Dear UESiders!!

Happy Monday MLK Day!!

On a lesser but very NYC note…  Happy (today) National Bagel Day!!

Bagel from Russ & Daughters in NYC. Credit: Russ & Daughters

And, needless to say, there’s plenty more on our upfolding UES dance card… 

First and foremost:

*Saturday, January 16th:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket
82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

With us will be the great American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey, Hudson Valley Duck and Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Nolasco, Valley Shepherd, Hawthorne Valley, Walnut Hollow and Gajeski Farms!!

Uber-most Market Manager of Market Managers Margaret adds:

Dear Greenmarketeers:

Yes, Tutu’s going to be back this week and taking up her new role as market manager!!

And, yes, and as of right now, we’re expecting 100% of our year round farmers to be at their tables…  Along with our winter friends of Nolasco Farm!!

Plus, this week 1857 Vodka – with their locally grown and distilled potato vodka – will be dropping in!!
More kudos still to you great, mask-wearing, socially-distancing shoppers who’re keeping market, farmers and each other safe!!

One last safety ask:  To facilitate safe market set-up please avoid parking on the western end of 82nd on Saturdays.
With thanks to all who continue to come out each week to support our local farmers,


Then, coming up live, virtual and soon:

Tuesday, January 26th:  AM Seawright’s Virtual Town Hall on COVID Vaccination
On Facebook or by phone, 7pm

Guest speakers include Jeffery Fisher, MD, FACC Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York – Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Medical College- Cornell University, with additional speakers to be announced.  To register (a must however you participate)…

Thursday, February 11th: Friends of the East River Esplanade Annual 7th AnnualBenefit – Virtual Live Cooking Demonstration With Chef Charlie Palmer
On Zoom, 6:30-7:30pm

Can’t imagine you haven’t at least heard of brilliant Chef Charlie Palmer and the brilliant meals he serves up at his brilliant Aureole Restaurant…   Well, now we – as in old and new supporters of Esplanade Friends – can cook with and learn live from the master courtesy of the Esplanade Friends’ 2021 fundraiser!!  Yup, and not only will $150 reserve your place – and those of whatever apron-wearing family members might happen to be in your kitchen on the 11th –  but you’ll also receive a signature Palmer cookbook!!   Event honoree:  Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.   Recipe shopping list provided with that donation…   See you on Zoom!! 

From the week’s diverting diversions file:

NYC Landmarks Commission and the Underground Railroad…  Become a forest bird habitat expert…   What the great folks at NYC H2O got up to in 2020…  Best bird-friendly native plants for the UES…  Randall’s Island has a literary program and an upcoming event…  NYC’s once-upon-a-time wooden sidewalks…    Why our dogs stare at us…  And from the NYTimes a debate:  Netting Zero: Making 2021 the Year We Break Fossil Fuel Addiction…  The world’s most expensive art and on our home turfBasic birding skills from Hawk Mountain… The 5 young UES science whizzes…  Behavior at bird feeders...  A NYS “Protect Our Watersheds” poster contest for middle schoolers…  Greenest way to deal with kitty litter…  “Linear City” designs…  NYS encourages ice fishing!!…  Top ten 2021 stargazing events… Lichens in our hood (UES’s own Susan Hewitt’s a champion spotter!!)… 

Southern Flying Squirrel rescued by Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

A Baby Flying Squirrel

What would 7 days be without a Fish the Week:

1/1 – Hudson River Watershed: Fish-of-the-Week for Week 102 is the sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), number 185 (of 234) on our watershed list of fishes.


A Sheepshead

Sheepshead is one of three Sparidae (porgies) species in the estuary. Others are the pinfish and the scup. All three are important recreational and food fishes and sheepshead are the largest, reaching three-feet-long and weighing 20 pounds. They are found along the coast from Cape Cod south along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts where they can venture into bays and up rivers and estuaries into brackish water.

Sheepshead was added to our watershed fish list on September 15, 2004 (as number 211), when Jeremy Frenzel, Chris Mancini, and Scott Wingerter caught what they described as an “oddly proportioned porgy” in one of their fish traps at The River Project off Pier 26 in Manhattan (river mile 1). It was a young-of-year (67 millimeter (mm)) sheepshead.

Sheepshead were once abundant in the lower Hudson River and New York Harbor but have become extremely uncommon. With their well-developed incisor-like teeth, they feed off barnacles, mussels, and oysters encrusted on pilings, piers, and jetties making oysters and sheepshead intimately connected. – Tom Lake

[At this point in the North Atlantic, sheepshead is near the northern edge of its range and a reduced population of fish usually contracts from the edges of its range. I have found at least one account of just how numerous sheepshead were in the Lower Bay and south shore regions in the 1800s. Jamaica Bay area farmers took time during the summer to handline them on offshore mussel banks. This was a source of income while the crops were growing. Their disappearance could be connected to the loss of oyster beds. At one time they were common enough in the New York Bight that Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn may have been named for them. –  John WaldmanNow only 97 days till Earth Day 2021, April 22nd…

Let there be enduring peace and greenness among us,


Eco Fact of the Week:  Beginning January 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York State. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state!!  (Hurrah!!)

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Dear UESiders,

As this credulity-straining week nears its end:

*Saturday, January 2nd:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket
82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

At their tables will be the great folks of American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey, Hudson Valley Duck and Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Nolasco, Valley Shepherd, Hawthorne Valley, Walnut Hollow and Gajeski Farms!!

Suprema Market Manager of Market Managers Margaret adds:

Dear Greenmarketeers:

Just one more week till great new manager Tutu returns from vacation and takes charge!!  Our good luck that Siobhan’ll be covering this Saturday!!

So pleased to have our friends at Nolasco Farms back on 82nd…  Their greenhouses and over-wintered crops have helped keep us healthy throughout cold winter months these past few years and will be doing the same winter 2021!!

Last but hardly least, do remember we want to keep everyone safe…  So keep those masks on and up and maintain that social distance!!

