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May 16, 2016 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, trees, crabapples, news, nature, outdoors.

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The crabapple trees in Alexander are once again in bloom. We wrote last year about the fascinating history of Alexander's crabapple trees.

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May 9, 2016 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in forget-me-nots, flowers, batavia, outdoors, news.

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It's been six years since we visited the garden of Dennis Wood on West Main Street, Batavia, but the forget-me-nots seem especially impressive this year.

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May 9, 2016 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, batavia, Batavia HS.

This video is from Christopher Weicher at Batavia High School. He said each year the same mallard duck returns to the school to lay her eggs in the courtyard, where's sheltered from predators. The problem arises after the ducklings hatch and have no way on their own to get out of the courtyard for food and water, so staff gently nudges the family toward the doors and the great outdoors.

Saturday, Amy Scott sent in these pictures of city firefighters saving ducklings from a storm drain.

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April 24, 2016 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in outdoors, elba, news, hunting.

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Anthony Zambito, 12, of Elba, got his first turkey on his first hunt this morning in Elba with his uncle Kelly Creegan.

April 23, 2016 - 1:36pm

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As part of an Earth Day observance, volunteers came out to the DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia to help with spring cleanup.

The walk around the park was about more than just trash pickup. It included a guided nature walk led by Amy Jessmer, from Albion, with a degree in environmental science from SUNY Brockport, where she is currently working on her master's degree. Jessmer spoke about native and non-native species and the environmental balance of the lake and surrounding habitat.

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The water level of DeWitt is exceptionally low. George Squires, retired from the county's soil and water department, said he doesn't believe he's seen it this low since the 1980s.

April 12, 2016 - 9:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, Le Roy, news.

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Eric Almeter sent in this photo of a fox he spotted trotting through Le Roy at Route 19 and Union at about 8:30 this morning.

April 11, 2016 - 8:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, alexander, news.

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A reader sent in this picture from Sunday afternoon of a young bald eagle that he spotted feasting on a fawn that was dead near the side of the road on Dodgeson Road near Ridge Road, Alexander.

March 7, 2016 - 6:52pm
posted by James Burns in Le Roy, wild life, Bald eagles, outdoors, news.

Bald eagles are using a nest on Oatka Trail, just outside of Le Roy.

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Harassing, disturbing or injuring a bald eagle is a federal offense and carries a penalty of up to $20,000 and/or one year in jail. Remember that bald eagles should remain undisturbed, and it is important that they conserve energy during the winter months.

Bald eagle viewing tips from the NY Department of Conservation to help you to have the best possible experience:

  • Use a designated bald eagle viewing site;
  • Scan the tree line for eagles that are perched in the treetops;
  • Look overhead for eagles soaring high in the sky;
  • Check ice floes or river islands for eagles sunning themselves or enjoying a meal;
  • Arrive early (7 to 9 a.m.) or stay late (4 to 5 p.m.), when eagles are most active;
  • Be patient -- the key to successful viewing is patience.

For the safest and least intrusive bald eagle viewing, we recommend the following "Eagle Etiquette":

  • Remain in or immediately next to your vehicle, and don't approach eagles closer than a quarter mile; Avoid roosting areas;
  • Refrain from loud noises: honking horns, door slamming, radios playing, yelling, etc.;
  • Keep pets at home;
  • Use binoculars or spotting scopes instead of trying to get a little closer;
  • Don't do anything to try to make the bird fly;
  • Respect private property and avoid restricted areas.
January 13, 2016 - 11:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in hunting, outdoors.

A letter from a constituent about a bullet that passed through the walls of his house on Bank Street in November prompted a discussion among County legislators during the Public Service Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon about the merits of a recently enacted local law that allows long guns to be used during hunting season.

Legislator Ed DeJaneiro expressed the most concern about the law.

"This bullet passed through two windows and continued on and I think it's just a matter of time before something is going to happen and everybody's going to say, 'Oh, my God," DeJaneiro said.

Bill Moon reported the incident to the police and the Department of Environmental Conservation investigated and determined the bullet likely came from a .30-caliber weapon.

In his letter, Moon expressed concern that there are just too many irresponsible people out there to allow long rifles in a county like Genesee where the land is mostly flat.

"We were very fortunate not to be home at the time of the incident and so escaped possible harm or death," Moon wrote. "Every day that we got up and saw the damage reminded us how close we were to an immediate danger. Some other person or child playing in a yard may not be so lucky next time."

