Category Archives: Plants


Spring’s Top 10 Wildlife Spectacles in the USA (The Nature Conservancy)

“Looking for an excuse for a road trip, or maybe just an afternoon at a local park? Here are ten top must-see natural spectacles that you can catch each spring….”

Eddie adds:  The good news is that events in at least three of the ten categories (four, if you are a fly fisherman) happen here each year in the North East USA, so check out the suggestions in the above link, from The Nature Conservancy!

West Seneca Oxbow Wetland Restoration, WNY

As someone who is not exactly from Western New York originally — {:-) — I had no idea that there even were any old oxbow lakes in the area, let alone one on which restoration efforts had been made, but there is and its in West Seneca.

The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper [BNRK] website states that “West Seneca’s oxbow wetland on Buffalo Creek is just a few miles upstream from the industrialized Buffalo River, a Great Lakes ‘Area of Concern’. As one of only three major wetlands in the lower Buffalo River watershed, it is considered a source area for future habitat and species restoration in the AOC.  Planning studies over the past 40 years have recommended that the oxbow site be protected.”

According to the  ERIE [Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange] webpage, “the restoration of the  oxbow wetland began in 2008 as part of the Buffalo River Watershed and AOC  restoration effort.  The project was led by BNRK and funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“In Fall 2009, six ERIE trainees became involved  in the restoration project… [and] donated over  1000 hours in fieldwork and analysis of flora, fauna, soils and groundwater.  The trainees developed a habitat restoration  and management plan for the 14-acre parcel of the oxbow. The plan used an  adaptive management framework to control invasive plant species and reintroduce  native plants to the site based on historical and nearby reference  communities. ”

To see pictures of the Oxbow and ERIE trainees working on the project (courtesy of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper), click here.

IfI can establish that there is public access to this site, or get us permission to visit, then this seems like a good venue for one of our ‘Wildlife Watchers & Nature Photographers’ group walks.  I’ll let you know the outcome of this.

Would you like to go on a wildlife-watching or photography vacation? Useful magazines!

Following the trend for magazine publishers to include more pages, call the result “bookazines” and charge quite a lot more money for the result, I was looking at a so-called bookazine just yesterday, in our local Barnes & Noble  bookstore.

It was called “WORLD of WILDIFE — The World’s 100 Most Amazing Wildlife Encounters,” and its 162 pages contained a lot of useful ideas for anyone trying to decide where to go to enjoy some unusual or outstanding bird/animal sightings.

The main part of the magazine (I dislike the affectation of the new, bookazine name!) is split into global regions, with the number of recommended trips to each as follows:

  • 17 to Africa
  • …9 to Asia
  • …8 to Oceania/Australia
  • …4 to Antarctica
  • 10 to Europe (including 5 to Britain)
  • …7 to North America
  • …7 to Central America
  • …8 to South America

30 other international destinations were shown in a section devoted to the months of the year…. for example “What’s the best thing to go and see in September?”

Was it expensive for a magazine?  At $15.99, yes.  But is it good value?  Actually, that’s also a yes, if you are hoping to plan a trip of this type at some point in the foreseeable future.

Wild Travel (monthly magazine)
                   Wild Travel (monthly magazine)

Finally, Barnes & Noble has also recently started carrying the British ‘WILD TRAVEL’ magazine each month (see cover photo, above).  It’s imported status results in a price of $7.99 but the articles are excellent and come from around the world.  I recommend it strongly!  Check it out at:

[incidentally, this isn’t in any way a paid advert for either of the above publications.  I’ve posted only in case it is of interest to any of our readers — Eddie.]

A Natural History of North American Trees – Donald Culross Peattie (book review)

How interesting could it be to read a book solely about different tree species?  The answer — for anyone curious about the various facets of nature — is: Intensely!

Book_Peattie_NHNATrees-2This book not only makes clear its author’s encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject but is also written with an eloquence we no longer tend to witness.  In other words, rather than even remotely being dry or boring, this book is both fascinating and an absolute delight to read. [EW]

The e-book ‘Lybrary’ review of A Natural History of North American Trees is no exaggeration and reads as follows:

“‘A volume for a lifetime’ is how The New Yorker described the first of Donald Culross Peatie’s two books about American trees published in the 1950s. In this one-volume edition, modern readers are introduced to one of the best nature writers of the last century. As we read Peattie’s eloquent and entertaining accounts of American trees, we catch glimpses of our country’s history and past daily life that no textbook could ever illuminate so vividly.

“Here you’ll learn about everything from how a species was discovered to the part it played in our country’s history. Pioneers often stabled an animal in the hollow heart of an old sycamore, and the whole family might live there until they could build a log cabin. The tuliptree, the tallest native hardwood, is easier to work than most softwood trees; Daniel Boone carved a sixty-foot canoe from one tree to carry his family from Kentucky into Spanish territory. In the days before the Revolution, the British and the colonists waged an undeclared war over New England’s white pines, which made the best tall masts for fighting ships.