On to a healthy and well-nourished 2021,


Also and bigtime on this Saturday’s to-do list:

*Saturday, January 9th:  Mulchfest!!
Carl Schurz Park, East End Avenue & 86th Street, 10am-2pm

Could be the mayor/Parks forgot to strip Mulchfest out of the FY2021 budget…  But whatever, this one aspect of Parks/DSNY organic collection on the UESide survives!!  Just relieve those trees/wreaths/evergreenery of all decorations, lights and tinsel and get them up to Schurz Park!!   (Then – can’t resist – say a fond “Firwell…”)

Moving on to the subject of compost:

STILL no word from Parks or any other NYC entity or representative on the beyond-six-months future of the Big Reuse/LESEC compost sites…

So how ’bout we divert ourselves with some diversions:

How NYC handled ’47 smallpox inoculations…  Douglas Tallamy, native plant man supreme…  “A few words on behalf of bats”…  A new plastic wave (Eeek!!)…  Bed Bath may be gone from the UES (for now), but its coupons endure…   Seagrass “Prairies of the Sea”…  New (nature) conservancy legislation…  Best/lowest impact U.S. wind energy sites…  2021 celestial events…  AI and birdwatching…  Seahorse moms and dads…  More on talking trees…  Leaf decor for our tables (and not just for fall)…  (Real) NYS leaves once they fall (scroll down to page  16)…  Might the little brown (micro) bat be making a comeback…?? (scroll down to page 20)…  Lost (at least to us!) MLK history

And the latest from the Hudson River Almanac:

1/9 – Manhattan: We braved the frigid waters of the river to check our research gear at The River Project’s sampling station on the lighthouse tender Lilac moored at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park.  Even the mud crabs were in reduced numbers due to the season, and we found predominantly shore shrimp and isopods in the traps. Winter torpor is definitely in full swing. – Siddhartha Hayes, Toland Kister, Melissa Rex

Resuming the Almanac’s Fish of the Week chronicle:

Fish-of-the-Week for Week 52 is the Atlantic tomcod (Microgadus tomcod), number 105 (of 230) on our watershed list of fishes. 

Atlantic tomcod
A Tomcod

Atlantic tomcod are an Arctic fish. Bigelow and Schroder’s Fishes of the Gulf of Maine (1953) cite their general range as “… northern Newfoundland to Virginia.” They are one of eight members of the cod family (Gadidae) found in the Hudson River watershed. The others are the Atlantic cod, pollock, silver hake (“whiting”), red hake (“ling”), spotted hake, white hake, and the ephemeral fourbeard rockling.

Tomcod are an anadromous species that live in salt water as an adult and return to freshwater to spawn. Unlike the herrings in the Hudson River that spawn in spring, tomcod spawn in late-fall and winter, from November to February. In cold winters, they spawn under the ice from the Hudson Highlands northward thus earning them the nickname “frost fish,” a Dutch Colonial colloquialism.

Tomcod mature at 6-7-inches in 11-12 months and can grow to 15-inches, although in the Hudson River, most are ten-inches or less. Their species name, Microgadus, alludes to their smaller size compared to the nearly identical Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Young-of-year tomcod are found in the lower estuary and East River in summer.

In winter, 50 years ago, tomcod was abundant enough so that some taverns in the lower river served fried tomcod as a snack with beer in lieu of peanuts. However, tomcod numbers in the river have been declining over the last few decades and, being a boreal species, climate change has been suggested as a possible cause.  – Tom Lake

Yours in enduring greenness and UES compost dreams,


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Dear UESiders, 

Heaven knows how – given that so much NYC green’s been trimmed to the bone and beyond – but there’s this good news:

*Saturdays, January 2nd & 9th:  Mulchfest!!

Carl Schurz Park, East End Avenue & 86th Street, 10am-2pm

Yes, this one facet of Parks/DSNY organic collection on our UESide survives!!  Just strip those trees, wreaths and everything else evergreen of all decorations, lights and tinsel and bring ’em on up to Schurz Park!!   (Then say a fond “Firwell…”)

That’s not all:

*Amazingly,  Plum Island – home to scads of endangered wildlife – has been saved from development!!

*Across town, the NYPD’s finally going to vacate the Hell’s Kitchen Tow Pound!!  (Congrats, you relentless Hell’s Kitchen activists!!)

And of course:

Saturday, January 2nd:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket

82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

With us and catering to our post-holiday needs will be our friends at American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey, Hudson Valley Duck and Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Valley Shepherd, Hawthorne Valley and Gajeski Farms!!

(Yes, Walnut Hollow’s taking this Saturday off!)

On the downside:

*Only till spring, but the Green Park Gardener Composters will be closed down till March/April/whenever spring weather settles in…  We’ll let you know, of course.  Our most convenient alternatives (for the moment, we pray):  Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Union Square Greenmarket or Sunday at the 77th/79th Street Greenmarket.

*So strange to pass by the erstwhile and now cavernously empty Bed Bath.  Yes, Home Depot will be moving in, but they’ll run out their remaining year’s lease on Third Ave before they relocate…  At which point, rumor has it, Target will take up that space, while maintaining their Third & 70th location.

*We’ll also be losing the Container Store and Williams-Sonoma soon. 

Yes, pretty freaking awful, we agree.

(From The New Yorker, forwarded to us by Dan Garodnick.) 

And on the middle ground:

No word/result yet on that most impactful Big Reuse/LESEC compost site hearing…

Turning to the Diverting Diversions File:

A great new donation to The Met (click on “)…  Old-fashioned radiators now a plus…  Glowing wombats and Tasmanian devils…  Italy’s restoring the Coloseum (Can’t NYC get its Esplanade together?)…  Virtual Central Park walks…  NYS DEC’s great “Conservationist Magazine” subscriptions are on sale…   Then there’s the DEC’s upcoming virtual “Power of Native Plants” talk …  Be ready for next Christmas with Bob Dylan reading “The Night Before Christmas” on file…  2020’s best dinosaur discoveries...  Elvis getting his polio vaccination...  Two rare birds pausing on the UES…  The evolution of pie in America…  How to help save our NYS bunnies from Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (scroll down)…  Good (GOOD!!)  2020 conservation news (love we have a new lemur species!!)…  Green resolutions for 2021 a la the NYTImes

Closing out with a Hudson River Almanac entry:

12/3 – Manhattan: Randall’s Island Park Alliance Staff spotted a great egret and great blue heron today at the boat launch along the Bronx Kill (northwest corner of the Island). I wonder if this is the great blue heron that spent its winter with us last year. – Jackie Wu

[Most great blue herons migrate once it becomes apparent that open water is disappearing. A few, however, will stick out the winter especially in the New York City area where open tidewater persists except during the very coldest winters. They are also very adept at improvisation.

Several years ago, at Lake Meahagh in Verplanck (Westchester County), a sudden winter cold snap caused a massive gizzard shad fish kill and laid down two inches of hard ice. The image of hundreds of ten-inch gizzard shad floating just under the clear ice attracted bald eagles from all over. But the fish were out of reach; the eagles did not have the equipment to get through the ice. But a pair of great blue herons sauntered out from a stand of Phragmites and drilled through the ice exposing the fish. Each time that occurred, an eagle would swoop down and steal the gizzard shad. Undaunted by the eagles, this scenario was repeated from mid-morning until dusk, when the herons departed, leaving Pete Nye, Chris Letts and me with a story to tell. Tom Lake]

With wishes for the greenest, kindest and most healthy 2021,



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Dear UESiders, 

A totally mini newsletter with its focus on the the pivotal City Council hearing today at 11am!!

