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Friday, July 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

Bobolinks: summer visitors from south of the equator

post by JIM NIGRO in bobolinks, nature, outdoors

The bobolinks have returned from their South American wintering grounds and once again nearby meadows and fallow fields are filled with their bubbly serenade. They've come from as far away as Argentina, arriving in the northern U.S. and southern Canada to raise a single brood.

Their preferred habitat provides both nesting and foraging. Here they construct their nests on the ground, well concealed amid tall grasses. And it is in these same confines where they dine on seeds and insects.

Once the mating season is over the males will molt and, like the female pictured above, will take on a more sparrow-like appearance and will migrate south in such fashion. Unlike the spring migration, the bobolink's return flight to its wintering grounds is done in much larger flocks.

Back in the day the southward migration of the bobolink included a stopover on South Carolina rice plantations where the birds gorged themselves on grain until they became plump "little butterballs." Because the males had molted, folks thought they were seeing a different species of bird and the now drab-colored bobolinks were called "butterbirds" and were shot by the tens of thousands each fall as a food source.

The bobolink was all but eradicated then, but today most of the rice fields are gone and the bobolink, like all songbirds, is a protected species.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Photos: Lions Club fishing tournament at Dewitt

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, Lions Club, outdoors

Joshua von Kramer is all business as he casts his line into the pond at DeWitt Recreation Area today during a youth fishing tournament sponsored by the Batavia Oakfield Lions Club. Fishing with him are Nicole and Eric von Kramer.

Reice Woodward reels in a catch.

Reice Woodward

Ed Staniszewski with the boys and girls derby grand prizes.Other prizes on the table.

Joey Staniszewski

Blake Bradt gets her catch measured by Joe Bradt.

The tournament was dedicated to the memory of Kendra Haacke, who died this Spring at age 31. Above, members of the Haacke family, Melissa, Chris, Ken, Emma, Mary Ann and Lily.

Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 9:40 am

Nature's babies learn survival instincts at an early age

post by JIM NIGRO in nature, outdoors, whitetail fawn

It's that time of year when nature's youngsters begin coming into the world on a daily basis. This whitetail fawn has learned that remaining absolutely still and concealed is vital to its survival. A trio of us had been working a few scant feet away for nearly half an hour before noticing the newborn.

Just a few hours old, the fawn remained motionless in a residential flower bed while we spread mulch about its hideout. Once aware of its presence, we worked quickly, quietly and with little commotion as possible. Having completed the job, we moved on and the little one never flinched. No doubt mom was not far away, watching the entire time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Photos: A no-fish fishing derby on the Tonawanda Creek in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, outdoors, Tonawanda Creek

The fish weren't biting on the Tonawanda Creek today, but that didn't stop a group of Batavia residents from having fun during an annual fishing derby organized by John Lawrence.

The water was high and swift, which made it hard to even get a nibble, but the anglers, young and older, stuck with it.

Above, Brian Mruczek with is son Lakoda.

Giana Mruczek.

Nick Grasso puts on a show like he's really hooked something big.

Friday, May 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

Songbirds & wild blooms afford splashes of spring color

The past couple of weeks have seen a significant amount of songbird activity out our way. Right on cue, orioles began showing up when the first apple blossoms began to open, no doubt attracted by the insects within.

While the petals are bright yellow, back in the day someone thought the mottled brown pattern on the green leaves of the Trout lily resembled the markings found on the back of wild brook trout....hence the name.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks have been showing up at our feeder each day for the past week or so.

A dog violet with morning dew on its petals.

An indigo bunting scans the surroundings from atop the feeder. 

Lesser celandine grows in large clusters, abundant along boggy streams and damp woodlands. As the sun begins to set, the blooms close and remain so until the sun once again begins its ascent,   

A pair of Northern flickers probing the ground for a meal.

Periwinkle, aka myrtle, sometimes used as groundcover in landscaping, is found in the wild as well.