The local law was enacted at the request of a group of gun owners who noted Genesee County was one of the few counties in the state that didn't allow long rifles for big game hunting. The Legislature passed a resolution asking the State Legislature to change the local law, which it did last year at the urging of Senator Mike Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Legislator Mike Davis noted that the county can't repeal the law and can only look to the State Legislature not to renew it when the sunset provision rolls around in October 2017.

"At this point, I think we can just keep our fingers crossed and hope there isn't an incident that's going to make us all feel different about this law," DeJaneiro said.

DeJaneiro suggested the County Legislature needs to seriously reconsider the law.

"These weapons are not needed for hunting deer in a highly populated, flat area," DeJanerio said.  

Long rifles are better suited to a county like Wyoming, with hills and valleys where hunters can better take advantage of the capabilities of a long rifle to take down prey.

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenberg said she brought the letter to the meeting and put the discussion on the agenda because Moon is one of her constituents and he has a right to have his concerned heard. 

"This will come up again next year and let's hope this is an isolated incident," Clattenberg said.

December 29, 2015 - 3:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in outdoors, birds, nature.

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Some of the activity at our bird feeder this afternoon.

August 25, 2015 - 9:25am

Press release:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that special permits will be issued for the opening weekend of duck season to hunt waterfowl at two popular state-managed locations. The permit requirement applies to waterfowl hunting at the Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas located primarily in Genesee and Niagara counties (with small portions in Orleans and Erie counties). The intent of the special permits is to promote hunter safety and increase the quality of hunting on days when the areas receive the greatest use.

A special permit is required to hunt waterfowl at Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas on the duck season’s first Saturday and first Sunday. These days are the only times the special permits are needed. Waterfowl may be hunted without a special permit during the rest of the season. The permit system has been used successfully at both wildlife management areas in recent years. No special permits are required to hunt other game species at Oak Orchard or Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas.

DEC has announced tentative 2015-2016 duck hunting season dates. Western New York’s tentative opening day/weekend dates for duck hunting are Oct. 24 and 25. This year goose season will be open during the opening weekend of duck season, and goose hunters are also required to obtain the special permit. These dates will not be finalized until the federal regulations are adopted in late summer. Hunters are advised to confirm the final dates before hunting any waterfowl.

Opening weekend waterfowl hunting permits for the two wildlife management areas will be distributed by a random lottery. For each of the two days, DEC will issue 100 permits for Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area and 50 permits for Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. Hunters must choose from four options: Oak Orchard first Saturday; Oak Orchard first Sunday; Tonawanda first Saturday; and Tonawanda first Sunday.

To apply for the lottery, hunters must send in a postcard with their name, address and their first three choices, in order of preference, clearly indicated. Applicants must also have completed a Waterfowl Identification Course, and their course certificate number must be indicated on the postcard.

Applications will be accepted through Sept. 15 and must be mailed to the New York State Bureau of Wildlife, 1101 Casey Road, Box B, Basom, NY 14013. Each permittee will be allowed to bring one companion over the age of 18 and an additional companion 18 years old or younger.

Duplicate permits will not be issued to hunters who have already been issued a permit to hunt on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Any cards submitted by hunters who have been selected to hunt on Iroquois on the first Saturday will be excluded from the lottery for that day at both Oak Orchard and Tonawanda.

Issued permits are nontransferable and are not valid for companion(s) unless the permittee is present and hunting within 50 yards. The permittee is responsible for completing and returning the questionnaire portion of the permit to the New York State Bureau of Wildlife by Nov. 15. If the completed questionnaire is not received by Nov. 15, the permittee will be ineligible for next year's (2016) lottery.

NYSDEC is also currently planning the annual Waterfowl Information meeting, which is held at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Casey Road in Alabama, Genesee County. This year the meeting will take place on the evening of Sept. 2 from 7 – 9 p.m. Wildlife biologists from Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and NYSDEC will discuss items of interest to waterfowl hunters in an informational and interactive forum.

Topics to be covered include:

--    Highlights of waterfowl management and research programs at Iroquois NWR, Tonawanda, Oak Orchard and Braddock Bay Wildlife Management areas, including drawdown schedules and hunt program news;

-    Regional and statewide waterfowl news and updates, including waterfowl banding results;

-    Atlantic Flyway news, including Avian Influenza update, and waterfowl population status surveys; and,

-    Tentative NY 2015-16 duck and goose hunting seasons.