So, if we really want to retain the minimal compost collection our city presently has, not to mention expand it…

Today’s 4-part mission is:

 *1. Send  a comment in support of Parks stepping back on eviction of the Big Reuse and LESEC composting sites!!

(But, yes, of course, you could testify live…)

*2. Then, if you haven’t already, send that same simple comment to the mayor and Parks Commissioner Silver!!

*3. Then (and again if you haven’t), sign the compost petition (the one with the highest headcount and thus the most impactful)!!

*4. Last but not least, you can virtually attend/watch the meeting!! (A big viewing head count could only be a good!!)

Up to us to get our city back in the green,


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Dear UESiders, 

Where to begin…??

Okay, first in line:  

*The Big Reuse/Queensboro Bridge/Roosevelt Island Compost Saga which has taken a hopeful turn…  That being a City Council Oversight Hearing to be held under the dual banners of the Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Committee and the Parks & Recreation Committee and set for Friday, December 18th at 11am!!  A virtual oversight hearing, of course.  To register and comment live…  Or to view but not comment…  And/or submit a written comment…   

(Any and all questions re the hearing can be addressed to the Committees’ staff: 
Nicole AbeneRicky ChawlaKris Sartori or Patrick Mulvihill…)

*Meanwhile, whichever way one chooses to attend and/or comment (and be great if you do both), good to prepare with the Big Reuse Virtual Press Conference, Tuesday, December 15th at 3pm.  Think complete rundown of the situation. 
To register… 

Next up:

*The Virtual Environmental Scoping Meeting on the New York Blood Center’s proposed 300-foot tower, scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th at 2pm.   To speak, watch and/or submit a comment

Then there’s:

*“Know Your Rights Training” virtual townhall hosted by AM Seawright on Tuesday, December 15th at 7pm.  Experts include Richard Berkley, Executive Director, Public Utility Law Project; Gina Cuevas, Manhattan Senior Board Coordinator, Housing Court Answers; and Tori Roseman, Unemployed Workers Project.  To register and join…  Or watch on Facebook

But most of all:

Saturday, December 12th:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket

82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

At their ever more Christmasy tables will be American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey, Hudson Valley Duck and Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Valley Shepherd, Hawthorne Valley, Gajeski and Walnut Hollow Farms!!

You saw Walnut Hollow’s incredible, heavenly blue eggs??!!  Not to mention their chicken pies, jams and mushrooms.  (We’re acquiring some picked eggs this Saturday!!)  (And some Hudson Valley Duck salami!!)

And if there’s no rain:

Bring on that cutlery of every kind!!  Knife Sharpener Nonpareil Barbara Hess will be with us and honing with her special,  pre-holiday zeal!!

Moving on to some active activism:

Sunday, December 12th:  CALLING ALL GARDENERS!!
First Avenue 60th to 96th Streets, at your convenience

Folks interested in helping to plant spring bulbs in the islands along 1st Ave?? Many of the islands from 60th-95th  have already been planted, but a number remain and the weather’s projected as being pretty darned pleasant for planting on Sunday.  Tulip, daffodil and allium bulbs provided, as well as gardening tools, gloves and kneepads, if needed. Please email us at if you are interested.  (Great kid activity, too!!) Thanks in advance for bringing beauty and greenness to 1st Ave!!

Yes, and the great GrowNYC’s also looking for volunteers with a myriad skills

On to activism of the armchair kind:

NYStaters can be proud that – for the 3rd time!! –  the scope of our PFAS ban’s been expanded…  This time to include food packaging!!  (Yup, PFAS were turning up in items like pizza boxes!!)

More pride and a thank you to Comptroller DiNapoli for divesting NYStates’ $226B pension fund from all oil and gas company stock

But pretty nighmare-ish what incineration of NYC waste is visiting on New Jersey neighbors as detailed in “The Sacrifice Zone”…  Check out the 30 minute film on Wednesday, December 16th, anytime between 4-6pm.  Free.   To view with password “compost”…  (Can we not, at least, provide state-of-the-art scrubbers??!!)

Then there’re these items random and diverse:

Recycling tips holiday style…  There’s a new UES supermarket-like food pantryLots of animal rescue for NYS Conservation Officers this week…  America’s 18 new astronauts…  A tiny house in the Arctic…  NYC Art Deco masterpieces…  NYS gets its own lithium-ion battery recycling plant…  That MTA elevator at 68th Street…  The Natural Area Conservancy’s NYC Nature Map

Christmas is only 13 green days away,


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Happy Tomorrow/December 5th/World Soil Day, UESiders!!

And we quote:

“Soil is much more than dirt, it is filled with life that helps keep soil healthy and fertile. The diverse community of living organisms in soil often feed on organic matter, a major component of soil. Compost is a rich soil amendment that reintroduces organic matter back into the soil. Compost helps build healthy soils and supports soil biodiversity. It’s important that we protect our soils and keep them alive for generations to come.” – NYS DEC

Green facts and an approach UESiders are well acquainted with given that we filled drop-off bins with 237,681 – as in nearly a quarter million – pounds of compostable food waste in 2019!! 

Alrighty then, you sterling, environmentally aware people… 

*How about our third weightiest Shred-A-Thon total ever…  As in 8,760 pounds of paper scrap which – if not already – will soon become recycled and useful paper again!!

Congrats to all who turned out and reaffirmed that you’re well and truly the very green Upper East Side!!

Further on the good news beam:

*Just in case you haven’t yet heard about Julie Blinbaum Marcovici’s contribution to our hood…  Ms. Marcovici’s the force behind the UES “Save Our Stores” campaign!!  Thank you, you good neighbor!!

*Rather unexpectedly, the Mayor’s just voiced opposition to construction of a National Grid gas storage and transport facility in Brooklyn…  But only “voiced” Brownsville residents say…  With no actual NYC action to curtail.  Still…

*Moving further afield and many petitions later, the Army Corps of Engineers nixed construction of the Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay!! 

Our Greenmarket’s always good news: 

Saturday, November 21st:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket
82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

With us will be American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey, Hudson Valley Duck and Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Valley Shepherd, Hawthorne Valley, Gajeski and Walnut Hollow Farms!!

Alta Market Manager Margaret weighs in:

Dear Green Marketeers:

We have a new farmer joining us for a few weeks (at least). Walnut Hollow farm will bring chicken, chicken pies, blue eggs, pickled eggs, jams, mushrooms and some baked goods. Something for everyone?? Please do stop by and welcome them!!

We’re also expecting the return of our winter friends, Nolasco Farm with their beautiful vegetables!!  Hopefully, they will be with us all winter!!

