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Photos: Albino squirrel in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
albino squirrel

Frank Capuano shared these photos he took of an albino squirrel who is a regular visitor to his yard in Batavia, sharing corn with his friends.

albino squirrel

Photos: Deer in Elba

By Staff Writer
deer in elba

Photographer Debra Reilly had her camera ready in Elba when she spotted a couple of deer.

deer in elba

Photo: Woodpecker in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
Frank Capuano shared this shot of a woodpecker in his backyard in Batavia.  He said he had to act quick to get the shot. By the time he was ready to snap again a crow had chased it away.

Activities on calendar at county parks

By Press Release

Press releases:

Birding Walks
Come enjoy a birding walk with a birding guide! Join for Saturdays this spring: April 15 at DeWitt Recreation Area, then April 29th and May 13th at the Genesee County Park & Forest. Birding walks are led by a guide who takes you through forest, meadow and wetland habitats and helps you identify birds by sound and sight. Perfect for beginner and experienced birders. April 15 birding walk meets at Pavilion 3 at DeWitt Recreation Area. Walks at the Genesee County Park & Forest meet at Pavilion A on Raymond Road. Walks are approximately 1 mile long over easy terrain. This program is FREE! Please pre-register by calling (585) 344-1122, walk-ins are also welcome. 

Amphibian Adventure
Listen to the chorus of spring and get to know your small, slimy singing neighbors with Amphibian Adventure at the Genesee County Park & Forest on Saturday, April 15, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm! Meet us at the Interpretive Nature Center to learn how to identify our pest-eating pals. Then we will venture into the wetlands and forest at night to search for amphibians in their habitat! Hear their many calls as they welcome spring, and find out what you can do to help your tiny big-eyed friends! Dress for the weather, amphibians love rainy nights, and this program will go rain or shine! The cost is $5/person, $10/family. Pre-registration is required, call (585) 344-1122! 

Environmental Science Camp 
Registration is open for Environmental Science Camp at the Genesee County Park & Forest! This hands-on outdoor camp is for students entering 7th – 10th grade. Camp meets Monday through Friday, July 17 – 21, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Interpretive Nature Center at the Genesee County Park & Forest. This week-long adventure includes wildlife surveys, field and stream studies, outdoor recreation, a field trip and more! The cost is $95/camper for the entire week. All materials and a camp T-shirt are provided. Transportation is provided from Batavia High School to and from camp each day. Maximum 20 campers, registration deadline is Wednesday, July 5th.

To register, download the registration form from click here.

Return completed forms with payment to:

Main Office
Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Nature Center 153 Cedar St.
Batavia, NY 14020

For more information, visit our website at, or contact Shannon Lyaski at or (585) 344-1122. 

Guided Dog Walks
Bring your best friend and join us for a guided dog walk through the Genesee County Park & Forest on Saturdays, April 8, May 6, June 3, July 1, and Aug. 5 from 10 to 11 a.m. This guided walk is great for socialization and healthy exercise! Meet at the Interpretive Nature Center. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. A current license or proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination is required. Aggressive dogs will not be allowed to participate. The cost is $5/dog, and all proceeds go to the Genesee County Animal Shelter Volunteers. Call (585) 344-1122 to register, walk-ins are also welcome. 

Announcements of spring and summer events begin to unfold

By Joanne Beck


Sunset has expanded to 5:45 p.m. now, have you noticed? And local organizers are taking every minute of daylight for inspiration to plan beer walks, cookouts, an outreach, trail run, and music in the parks.

First up is Febrewary — no, that’s not a typo, though the computer keeps wanting to edit. With 21 stops throughout downtown Batavia, this event promises a nice sampling of craft brews, ciders and meads, according to Shannon Maute, executive director the Business Improvement District-sponsored event.

The event, set for 4 to 8 p.m. Feb. 25, was just picking up steam for a few years when COVID hit, and it was derailed in 2021, resuming the crafty beer fun walk last year.

A close replica to the BID’s popular fall wine walk, Febrewary features tastings at various downtown merchants, many of which will have specials, drawings, and giveaways, Maute said.