Directions:

From the NYS Thruway, take Exit 48A (Pembroke) and travel north on Route 77 to Alabama Center. Continue north on Route 63 for approximately 1 mile, turn left on Casey Road. The office is about a mile down the road on the right.

August 13, 2015 - 9:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Park, outdoors, sports, hunting.

Press release:

Genesee County Parks Deer Management Permit Applications will be accepted for the Archery Hunting Program at the Genesee County Park & Forest beginning Aug. 17 through Sept. 11.

The Deer Management Program Terms & Conditions packet (including permit) can be downloaded from the Genesee County Parks Web site at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/docs/GCPF_DeerMgmt_TermsCond_w_Permit_Final2... or picked up at the Park office located at 153 Cedar St., Batavia, between the hours of 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

The permit is a non-refundable $25 fee (check or money order due with permit application). Check or money order must be written out to the GENESEE COUNTY TREASURER and must accompany the permit when submitted. A copy of your NYS DEC License is required to be submitted with the permit application also. Applications will not be accepted after Sept. 11.

A lottery drawing will be held on Sept. 15 where permits and vehicle tags will be administered at a mandatory information meeting held on Oct. 3. The Deer Management Program is a four-week program that runs from Oct. 19 through Nov. 15. Genesee County residents, including youth, and disabled veterans will be given priority over nonresident applications.

A Genesee County Parks Deer Management issued permit is required to legally archery or crossbow hunt at the Genesee County Park & Forest. Hunters must possess a valid NYS DEC big game license and respective deer tags before applying for a Genesee County Parks Deer Archery Hunting Permit. Crossbow hunters must ALSO possess a valid muzzleloader hunting privilege as defined by the NYS DEC along with respective deer tags.

The Genesee County Parks Deer Management Permit is specific to the hunter, and may not be used by or assigned to any other individual. Genesee County reserves the right to revoke this permit at any time.

For more information, please visit the Genesee County Parks Web site at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/parks/forestmanagement.html or contact Paul Osborn via e-mail at [email protected] or call (585) 344-8508.

August 3, 2015 - 9:21am
posted by JIM NIGRO in nature, outdoors, full moon, sunrise, Tonawanda Creek.

There's plenty to be said for rising early. In the above photo, rays of sunlight permeate our yard as the sun begins its ascent.

The calm of early morning provides a mirror image on a placid surface.

Mist rises from a stretch of Tonawanda Creek. Regardless the time of day, this is always a nice spot to take photos as little light penetrates the treetop canopy.

Gathering clouds have a filtering effect and cast a pale-orange glow on the horizon.

The full moon looms large immediately after rising...........

but not until the full moon climbs high in the night sky are we bathed in soft lunar light and moon shadows.

July 10, 2015 - 9:11am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, nature, chipmunks, garter snake.

Murph and Charlie were on their way to dig tunnels in the flower bed when Murph spotted trouble approaching from the rough growth at the edge of the yard. "Uh-oh -- look who's back," he said. "Do ya think two of us can handle 'im?" asked Charlie. "No way -- he didn't get that big eatin' just bugs," Murph said.

Slinking through the rough that bordered the lawn was a slithering nemesis who had time and again menaced the local chipmunks. Having spotted his potential quarry, the sinister creature mused to himself, "Isthmus be my lucky day! Little fur balls! Boy oh boy! This should be a piece of cake!"

"Listen," whispered Murph to Charlie, "we're gonna need help. Go fetch the Muldoon brothers -- they always enjoy a good scrap -- and be quick about it."

"Hey Seamus, Rory, we need your help -- the snake is back!" As expected, the Muldoon bros pledged their support, no questions asked.

"Count us in" chorused the Frawley clan, sensing the excitement and eager to join the fray.

With reinforcements on the way, Murph is temporarily on his own when he comes face to face with the adversary.......

"Hello there, my little furry and tasty friend.......why don't you come a little closer, hmmm?" No sooner had the sinister menace lisped those words when he heard approaching movement in the grass.

Raising his head to better scope out the situation, the slithering reptilian suddenly sees the potential for a one-sided melee, and the odds are no longer in his favor.

Subtle, stealthful, and none too foolish, the serpent retreats to the rough from whence he came. As for the chipmunks, they went happily about their business of once again making holes in the lawn and flower bed.

July 3, 2015 - 8:32am

Whether one views them as weeds or wildflowers, they are colorful nonetheless and for the past month or more they have pleasantly tinted the roadsides of Genesee County. The red clover pictured above was one of the more prolific plants springing up along country roads, in some cases clusters of the red bud could be measured in acres. Said to be a good source of vitamin C, chromium, magnesium, niacin, potassium and more, fresh buds are great in a salad, while dried they are used to make tea. 

Daisy fleabane -- when dried -- was once believed to rid a household of fleas.

Canada thistle resembles a miniature version of bull thistle but its bud is not nearly as colorful as the magenta flower of the bull thistle.

Crown vetch interspersed with red clover.

Wood sorrel

July 2, 2015 - 9:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, outdoors.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“I am pleased to announce that today Gov. Cuomo signed my bill (A.4367-A) into law to legalize big game rifle hunting in Genesee County. This is a win for sportsmen who treasure hunting as a right of passage they share with their children and for the families who use hunting to help put food on the table in an effort to combat the costs of living in New York State. I want to thank my colleagues who supported this bill in the Assembly and Senate so it could make its way to the governor’s desk.”

July 2, 2015 - 10:31am

A streak-winged red skimmer rests atop a Rose of Sharon leaf. A couple summers back my grandson Joshua and I came across a large spiderweb with three of these dragonflies wrapped up cocoon-style and set aside for a meal at a later date. Joshua wasn't real happy about that -- he likes dragonflies. Come to think of it, he likes all bugs, period!

This daddy long legs, aka "harvestman," also decided to scour the Rose of Sharon leaves for a meal.

It must have been good hunting -- this green stinkbug wasn't about to pass up a meal. 

A white tail dragonfly rests atop a riprap embankment.

The translucence of a dragonfly's gossamer-like wings is evident on this Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

The wood frog is actually not so much a creature of summer -- he just happened to show up while I was mowing the lawn. Along with the spring peeper, the wood frog is one of the first amphibians to make its presence known in the early spring when it makes its way to vernal pools to procreate.

July 1, 2015 - 10:19am

The Viceroy, pictured above, is nearly identical to the Monarch butterfly. Because the Viceroy so closely resembles the Monarch, which contain a toxin that is poisonous to birds and certain other predators, birds will thus avoid Viceroys...but only if it has previously sampled a Monarch -- otherwise it will readily make a meal of the Viceroy. 

Donning her "summer reds," a doe casts a wary eye in my direction.

Early season larch cones.

This butterfly is called a Question Mark -- honest! Taking nature photos is something Claudia and I enjoy. Identifying a species is satisfying in itself even if it leaves you wondering. I have no idea how the Question Mark got its name.

An Indigo bunting perched in the pines.

The remains of last year's teasel.

June 24, 2015 - 8:30am

When our apple tree blossoms we're assured of seeing a variety of songbirds. Most years see plenty of "return customers," but every so often we're blessed with a "newcomer," like the yellow warbler pictured above.

In past years I've seen the yellow warbler in good numbers while canoeing Oak Orchard Creek where it flows through the Alabama Swamp. This is the first time we've seen them in our yard. And like every other species that shows up in the apple tree, they've come to feed on the insects found in the apple blossoms.

An Indigo bunting probes the blossoms for a meal. 

An oriole samples what's left of the suet.

A rose-breasted grosbeak interrupts the oriole's dinner.

Then there was the unexpected visitor at the feeder who had scaled the shepherd's hook and jumped onto the feeder.

He precariously worked his way downward...note how he's clinging by one paw!

Having settled in, he proceeds to stuff himself.

June 18, 2015 - 2:54pm

Hardly the mental image conjured whenever one hears the word marsh, Ringneck Marsh has greened up considerably in recent weeks.

A young angler tries his luck from the shoreline...........   

while his brother fishes from the dock. Part of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Ringneck Marsh is home to northern pike, largemouth bass and panfish.

A variety of furbearers and birdlife also call Ringneck home. An osprey nest is seen in the above photo ......

and a pair of adults tending to the nests occupants. To give you an idea of how big this stick nest is, an osprey is a large fish-eating bird with a massive wingspan -- perched atop this nest they look pigeon-sized. For much of the morning this pair alternated between visiting the nest and soaring high above the marsh.

Discovery! When the fish failed to cooperate, this young angler took to exploring among the shoreline rocks and was rewarded for his efforts.

These fellas stuck it out a bit longer.....then joined their brother exploring the shoreline and searching for frogs, snakes and aquatic bugs.

Calling it a day!

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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