Albany Pine Bush News

The Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center will be closed to the public for one day on Thursday, August 6, 2015. All Preserve trails will remain open and the Discovery Center will re-open on August 7, 2015.

Wendy @ 11:00 am
A Blunt Knapweed Flower Weevil in a Spotted Knapweed flower.

A Blunt Knapweed Flower Weevil in a Spotted Knapweed flower.

Last week was NY Invasive Species Awareness Week, a week dedicated to getting the word out about the threats posed by invasive species. At the Albany Pine Bush, visitors learned about invasive plants in the preserve and Field Ecologist, Amanda Dillon, took to the managed barrens around the Discovery Center, sweep-net in hand, to investigate the status of some very special insects. She was on the hunt for any of the 13 species of insects released at locations around the country over the past 40 years to help control invasive knapweed plants.

In the Albany Pine Bush, one species in particular, Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), mostly occurs along the edges of hiking trails, with occasional patches scattered throughout the Preserve. Knapweeds are much more problematic in western parts of the country. There, knapweed can out-compete most of the native prairie species, creating large monocultures – areas where knapweeds are virtually the only plant species present.

Emergence hole in the seed head of a Spotted Knapweed plant. The small hole in this seedhead is the point at which a larvae of one of the seed-eating insects chewed its way out of the plant after consuming many of the seeds.

Emergence hole in the seed head of a Spotted Knapweed plant. The small hole in this seedhead is the point at which a larvae of one of the seed-eating insects chewed its way out of the plant after consuming many of the seeds.

They’re here! Dillon found not one, but three of the species of insects that biologically control the spread of Spotted Knapweed. The species she found included the Banded Knapweed Gall Fly (Urophora affinis), UV Knapweed Seedhead Fly (Urophora quadrifasciata), and Blunt Knapweed Flower Weevil (Larinus obtusus). While knapweed may never be totally eradicated from the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, these insects in combination with mechanical management and prescribed fire can give the native plants of this rare ecosystem a competitive advantage.

 

 

 

References:

Wilson, L.M., Randall, C.B., 2003. Biology and Biological Control of Knapweed. Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Technology Transfer. Available online at http://www.invasive.org/weeds/knapweedbook.pdf

Grace Barber @ 3:14 pm

Dragonfly Exuvia

07/13/2015
The weather was nice today and unfortunately we couldn’t hike out due to the high temperatures, but nonetheless, we had a great time. Our newest addition to the Pond Monitoring Crew, Intern Cece, added great insight to our adventure. This week we honed in on the data part of the trip. We have seen a lot of fluctuations this year, and the pond has really changed since we began monitoring it in 2012.
We noticed that the number of dragonflies was much higher than last time, with all sorts of large and small dragonflies zooming around our heads. Along the pond edge, there were lots of exuvia on cattails. The larvae crawl out of the water, break out of their shell and emerge as an adult dragonfly.
Signing off,
Jeremy, Unnas, Shreyas, Harun, Leland

Blake @ 1:28 pm
2006KBreisch oriental bittersweet

Celastrus orbiculatus, also known as “bittersweet,” girdles and kills native trees. Its stems and berries have been used in fall decorations which has spread this invasive species to new locations.

Whether or not you’re aware of it, you’ve almost certainly been in contact with an invasive species. You may have pulled them from your garden, brushed their pollen from your clothes, seen signs of them in the yellowing leaves of forest trees, or heard them calling from window ledges in your neighborhood. Without training to recognize these species, however, most of us don’t experience them as anything out of the ordinary. Shrub Honeysuckle, for instance, appears as just another bush with bright berries, Purple Loosestrife adds color to the roadside at a certain time of year, and House Sparrows simply contribute to the chatter above our heads in spring. While they may appear innocuous, or even beautiful, invasive species like these are leading to the loss of native plant and animal species throughout the State, degrading our ecosystems and our health along with them.

