Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

About Me

My photo
Rich is a nature guide and environmental educator with experience guiding in Pennsylvania and New York. He is a 2009 graduate of Penn State University's Environmental Studies program, a fully insured New York State Licensed Guide, and a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. Rich has a passion for revealing nature's relationships and he wants to help you discover yourself in the gift, the adversity, and the wonder of wild nature.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Current Nature Attraction: Snow Geese in Malone, NY

It was a couple of hours after dawn. I stood along the shores of the lake at Malone Rec Park, just 5 miles north of the Blue Line. I was there to witness a spectacle that rarely occurs in such magnitude in the Adirondack Park. After a few minutes of waiting, the first line of snow geese appeared overhead. A hundred white bodies marked by black primary wing feathers was a sight to behold! The flock circled twice before descending, wings slightly bent and feet outstretched, they landed on the water among thousands of Canada geese. I waited there for 45 minutes. By the time I left, six more flocks of snow geese had joined the ranks of that initial flock. 

The geese that show up at Malone Rec Park between October and November are enroute to somewhere in the continental US where they'll spend their winter. Many will end up in the Chesapeake Bay. Just think, the snow geese who make a home in the Arctic Tundra in the summer and the Chesapeake in the winter offer visitors to Malone Rec Park like you and me a glimpse into two very different landscapes through our observation of the birds who call these places home. 

This migration stopover goes back generations for the snow geese. It's part of a travel route that young geese have learned from their goose elders. It's an amazing spectacle that you can enjoy too. If you are there in the morning, you'll get to see hundreds of geese descending from the skies as they come in for a landing on the lake. If you're there in the afternoon, you'll get to see the lake covered by thousands of geese. If you're there in the evening, you'll get to watch them take flight in groups to continue their migration southward. 

If you'd like to learn more about the geese and their habits, or even get some help looking for rarities such as Cackling goose and Ross's goose (far from guaranteed!), think about hiring a Birding Guide. Wild Neighbors Nature Connection is an Adirondack Guide service that can help to enrich your Snow Goose experience. For a full look at Wild Neighbors Nature Connection offerings, visit www.wnnc.net, and check out the experiences tab.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Way of the Whirligig Beetle

In the misty morning air,

Raindrops ride the skies under gravity's tug.

Perched on a rock at pond's edge,

I watch wind rock limbs of overhanging trees.

Raindrops drip,

Surface ripples.

Beetle sized waves collide, coalesce.

Whirligigs whirl about, ride, and spiral upon the water's tension,

Their path unimpeded by stormy sea.

Over, around, and through the waves,

They've plotted a course.

They'll see it through.

A resolute way to journey through life.

The way of the Whirligig Beetle.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

To Be a Moth in the Forest



Today I spent time in a pine-balsam forest. 

The sun's bright warm rays reached right down through a hole in the canopy that was opened when a giant from yesteryear fell a few months back. I'd found a good spot here to take in the view. With my feet firmly planted on soft cushy needles, my gaze lifted skywards in wonder. 

I see the spiry tops of a million cathedrals. Every nook and cranny of trunk and bough of each holy place teeming with happy moss and lichen civilizations. Civilizations within which mites move about and moths emerge as friendly forest fairies. 

Life as a moth among arboreal mossy abodes in the great forest sanctuary would seem delightfully sweet.  To rest by day tucked between secret mossy tufts and to dance on the wing among fragrant balsam branches in the moon's soft glow at night.

But for the moth who dwells in the pine-balsam forest, nature's balance will surely be struck by threats of the appetites of creeper below, of nuthatch above, and of brown bats on the wing when the day has run its course and the sun has set. 
To be moth, to be human, is not without risk. Though for moth risk is greater, think of the gift. To be a moth among moss-covered balsams but for a moment would be a gift for eternity. 



















Monday, July 11, 2022

Decomposing Log Communities

One of the joys of living in New York's Adirondack Park is that there are decomposing logs all over the forest. Each decomposing log is host to its own little world of fungi, mosses, liverworts, vascular plants, and arthropods. 

When you're out hiking the trails it's often the visible animals like toads, snakes, and birds that capture our attention.

When the diet of animals like toads, snakes, and birds is considered it becomes clear just how important it is that there are healthy decomposing logs in our forests. Without the decomposing logs that host a buffet of arthropods, larger insectivorous animals would not have enough food. You can help by following Leave No Trace Principles the next time you build a campfire.

One of the Leave No Trace principles is to minimize campfire impacts by gathering firewood that is dead, down, dinky, and distant. Dead and down means 1) no longer living and 2) on the ground. Dinky and distant means 1) smaller than your wrist in circumference and 2) collected at least 200 feet from your designated campsite. 

By following these Leave No Trace Principles in this way you can help to make sure that there will be community-supporting decomposing log communities all throughout our forests, even in proximity to designated campsites in the Adirondack Park.





Tuesday, June 7, 2022

A Red Squirrel's Courage: Believe in Yourself

Let me say up front, if your experience is that life is a cake walk, then this post may not be for you. Most of us have had to deal with the kind of adversity that does one of two things. When faced with adversity, you can choose to give up. Or, like Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell who, in the original Top Gun movie, dreamed of being the best fighter pilot, you can push through the heartache and the fear and come out a stronger and more resilient individual on the other side. 

What dream do you have for your life? What adversity have you had to face as you've worked to make that dream a reality?  If you've ever had to fight tooth and nail to bring your dream into reality, here's one denizen of the Adirondack spruce-fir forest community with whom you might be able to relate.


I'm impressed by a red squirrel's ability to survive against insurmountable odds. In my own little corner of Adirondack spruce-fir woods I've seen red squirrels fearlessly chatter away at a hungry barred owl as well as a prowling bobcat. In areas where red and gray squirrels cohabitate, I've witnessed a red squirrel send its larger bushytailed cousin hightailing it to safety on multiple occasions. With its fiery personality and unhinged tenacity, it's as if red squirrels manage to survive by sheer will. I imagine that most red squirrels would have the courage even to try to stop a volcano from raining on their dream of being the rightful owner of the Adirondack spruce-fir forest!

Red squirrels are an unlikely success story of a species, at least here and in the far north. They have an extremely high metabolism and a small body size that is not well adapted for the cold. But here we are, in the Adirondack Park where it's not uncommon to see negative temperatures continue for weeks on end in the frigid winter. Like some other small mammals, red squirrels do have a thin layer of brown fat that surrounds vital organs providing some internal insulation during the winter. However, their year-round success is tied mostly to their feisty and energetic nature. They just don't give up. During Summer and Fall they gather thousands of conifer cones for their winter storehouses; enough to keep their metabolic furnace burning hot on the coldest darkest night. On top of that, they defend their forest home with a level of courage I've seen from few other animals.

When I look into the eyes of a red squirrel, I see a member of the forest community who believes in itself enough to have the courage to make its dream a reality against all odds. During your next walk in the Adirondack Park, let this little neighbor encourage you. Believe in yourself. Don't give up on your dreams. You can do it!