Happy shopping,



Weather permitting, Master Knife Sharpener Barbara Hess could well be with us yet another Saturday!!    Crossing our fingers for rain/wind move on through quickly! 

And now for some grimness as we return to the subject of compost:

*Check the NYS map of statewide compost collection sites…  See any anywhere on the east side of Manhattan above 14th Street??  Then there’s the more up-to-date GrowNYC map...  Hummm…

*Not to mention – but we will – Commissioner Silver’s response to appeals to renew Big Reuse’s Queensboro Compost Site lease as expressed in this excerpt from his 12/3/2020 email:

“At Queensbridge Park, Big Reuse entered into a temporary agreement with Parks to allow composting under the 59th Street Bridge beginning in May 2018 and slated to expire at the end of this month, December 2020. The arrangement was predicated on an understanding that Big Reuse would seek an alternative permanent location by this time. While the space under the 59th Street Bridge is prohibited for recreational use, it offers much-needed space for Parks’ regional operations, which are currently operating from nearby parkland that could be converted into usable recreational space. Once Big Reuse vacates the area under the bridge, Parks will move our operations into that space, freeing up parkland currently used as operational parcels adjacent to the bridge to provide much needed recreational amenities for the community.   

We understand your concern and appreciate your support of composting and its ecological benefits.”  

So much for Parks’ own commitment to composting…  

Moving on to upcoming virtual events:

The Municipal Art Society’s December online tours

First in the Library of Congress’s new series  “Great American Editors” is great LBJ biographer Robert Caro and editor Robert Gottlieb.  Free and anytime.   To watch

Friday, December 4th, 5pm:   ETHEL – the Met’s Great Hall resident string quartet ensemble – is joined  bythe greatChickasaw classical composer and pianist Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ (not a typo) Tate.  Free.  To watch on Facebook

Tuesday, December 8th, 8pm:  Museum of the City of New York presents its Ultimate (VIrtual, NYC) Trivia Night.  Free but a donation suggested.  To sign up

Always time for some activism:

Friday, December 11th, 7pm:  The Folk Art Museum’s Free Music Fridays, this week presenting Niall Connolly, Charming Disaster, and Queen Esther.   For more and to sign up

Monday, December 14th, 7pm The Feminist Bird Club and NYC Audubon presents “The Place Where The People Gather”, a film detailing the Ramapough Lenape people’s struggle to maintain use of their ceremonial prayer land in Mahwah, New Jersey.  Free.  For more and to sign up

What would a week be without Hudson River Almanac news:

1/16 – Manhattan The Randall’s Island Park Alliance spotted our first brant of the season today. Park birders had seen them three weeks ago, but we are beginning to see more of the wintering brant now. I hope they  stay around and help us beat our 2019 Christmas Bird Count number of 722. –  Chris Girgenti, Jackie Wu

Brant Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
A Brandt

On the path up through the Clove and on the ridge, there was very little fall color, a few red oaks, and some yellow maples, but most trees were either still green or already bare. I did see one winterberry (Ilex verticillata), apparently a cultivar, with yellow berries. – Thomas Shoesmith

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images

11/17 – Manhattan: At midday, it appeared that there were no waterfowl at all on the still water of Inwood Hill Park’s Spuyten Duyvil Creek. Then I spotted a pair of mallards paddling along until they stopped, turned to face each other, and dipped their bills into the water several times in unison. Then they continued on their way, the female leading.  Suddenly, the male rose flapping, neck extended, feet on the water. They went on for a bit and then repeated what may have been a bonding ritual.

Mallard Ducks - Cajun Encounters Tour Company, New Orleans
A Mallard Pair

11/19 – Manhattan: The Randall’s Island Park Alliance conducted a water quality check on the Bronx Kill today and found it to be uncharacteristically salty at low tide (mid-20 parts-per-thousand (ppt)). Waterbirds on the Bronx Kill included a belted kingfisher, an adult yellow-crowned night heron, and a great blue heron. – Jackie Wu, Chris Girgenti

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) – Operation S.P.L.A.S.H.  (Stop Polluting, Littering and Save Harbors)
A Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

11/20 – Manhattan: Given the steady presence of striped bass in the estuary, especially young-of-year, it is interesting to look back to the public perception of Hudson River striped bass in1848. Robert DeCandido provides a peek into the past from the New York Herald Tribune (1888) titled Fishing off New York Docks:

“Forty years ago [1848] there was good fishing from the docks of New York and fine striped bass were freely taken, especially at the Battery. As the city grew and the water became fouler the fishing ceased. Of late, fishermen have found out that at the upper end of the city, on the North [Hudson] River side, there are a few bass to be taken. This week a man took four striped bass of one pound each, at the foot of 138th Street, and three more were taken from the cinder banks north of the Manhattan Iron Works. It is estimated that at least sixty bass were taken between the cinder banks and Spuyten Duyvil on Sunday last.” – Tom Lake

11/27 – Manhattan: Our Hudson River Park’s River Project Staff checked the sampling and collection gear that we deploy off Pier 40 in Hudson River Park. Our catch was small but diverse and included two young-of-autumn blue crabs (35 mm carapace-width) and this season’s first (100 mm) feather blenny (Hypsoblennius hentz). – Olivia Radick, Helen Polanco

Feather blenny
A Feather Blenny

Ever so happy to be green,


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Dear UESiders,

Going semi micro-newsletter after a great and most filling Turkey Day meal:

*Item #1:  Waiting on the poundage report (the truck left filled to the top!!), but a record 259 individuals not only turned out for but scrupulously observed social distancing at last Sunday’s Shred-A-Thon!!  That’s more than one Shreddee drop-off per minute!! 

*Item #2:   Lucky for us and the continuing holiday readiness of UES cutlery, Master Knife Sharpener Extraordinairia Barbara Hess will be back at her 82nd Street table this Saturday!!

*Item #3:  Continuing our city’s incomprehensible journey down the road of environmental heedlessness, NYC in the form of Parks has yet to renew the lease of Big Reuse’s Roosevelt Island compost processing site under the Queensboro Bridge…  A site that not only provides soil-enriching finished compost to countless city parks, but to GreenStreets and Green Thumb projects, more than 200 community gardens and innumerable other NYC green spaces as well..  Add to the absurdity that Parks also  brings its own organic garden waste – like leaves!! – to this Big Reuse site for processing!!  Oh yeah, and the prospective new “facility” proposed for the site??  A parking lot.

So, how about sending
 Mayor DeBlasio and Parks Commissioner Silver the simple message:   “Renew Big Reuse’s Queensbridge Compost Processing Site lease for another decade!”

*Item #4:  The great folks at NYC H2O’s Ridgewood Reservoir Lab design‘s a contender in the Brooklyn AIA People’s Choice Best Design Award!!  You bet, they’d love to have your vote!! (Scroll way down!!) 