Friday, May 9, 2014 at 9:38 am

Brown trout still close to shore on Lake Ontario

Batavians Joe Schlossel and Mike Badami silhouetted by the early evening sun at Lakeside Beach State Park along Lake Ontario. It's that time of year when shore casters are able to cash in on Lake Ontario's trout and salmon fishery.

Sometime in early to mid-May, the trout and salmon begin to move offshore. For now they remain within reach of shoreline anglers. While the majority of anglers flock to places like Point Breeze, Mike Badami (pictured above) and Joe Schlossel (below) opted for the solitude of Lakeside Beach State Park.

The pair ventured to the park twice in the past week and each time were rewarded for their efforts. Once the trout move into deep water, these two anglers will return to local haunts and target their favorite warm water species, black bass and northern pike.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 8:10 am

Longtime Le Roy outdoorsman shares insights into new turkey call

post by JIM NIGRO in John Arneth, outdoors, turkey hunting

John Arneth was in the fifth grade when his father drove him to Barrett's Batavia Marine to see Paul Butski. The year was 1980 and Butski was at Barrett's to give a demonstration on calling turkeys. Then a former world, state and Grand National champion caller, Butski took aside the youngster from Le Roy and taught him how to use a friction call. Not yet old enough to hunt at the time, John put to use what he learned from the renowned caller, practicing the art of imitating communication between turkeys.

In the decades since, John has learned a great deal in the turkey woods, having hunted turkey in several locations throughout Western New York including Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Chautauqua counties. His passion for turkey hunting has also taken him out of state, pursuing toms in Florida and Alabama. In 32 years of turkey hunting he has taken 52 longbeards. No doubt he has become prolific in the art of calling in wily toms, so much in fact, he is on the pro staff of several makers of outdoor gear, among them Duel Game Calls. Over the years he has conducted 250 turkey and deer seminars at places like Cabela's, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, National Wild Turkey Federation events, outdoor shows, pro shops, churches and calling contests.

These days John is the town of Le Roy highway superintendant and still an avid turkey hunter. Friday evening I sat down with John and listened as he demonstrated one of Duel Game Calls' newest products, the Blodgett Signature Design turkey call, a totally new look in the game call industry.

The Blodgett series was named in honor of Harry Blodgett, legendary turkey call maker. To say that Arneth and the people at Duel Game Calls are optimistic woud be an understatement. At the National Wild Turkey Federation Grand National Convention the new calls raised eyebrows and turned heads, wowing some of the biggest names in the business.

"The calls absolutely blew people away, even turkey hunting legends like Jim Strelic," he said.

While the lamination gives the call a good look, the business end of the call, the striking surface and the sound it produces, was what got the attention of veteral turkey hunters. "Can it purr?" asked some, "Can it yelp and cutt?" asked others. John Arneth was happy to oblige and he answered their questions the only way he knew how, he demonstated by giving a quick clinic and customers went away satisfied, more often than not with a supply of new  Blodgett calls.   

The reason for the call's success in imitating the sound of a turkey lies in the overall makeup of what is known in the turkey hunting industry as pot style calls.

"We use laminated sugar maple, the same lamination process used by Gibson guitars. We pay a royalty to Gibson guitars for the lamination process because they own the patent," he said. "They are machined pots," he added, "from a very precise computer-controlled cutting machine."

The makeup of the striking surface of the call is a bit more interesting, as John explained, resulting in three different surface types, one being borosilicate crystal to be exact, and it creates a high pitched, very high-quality sound. A second was a slate surface, made from a very pure form of ocean slate. The third striking surface was aluminum, 6061 aircraft aluminum, oil free, bead blasted and it produces the highest frequency call in the industry. 

In addition to Duel Game Calls, John Arneth is on the pro staff of Mossy Oak, Ol' Tom, Gold Tip Arrows, Hawk Tree Stands and Wasp Broadheads. He currently lives in the village of Le Roy with his wife and three daughters    

Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Youth turkey season opens with success for pair of teen hunters

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, corfu, elba, hunting, outdoors, Turkey Season

Kilian Lewis, 14, of Corfu, bagged his first turkey yesterday morning in Alexander as part of a Youth Turkey Hunt, the first day of the Spring youth hunt season (the adult season begins May 1). The turkey had a 10-inch beard. Killian's older brother, Collin, 18, helped call it in. (Photo and info submitted by M. Lewis).

