers and North Western Pennsylvanian) Saw-wheters also have been behind in catching these guys. (more…)

North Country Trip 2007

Some of the views along the Hike

Along the North Country Trail

As you know from the previous post that Young Naturalist J, his father (Jeff) and I went backpacking along the North Country Trail here in Allegany State Park yesterday. We started down on the Bay State Road and hiked up to the Lean-To along this section of the trail. The uphill hike wasn’t very fun with temperatures nearing 90F degrees, very muggy and I was bitten up by mosquitoes along the trail. I took everyone along a re-route section of the trail that is being proposed and it only made it harder since it was 0.7 miles off trailing hiking. The original alternative probably would have been a smarter route for us to do. (more…)

Rain, grrr



This morning our SWAT MAPS banding station was scheduled for banding. I woke up with light rain but the weather man said that it wouldn’t rain until 11am. So, onward to the banding station and luckily it did stopped. . . . I decided to open the nets and give some banding a try. An hour into the banding session it started to rain again (uggg). I had just started doing a net check, so I decided to just close all the nets up. Birds were singing up a storm, we had captured a family of Redstarts, a Yellow Warbler, two male Magnolia Warblers and a Gray Catbird. The rain continued for about 45 minutes while I processed the captured birds and I then finally decided to cancel the session (just before the rain stopped). Do I open the nets again or do I keep them closed till Sunday?? Decisions, decisions!!! I figured the nets were close already; I would just reschedule the banding until next Sunday. I then went home to crawled back into bed!!  I had woken up to the sun shining in my window and singing birds outside the window!! Ok, the sun was only out for a few seconds but I just knew at that point that I made the wrong decision in closing early! I hope that my make-up day is full of good birdies!  (BTW: The time of this post would be when I would be closing up my nets.)

So . . . . Happy 4th of July! Now off to a Chicken Barbeque!!