Of the featured brewmeisters, 810 Meadworks of Medina, Windy Brew from Sheldon and OSB Ciderworks from Buffalo have been confirmed. Not familiar with a mead? This libation is made with honey, and dates back to Biblical times as “probably the first fermented beverage,” the company’s website states.

“More versatile than liquor, wine, or beer, mead can taste like a refreshing summer shandy, a hoppy IPA, a full-bodied Cabernet, or a fine dessert wine,” it states.

Windy Brew is a Wyoming County-based brewery of craft beers, and OSB’s lineup of ciders will be featuring anything from the crispy bite of homegrown concord grapes from along the Finger Lakes, and Intergalactic Raspberry combined with hibiscus flower, to the Scotch Bonnet Bomber, described as “apple forward with a throat chop of spicy.”

Of course, brewmasters such as Eli Fish of Batavia are also expected to participate, as Maute is seeking out a sour, Belgian witbier, stout, lager and other varieties of craft brew.

General admission tickets are $30 and include a collectible snifter glass, snacks along the way, raffles and giveaways and tastings. VIP tickets are $40 and include all of the regular features plus an extra hour, from 4 to 8 p.m., an exclusive tasting and a food station.

Designated drivers will be able to partake of the specials, raffles, snacks and non-alcoholic tastings for $10.

There were a total of 600 tickets available and 25 for designated drivers. They may be purchased at Event Brite, and there will be a limited number of paper tickets available at Adam Miller Toy & Bicycle shop on Center Street and Yngodess on Main Street, Batavia. For more information, go to BID Febrewary.     

Care-A-Van Ministries is planning to have a series of cookouts at 5 p.m. every Thursday at Austin Park in Batavia. The event, led by Paul Ohlson, is set to run in June, July and August, and include a cookout of hotdogs, hamburgers, a variety of sides and live music each week. This is event is free to the public.

Living Waters Apostolic Ministries has also mapped out an event at Austin Park, to run from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 16. Organized by Pastor Timothy Young, the community outreach is to include games, food, music, a sermon, prayer, and “showing love to the community.” This event is free to the public.

Beginning the last Wednesday in June, music lovers will find live music at Centennial Park for several Wednesdays throughout the summer. Batavia Concert Band is set to take the grassy stage at 7 p.m. on June 28; July 5, 12, 19, and 25; and Aug. 2 and 9. These concerts are free and open to the public. Patrons are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and or blanket.

The Association for Conservation Of Recreational and Natural Spaces (better known as the ACORNS), a county parks volunteer organization, is planning its third annual music in the park event, however, has requested to use DeWitt Park this year to make it more accessible to folks. Batavia Concert Band is slated for a performance on Aug. 5 at the park on Cedar Street, Batavia. 

The ACORNS have also asked to use the Genesee County Park and Forest for its 11th annual 5K/10K trail run and walk fundraiser, set for Oct. 1. The event is expected to be approved by the county Legislature at a future meeting.

File Photo of Acorn run at Genesee County Park by Howard Owens.

Watch Monarchs program this Saturday at County Park

By Press Release

Press release:

Capture a summer day with a visit to the butterfly meadow and a journey into the world of Monarch Butterflies with the Watching Monarchs program at the Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Nature Center on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. 

See how butterflies are tagged and released as part of a nationwide Monarch Butterfly conservation project.

This program is recommended for ages 4 and up. Kids explore the meadow with nets and bug catchers!

The cost is $5 per person or $10 per family. Pre-registration is required; call 585-344-1122 to reserve your spot.

Alexander Boy Scout takes 2nd place in Greater Niagara's 2022 Polaris Fishing Derby

By Press Release


Press release:

Scout Dimick was happy to add a new microlite fishing pole with a 6 to 1 ratio reel and cork grip to his outdoor gear. This is the third pole in his collection. He started his collection after earning his Fishing Merit Badge at an Iroquois Trail Council Camp Dittmer Merit Badge weekend where he caught three fish in one, a fish inside a fish, inside a fish.

