May 2017 Outdoor Discovery Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Delivers - Information to keep you connected and informed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
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A boy looking through binoculars

Spring Crappie Fishing

A man holding up a black crappie

With spring upon us, many anglers are looking forward to getting out on the water. A popular species commonly sought is the crappie, a member of the sunfish family. Crappie have a compressed diamond-shaped body and can reach sizes exceeding 14 inches. They are dark green to golden brown in color, with mottled patches of black scales. Crappie are common in many waters throughout New York State that have abundant vegetation and cover.

When seeking crappie, focus your attention on areas with shallow water near weed beds, downed trees or brush piles. Use popular rigs such as a bobber and minnow combination or a small jig fished on light tackle. Saratoga Lake in Saratoga County is a favorite choice of anglers searching for springtime crappie.

Hike of the Month - Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge

Wetlands at Wertheim Wildlife Refuge

Suffolk County
Nearly six miles of interconnecting trails take you through saltmarsh and Pine Barrens, for easy, family-friendly hikes along the scenic Carmans River on Long Island's south shore. May is a busy month for nesting waterfowl and shorebirds. Bald eagles tend nests high in oak and black tupelo trees, while osprey bring fish to their broods on nest platforms. Along with your camera and binoculars, bring repellant to ward off flies and ticks. Stay on trails to avoid poison ivy and tick exposure. Stop at the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex visitor center and enjoy the interactive exhibits after your hike. See the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge webpage for more information.

Watchable Wildlife: Washington County Grasslands and the Fort Edward Raptor Fest

A red-phase eastern screech owl

Fort Edward, Washington County
The Washington County Grasslands are home to a dozen threatened and rapidly declining bird species. Audubon New York has identified a significant part of this area of Washington County farmland as a New York State Important Bird Area (IBA), specifically for grassland birds, whose numbers are in sharp decline in the country and in the state.

Visitors to the area often see short-eared owl, northern harrier, American kestrel and eastern meadowlark, to name a few. There is a half-mile trail that leads to a platform with views of the fields and hills, where you can see raptors hunting for mice or listen to the songbirds.

The Annual Fort Edward Raptor Fest is held on May 13 and 14 at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Greenwich. Visitors can see live owls and falcons in flight, learn about the endangered short-eared owl, enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides and more. There is an admission fee of $12 for adults/$6 for children.

Camping at Kenneth L. Wilson Campground

Family setting up a tent at Kenneth L. Wilson campground

Just outside the historic village of Woodstock, the Kenneth L. Wilson Campground is surrounded by beautiful mountains with panoramic views. There are 76 secluded tent and trailer sites in this picturesque setting.

An accessible boardwalk surrounds a small lake, where you can canoe, kayak or fish for species such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch and bullhead. Hikers will enjoy the 35 miles of backcountry trails in the area of the Slide Mountain Wilderness, just a short drive from the campground.

Don't miss a trip to the village of Woodstock and its art galleries, antique and craft shops, golf course, fine restaurants and entertainment. The village of Phoenicia offers tubing and fishing on the Esopus Creek. You can learn about the natural, recreational, cultural, agricultural and historical resources of the area at the Catskill Interpretive Center, located a few miles from the campground in Mt. Tremper.

Nature Notes

Slide Mountain is the highest peak in the Catskills at 4,120 feet above sea level.

ECO Reports: Bird Wrapped on a Wire - Onondaga County

Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Scott Yacavone responded to a complaint of a seagull wrapped in fishing line and hanging from a utility wire in the village of Baldwinsville. He arrived to find the bird with both wings pinned together, hanging approximately two feet below the line. With the assistance of the Baldwinsville Fire Department, ECO Yacavone climbed up to the bird on a ladder truck and cut the fishing line. After untangling the line from the bird's wings, the seagull did not appear to have significant injuries. ECO Yacavone took the gull to a rural area and released it, unharmed, back into the wild.

DEC Events

Conservationist Magazine

Bluebirds in a bluebird house

If you haven’t seen the April issue of Conservationist magazine, check it out. We heard from a number of readers who enjoyed the articles and spectacular pictures of bluebirds and snapping turtles. After reading the piece about spring fishing, several folks sent us their fishing pics. Other features in the April issue include the story of how one family has dealt with the challenges of managing a woodlot during the past 70 years, and information about the steps you can take to avoid using harmful invasive plants in your aquatic garden.

There's all this and much more in the April Conservationist. Don't miss it! Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399.

May 2017DEC Outdoor Discovery Newsletter © New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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