A little post-but-heavily-Turkey-Day-inclined diversion:

The Snopes take on some Thanksgiving legends…  The other – and gorgeous – turkey species…  Turkey dust bathing…  “Lost” Thanksgiving crops…  Diabetes-friendly recipes from NY Presbyterian for next year…  Thanksgiving recipes from Native American chefs (scroll right past the Braised Buffalo!!) to keep on file…

One and a most pressing activism item:

Somehow luxury brand Hermes thinks it’s a good idea to create a crocodile factory farm…  Crocodiles to be skinned for handbags, briefcases and shoes…  Should you disagree... 

Yours in perpetual and gravy-covered greenness,


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Happy Upcoming Turkey Day, UESiders!!

Of course, you’ll be taking maximum care of family and friends and how you celebrate… 

Of lesser personal import, of course, but same for how folks who’ll be bringing paper for shredding this coming Sunday conduct themselves…  With maximum concern for health of fellow shredders and themselves!!

To wit:

  • Mask wearing with mouth and nose covered at all times
  • Non-shreddable items removed before you arrive at the site
  • Strict 6-foot social distance – from others waiting, pedestrians passing by – maintained while on line
  • NO waiting around till a given batch is shredded (years later, have we not earned your trust?)
  • Take all non-shreddable bags and boxes home and recycle  (ZEROdiscarding in unemptied-on-weekends corner bins!)  

On to the event and its now-and-forever Shred-A-Thon rules:

Sunday, November 22nd:  Shred-A-Thon Bring On That Paper Edition!!
Opposite the 92nd Street Greenmarket, 92nd Street & First, 10am-2pm

As ever:

NO cardboard or plastic-handled shopping bags.

REMOVE paper clips and spiral bindings.

 NO HARDCOVER BOOKS.   (But paperbacks are fine.)

But, of course, there’re our markets (with some really great news) and more:

Saturday, November 21st:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket
82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

At their laden-with-Thanksgiving-necessities tables will be American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey, Hudson Valley Duck and Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Valley Shepherd, Cherry Lane, Hawthorne Valley and Gajeski Farms!!


Just in time for turkey carving, Master Knife Sharpener Barbara Hess returns!!  And is she ever ready to hone up a storm!!  Not only will she be with us, but she’ll be at her table at 9 and till the market wraps up!!   

Helps with angst that this is Cherry Lane’s last Saturday with us till June 2021, yes…??  

(Okay, okay, folks further north…  Barbara’ll be at 92nd this week, too!)

Sunday, November 22nd:  92nd Street Greenmarket
92 Street & First Avenue, 9am-4pm

On this last Sunday of the 92nd season, with us will be American Pride Seafood, Meredith’s Bakery, Ole Mother Hubbert, Grandpa’s and Phillips Farms!!

But wait!!  There’s more!!  Our one and only Master Knife Sharpener will be back at her 92nd Street table, too!!  You bet, she’s ready to address your cutlery’s ills!!  

Shredding, honing, fish, fruit and vegs of many kinds, eggs, cheese and more…  Does it get any better??!!

Saturday, November 28th:  Small Business Saturday
Throughout NYC and Beyond

That holiday shopping?!!  GO LOCAL, folks!!

Sunday, November 29th:  Volunteer Landscaping at Ridgewood Reservoir
Meet at the Ridgewood Reservoir, 58-2 Vermont Place, Queens,  10am-12pm

Two green hours with the great NYC H2O and NYC Parks removing invasive plants from around what was once Brooklyn’s water source…  And now home to waterfowl and a stop on the Atlantic Flyway!!  For more and to reserve your place

Especially interesting activism items this time out:

If you think all toxic PFAS chemicals should be removed from our food packaging

Both the proposed Blood Center and (amended) Lenox Hill Hospital Expansion plans were poorly received by Community Board

But our city’s most recent and blackest architectural blotch is destruction of the totally unlandmarked MetLife Sky Bridge… 

This while renovation was completed at Roosevelt Island’s 1796 Blackwell House...  

NYS improves its Pesticide Worker Protection reg

Closed Loop – investment brainchild of the Ron Gonen who brought organics collection to NYC – lays out the challenges of intensive recycling of our plastic waste

The Arctic Refuge drilling push

Hummm…  The EPA’s just announced recycling goals… 

Georgia’s progressive reycling ballot initiative

Boris Johnson – of all people – and his Green Industrial Revolution plan for England

Meanwhile, luxury car brands band together to support EV battery repurposing/recycling research

On the virtual event list:

Saturday, November 22nd, 7-8pm:  National Geographic presents Films Across Borders, an American University-led partnership with embassies and cultural institutions in Washington, D.C., on this years theme “Stories of Resilience and Hope”.This year’s offerings: “Last Wild Places: American Prairie Reserve” and “Last Wild Places: Iberá National Park”.  Free.  To register… 

Tuesday, November 24th, 7pm Hosted by AM Rebecca Seawright on “Preparing for the Second Wave”.  Guests includePeter Michalos MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Jack Drescher MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons and Faculty Member, Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.  To view

Thursday, December 3rd, 6:30-7:30pm: “Sowing Native Seeds” – Wondering when to cut back perennials and how long into autumn perennials, trees, and shrubs can be planted or pruned? Want to know about the most wildlife-friendly approach?  Anna Fialkoff explain how to transition a garden into winter dormancy while balancing winter and spring preparation, beauty, and wildlife value in this one-hour webinar!!  Presented by the Native Plant Trust.  Members – $12.  Non-members – $15.  To register... 

Throughout the Holiday Season at the Mount Vernon Hotel MuseumFrom a candlelight tour to a tea tasting workshop to….  Much more at this UES treasure!!   For the complete lowdown…  

Moving on to this week’s ever more wide-ranging diversions:   

Seven facts about chameleons…     Why and how our animal friends fight…  Yes, there’s a United States Composting Council and they’re having an Emerging Composter Challenge (with cash prizes)…  Best NYC T’giving photo op?  The Seaport Pumpkin Arch…  Ever hear of a pumpkinseed fish?  Us neither.  But a NYS record-sized one was caught last January...    Best Turkey Day family history project?  Storycorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen…  Fire and rescues were on the NYS Forest Ranger dance card this week…  Scroll down and pay a visit to the NY Marine Rescue (of sea creatures) Center…  All those boxes we’re recycling…  More on that  adorable owl/Christmas Tree traveler named Rockefeller  And more still…  McDonald’s announces a plant-based burger (called “McPlant”, of course!)…  So how about 8 facts about another, interesting kind of owl…  Successful NYS DEC trout and salmon egg collection…  The new chair of Community Board 8…  

And the latest installment from the Hudson River Almanac: 

11/12 – Manhattan: The tide was high in mid-morning at Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh on the East River. A great egret was wading around in the salt marsh successfully catching what I believe were mummichogs. The prize, however, was an adult yellow-crowned night heron perched in a tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), looking drenched as the sky continued to drizzle. –  Jackie Wu

Yellow-crowned night heron
That Yellow-Crowned Heron

Including the Fish of the Week:

11/13 – Hudson River Watershed: Fish-of-the-Week for Week 96 is the inland silverside, Menidia beryllina, number 125 (of 234), on our Hudson River Watershed List of Fishes. 

