A natural gift came my way from Mother Nature on the Winter Solstice. The sight of a little heron with feathers the color of snow.
I was taking a leisurely stroll around the West Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday morning. As I came across a small tidal stream I was shocked to see a juvenile Little Blue Heron.
Little Blue Herons are fairly rare around New York Harbor, even immature ones. The birds tend to be more common in the southeast, some even migrating for the winter as far south as South America. So I was naturally skeptical. Double and triple checking my field guides, I was searching for positive markings to make sure this bird was a little blue and not an egret.
Despite its name, a first year Little Blue Heron does not look blue. In fact, it appears more like a Snowy Egret. Its feathers are practically all white and are about the same shape and size of a Snowy Egret.
What Terrestrial Animal Has The Longest Lifespan?
Posted on Monday, September 29, 2014 by eNature
If you’re a TV watcher, you may have noticed that the long-running TV show Survivor keeps showing up every season.
But there’s a much more interesting version playing out in the wild.
It’s one thing to survive a few weeks on a television show, but it’s quite another to live 180 years and never be voted off the island!
The tale of the ultimate survivor begins in a world of 18th century explorers, kidnappings, and tropical islands, when long-distance travel was by ship and many lands were still uncharted. The secret to this creature’s longevity may be in its philosophy: Slow and steady wins the race.
The Real Survivor
By all accounts the longest-lived creatures on earth are turtles. It may have something to do with the slowed-down lifestyle and perhaps the protective armor. At any rate, tales abound of giant tortoises of the Galapagos, Seychelles, Madagascar, and other islands that lived well over 100 years.
Obama tries to preempt Trump by banning oil drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic
Updated by Brad Plumer@email@example.com Dec 20, 2016, 6:15pm EST
On Tuesday, President Obama announced that he was putting hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned waters in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean off limits “indefinitely” to future oil and gas drilling.
Environmental groups had been calling for precisely this move ever since the election — as a way of preempting Donald Trump. What’s interesting here is that while Obama can legally put these areas off limits by executive order, it’s not at all clear that Trump can unilaterally reverse this move, at least not without Congress passing a brand-new bill. The dispute hinges on an obscure section of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, that has never really been tested in courts.
First, let’s look at the lands in question. The White House placed 115 million acres of federal waters north of Alaska, in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off limits to future oil and gas exploration. (A smaller section of the Beaufort sea near the coast will continue to be available for future leasing.)
Winter officially arrived to New York Harbor today at 5:44am EST. What does that mean?
It means that the dark days of December are nearly over, when the nights are at their longest.
The winter solstice is when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun. It occurred today at 5:44am EST. This doesn’t mean the Earth is farther away from the sun; just the North Pole is titled the farthest away from the Sun. As a result, the Northern Hemisphere gets the least direct sunlight on the winter solstice.
New York Harbor received its shortest day of the year. One last long December night. It lasted for about 9 and half hours.
The molt of a spider crab
Be warned. Now and then when walking along a sandy beach around New York Harbor or along a nearby Atlantic Ocean beach, you may come across a crime scene. So shocking, it’s like nothing you have ever seen. It’s a death of biblical proportions, the sight of many carcasses strewn along a beach.
The tide goes out with an omen - piles of dead bodies, perhaps in the thousands, stretched out across the edge of a beach. Worst of all, there will be no warning when it will happen. It just does, though it often takes place in the warmer months of the year.
As gory and grisly as it sounds, this is no ordinary crime scene. The victims are not human, but crustacean. The crabs are not even lifeless, just evidence of a crusty critter shedding its old shell.
These are not dead bodies, but empty shells or molts. As many crabs grow, they molt. Blue crabs do it, horseshoe crabs as well, and even the creepy looking spider crab. They all molt, which is the process of shedding an external skeleton for the purpose of growth and maturity. Just as kids outgrow their clothing, crabs outgrow their shells.
HOLDING ON FOR DEER LIFE: DEER RESCUED FROM FROZEN NEW JERSEY POND
CeFaan Kim, WABC NY Eyewitness News
Friday, December 16, 2016 11:32PM
SOUTH AMBOY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A dramatic rescue played out on a partially-frozen pond in New Jersey Friday evening, and NewsCopter7 was overhead to capture every hoof-dropping moment.