John Zambito, 14, of Elba, got his first turkey this morning while hunting with his uncle Kelly Creegan. (Submitted by Chantal Zambito)

Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 8:30 am

Adventure Calls Outfitters offers a unique & different view of Genesee River Gorge

Every year thousands of people flock to Letchworth State Park and of course all who come to the park want a look into the Genesee River Gorge, the Grand Canyon of the East. Among the sights in the gorge, several hundred feet below on the river's surface, are what appear to be blips of white. Those blips are waves of white water and all but unnoticed against a panoramic vista from the overlooks. There, high above the river, they appear somewhat obscure, maybe even miniscule -- unless you maneuver over and through those waves via raft or kayak. And only then will you get a real sense of what the Genesee River Gorge is all about.

Might anyone be interested in seeing the gorge from below, Adventure Calls Outfitters is ready to accommodate. Not only is there an opportunity to view the gorge from the "bottom up," one gets to take a thrilling ride at the same time. 

The accompanying whitewater pics, courtesy of the folks at ACO, were taken during the first two weekends of the rafting season on April 12th, 13th and 19th. With snowmelt and spring runoff in high gear, now is the optimum time for a wild ride with Western New York's premier river runners.                        

Adventure Calls Outfitters is owned and operated by Stafford resident Kevin Kretschmer who has spent 32 years as a whitewater guide on the Genesee River Gorge, the Salmon River up at Pulaski and Cattaraugus Creek through Zoar Valley. He has been the owner of ACO for the past 16 years. 

ACO has a large contingent of skilled guides on hand, each of whom love their work and enjoy nothing better than taking customers through some smashing whitewater.                                                                                                   

Midway through every trip, groups stop for pictures at the base of Wolf Creek Waterfall. Here guests have the opportunity to take the "leap of faith" -- a plunge into a hole beneath the falls. Not to worry, no one's ever been lost taking the leap of faith.                                                                                                     

The user-friendly and highly maneuverable inflatable kayak...aka  funyak!      

Riding a wave train along the wall. Is this stuff thrilling? Invigorating?   

You bet it is! BOOYAH!

The ACO rafting season is just getting under way. The season on Cattaraugus Creek runs from April though June. Release dates for the Salmon River are July 5th, 6th, 19th and 20th and Aug. 2nd and 3rd. While rafting is their mainstay, Adventure Calls Outfitters offers a variety of packages and events throughout the season. Check out their Web site at http://www.adventure-calls.com/rafting_letchworth.html

Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

Pics from the archives: fins, fur & scales from back in the day:

June 1980, Northern Manitoba -- We had a great fishing adventure and a bit of an education as well. I learned that lake trout and brook trout are actually members of the char family. Note the white piping on the pectoral and ventral fins of the laker pictured above, distinctive markings on all char.                   

We also I discovered that it was wasn't necessary to fish deep for lake trout thanks to the frigid temps of subarctic waters. But those cold waters also make for a slow growth rate, as little as a half pound per year. That means the laker I'm holding in the above pic had been around for 48 years.                    

Winter, 1991 -- Slow but steady wins the race...Nick Calarco's hounds had this coyote on the run for a considerable time before it finally stopped for a breather.       

It may be winded but it's still full of fight -- note the hair standing up on its back. 

A young Massasauga rattlesnake. These are known to exist in two locales in all of New York State -- in Genesee County's Bergen Swamp and in the Cicero Swamp north of Syracuse.               

This is what it will look like when it's all grown up.

Playtime for Bandit..........Bandit and his siblings were discovered living between a wall and a partition in a small barn that served as chicken coop. Concerned for his chickens, the owner urged the mother raccoon to relocate, which she did - one baby at a time. She took the first three and never returned for Bandit. After several days passed Bandit was adopted and nurtured by loving hands.

   Nap time!

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