So, what exactly is an invasive species? Invasive species are plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, and, yes, even viruses that have arrived someplace new, only to wreak havoc on what was there before. By most definitions, including the one used by the New York State legislature, in order for a species to be invasive, it must be non-native and pose a significant threat to the economy, the environment, or human health. Thus, invasive species are, by definition, causing big problems ­– even as we fail to notice them in our day-to-day lives. It is for this reason that State legislators have followed the lead of the federal government, and created an annual NY Invasive Species Awareness Week (this week!) to help all of us become a little better at spotting the things that don’t belong and taking action to make things a little better.

What do invasive species have to do with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve? The short answer: a lot. Invasive species are particularly prevalent in places where there are many people bringing in goods from far-off places. Transportation has played a large role in Albany’s economy for hundreds of years, with people and goods from around the world passing through the city. Non-native species are one legacy of this past. Today, more than 28 species listed by NYS as highly invasive have been recorded in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. We know this number precisely because Preserve staff are dedicated to monitoring the ecosystem, identifying invasive species, and taking action to reduce or remove them. As the organization in charge of protecting one of the largest, publicly accessible, natural areas within Albany County (also a National Natural Landmark), the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission has a great responsibility to ensure that native plants and animals will continue to persist here. This means keeping invasive species in check.

This picture shows Black Locust trees that were removed from a site near Washington Ave. Extension, Albany

This picture shows Black Locust trees that the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission removed from a site near Washington Ave. Extension, Albany

One of the highly invasive plant species that preserve managers at the Albany Pine Bush have been successful in removing from many locations is Black Locust. This tree was introduced to the Northeast from the southeastern United States because of its value for fence posts, erosion control and firewood. Unfortunately, when this species becomes established in pine barrens, it can decimate the ecosystem. It is a fast-growing and tenacious species, that outcompetes native pine barrens plants, reduces the amount of light reaching the ground, and prevents ecologically necessary wildland fire.  It is able to send up new sprouts from from stumps and roots, and dramatically alters soil chemistry to the detriment of native plants. Recently, managers at the Albany Pine Bush cleared Black Locust from large sections of Preserve land along Washington Avenue Extension, a process that involved removing the trees and digging up the interconnected root system of the expansive locust grove (also called a clone).

A critical part of the restoration process at the Albany Pine Bush is making sure that once invasive species are removed, another invasive species will not simply take its place. To prevent this, Preserve managers quickly plant native species where invasive species have been eliminated. Once the vegetation in a site is restored to native plants, hand pulling, targeted herbicide, mowing, and periodic prescribed or controlled fires are used to keep invasive species from returning. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission also works with municipalities, agencies, and our neighbors to reduce the risks of invasive plants by providing information about invasive species and about native species alternatives that can be used in landscaping. Conservation of the Albany Pine Bush will require that we all do what can to protect this globally rare, nationally significant, and locally distinct natural area.

To find out more about invasive species and events happening in throughout NY in recognition of Invasive Species Awareness Week, please follow the links below:

http://www.nyis.info/blog/

http://www.dec.ny.gov/education/1980.html

Grace Barber @ 5:51 pm

07/6/2015—Day 2 of our Pond Monitoring Program! The sun was shining as we began our hike out to the pond. We had a full team of returning Jr Docents. “On the Animal Survey, we saw a [meadow] hawk dragonfly. It had glittery wings and a light brown body” (Harun). “There were many more frogs this week than in the past, likely due to the recent rain. On our journey around the band we saw many animal including chipmunk, butterfly, turtle.” (Sam).

-Jeremy, Unnas, Sam, Harun, and Pranav

Painted Turtle

Blake @ 4:08 pm

Kbb on displayALBANY, NY – The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission invites the public to the Discovery Center for a rare opportunity to view Karner blue butterflies raised for release as part of its effort to recover this endangered species. The butterflies can be seen at the Discovery Center, located at 195 New Karner Road in Albany, through July 20 and perhaps longer depending on the rate at which they emerge from their chrysalises.