Inland silverside
An Inland Silverside

The inland silverside is one of four silverside (Atherinidae), a mix of both freshwater and saltwater species, in our watershed. They are on occasion, especially in older literature, called tidewater silverside. Inland silverside is found in coastal waters from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers. They favor sand and gravel substrate where they feed primarily on crustaceans and grow to a maximum size of 105 millimeters. They have also been widely introduced in freshwater impoundments in the South.

The general consensus is that the inland silverside is uncommon in the estuary. In his Biological Survey of the Lower Hudson Watershed (1937), J.R. Greeley refers to inland silverside as “rare, much scarcer than Atlantic silverside.” However, they are around; it simply takes sharp eyes and extraordinary patience to find one.

Since their comfort zones overlap at times, inland silverside often mixes with large schools of Atlantic silverside. Noting their presence can be very tricky. Working through a net filed with hundreds of look-alike silverside, having a goal of limiting mortality, and trying to find the one needle-in-the-haystack based on a couple of very subtle morphological traits, is a challenge—they can easily be overlooked. Inland silverside has a broad comfort range of salinity (0-26 ppt), preferring lower salinity, and are more commonly found in brackish rather than saltwater.

Our most recent record occurred on December 9, 2017, at Kowawese (river mile 59). It was a very late date to expect finding silverside. B.J. Jackson, a member of our seining crew, somehow noticed that one of the fish in the seine looked just a bit different. It was an inland silverside (68 mm), caught on our last haul of the day, during our last sampling day of the season. The water temperature was 41 degrees F, and the salinity was 2.0 ppt. – Tom Lake

Dreaming of green turkeys,


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Dear UESiders,

And so, the Shred-A-Thon countdown begins…  This while we (all of us) keep a wary eye on the ongoing surge.

Of course, you know that everyone making it happen – volunteers, electeds’ staff members, the great guy on the truck – expect staunchest observance of Covid safety measures and more:

  • Mask wearing with mouth and nose covered at all times
  • Non-shreddable items removed before you arrive at the site
  • Strict 6-foot social distance – from others waiting, pedestrians passing by – maintained while on line
  • No waiting around till a given batch is shredded (years later, have we not earned your trust?)
  • Take all non-shreddable bags and boxes home and recycle  (ZERO discarding in unemptied-on-weekends corner bins!)  

That said:

Sunday, November 22nd:  Shred-A-Thon – Bring On That Paper Edition!!

Opposite the 92nd Street Greenmarket, 92nd Street & First, 10am-2pm

Do remember:

NO cardboard or plastic-handled shopping bags.

REMOVE paper clips and spiral bindings. 

Oh and keep in mind, Cherry Lane’s summer-fall at 82nd comes to an end the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 11/21…   So get down on those fabulous vegs!!

NO HARDCOVER BOOKS.   (But paperbacks are fine.)

Not forgetting our markets:

Saturday, November 14th: 82nd Street/St. Stephen Greenmarket

82 Street between First & York Avenues, 9am-2pm 

With us will be  American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey,  Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Valley Shepherd, Hudson Valley Duck, Cherry Lane, Hawthorne Valley, Gajeski and Nolasco Farms!!

Mega Manager Margaret’s update is:

Dear 82nd Street Greenmarketeers,

“Sorry to say Sikking flowers is done for the season…  BUT, happy to say, they’ll be returning Spring 2021…  AND we can console ourselves for the flower deficit with 1857 Vodka’s visit to 82nd this Saturday!!  Yes, 1857 and their great, locally distilled potato vodka!! Perfect for holiday or everyday celebrations!!”

Happy shopping,


Meanwhile, for those who’ve been wondering, Covid’s impact on smaller, grass-fed livestock farmers (remember those news pieces on the likes of Tyson) is why Sun Fed’s not been with us these last months.  May they return soon!!”

Sunday, November 15th: 82nd Street/St. Stephen Greenmarket

92nd Street & First Avenue, 9am-4pm

At their tables will be be American Pride Seafood, Meredith’s Bakery, Ole Mother Hubbert, Norwich Meadows, Grandpa’s and Phillips Farms!!

Market Manager of Market Managers Margaret fills us further in:

Dear Greenmarketeers,

Yes, Sikking’s season has come to an end at 92nd, too…  That goes for Halal, as well…  BUT Norwich, Phillips and Grandpa’s Farms are going strong with beautiful fall vegetables!!  As is Meredith’s Bakery, Ole Mother Hubbert and American Pride with its primo seafood!!

Hard to believe it’s just two more Sundays till end of 92nd’s 2020 season…

FIll up those reusable bags,


(Can we get enough of Mother Hubbert’s epic chocolate milk?  We say NO!!)

Saturday, November 21st:  Ridgewood Reservoir Walking Tours

Meet at the Ridgewood Reservoir, 58-2 Vermont Place, Queens, One at 11am and 1:30pm

And we quote, “Nestled in Highland Park is a 50+ acre ecological oasis that was once a high quality water supply, built by the independent city of Brooklyn in 1859. Since decommissioning, nature took its course in a perfect case study of ecological succession. Walk and talk about history, ecology, water and more!”  Organized by the great people of NYC H2O.  Limited to 10 persons each tour.  Masks required.  Free but donations welcome.  For more and to reserve a place

Sunday, November 22nd:  Richmond Creek & Brookfield Park Walking Tours

Meet at the Ridgewood Reservoir, 58-2 Vermont Place, Queens, One at 11am and 1:30pm

Artist and photographer Nathan Kensinger fleads an exploration of Richmond Creek (the longest creek in New York City) which flows through wetlands and  past some of New York’s oldest and most unique houses, cemeteries and businesses AND  Richmond Creek coursing past a 325-year-old Dutch home, a 300-year-old English church, a 140-year-old German bakery, and two of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Staten Island!!  Another NYC H2O event.  Limited to10 persons each tour.  Masks required.  Free but you can donate.  For further details and to register

What would a week be without some activism:

If you think the president should put an end to the Keystone Pipeline

Should you believe Japan should withdraw from plans to finance coal projects in Indonesia and Bangladesh

If you support the ongoing our Brooklyn neighbors’ struggle to save their/our Botanical Garden from highrise shade… 

The meaning of “net zero”

