Park Minute 74: Geese at Taughannock

On a frosty November dawn, Canada geese swim along South Point at Taughannock Falls State Park, In Cayuga Lake. The temperature dipped well below freezing in the Finger Lakes on the morning of Nov. 11, 2017. (The bright yellow band on the far side of the lake is mist illuminated by the sunrise.) Taughannock Falls State Park is near Trumansburg, NY and Ithaca, NY in central New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Park Minute is produced by Tony Ingraham, Owl Gorge Productions, in Ithaca, NY for cablecast on Ithaca, NY public access television channel 13 at PEGASYS Studio, and for publishing online.

Ithaca Boat Tour on Cayuga Lake

Take a virtual tour of the south end of Cayuga Lake on the MV Haendel with Ithaca Boat Tours, complete with plenty of visualizations, video, historic photos, and more! Watch it here online, or on TV in the Ithaca, NY area.

Explore the geology, history, and ecology of Cayuga Lake, longest of the eleven Finger Lakes in central New York State. Steamboats, railroads, glaciers, waterfalls, cliffs, ancient oceans, mountains, fish, invasive species, state parks, lakeshore hotel, Ezra Cornell, lighthouses, water birds, gorges, rockslides, floods, fires, the Erie Canal, and more!

This is episode 111 of Walk in the Park, our weekly public access TV show on Time Warner Cable channels 13 in Ithgaca, NY. Our 2017 cablecast schedule:

Thursday 8/24 12:30 PM & 9:00 PM

Saturday, 10:00 AM & 8:00 PM

Sunday, 10:00 AM & 4:00 PM

Monday, 8:30 PM

Tuesday, 8/29, 11:30 AM & 8:00 PM
Produced by Owl Gorge Productions, copyright 2015. See our books about Watkins Glen State Park and about Ithaca.

Ithaca Festival Parade, Cayuga Flyover, and Treeless Mountaintops

Ithaca Festival Parade

The Ithaca Festival Parade on May 29

This week’s Walk in the Park TV episode #50 starts off with the Ithaca Festival Parade by DeWitt Park in Ithaca, NY and other highlights of the four day event.

The Father's Day East Hill Flying Club flights pass right over Taughannock Falls.

Then we fly over Cayuga Lake in a small plane to look down on Taughannock Falls State Park and Ithaca.

Mont Albert, Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec

The summit of Mont Albert in Parc National de la Gaspesie on the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec is a remarkably flat and broad "tableland."

We visit a bird’s nest in a cliff, and finish off with visits to mountaintops in the Rockies, the Cascades, Adirondacks, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the Chic Choc Mountains of Quebec.

 Watch it on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13 on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 & 30, at 10:30 a.m., or finally on Tuesday, July 2 at 8:00 p.m. Or, watch it online right here!

Journey to Big Bend

In this episode of Walk in the Park TV (#46), Tony travels to Texas, first to visit Big Bend National Park along the Rio Grande in the Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountains of southwest Texas. See this episode on Ithaca, NY’s public access channel 13 (see the schedule below) or watch it right here on this page, below.

Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas

He also visits Historic Fort Stockton which was manned by African American “Buffalo Soldiers” following the Civil War, during the war against the Comanches, Apaches, and other Indian nations in the campaign to conquer the Southwest and secure the southernmost wagon train route to California.

Historic Fort Stockton, Texas

Historic Fort Stockton, Texas

Then Tony camps in the Texas Hill Country west of San Antonio, spending several days at the birdwatching hot spot South Llano River State Park in Junction, TX. There he sees many birds new to him, including the painted bunting, and has an encounter with a rattlesnake! See all the Walk in the Park TV episodes and more online here.

Painted Bunting in South Llano River State Park, Junction, Texas. Birding, bird watching.

Painted Bunting in South Llano River State Park, Junction, Texas

Watch the  half hour show right here….

Or catch it on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13 this Saturday and Sunday (April 27 & 28) at 10:30 a.m., and next Tuesday (April 30) at 8:00 p.m. The video quality on your TV will be better than in this online version.


Grand Canyon & Finger Lakes Compared

Huh? What could such different regions have in common? Well, there are some commonalities, and there are great differences. The two regions are parts of much larger river basins, the Colorado and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence respectively. Both are eroded into ancient sedimentary rock layers. One is arid, and often desert, while the other receives abundant rainfall. One has been drastically altered by glaciation, while the other apparently has not. In this week’s episode (#37) of Walk in the Park TV, we return to the Grand Canyon (following last week’s show, “Walk Across the Grand Canyon“) and look at the bigger picture.

South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The South Kaibab Trail hugs the base of this cliff near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

After that, in honor of the Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, we take a look at real ravens, including ravens at the Grand Canyon. And finally, we briefly discuss uranium mining at the Grand Canyon.

See it here online, or watch it on Ithaca, NY public access TV channel 13, this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. each day, or next Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8:00 p.m., and at other times the station may schedule it until Wednesday, Feb. 13 (check just before the hour and half hour and the day’s cablecast schedule is usually posted briefly).

See all of my Walk in the Park episodes and short videos.


Go Ravens!

As we Americans prepare our couch potato chips, wings, and beer for Super Bowl Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, how many of us really know what a raven is? Well, yes, there is that creepy Poe poem we read in high school.

“But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking ‘Nevermore.'”

Common ravens are in the family Corvidae that includes crows and jays. As the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology describes them, “Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails. They’re more slender than crows, with longer, narrower wings, and longer, thinner ‘fingers’ at the wingtips.”

Raven perches on a tree on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A raven perches on a tree on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Ravens are one of the most commonly seen and heard birds in the national park.

Common ravens, or Corvus corax, are not so common in the eastern U.S. as the Cornell range map shows. They are common in the western U.S. and in much of Canada and do venture down into the upper Midwest, upstate New York, northern New England, and farther south along the Appalachians. I remember “Raven’s Roost,” a stop at a cliff top on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

Years ago, one did not notice ravens around Ithaca, NY, though they had been here historically. But with the regrowth of forests on abandoned agricultural land, ravens are returning to our landscape. For the last 20 years or so, one has been able to hear their croaking squawks over our gorges. For ravens love to nest on cliffs, and many of the gorges of the Finger Lakes region provide secure ledges, safe from predators, where they can raise the year’s new brood of these large, black, corvids.

Waterfall at Sweedler Lick Brook Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, Ithaca, NY

Some years, ravens nest on the far cliff near the high falls in the Finger Lakes Land Trust's Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook in the Town of Ithaca, NY.

Are ravens common around Baltimore? Maybe not, and fewer still, perhaps, in New Orleans, this year’s Super Bowl venue. But I don’t expect that will stop them today!

Read more about ravens on the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology webpages.