According to Executive Director Christopher Hawver, “This is a shining example of the outstanding work being done by our conservation science team on this globally-rare Preserve. It also showcases how the Discovery Center serves as a public resource connecting people directly to nature and science.”

After more than 50 years of decline, the Karner blue has returned to many of its former haunts throughout the 3,200-acre Preserve. This insect, first studied and named by zoologist and renowned author Vladimir Nabokov in 1944, can now be found at nearly 60 sites covering more than 400 acres of the Preserve.

“The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of several locations in New York State supporting Karner blue butterflies. Efforts to secure habitat for the Karner blue go a long way toward achieving the goal of restoring at least three populations in Glacial Lake Albany, the expansive sandbelt that extends from Albany to Lake George”, said NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Biologist, Kathy O’Brien, who coordinates statewide Karner blue butterfly recovery.

“Releasing butterflies into newly restored habitat is an important step in getting this iconic species off state and federal endangered species lists”, says the Commission’s Conservation Director, Neil Gifford. Gifford added, “The captive rearing program is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New York Field office. We are incredibly grateful for that support and for the work of the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, who raise the butterflies for us at their facility in Concord, New Hampshire.”

“The Service is proud to be a partner in this successful collaboration. The APBPC is one of the leaders in Karner blue butterfly conservation and recovery, and their efforts can serve as an example for other recovery areas in New York and across the range of the species” said Robyn Niver, endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We should celebrate the conservation success embodied in the Preserve’s work to restore the Pine Bush in general, and the Karner blue butterfly in particular,” said Patty Riexinger, Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources for DEC. “This is such a clear and motivating example of how we can contribute towards the restoration of imperiled species with direct, meaningful, and goal-oriented on-the-ground conservation work. This effort is certainly inspirational to all of us working in the conservation community.”

According to Gifford, “Twenty one adult female Karners were captured in the Preserve in June and transported to New Hampshire, where the eggs they produce were raised to chrysalises that were returned to the Commission last week. The resulting adults emerge at the Discovery Center and are released daily into the Preserve’s restored habitat”. In many cases these “new” colonies represent the return of this animal to the very locations where it was once abundant. According to Gifford, “we have returned Karners to 21 locations across the Preserve since 2008 and they all continue to support self-sufficient populations”. Gifford closed saying “We anticipate that this is the final year of our Accelerated Colonization program. With over >14,000 adult Kbb at >20 sites, in every section of the Preserve, we expect that natural colonization will be suitable to maintain/expand our metapopulation as we continue to restore additional habitat.”

“The work to restore habitat and recover the Albany Pine Bush Karner blue butterfly population has also improved habitat for dozens of other wildlife species listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the New York State Wildlife Action Plan, including the red-headed woodpecker, prairie warbler and eastern hognose snake”, according to Joe Racette, State Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator for DEC.

The 3,200 – acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP), located in New York’s Capital District, protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. This extraordinary fire-dependent habitat provides homes for many plants and animals and contains 55 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. The Preserve is a National Natural Landmark, a New York State Unique Area, Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Characterized by rolling sand dunes and miles of trails, the Preserve offers visitors many recreational opportunities including hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage the APBP and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities.

As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art “green” certified interpretive center where visitors come to understand why the Pine Bush is rare and special. A visit to this unique destination is an exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, an outdoor Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history, cultural history and management of the Pine Bush. Admission to the Discovery Center is free (there is a small fee for programs). The Center is open daily weekdays 9am-4pm, weekends and most holidays 10am-4pm. For more information, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.
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CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THIS PROGRAM

ALBANY NY – The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission will host “Picturing Nature: A Practical Guide to Nature Photography” presented by Denise Hackert-Stoner of Naturelogues on Sunday July 12, 2015 from 1:00pm to 4:00 pm. Denise is a nature photographer, naturalist and birder living in the Albany area of New York State. She and her husband Scott run Naturelogues, a small, local business celebrating the beauty of nature in photos. Denise’s nature photography has won awards at the Hagaman Art Show, the William K Sanford Library Photo Contest, the Friends of the IBA juried art show, and the Fire Island National Seashore Wildlife Photo Contest. Denise’s work has been exhibited throughout the Capital Region, including The Albany Heritage Area Visitor Center, Broadway Art Center in Albany, The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, William K Sanford Library and Professor Java’s in Colonie, Moon and River Café in Schenectady, The Crandall Library in Glens Falls, and at many locations in the Art de Cure galleries throughout the region.

