Wild Cayuga Lake Shore

Walk in the Park episode 84

There is precious little wild, natural shoreline along most of the Finger Lakes, including the longest Finger Lake, Cayuga Lake. The Finger Lakes Land Trust has made a priority to protect remaining wild shorelines. In this episode (#84), we visit some wild shore on the west side of Cayuga Lake by boat (the MV Haendel of Ithaca Boat Tours) before it was protected, and now, on foot, when it is part of the VanRiper Conservation Area and Whitlock Nature Preserve. This episode finishes off with a Park Minute: Skylight on Buttermilk Creek.

Walk in the Park is a public access television series in Ithaca, NY. See the cablecast schedule. Or watch it anytime, anywhere ONLINE right here:

Walk in the Park is produced by Owl Gorge Productions, publisher of the national award-winning book about one of our oldest and most famous state parks: A Walk Through Watkins Glen: Water’s Sculpture in Stone.

Land Trust Preserves and Monarch Butterflies

New England aster wildflower, Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve, Finger Lakes Land Trust, near Ithaca, NY in the Town of Dryden

New England aster at the entrance to the Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve near Ithaca, NY.

In episode 58 of Walk in the Park TV, we visit two Finger Lakes Land Trust Nature Preserves: Ellis Hollow Preserve in the Cascadilla Creek watershed east of Ithaca, NY and the Baldwin Tract of the Roy H. Park Preserve in the upper Sixmile Creek watershed between Dryden, NY and Slaterville Springs and next to Hammond Hill. While there, we take a close look at a monarch butterfly and consider its life cycle and reasons for its serious recent decline.

Watch this episode this week on Ithaca’s public access cable TV channel 13 (or 97.3) at the following schedule, or right here online!

Finger Lakes Land Trust Preserve and Trail Dedication

Episode 49 of Walk in the Park TV features the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s dedication of new lands, and a trail and boardwalk (“Howard’s Walk”) at the Roy H. Park Preserve in the Town of Dryden east of Ithaca, NY. Cablecasts continue on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable channel 13 this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and next Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. And, of course, you can watch it online below.

Finger Lakes Land Trust preserve, Tompkins County, Finger Lakes, NY

Roy H. Park Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust in the Town of Dryden, NY. Photo courtesy of Finger Lakes Land Trust

“This diverse, scenic, and inviting 217-acre preserve is a short drive from Ithaca, on the back roads of Dryden, and encompasses portions of an extensive forest, rolling meadows, wetlands, a rugged stretch of Six-Mile Creek along its headwaters. The preserve borders Yellow Barn State Forest, Hammond Hill State Forest, and the Cornell Old 600 Natural Area, making it an important connector in a larger array of some 8,000 acres of protected lands. The preserve adds another gem to the “Emerald Necklace,” the Land Trust’s initiative to create a continuous crescent of 50,000 acres of protected lands around Ithaca, and is the first major protected land linkage achieved under that initiative.” (See web page)

Roy H. Park Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust east of Ithaca, NY and next to Hammond Hill State Forest of New York DEC, in the Town of Dryden.

New boardwalk dedicated on May 31, 2013, part of "Howard's Walk" at the Roy H. Park Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust and Hammond Hill State Forest.

Our show features remarks by Andy Zepp, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, Martha Robertson, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, Ken Lynch, Director of Region 7 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and Mary Ann Sumner, Town of Dryden Supervisor.

Waterfall at Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY

Buttermilk Falls State Park

The show continues with photos and video of the beauty of water in a gorge (Buttermilk Falls State Park), and the Cayuga Nation Picnic, part of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign this year.

Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign Cayuga Lake canoe paddlers at the Cayuga Nation Picnic

Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign Cayuga Lake canoe paddlers at the Cayuga Nation Picnic

And now, the show!

See all my episodes of Walk in the Park TV.

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.