This year's Polaris Fishing Derby took place at Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda. The event took advantage of a DEC free fishing weekend. Scouts and guests were welcome, hosted by Greater Niagara Frontier Council's Troop 824 out of Sanborn, NY. The event provided lunch, bait and had BSA Merit Badge Counselors available to answer fishing questions and assist participants.

The Polaris Fishing Derby was scheduled on a DEC free fishing weekend so parents, grandparents and siblings age 16 and older could participate with youth competitors without purchasing a fishing license. The Derby provided seven competitor prizes consisting of fishing poles, reels and a 4th edition copy of Trout Salmon Steelhead Fishing in Western New York. A non-Scout (guest) won the door prize of a brand new bicycle. First place went to a Cub from Pack 193 for a 17" Rudd.

The Trout Salmon Steelhead Fishing in WNY book was donated by a local Cheektowaga chapter of Trout Unlimited. The book is a compilation of almost thirty fishing enthusiasts, detailing several WNY waterways maps, mayfly hatchings, water depth contour maps, twenty fishing flies, and a slew of fishing and conservation information. Trout Unlimited works to maintain the health of our waterways to protect the future of WNY fishing. The organization conducts presentations and classes about fishing to groups, including Scouts.

Scout Dimick was able to identify his catch using the free annual NYS Freshwater Fishing Guide booklet that is available at many outdoor equipment sales counters, local municipalities or directly from the DEC at Sept. 24th & Nov.11th are the two remaining NYS DEC 2022 free fishing days.

National BSA awards require additional Scout accomplishments beyond earning specific merit badges. Participating in the Polaris Fishing Derby meets Scout Dimick's award requirement for the prestigious BSA Angler Award. The award also requires completing the Fishing, Fly Fishing and Fish & Wildlife Management Merit Badges.

Camp Dittmer will be offering the Fishing Merit Badge this summer at Merit Badge Weekends. Information can be obtained by calling the Iroquois Trail Council at (585) 343-0307. Camp Dittmer offers family camping throughout the year.

Submitted photos.



New bridge at Chapin's nature preserve dedicated to conservationist Mark Volpe

By Howard B. Owens


Mark Volpe loved nature, and as that became apparent to CEO Jim Campbell, Campbell gave him a job only suitable to a conservationist -- manager of the private nature preserve behind the Chapin Manufacturing factory on Ellicott Street in Batavia.

Volpe worked for Chapin for 35 years with much of that time dedicated to the care and maintenance of the 70-acre preserve. He died in November 2018.

In addressing visitors at the conservation area Friday, Campbell stressed the importance of staying on the marked trails while explaining the slice of nature Volpe tended.

"This 70 acres encompasses meadows, hardwood forests, lowlands, wetlands, and actually open water," Campbell said. "It's quite a diverse ecosystem."

Volpe's dedication to the preserve was marked today with a ribbon-cutting by his widow Louise Volpe on a bridge that now ties together the east side and the west side of the property. 

Volpe's children and grandchildren were also present to walk with Louise across the bridge for the first time.

"He just enjoyed coming out here," Louise said. "I would come out here with him. He loved nature, the earth, and everything about it. He was just that kind of person who is an outdoorsman. He loved it. That's why he jumped at the opportunity to take over out here when Jimmy asked him, so I think that was kind of special what Jim did."

The bridge was actually Mark Volpe's idea.  The property is divided by a wide, shallow stream, so to access the conservation area, one would have to come in either from the east or west side and not be able to cross over.

"Mark did plan this before his passing," Campbell said. "He was working with his good friend Jeff McGivern. Jeff and his crew actually built this bridge. This bridge is actually a repurposed dragline. For those who don't know what a dragline is, it's really like a big crane. This was the boom of a dragline that Jeff repurposed. It's 110 feet long. Maybe it doesn't look that great, but it actually can hold probably about seven or eight tons. So it's very safe."

Mark's brother is John Volpe, who is also active locally in environmental causes.

