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Rensselaer Plateau Weather

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Emerald Ash Borer

So far, the Plateau has been spared by the Emerald Ash Borer. However, probably a good idea for us to stay abreast of the threat and sharpen our EAB identification skills. An immigrant from China, the Emerald Ash Borer has no natural enemies in America to regulate the population. It has been sighted in Albany County.

Additional Reading
Meet the Beetles: The Emerald Ash Borers Attacking America's Trees
NYS DEC: Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

Emerald Ash Borer Identification

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Fox

Red Fox
I spotted this beautiful guy right near the house this morning at 6:30 a.m. as I was leaving to go to work. Excuse the quality of the photo, I rolled down the car window and took it with the small Canon PowerShot SD780 I use for all the photos on this blog. My hands were shaking in my excitement and rush to capture him digitally. He stared at me from about 50 feet away for 10-15 seconds before beating feet.

Where's Waldo?



Who are you looking at?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Barton and Priscilla McLean

The McLean Mix
I'm sometimes amazed to find the scope of interesting people and institutions living in or located way out here on the Plateau. The Grafton Peace Pagoda and Rahob Dharma Center come quickly to mind in this regard.

Last week's issue of the Eastwick Press brought my attention to two very interesting Plateau neighbors: Barton and Priscilla McLean.  The Eastwick Press article, Petersburgh Library Gets Grant For McLean Project, that talks about a Community Arts Grant that will be used for Petersburgh resident artists, Barton and Priscilla McLean, to produce a video "Peter's People: Working the Dream" about the community of creative and artistic people living and working in Petersburgh.

I was not familiar with Barton and Priscilla McLean or their work, but a bit of Internet searching quickly led me to the Barton and Priscilla McLean website.  They, and their work (they perform under the name The McLean Mix) are fascinating. I suggest going through a number of the videos on them referenced on their home page. Priscilla has written an autobiography that sounds fascinating: Hanging Off the EdgeThe video below provides a good sample of their electroacoustic music.

Rainforest Demo
Barton and Priscilla McLean

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fog on the Lake: In Dreams


An early morning fog on the lake often brings to mind one of my favorite Roy Orbison songs: In Dreams.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vermont Gov. Shumlin Outruns the Bears

Hot off the Burlington Free Press: Gov. Shumlin Escapes 4 Bears in Backyard

The Governor's lucky. Experts warn against trying to outrun bears. They can run 30 mph. See previous posting How to Avoid Encounters with Bears.

And, as much as I'll miss the bird-feeders, I used to take them indoors myself at night but I've decided I'd rather not have bear visits in the mudroom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Well Can Bears Smell?

I was kidding in the last post about bears eating rigid PVC. Actually what I think happened is I had the bird feeder stocked with a mix of small seed and large oily sunflower seed. He went there first. Then, roaming around, he smelled the same sunflower seed in the vicinity of the storage shed. The storage shed has two separated sections with their own locked entrance door. He knew which one had the sunflower seed that was stored in a small, closed galvanized garbage can. Yes... he could smell through 5/8" wood and then through the galvanized garbage can. He karate chopped through the door and the box of PVC was between the door and the garbage can. The box was tossed outside in short order, and into the garbage can of sunflower seeds he went.  So yesterday I took the remaining seed way out into the woods for all to enjoy. No more sunflower seed. No more bird feeders. Yet, sometime during the day today he paid a return visit. Got into the same shed again but left quickly and didn't make too much of a mess.

I found it hard to believe he could smell that well.  Several friends I spoke to convinced me bears have an excellent sense of smell. They certainly do. From the American Bear Assoociation website: 

Is it true that a bear's sense of smell is 7 times greater than that of a bloodhound? 

Indeed it is. There is perhaps no other animal with a keener sense of smell. Bears rely on their sense of smell to locate mates, detect and avoid danger in the form of other bears and humans, identify cubs, and FIND FOOD. Although the region of the brain devoted to the sense of smell is average in size, the area of nasal mucous membrane in a bear's head is one hundred times larger than in a human's. This gives a bear a sense of smell that is 7 times greater than a bloodhound's. In addition, they have an organ called a Jacobson's organ, in the roof of the mouth, that further enhances their sense of smell.


Here are some accounts of how truly well a bear can smell:


"A black bear in California was once seen to travel upwind three miles in a straight line to reach the carcass of a dead deer."


". . . male polar bears march in a straight line, over the tops of pressure ridges of uplifted ice . . . up to 40 miles to reach a prey animal they have detected."


"A bear has been known to detect a human scent more than fourteen hours after the person passed along the trail."


"A male can detect which way a breeding female is traveling just by sniffing her tracks."

Quotes are from The Great Bear Almanac by Gary Brown



Bears use this keen sense of smell to communicate with each other. By leaving their scent on trees and vegetation, they are broadcasting their presence to other bears that may be in the area.

This keen sense of smell is why you should always be bear aware when living or recreating in bear country. For suggestions on living in bear country, click here. For tips when camping or hiking in bear country, click here.

Black Bear Destroying a Bird Feeder

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Do Bears Eat Rigid 2" PVC?

Black bear visit last night. LARGE black bear visit. I suspect he/she started with the bird feeder. Which of course, he/she bent to the ground like a wishbone. That's been done before. He liked the seed mix and decided to move on and look for more. He/she found it. In the locked shed. Locked? No problem.... karate jab through the door. Oh... LOTs of seed in this closed, galvanized garbage can. Hmmm..... what's in that cardboard box? Oh... schedule 40 2-inch rigid PVC conduit couplings. Yummy!

Looks like I have a Saturday project repairing a shed door. Oh... and there will be no more birdfeeder.  Sorry guys.

Bear Discovers Bird Feeder
Bear Removes Shed Door Finding the Seeds and PVC
Bear Leaves "Present" (sneaker is a size 12 men's)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cause of Potholes


There was a theory last year that the potholes on our dirt road were caused by snow plows. I researched the literature which reported that potholes are caused primarily by water and the lack of a crown in the road. Yes, a snow plow can occasionally hit a large rock sticking out of the road and remove it, with the resulting depression being vulnerable to water and grow to a large pothole. But this year the snow plows only plowed twice (less than a foot each time), and yet abundant new potholes have appeared on the road -- in my judgment more than last year, thus proving conclusively that potholes in dirt roads are not caused predominantly by snow plowers.

Click here for a good article on gravel/dirt road troubleshooting and maintenance.