Members of the Sayreville ice rescue team, as well as the local fire and police departments and Animal Control, came to the aid of a deer that had fallen through the ice in Waterworks Park in South Amboy, near South Broadway and O'Leary Boulevard.
"This is a really difficult type of rescue. It's not a dog that is used to being around humans. This is a deer; it doesn't necessarily want the help from the humans," said Shannon Sohn, from Newscopter 7.
It was 30 minutes of pure drama, playing out live from NewsCopter7.
A deer, fell through the partially-frozen pond.
"It was struggling to stay afloat," said Chris Mierzwiak, Sayreville Fire Department.
Mierzwiak was one of the three firefighters in the icy water.
The Great New York Whale Census
By RICHARD SCHIFFMAN JULY 7, 2016
The New York Times
If your knowledge of New York’s wildlife is limited to pigeons and squirrels, Howard Rosenbaum, the director of the Ocean Giants program at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn, has some surprising news. “In less distance out to sea than the average New Yorker’s commute home,” he said, “there is likely a whale singing at this very moment.”
At least seven species have been sighted offshore. They include the largest animal that has ever lived, the blue whale, and one of the most endangered creatures on earth, the North Atlantic right whale, as well as humpback, fin, sei, minke and sperm whales. As to why so many whales are passing through New York’s waters — and which of them live in the metropolitan area year-round — even whale experts are at something of a loss.
To solve those mysteries, the aquarium’s parent organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society, has partnered with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the biggest independent ocean research center in the United States, to conduct the largest-ever survey of New York’s whales.
The project began on a research vessel 22 miles off Fire Island in thick fog on the night of June 23 without so much as a splash, as technicians gently eased a listening buoy into calm waters.
How Cold Is It? Not Cold Enough to Stop Manhattan Mosquitoes
Dec 16, 2016 · by Stephen Nessen
WNYC Public Radio
For the past seven years, residents on West 84th Street between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue have been suffering from a winter mosquito infestation.
"We get up in the middle of the night, let's say at 1 a.m., and kill three, four mosquitoes," said Joe, who has a two-year-old son and lives on that block. (Like many people interviewed for this story, he didn't want to give his last name because he's concerned about the resale value of his home). Then, he said, we "go to bed, two hours later we wake up again, kill three or four mosquitoes and so on — until it's 8 a.m. and you're definitely not rested."
Joe said his neighbors on the 8th floor have already sold their apartment because of the mosquitoes.
His apartment has high ceilings, and his mosquito-killing technique has evolved accordingly. "The only way to kill them up there is a pillow," he said. "Last year we had over 100 confirmed deaths with blood or the body, sometimes the body flies somewhere you can't detect it — but if you see the blood stain then you know you got it."
He added that he doesn't wash the pillow until the end of the winter-mosquito season, "just to have proof, so to speak."
He's not alone. Last year, 403 people signed a petition in an effort to get the city to deal with the problem. That represents nearly all of the 43 buildings on the block, according to local resident Tom Nicholson. He's been battling the issue since 2009. By 2010, he says, it was "in full swing."
This block is also named Edgar Allan Poe Street, because the writer once lived in a farmhouse there. And, like Poe's "Murder in the Rue Morgue," no one knows how the mosquitoes are getting into the apartments.
U.S. Protects Giant Piece Of Atlantic Ocean To Save Centuries-Old CoralsNew rules for a Virginia-sized ocean region ban damaging commercial fishing practices.
12/15/2016 06:58 pm ET
Nick Visser Reporter, The Huffington Post
The United States will protect an Atlantic Ocean region roughly the size of Virginia in an effort to save centuries-old deep-sea coral formations, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council said.
The move, announced Wednesday, creates the largest such preserve in the U.S. Atlantic, totaling some 38,000 square miles, and bans the use of damaging fishing gear that scrapes along the ocean floor. It will be called the Frank R. Lautenberg Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area in honor of the senator from New Jersey, who died in 2013.
