On Saturday, September 27th, 2014, Bear Mountain State Park celebrated biodiversity with an Endangered Species Parade. Volunteers created their own homemade costumes, puppets, and signs representing New York’s native endangered wildlife. Costumes included a Karner Blue Butterfly, Indiana Bat, and Canada Lynx, to name just a few. After a ride on the merry-go-round, over 60 parade marchers engaged visitors throughout the park and raised awareness about endangered species.
This event was inspired by the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon this year. Rather than dwelling on extinction, the parade was a fun way to celebrate the biodiversity still present here in New York. Following the parade, families visiting Trailside Museums and Zoo played an interactive game in which they learned about specific endangered animals and conservation issues affecting their habitats. There was also a special museum exhibit about the passenger pigeon and art on exhibit from local students. This event was made possible by the generous efforts of many dedicated volunteers.
The featured photo is a parade volunteer dressed as a Canada lynx, by Karen Parashkevov. Post by Renee LaMonica.
The bee fly is an adorable insect which can be seen buzzing around wildflowers in spring and summer. The one in this photo was seen near the shoreline at Harriman State Park. Bee flies are named for their round, fuzzy bodies and habit of flying from flower to flower in search of food. Unlike bees, however, these flies don’t sting! That long nose is called a proboscis, and it serves the same function as a hummingbird’s beak, allowing the bee fly to sip nectar from flowers. But as cute and harmless as the adult bee flies are, they start their lives as ferocious little larva! Bee Flies lay their eggs in the same burrows solitary bees dig for their own eggs. When the fly larvae hatch, they eat the bee’s winter cache of pollen, and then they eat the baby bees, too!
This August, the Regional Nature Museums at Harriman State Park, Orange County, will be celebrating 95 years of environmental education. Instituted in 1919 by Benjamin “Uncle Bennie” Babbit Talbot Hyde, the nature program at Harriman is one of the longest-running in the country. Currently, the Regional Nature Museums consists of four facilities at Tiorati, Twin Lakes, Kanawake, and Stahahe, supported by the Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center at Bear Mountain State Park.
Celebrate 95 of nature education at Kanawake Museum at 10am on August 8th. This free event will feature programs and games run by the museum staff, including storytelling, animal demonstrations, museum tours, local history, and much more!
On May 3, 2014, over a hundred volunteers with scientific backgrounds gathered at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County and Clark Reservation State Park in Onondaga county for two concurrent Bioblitzes, 24-hour inventories of the park’s biodiversity. Our objectives were to search the park for as many rare species and natural communities in the park as we could find. This was a collaborative effort between NY Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP), State Parks, and Parks & Trails New York. Participants included biologists with various specialties and affiliations including NYS DEC, NatureServe, Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF, Mohonk Preserve, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Student Conservation Association. At least 9 different organizations were represented.
The main survey period was between 9am and 5pm on May 3rd, but some intrepid volunteers stayed through the night to look for nocturnal animals, while others arose on May 4th between 5am and 11am to identify spring migratory birds. In both parks, small teams sought out rare species and high biodiversity areas. The weather was overcast and cool on May 3rd, which made some of the surveys particularly difficult.
At Minnewaska State Park, we were able to document approximately 262 plants, animals, and fungi, as well as 7 of the NYNHP significant natural communities. The summary of our findings includes at least 100 plants and 150 animal species: 89 birds, 6 fish, 16 herps (amphibians and reptiles), 16 mammals, and 23 invertebrates. The species included cool mammals like the American mink (Neovison vison), shy amphibians like the northern dusky salamander (Desmognathus fuscus), delicate insects like the spring azure (Celastrina ladon), and steadfast trees like the American chestnut (Castanea dentata).
At Clark Reservation, we documented over 372 different species of plants, animals, and fungi and updated records for the 4 high-quality natural communities known in the park. The tally includes 193 species of plants (including lichens) and 96 species of animals, including 6 mammals, 7 herps, 46 birds, 4 fish, and 116 invertebrates. Of the many invertebrates identified, some of the largest groups were beetles (18), millipedes (10), caddisflies (10), and snails (6). The list of species included some entertaining names, such as bugle sprite (a snail), poverty grass, tortured tortella moss and seductive entodon moss. The Bioblitz proved to be an invaluable opportunity to get experts out in the park cataloging groups of species, like mosses and snails, which are often overlooked in typical biological inventories.
Due to the timing of the Bioblitz to coincide with I Love My Parks Day on May 3rd, our bird surveys included both passing migrants and potential park residents. Whip-poor-wills (Caprimulgus vociferous), a species of special concern, were sighted in several locations at Minnewaska, and based on last year’s NYNHP surveys, they are known to nest in the park. At Clark, the highlights were osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus), both of which are species of special concern in New York.
The bioblitz was an extension of the long-standing partnership between NYNHP and State Parks to document rare species and natural communities in New York State Parks. Scientists found a wealth of biodiversity and enjoyed collaborating across organizations and areas of expertise in a beautiful natural setting. We hope to continue these valuable efforts to bring experts together to share knowledge, contribute to our understanding of the biota in New York State Parks, and to encourage further opportunities for park staff and the public to learn more about the special features in parks.
featured image is a spring azure butterfly by Mike Adamovic, post by Paris Harper, Erin White and Julie Lundgren
On April 26th Bear Mountain State Park, in Orange County, held a very special Earth Day celebration for its two bears. The bear enclosure was thoroughly decorated with a farmer’s market theme, including copious peanut-butter treats prepared by zoo visitors for the bears to enjoy. The bears had a great time searching for hidden snacks and exploring their beautified habitat.
Following the festivities at the Bear Den, visitors explored a variety of other fun activities throughout the zoo. Children made fish prints, nature jewelry, and insect crafts. There were also opportunities to learn about shells, invasive species, birds, biofacts, alternative energy, native trees, and composting. Entertainment included live music and story time. Visitors also learned about ways to volunteer and take action for the environment in our local community. Finally, everyone had a chance to meet Trailside’s resident porcupine, Fanny, in a live animal presentation in the amphitheater. The entire day was a treat for humans and animals alike.
If you missed the Earth Day Celebration, come join in the fun at Trailside’s Summer Celebration on Saturday, June 28, 2014. At Summer Celebration you can plant your own sunflower, learn about the summer season, and enjoy wildlife-related crafts. Learn about Trailside’s upcoming events at www.trailsidezoo.org.