The Michigan governor and an aging pipeline

Yet another sliver building on the UES

Discussion of Lenox Hill Hospital expansion continues…

The NY Blood Center’s looking to go tall and glassy, too…

Last Saturday’s Great 72nd Street Clean-Up

From the virtual event file:

The 2020 NYC DOC Festival…  

ETHEL and Friends: Balcony Bar from Home…  

A tour of amazing Cycladic Art

An Audubon lecture on the albatross

On to the week’s diversions:

Want to live in “The Undoing” $30M UES townhouse…?  An illicit tiger tooth, rescued owls and more!! NYS Conservation Officers have been busy…  Same for NYS Forest Rangers and the eternal Injured/lost hikers and hunters…   Recycling/donation/cost philosophy from  the Organizing Goddess…  Those cracks in Federal Hall…  Watch a baby hawk hatch…  What’s in bloom in Schurz Park (and  many a visiting pollinator)…  Five myths and superstitions about owls…  World’s largest poster collection…  Think we kind of love bottle-to-bottle recycler CarbonLite…  Loving the CarbonLite product “rPET”  (as in recycled PET plastic), too…  Mix in some deep envy for San Francisco’s (still flourishing) organics program…  The proposed Rockaway wildlife preserveSecrets of the erstwhile Roosevelt Hotel (a N.C. Wyeth mural!!)… 

Then the newest Hudson River Almanac installment:

10/27 – Manhattan: Our Hudson River Park’s River Project Staff checked the sampling and collection gear that we deploy off Pier 40 in Hudson River Park today. We found that our pots and traps had collected several exciting fishes including a 50 mm young-of-year, oyster toadfish, a 140 mm lined seahorse, an adult, 320 mm, tautog, and a whopping 400 mm (16-inches) summer flounder! – Siddhartha Hayes, Anna Koskol

11/5 – Manhattan: You know it was a pretty quiet week for the Randall’s Island Park Alliance staff when we felt compelled to note black-capped chickadees along with pine siskins flitting about the groundsel bushes in the Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh. Several gadwalls were dabbling out in the East River. For reasons unknown, the Bronx Kill was unusually (surprisingly) salty today.  We normally see salinity in the mid-teens; today it was 22-25 ppt. – Jackie Wu, Christopher Girgenti

Pine Siskin Adult (Northern)

A Pine Siskin

And the fish of the week is:

11/2 –  Fish-of-the-Week for Week 95 is the little skate, Leucoraja erinacea (Mitchill, 1825), number 8 (of 234), on our Hudson River Watershed List of Fishes. 

The little skate is a cartilaginous, non-bony, fish belonging to the family Rajidae. There are two skates in the watershed, the other being the barndoor skate. The little skate is classified as a seasonally resident marine species and are native to the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras. They are most abundant in the northern Mid-Atlantic Bight where they prefer inshore shallows with a sandy, muddy, or gravelly substrate.

As a benthic-loving flatfish, the diet of the little skate consists mostly of invertebrates such as crustaceans, amphipods, isopods, bivalves, squid, sea squirts and occasionally small fishes. They in turn are preyed upon by various sharks, seals, and bluefish. The little skate averages 16-20-inches-long and 8-16-inches-wide.

Little skate

A Little Skate

Little skates are oviparous (produce eggs that hatch outside the mother; see chickens). They produce eggs with a single embryo in a rough and leathery egg capsule that has long, thin, horn-like projections sticking out from each corner. Because the embryos do not have gills until after three weeks of development, the egg cases are waterproof. Small holes then open in the tips of the horns, admitting seawater and the larval skate learns to live as an ocean fish. Eggs may take up to 12 months to hatch, depending on water temperature, at which point they will emerge as perfectly formed miniatures of the adults. Empty egg cases often wash up on the beach and beachcombers like to call them “Mermaid’s purses.” Because their optimum salinity range is 29-33 parts-per-thousand (ppt), little skates rarely venture very far upstream into the estuary. – Tom Lake

Yours in autumn green, 


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Happy National Nacho Day and Animal Shelter Week, UESiders!!

And we’re on the brink of International Kindness Week…

Just the right vamp for this and all weeks to come on our UES:

Saturday, November 7th:  82nd Street/St. Stephen’s Greenmarket

82nd Street between First and York, 9am–2pm

At their tables will be  American Pride Seafood, Bread Alone, Ballard’s Honey,  Samascott, Ole Mother Hubbert, Valley Shepherd, Hudson Valley Duck, Sikking Flowers, Cherry Lane, Hawthorne Valley, Gajeski and Nolasco Farms!!

For those who’ve been wondering, Covid’s impact on smaller, grass-fed livestock farmers (remember those news pieces on the likes of Tyson) is why Sun Fed’s not been with us these last months.   May they return soon!!

Meanwhile, Cherry Lane’s summer-fall at 82nd comes to an end the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 11/21…  Sikking Flower’s  season’s near the finish line, too…  So get down on those beautiful blossoms and fabulous vegs!!

Sunday, November 8th:  92nd Street Greenmarket

92 Street & First Avenue, 9am-4pm

With us will be be American Pride Seafood, Meredith’s Bakery, Ole Mother Hubbert, Norwich Meadows, Halal Pastures and Phillips Farms!!

Yup, Sikking’s season at 92nd has come to an end…  But the fruit and vegs at Norwich, Halal and Phillips are going strong!!  Check out Halal’s meat, too!!  (We’re crossing fingers Mother Hubbert has chocolate milk!!)

Sunday, November 22nd:  Shred-A-Thon – Bring On That Paper Edition!!

Opposite the 92nd Street Greenmarket, 92nd Street & First, 10am-2pm


And as always, keep in mind:

NO cardboard or plastic-handled shopping bags.

REMOVE paper clips and spiral bindings. 

NO HARDCOVER BOOKS.   (But paperbacks are fine.)

We thank CMs Kallos and Powers and AM Seawright for their generous grants!!