“Our oceans are home to spectacular wildlife, a vital source of food, and a source of wonder and enjoyment for all Americans,” Brad Sewell, director of the fisheries and U.S. Atlantic ocean program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote after the final rule was passed. “They are also under increasing stress from climate change and ocean acidification, and habitat protections like those announced today are a critical part of fortifying marine ecosystems against these threats.”
From: Laura Briggs, The Ecologist
Published December 13, 2016 07:14 AM
Marine ecologists have shown how noise pollution is changing the behaviour of marine animals - and how its elimination will significantly help build their resilience. Laura Briggs reports.
Building up a library of sound from marine creatures including cod, whelks and sea slugs is important to helping build resilience in species affected by noise pollution, according to Exeter University's Associate Professor in Marine Biology and Global Change Dr Steve Simpson.
Human noise factors including busy shipping lanes, wind farms and water tourism can all impact on the calls of various species - including cod which relies on sound for finding a mate with their "song".
In certain areas it has even been discovered that cod have changed the frequency of their song to deal with the impacts of noise pollution. Different coral reefs will also make different noises to attract different varieties of fish. Findings also show that fish will only respond to sounds they are familiar with.
These Tough Little Birds Don't Always Fly South for the Winter
By MARK FAHERTY • DEC 7, 2016
WCAI Public Radio
From the time we are children, we know that birds fly south for the winter. Think of hummingbirds that disappear before the first frost, skeins of honking geese cutting through the crisp autumn air, or warblers and tanagers abandoning northern forests and beating it for food-rich Central American jungles.
But there’s a group of tough, renegade birds that don’t play by the rules. They fly where and when they want, regardless of season or weather. Some years we see them, some years we don’t. Who are these feathered rogues? They are the winter finches.
The winter finches are a loose collective of northerly nesting songbird species, most of which are indeed finches related to the House Finches and goldfinches that clean out your bird feeders. They include the crossbills, the redpolls, Pine Siskins, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, and Bohemian Waxwings, which are not really finches. These birds breed in the vast, cool boreal forests that cover much of the northern latitudes of the planet. What the different species have in common is a dependence on the cones, seeds, and fruits of various boreal trees for food. When crops of these trees they fail, the birds pick up and move. This strategy of completely leaving their breeding range and invading new areas at unpredictable intervals is known as “irruption," with an “i," and is distinct from migration in the traditional sense.
By Samantha Mathewson, Space.com Contributor | December 13, 2016 06:31am ET
The December full Cold Moon will rise tonight (Dec. 13), marking the third and final supermoon to grace the sky in 2016.
A supermoon occurs when the moon is full and at its closest point to Earth in its 27-day orbit. December’s full moon follows November's full Beaver Moon and October’s full Hunter’s Moon — both of which are also supermoons. In fact, November’s full moon was the closest to Earth since 1948, and the full moon won't come that close again until Nov. 25, 2034.
Tonight’s supermoon also coincides with this year's Geminid meteor shower, and, as with any full moon, the bright light will obscure some of the fainter shooting stars in the Geminids. A supermoon appears about 30 percent brighter in the sky than a full moon that's positioned at its farthest distance from Earth. The full moon will reach its peak fullness tonight at 7:05 p.m. EST (0005 GMT on Dec. 14), but it will appear full to the casual observer the night before and the night after the main event. [Supermoon December 2016: When, Where & How to See It]
The wait is over. Old Man Winter has arrived to New York Harbor. Long nights, cloudy skies, chilly temperatures and gusty north winds are bearing a message to wildlife, the advent of winter.
All forgotten was the mild, dry autumn. Notice is now given to below freezing temperatures, wind chill readings, snow and ice. Winter has not even officially arrived and already serious winter weather is near.
On top of the hills and mountains far north surrounding the watershed, white snow and slick paths have become familiar to animals, along with waters freezing over. Down along the lower reaches of the watershed, deciduous trees are bare and exposed, not a leaf to be found. Air temperatures in the twenties the last few nights have frozen up puddles and the edges of freshwater ponds.
