There are lots of things in nature that proper naturalists aren’t supposed to like.  House Sparrows (alien invaders from Europe) take habitat from our native Bluebirds.  Garlic Mustard (another alien invader) takes habitat from our native wildflowers and changes the makeup of the soil over time affecting the critters that live in the leaf litter…

Another species that raises the ire of many proper naturalists is Carp (Cyprinus carpio).


Brought to this country in the 1800s as a game fish and food source, they have since fallen out of favor as a dinner option.  This may be wise when the fish are taken from polluted waters, which carp can tolerate quite well.  But taken from fresh water, they pose no threat to humans.  I had some once a long time ago and remember it being rather tasty.

This is a good time to see carp at Audubon as they are coming into the shallows to spawn.  Regarding reproduction, the NYS DEC site says this:

Carp display interesting spawning (reproduction) habits. During late spring and early summer, they thrash and splash their way into very shallow, weedy areas and broadcast their eggs. Their bodies are sometimes completely exposed out of the water and the splashing they make is quite a sight to see. A 20-pound female carp will lay nearly 10 million eggs.

My new little Canon Powershot has a video option and I was able to capture these videos of carp in action.  (Forgive the sound portion – it was a little windy.)

35 seconds:

10 seconds:

Learn More:

Allegany Nature Pilgrimage – Fish!

May 30, 2008 – Introduction to the Fish of Allegany State Park

Tim Shows Northern HogsuckerTim Strakosh is a biology professor at SUNY Fredonia.  He is also husband to our part-time naturalist, so we at Audubon have had the pleasure of getting to know Tim a bit over the last couple of years.  Tim led a fish program at the Pilgrimage this year which I attended after the Plant Lore program.

As a fish biologist, Tim uses an electro-shock unit to stun fish temporarily.  Stunned fish are collected and identified, and certain data about each individual are recorded.  Tim and company (Suzi and Daniel) demonstrated how this is done.

Who You Gonna Call?

Aren’t they just stylin’ with their waders, gloves, hats and polarized shades?  I think they look like an aquatic Ghostbusters team.  Who you gonna call?

They caught several varieties of little fishes, whose names I cannot remember.  I attempted some photos through the plastic containers:

Little Fish 1

Little Fish 2

I was stunned, not by the electro shock machine, but by the realization that there a lot more kinds of fish than I ever realized.

The fish that surprised me the most was large.  I had never seen anything like it and was really almost shocked to think that it lives in the streams where I hike and splash and even swim!  Why have I never seen one before?

Northern Hog Sucker

Look at that mouth, will you!??!  And with a name like Northern Hog Sucker, I think I’ll be able to remember it!  It lives in fast-moving water and likes to eat aquatic invertebrates.  Isn’t it cool?

More on the Pilgrimage tomorrow!

Pond Critters – Answers Revealed…

Bullhead1 – Probably a Bullhead, not a Catfish.  It’s tail is not deeply forked, or even slightly forked, rather somewhat squared off.  Learn more at the NYS DEC by clicking here.


Water Strider2 – Water Strider.  (I haven’t learned the scientific names or even figured out if we have more than one species, yet…  So far, I’ve been content to call it a Water Strider.  A lot of my students call them “Water spiders”… Then I’ll catch a real water spider to show them the difference.


Damselfly Larva3 – Damselfly Larva.  Several of you said Mayfly larva.  Mayflies also have three “tails,” but they have gills on the outsides of their abdomens that appear to be fluttering in the breeze.  This is a baby Damselfly.  Again, I have no idea what species.


Giant Waterbug Male with Eggs4 – Giant Waterbug.  As TheMarvelous said, waterbug females lay their eggs on the backs of the males.  I don’t know if other invertebrates do such a thing…  While surfing around looking for other photos, etc, I learned that some folks call these “Toe Biters.”  That made me laugh.  Learn more by clicking here.


Dragonfly Larva5 – Dragonfly Larva.  Again, I don’t know the species.  TheMarvelous suggests one of the skimmers.  Could be!  We see adult skimmers all summer.  Good guessing, y’all!


 Oh, my gosh… There’s a macroinvertebrate key online, too!  Check it out:

Pond Critters

At this time of year, we do a lot of dipping.  Not skinny dipping.  Not ice cream dipping.  Pond dipping!  We like to show the kids what kinds of critters live in the ponds.  In the spirit of Tom’s Collective Naturalist posts (1, 2, 3), I won’t tell you what these are…  Instead… You tell me!!  (Common names are close enough! And for some – a generic name is close enough…)

There are only five, this time…






Good luck!  Look for the answers after 8pm EST on May 25th.