Volpe's daughter Melissa Miller closed the private ceremony with a thank you message for Campbell and everybody at Chapin.

"We would like to thank everyone at Chapin's who created this memorial in honor of my dad," she said. "As you all know, he devoted his life to his family and his job here at Chapin's. He also had many hobbies and activities that he loved. One of his favorites was spending time outdoors with nature. He was extremely passionate about it and found profound meaning in all things relating to nature. We are extremely grateful and honored that you are remembering him in such a beautiful and special way in a way that embodies who he truly was, and in a place that he loved so much. This tribute means so much to all of us. And I know my dad would be honored and so happy to be remembered this way."

Employees of Chapin's are welcome to visit the conservation area at any time. The rest of the public is allowed to hike the property with the company's prior permission.  There is no hunting or fishing permitted on the property.  Visitors are required to stay on trails, both to protect the environment and for their own safety.









Photo: Squirrel saved from string around his neck is now quite neighborly

By Howard B. Owens


This little guy is a resident of Colonial Boulevard in Batavia.  One of his two-legged neighbors found him with a string around his neck so she removed it and nursed him back to health.  He's a friendly little tyke, even amenable to petting and hanging out with other neighbors.

Photo by Lisa Ace.

Photos: Fox den in Alexander

By Howard B. Owens


Christine Loranty shared these photos of a fox den in a gravel pit near her house in Alexander.



Songbirds in Northeast endangered by mysterious disease

By Howard B. Owens


There is concern among wildlife experts throughout the Northeast about a mysterious disease that killing songbirds and while there's no confirmation that the unknown pathogen has reached Genesee County it has been reported in the Southern Tier.

Close enough that bird lovers might want to exercise caution, which could include taking down birdfeeders.

Birdfeeders and birdbaths are places that encourage songbirds to congregate, which could help spread the disease.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is asking state residents to report any unusual bird deaths.

The Audobon Society reported in early July:

In April, scores of birds in the greater Washington, D.C., area began displaying strange symptoms. Their eyes were swollen and crusty; some became disoriented, started twitching, and died.

“They were having a hard time seeing,” says Nicole Nemeth of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. “Sometimes they don’t seem to be able to use their hind legs.” 

By the end of May, similar reports were rolling in from across Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. By June, sick birds had turned up in Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, and Pennsylvania according to the U.S. Geological Survey Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership.

The Batavian checked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County and the DEC, and while neither agency reported local incidents, the DEC did issue the following statement.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has received social media reports about bird deaths in Western New York, as well as the reports of bird deaths documented in other Eastern states.

DEC wildlife personnel have received about two dozen calls from the public reporting a dead bird, usually in their yard. There are typically many dead fledgling birds on the landscape during this time of year; normal nestling/fledgling mortality rates are high with only 25 to 50 percent of songbirds surviving their first year.

Because of the documented issues involving mass bird deaths -- mostly of fledglings of starlings, grackles, blue jays, and robins with neurologic signs and/or eye lesions -- in the mid-Atlantic states, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, DEC wildlife staff are on alert to look out for dead birds. However, there are no confirmed links between the local bird deaths and what's happening in other states. 

The help of the public is appreciated to determine the nature of these unusual mortality events, which may affect the eyes and neurological system of birds. If saving a bird carcass for DEC, gloves should be used to pick up the bird. The bird should be placed in a plastic baggie, kept on ice and in the shade.

Anyone handling birds, even with gloved hands, should thoroughly wash their hands afterward. Only freshly deceased birds should be saved, due to how quickly carcasses degrade in the heat. Those collecting birds should also provide DEC with their name, address and phone number. Contact the wildlife staff at the nearest DEC regional office (

DEC is also working with avian experts from Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

VIDEO: Duckling rescue outside the Genesee County Jail

By Howard B. Owens
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Photo: Bald eagles spotted by South Main in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens


John Spyropoulos spotted a pair of bald eagles feasting on a deer carcass this morning along the Tonawanda Creek along South Main Street in Batavia. He submitted this photo where you can see one of the eagles at the top of a tree.

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