In cedar swamps, such as those found at Cheesequake State Park near Raritan Bay, blustery north winds were blowing through the evergreens for several days. Wind moving through cedars and pines made an almost ghostly and fragile whistle. A strong signature sound of winter often overlooked during dark, cold days.
The average U.S. temperature in autumn was 57.6 degrees F (4.1 degrees above average) and surpassed last fall as the warmest on record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Precipitation during this period was about average for the nation, with wet extremes in the Northwest and dry extremes in the Central Rockies, Gulf Coast region and interior Southeast.
The month of November was the 2nd warmest on record, with an average temperature across the contiguous U.S. of 48 degrees F, 6.3 degrees above average. Every state in the Continental U.S. and Alaska were warmer than average during November. The precipitation total for the month was 0.50 inch below average.
The year-to-date (January-November) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 56.9 degrees F, 3.1 degrees above average. All Lower 48 states and Alaska observed above-average temperatures during this 11-month period. Precipitation during this time was 1.37 inches above normal.
A small pod of Harbor seals spotted resting on a remote sandy island in New York Harbor before Thanksgiving Day. One seal, maybe a female, on the far right has a bloody cut near its neck possibly from a collision with a large ship's duct propeller.
It was a sunny, but chilly and windy Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Winds were gusting over 25 knots out of the northwest and there was an incoming tide.
Out in the distance on a sandy, skinny and remote island along the southern shore of New York Harbor were several shadowy dots. At first I thought the shapes were just driftwood or maybe small groups of gulls. I didn’t give much thought to it.
But as I was walking away to get warm and not marooned by a flood tide, a feeling deep inside was telling me to take a closer look. That gut feeling turned out to be on the button.
With a spotting scope and binoculars in hand, those shadowy spots turned out to be a dozen Harbor seals, about a thousand feet away. The fin-footed wild animals were mostly sleeping and tired, not paying any attention to my company, just the way I wanted it to be.
I was thrilled. It was my first sighting of seals in New York Harbor for the winter season 2016-17. But how many more years will I be able to enjoy this sight?
The real reason why you're suddenly seeing whales in N.J. and N.Y. waters
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com By Brian Donohue
November 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM, updated November 25, 2016 at 5:27 PM
If you've spent any time walking the beaches or boating the ocean waters of New Jersey or New York in recent weeks, you've likely been treated to spectacle that has been a rarity in these parts for most of the past century or so: whales.
They've been seemingly everywhere.
Breaching just past the sandbars in Asbury Park.
Swimming past groups of surfers in Rockaway Beach.
Bumping into boats off Belmar.
And this week's ultimate cetacean sensation: a humpback whale swam up the Hudson River for a photo op in front of the George Washington Bridge.
Besides inspiring a chorus of oohs and aahs, the increase in sightings is adding a blubbery new wrinkle to a raging debate over a far smaller fish: the Atlantic menhaden. It's the menhaden, also known as "bunker" -- clumsy, multidinous, slow swimming virtual floating hamburgers -- that those whales are chasing.
N.Y. / REGION
The New York Times
A Whale Takes Up Residence in the Hudson River
By KATIE ROGERS NOV. 22, 2016
When Dr. Rachel Dubroff and her family chose their apartment at Riverside Boulevard and 63rd Street in Manhattan, they were thrilled by its picturesque views of the Hudson River. But they did not expect to have a front-row seat to an annual whale-watching event.
For two years in a row, Dr. Dubroff said on Tuesday, she has spotted a whale swimming outside her living room window. Last year, she didn’t quite believe the sighting was real. But she saw a whale again on Saturday — and in the same spot again on Sunday — and news reports confirmed her hunch: The Hudson River has a resident humpback.
“It was general excitement and shock,” Dr. Dubroff, 39, said, “and how thrilling that a whale can be in the Hudson, based on what we see float by sometimes.”
Indeed, the Hudson, as scenic as it is, does not scream “whale habitat.” But experts say cleanup and conservation efforts have led to cleaner waters and an abundance of fish, amenities that have attracted at least one humpback whale to the river waters off Manhattan this month.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell