On frigid winter evenings, the hooting of a barred owl (Strix varia) serves as a reminder that the darkened forests of the Northeast are still very much alive with activity. Their nocturnal calling emanates from favorite forest haunts, including along lakeshores, swamps, and rivers. But the sound of an owl late at night also conveys a certain eeriness. Or perhaps we are simply conditioned to feel that way. Owls have generated feelings of awe, fascination, and fear for millennia, and their lives and sounds feature heavily in our collective imagination. [Read more…] about Owls: Common and Fascinating Forest Residents
In winter, it stands silently like a lonely sentinel, set back from Ballard Road in the Town of Wilton, Saratoga County. Day and night the traffic whizzes by the Veteran’s Honor Roll, yet its presence is overlooked by most. [Read more…] about Veteran’s Honor Roll Is One Town’s Lonely Sentinel
Last June my wife Marie and I encountered a mature wood turtle while walking through a forest near our home. We admired the intricate topography of its shell, inspiration for this species’ scientific name: Glyptemys (“carved turtle”) insculpta (“sculpted”).
The nine-inch adult had brownish-black skin and scarlet-orange patches on its neck and legs. Its lower shell was a rich yellow encircled by black splotches.
[Read more…] about Wood Turtles Under Threat
Theodore Roosevelt spent a bit of time in Saratoga County, particularly in the years leading up to and including his time as Governor of New York (1899-1900).
TR would often visit a friend, Guy Baker, who lived in Ballston. He hunted on Baker’s Hawkwood estate and sometimes brought members of his family for short visits with the Bakers. [Read more…] about Ballston’s Hawkwood Estate: Teddy Roosevelt, Guy Baker & The Countess
Spencer Trask awoke on the morning of December 31st, 1909 in the last compartment of the last sleeper car on the Montreal Express as it neared New York City on the D&H Railroad line.
Getting dressed, his thoughts may have turned to the three passions that dominated his 65 years. He did not know then that it would be the final day of his eventful life. [Read more…] about Life and Legacies of Spencer Trask
Mornings are quiet now. Gone is the loud chorus of bird song outside my window that I awoke to in spring and summer. While we brave the cold, snow, and bitter winds of winter by donning extra layers or throwing another log on the fire, most of our summer birds have departed for the warmer temperatures and abundant food of more southern latitudes. [Read more…] about Bird Migration: Where Are They Now?
On Christmas morning, December 25th, 1945, the residents of Saratoga County were startled by a loud noise. It was not the clatter of Santa’s reindeer on the roof but instead America’s race to the Moon had begun. [Read more…] about Saratoga County’s Cold War Rocket Test Facility
The last week of the year 1843 was a difficult time for Ballston farmer Uriah Gregory. On December 29th Uriah lost his beloved wife, Tamer, his partner of more than sixty-five years, with whom he shared a life in the earliest days of the new nation. [Read more…] about The Life and Death of a Saratoga County Patriot
Today the crossing of Middle Line Road and Geyser Road in Saratoga County contains a few houses and a small parking lot to access the Kayaderosseras Creek. But in the mid-1800s, it was the site of a thriving hamlet of several hundred inhabitants called Milton Center.
Locally renowned Revolutionary War Lt. Colonel James Gordon became an early entrepreneur after the war. He built one of Milton’s earliest gristmills on the creek by 1800 as well as other small mills to the south in the Town of Ballston. [Read more…] about A Tannery Fire Transformed Kaydeross Valley Communities
As winter settles in, people watching their birdfeeders hope to catch a glimpse of something out of the ordinary – perhaps a visitor from the Far North. Nothing satisfies this desire like the bubbly and charismatic common redpoll.
A member of the finch family, this small songbird is similar in size to the American goldfinch. While they breed in the Arctic and northern boreal forests, common redpolls sometimes flock into the northern United States – or beyond – on a winter quest for food. [Read more…] about Redpolls: Visitors From The Far North