“There is incredible beauty in nature: from magnificent birds, flowers and landscapes to the tiniest insects,” explains Hackert-Stoner. She adds, “This workshop is suitable for all levels of photographers with a variety of equipment. If you have a camera, from a cellphone camera to a digital SLR, we encourage you to bring it!”

This workshop will include an indoor session that will focus on the basic elements of nature photography and how to apply these elements to close-ups, landscapes and wildlife photography, followed by a one hour hike in the Pine Bush to practice skills learned. The cost is $10 per person, pre-registration is required and the workshop is open to ages 10 and up. “If you are interested in nature photography this is sure to be an excellent learning experience”, says Sara Poggi-Decker Environmental Educator and Public Program Coordinator. She adds “This is a great opportunity to work on your photography skills if you are interested in entering the juried photo exhibit to be held at the Discovery in the fall.” Pine Bush Perspectives: A Juried Photo Exhibit will be open to all ages and levels of photographers. The photos must be submitted by the original photographer and have been taken in the Pine Bush. More details will be posted on AlbanyPineBush.org and in the Discovery Center.

The 3,200 – acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP), located in New York’s Capital District, protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. This extraordinary fire-dependent habitat provides homes for many plants and animals and contains 55 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. The Preserve is a National Natural Landmark, a New York State Unique Area, Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Characterized by rolling sand dunes and miles of trails, the Preserve offers visitors many recreational opportunities including hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage the APBP and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities.

As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art “green” certified interpretive center where visitors come to understand why the Pine Bush is rare and special. A visit to this unique destination is an exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, an outdoor Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history, cultural history and management of the Pine Bush. Admission to the Discovery Center is free (there is a small fee for programs). The Center is open daily weekdays 9am-4pm, weekends and most holidays 10am-4pm. For more information, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.
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Wendy @ 10:03 am

06/29/2015

Today kicked off the 2015 Pond Monitoring Program! The weather was VERY cooperative and we were able to have a pleasant hike out to the pond. Leaders, Jeremy Collison and Unnas Hussain, had a great time teaching the new Jr Docents all about the Water Quality Tests and Animal Surveys. Something we really wanted to emphasize this year was WHY we do this. Our vernal pond is a part of a larger restoration area near the landfill that has been monitored by the Jr. Docent program since the first year it was filled. We have been able to track the recruitment of wildlife, the shifts in water quality and the general landscape change over the past few years. Today was a first for many in our group.  Read their reflections below!

“There was a surprising variety of birds and I learned quite a lot about the different species of birds that inhabit the Pine Bush. Site 3 of the Water Quality Testing was an outlier in the data and was somewhat different from the other 2 sites. I’m looking forward to seeing how the pond changes and develops”- Andreea

“We didn’t see the Karner Blue, but we saw some lupine [which is the KBB’s main source of food]. We saw butterflies and animals”-Pranav

“After the hike to the vernal pond, we took water samples and ran tests. The best part of the day was counting the animals. We walked around the pond, counting many birds and a few turtles. It was a great experience”-Sam

Our team really enjoyed the day out and we are looking forward to this summer of Pond Monitoring!

-Jeremy, Unnas, Andreea, Pranav, Sam and Leland

A silver-spotted skipper decided to take a break and pose on an old milkweed flower.

A silver-spotted skipper decided to take a break and pose on an old milkweed flower.