“It’s fascinating to learn about the commercial uses of various woods — for paper, fine furniture, fence posts, matchsticks, house framing, airplane wings, and dozens of other preplastic uses. But we cannot read this book without the occasional lump in our throats. The American elm was still alive when Peattie wrote, but as we read his account today we can see what caused its demise. Audubon’s portrait of a pair of loving passenger pigeons in an American beech is considered by many to be his greatest painting. It certainly touched the poet in Donald Culross Peattie as he depicted the extinction of the passenger pigeon when the beech forest was destroyed.

“A Natural History of North American Trees gives us a picture of life in America from its earliest days to the middle of the last century. The information is always interesting, though often heartbreaking. While Peattie looks for the better side of man’s nature, he reports sorrowfully on the greed and waste that have doomed so much of America’s virgin forest.”


How salmon help keep a huge, Canadian rainforest thriving

Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is the largest temperate rainforest in the world. This huge and pristine wilderness depends on an unlikely source for its long-term survival – the salmon which spawn in its rivers and creeks….

In the linked video (see below), ecological economist Pavan Sukhdev, The Nature Conservancy’s lead scientist Dr M Sanjayan and camerawoman Sophie Darlington talk about the salmon’s unsung role in fertilising the forest. The bears who feast on the spawning salmon don’t eat on the river – they drag the carcasses far into the forest. The remains of the salmon contain vast quantities of nitrogen that plants need to grow. Eighty percent of the nitrogen in the forest’s trees comes from the salmon. In other words, these ocean dwellers are crucial for the forest’s long-term survival.

Watch the video, from the BBC, at:

Links to Wildlife-related Organisations and Websites in Other Countries

Back to the main LINKS page


allAfrica – wildlife news

BBC Nature – Home Page (global topics)

BBC Nature News (global topics)

BBC Nature – Video Collections        (Explore a vast array of wildlife video clips through the eyes of BBC presenters and film makers, and learn about different aspect of wildlife film-making.)

BBC In Pictures: Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners

Birdlife International – Programmes

BTO: The British Trust for Ornithology

Butterfly Corner – butterflies of the world (with a section for each continent)

Earth Times – worldwide environmental issues

Earthwatch Institute

National Wildflower Centre (UK)

Re-Wilding Europe

RSPB – The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Britain’s equivalent of the U.S. Audubon Society)

World Wildlife Fund


Please feel free to suggest futher links in the comments, below.  (Relevant ones will then be moved into this main list.)

WWP Group Walk – ‘Identifying Trees in Winter’ – Buffalo Audubon Society

John Sly (Photo copyright 2014, Gerry McIntyre. All rights reserved)

Identifying winter trees?  I often have difficulty identifying them in summer!  It would appear that I’m not the only one, either, because several members of our WWP group came out in today’s modestly below-freezing temperatures and had an enjoyable and instructive walk with John Sly, one of Buffalo Audubon Society’s team of knowledgeable volunteers.  Indeed, John was able to pass on so much information that it was a challenge to keep up.


Beaver Meadow Arboretum
Beaver Meadow Arboretum

Deciduous twigs opposite or alternate?  If opposite each other then “MAD Horses” are responsible! (Maple, Ash, Dogwood or Horse Chestnut – a great acronym that should prove easy to remember.)

White Pine
White Pine

Compound leaves or simple?  Well yes, this was a question about summer trees, not winter, but as we were apparently not willing to leave any leaf unturned, the questions were still answered.

Display of leaves at the Arboretum
Display of leaves at the Arboretum

Pines with needles in bundles?  If in twos, it could be Red Pine or Jack Pine (though they are very different) but if the needles are in fives it is the remarkable Eastern White Pine – a tree whose timber caused ructions inthe build up to the Revolutionary War.

This wasn’t all, of course.  There were still bark, buds and seeds to consider, not to mention the habitats in which each species found its favoured niche.

Prior to starting the walk, we had the opportunity to briefly look at at John’s own display collection of over 80 species of leaves, together with various seeds, pine cones, twigs and so on.  Interestingly, when I asked him, he added that the leaves would keep their green colouration and remain usable for display for about 15 years.


Gerry, balancing flash exposure with background snow
Gerry, balancing flash exposure with background snow







Key little tidbits came out during this ‘classroom’ session, such as the indentations in some maple leaves being ‘U’ shaped, which indicated sUgar maple, and others being V shaped. John also passed around several of his older tree-identification books — mostly just printed with monochrome illustrations, unlike today’s brightly-coloured volumes — but showed us the detail in the typically larger illustrations, an aspect which spoke for itself.

Detailed explanation
Detailed explanations

During the first two-thirds of our walk, snow fell quite heavily, and this meant that those of us with DSLR cameras which were not weather-proof had to be cautious about the water getting in.  And some of us (meaning me!) had forgotten to to pack our waterproof compact camera, too, so several photo opportunities were lost!

What started out, perhaps, as just a good reason to get outside and have a winter walk, turned out to be extremely interesting and I,

And then the sun came out!for one, will look for other opportunities to go out on John’s various guided walks because — to use a well-known phrase — he’s a man who has clearly forgotten more about trees than I will likely ever know. And just to end the walk on a high note, the sun came out and graced us with its presence on our way back to the BAS buildings.

Finally, my thanks to Gerry McIntyre, for sharing some of his photos with us in this blog.

Eddie Wren