Love Nest on the Tappan Zee Bridge

The peregrine falcons have returned to their “love shack” on the main span truss of the Tappan Zee Bridge, as they do every year. In fact even as I write this, one of them appears to be sitting on a clutch of eggs. “Appears?” you say. Yes, because there is a falcon cam trained on their nesting box 24/7 year in and year out, and you can see one of the pair sitting for long stretches, unperturbed by all the racket going on around him or her.

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A Woodland Plant That Deserves More Respect

Around the end of March signs of spring start appearing as snowdrops, winter aconite and wild crocus pop up their welcome heads. It’s also time for the arrival of skunk cabbage. Walking by the swampy area just west of 9W on Oak Tree Road, you should be able to spot clumps of them stretching a few inches above the murky surface. Funny, in their early stage, they bring to mind Audrey II, the man-eating plant in the 1986 cult pop musical film, A Little House of Horrors.

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Tales from the Tail

Overheard near the triangle across from the Post Office by three of our own locals…

Local #1…. I see we have some new tail in town. A big redhead called Ginger.

Local #2 – Oh yeah that bitch- you should have seen her a when she first got here, just a bag of bones, frankly she looked like something the cat dragged in, but now- well va va voom - totally transformed. Heard her family, the Cohens, take her rock climbing and for long runs. Wouldn’t mind sharing her crate if you know what I mean.

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The Other DEC Project in Our Backyard

The permit for the New NY Bridge (the new Tappan Zee Bridge) issued by the DEC contains a three-part compensatory mitigation plan. The most well known part of this plan, the Wetlands Enhancement at Piermont Marsh, has been highly publicized. However, in comparison, very little has been made public about another part of this plan actively happening in our area. The plan in the permit originally called for local oysters to be harvested and transferred to a marine hatchery while creating thirteen acres of new oyster habitat that is to be seeded with the stock from the harvested oysters. By mid 2013, 200,000 oysters were harvested using dredges and moved to adjacent beds where they are to be kept out of the way of the construction equipment that is currently in place.

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Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home

It was two days before Halloween, and there was the seasonal spirit of ghouls and witches impatient to descend. I was busy carving pumpkins in the late afternoon sun when I looked up to an even more nightmarish vision: the full side of my house darkened and writhing. With a closer look I realized I was witness to thousands upon thousands of ladybugs swarmed all together on the usually bright white clapboard siding, and more were coming, in my hair, up my nose. I shrieked, feeling like a Hitchcock blonde under attack, and rushed to open the back door to get inside. The ladybugs had the same idea. Great clouds of the creatures swarmed into the house, taking up positions by the hundreds and thousands in the corners of every room, in each recessed lighting socket, in the hems of my curtains - literally every nook and cranny of the house.

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Backyard Homesteading

As recently as a decade ago, telling a stranger that you raise chickens in your suburban backyard might have led to an awkward pause in the conversation, but now it is often met with admiration. A growing awareness of how much we all consume and the idea that there is something we can do to reduce our reliance on others to produce for us has started a quiet revolution.

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Kicking Up A Stink

A show of hands of all Palisades residents plagued by stinkbugs, please? Nearly everyone, right? As soon as temperatures fall, the sly Stinkbug sneaks into our less-thanairtight homes through the cracks in brickwork and gaps in window frames, having spent the summer sucking the sap out of our garden flowers and fruit.

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Oh Deer! Deer Proofing Your Garden

Are deer nibbling away your garden? Their favorite dining time is early morning just before daybreak and nightfall. Weather and food scarcity have an impact on what gets eaten. An adult can put away six to ten pounds of food a day – that’s a lot of hostas, tulips, holly, day lilies, sedum, rhododendrons and azaleas, all of which grow in my garden

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Giving Thanks to the Trees

How do we bring a sense of wonder into our engagement with nature, and foster a sense of stewardship towards the landscape around us, for ourselves, and the generations to follow? Palisades resident Al Perlmutter has achieved these things by making a particular Sugar Maple tree the focus of a family tradition that now goes back 25 years.

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How the Chicken Got Her Name

Once upon a time, Alice Buchanan was having a problem with her chickens. They were laying eggs all over the woods instead of in their nests so that even if Alice found any, she had no idea how old they were and whether she could still eat them. She was able to identify two errant birds that she then gave to Hector Flores’s mother to cook up for dinner and got new chickens that hopefully would behave better. I learned this because the other day, I found Hector crouched in my bushes making cooing sounds and reaching out with both hands in supplication. “Excuse me,” he said (to me). “I’m trying to catch my chicken.” “Oh?” “Yes, it has escaped.” He lunged and a great squawking emerged from the bush. Then a beautiful black and white hen scurried out and ran down a narrow path. Hector ran after it. He said he didn’t need any help so I went inside to spend a peaceful evening.

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The Wildflower Notebook

As a newcomer to the United States I was keen to get to know the local flora. Plants common to some of you are exotic and exciting to my eyes, and I thought it would be fun to get to know them better. This new column will introduce a wildflower native to the area - hopefully one in flower at the time of publication.

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Hikes Along The Hudson

As a resident of Palisades it never ceases to amaze me the good fortune of having miles of protected green space supporting magnificent nature trails along the mighty Hudson within minutes of my doorstep.

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Gardening Tips for Spring

Is it possible the winter really ended? For those of you out there who are still disoriented by the snow and the cold, here is some advice from Cellen Wolk of Hey Hoe Garden Design to help point you back toward the sun. The tips are offered in rough order.

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Questions Concerning the Plan to Eradicate Phragmites Grass in Piermont Marsh

Phragmites, or common reed, is a tall marsh grass that is ubiquitous in the New York area. It is easily recognizable by its tall tasseled stems, which can reach ten feet in height.
Phagmites has grown in the New York area for generations, but during the last couple of decades has become extremely aggressive, displacing other wetland plants to produce "Phragmites monocultures"- vast fields where it alone grows.

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Garden News

MAY PLANT SALES

TappanTown Historical Society
Saturday, May 4, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm Located at the back lawn of the Manse in Tappan. Perennials, annuals, herbs, master gardener on hand to answer questions.

The Garden Club of Nyack
Saturday May 11, 10:00am to 3:00pm. 507 North Broadway. Plants from garden club members gardens and from Bumps. Bring boxes to carry home purchases.

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Invasive Plants in Palisades

There are several unpleasant plants that seem to be increasing around Palisades; Japanese stiltgrass, which I've mentioned before, has become so ubiquitous - and entrenched - that I hesitate to even include it as one worth battling. It resembles small, delicate bamboo and, when mature, grows two to three feet in height and takes over lawns with its twig-like stems, choking out the desired grass.

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The Year of the Snake

February 10 ushered in the Chinese year of the Snake. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a snake in the house is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve. Although we prefer to keep our snakes outside, they are fascinating, beautiful creatures and help to rid the environment of pests like rats and mice. Our local snakes are still hibernating but will begin to appear as the weather warms. Two varieties — copperheads and Eastern timber rattlesnakes — are venomous and are to be avoided, although even they will not strike without provocation.

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Destination Greenland

A year and half ago photographer and Piermont resident Rena Bass Forman, her husband Scott Forman and Palisadian Milbry Polk conceived an expedition that would retrace 19th century painter William Bradford’s ambitious 1869 voyage to Greenland. Forman’s prior expeditions north, where she carried the flag of the not-for-profit Wings WorldQuest founded by Polk, were entitled Chasing the Light. This Greenlandic expedition, Chasing the Light, would focus on documenting the changes in landscape that Greenland has undergone since Bradford’s day through art, interviews and observation.

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Bald Eagle Sighting

Palisades welcomes two new residents. A pair of bald eagles have built a huge nest on an old white pine in Snedens Landing overlooking the Hudson River (see photo.) They can be seen soaring above the water where they hunt for fish, their favorite food.

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:
I noticed that squirrels raiding my bird feeder were developing tumors. I have sent pictures to the NYS Depart ment of Fish and Wildlife and they sent them to their pathology department. Without a “carcass” they can’t make a definitive diagnosis, but felt it might be “squirrel pox” (squirrel fibromatosis) or the result of infections from fighting. The disorder progresses from hair loss to development of a nodule to open sores.

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