Moving on to diversions: of varying weigh:

Not yet on the Friends of the Esplanade newsletter list?… This week’s raptors flying south…  GREAT on Mozambique’s elephants…  How humans and dogs evolved together…  A mushroom’s life cycle time-lapse-wise…  Traveling via cookbook… Visit a hawk’s nest…  The beauty (really)of sea slugs…  The Carl Schurz Park  Playground has re-opened!!…  INJ surpassing NYS in the plastics recycling?…  New NYC public art installations 

And a virtual event:

Monday, November 10th, 7pm:  In celebration of Veterans’ Day, AM Rebecca Seawright hosts guest speakers Assembly Member Didi Barrett, Chair of Veterans’ Affairs,  Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, from the World War I Historical Association East Coast Chapter, Howard Teich, Co-chair of the Eastside WWI Centennial Commemoration Committee and John McClement, a United States Army Veteran.  To register…  Or live stream…  

Last but hardly least, this week’s Hudson River Almanac installment:

10/18 – Manhattan, New York City: Our local eastern prickly pear was now in full fruit. – Jack Woodhull 

Prickly pear
That Eastern Prickly Pear

[The eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), the only native cactus in northeast North America, is present in the Hudson Valley in a few locations best kept secret (from collectors). Prickly pear is protected under the New York State Protected Native Plants Program where they are classified as an “exploitably vulnerable native plant.” Prickly pear is always found in full sun and almost always open to a south-southwest exposure. While tolerant of marginal soils, they are very sensitive to human disturbance— their survival is often tenuous. Tom Lake]

10/18 – The Bronx: Larry Labbate came upon a thought-to-be rare, four-foot-long, ocean sunfish (Mola mola) that had washed ashore in the East River between the Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges. A badly damaged dorsal fin suggested that a boat-strike may have been the cause of death. Ocean sunfish spend most of their time on the surface and the New York Bight is busy with commercial vessels.

That Ocean Sunfish

The East River is generally considered to be an extended artery of the Hudson River Watershed so we questioned experts like John Waldman, Peter Park, and DEC’s Kim McKown for their opinions as to where the ocean sunfish might have originated. Kim McKown knows of occasional Mola mola in western Long Island Sound (Manhasset Bay) as well significant numbers in the Lower Bay of New York Harbor. The dead ocean sunfish was found equidistant between those points and the currents of the East River may well have carried the fish there from either direction. Rather than add the ocean sunfish to our watershed fish list, we opted to wait until a live Mola mola is encountered in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor or the East River. – Tom Lake

[The ocean sunfish (Mola mola) is native to tropical and temperate waters—such as the New York Bight—around the world. They are one of the heaviest known bony fishes in the world. Adults typically weigh between 550 and 2,200 pounds. Physically, they resemble a fish head with a tail. Their oblong body can be as tall as it is long when their dorsal and ventral fins are extended. Their species name, Moa mola, comes from the Latin molaris, for millstone, an appropriate analogy given their gray color, rough skin texture, and rounded body.

In the Western Atlantic, they are rather common from Newfoundland to Florida. However, their presence, even abundance, in the New York Bight may have changed over time. Nichols and Breder (1927) thought them to be rare, while Briggs and Waldman (2002) considered Mola mola not uncommon in summer in the marine waters of New York.

They frequently travel in groups and drift with ocean currents following food sources. Sunfish feed on small fishes, squid, crustaceans, and jellyfish hunting from the surface to depths greater than 650-feet. Females of the species can produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate, as many as three-hundred million at a time. Adult ocean sunfish are vulnerable to few natural predators, but sea lions, killer whales, and sharks will attack them. Tom Lake]

10/20 – New York Harbor, Upper Bay: Using a live American eel, Chris Carlino caught a 15 pound striped bass—with an exceedingly unusual stripe pattern—in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, right in front of the Statue of Liberty. – Tom Lake

Striped bass
Ms. Carlino & Her Bass

10/21 – Manhattan, New York City: We conducted our water birds monitoring protocol this morning. It was overcast with wind speeds topping out at 0.8 miles per hour (mph). At five sites along the Bronx Kill, we saw 55 Canada geese, five double crested cormorants, five blue jays, and a belted kingfisher. At three sites at the Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh along the East River, we counted an immature black-crowned night heron, a yellow-crowned night heron, a great blue heron, and a Cooper’s hawk. Everywhere we saw an assortment of gulls. – Jackie Wu

10/22 – Hudson River and New York Harbor: Today was our 18th annual Day-in-the-Life of the River and Harbor covering more than 160 river miles at 50 sites from Staten Island and the East River upriver to above the tide at Troy. Due to COVID-19, this year’s Day-in-the-Life was conducted without on-site student participation.

Day-in-the-Life of the River has become a time to blend science, education, and almost a poetic reverence to our connection to the world we share. It is a day to pay homage to our educators and scientists and recognize their role. Naturalist Teilhard de Chardin said it well when he reasoned that, “The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.” – Tom Lake

10/22 – Manhattan, HRM 2: More than 200 students joined our Hudson River Park’s River Project Staff, virtually, to check the sampling and collection gear that we deploy off Pier 40. This was our contribution to the 18th annual Day-in-the-Life of the River and Harbor.

We were fortunate to be able to show the students an impressive sampling of Hudson River life. There was no surprise when our traps and pots held feisty blue crabs (55-105 mm carapace width), shared with oyster toadfish (50-185 mm), a striking black sea bass (60 mm), an adult tautog (225 mm) and, the prize catch, a gorgeous lined seahorse (100 mm). -Siddhartha Hayes, Tina Walsh, Anna Koskol, Marika Krupitsky

Lined sea horse
That Gorgeous Lined Seahorse

10/22 – Manhattan, New York City: This was the Randall’s Island Park Alliance Staff’s contribution to the 18th annual Day-in-the-Life of the River and Harbor. We spread our seine in mid-morning at Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh in the East River. Our net caught only a single species of fish, mummichog (Fundulusheteroclitus), and plenty of them (805). Mummichog may be the phonetic representation of the Algonquian name for these killifish, often translated as “fishes that go in crowds,” an apt description today at Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh. The East River was 64 degrees F, and the salinity was 25.0 ppt.

Our second site in late-morning to early afternoon was at Water’s Edge Garden on the Harlem River. Across three hauls, we caught four species of fish and three invertebrates, most numerous being 160 Atlantic silverside (60-110 mm). Other fish were young-of-year winter flounder and Atlantic menhaden. There were seven northern pipefish (up to 150 mm); they are very strong for such a delicate-looking fish. The smallest (70 mm) was as thin as uncooked vermicelli. Invertebrates included sand shrimp, blue crabs, and comb jellies (all the size of a shelled macadamia nut). The Harlem River was 64 degrees F, and the salinity was 26.0 ppt.  Jackie Wu

Not forgetting the very interesting Fish of the Week:

10/23 – Hudson River Watershed: Fish-of-the-Week for Week 92 is the buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus x I. niger). 

Smallmouth Buffalo
A Buffalo (Fish)

[Buffalo is not a true species, but rather a hybrid. It may seem inconsistent that the buffalo is on our list (given a number) when other hybrids like tiger muskellunge (muskellunge/northern pike) and splake (lake trout/brook trout) are not listed singly. The buffalo is included because neither of its parent species, smallmouth buffalo or black buffalo, are found in the watershed.

The parent species, smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus) and black buffalo (I. niger), are freshwater fishes, members of the sucker family (Catostomidae), and are native to the Mississippi watershed and the Great Lakes. Neither were recorded for New York in C. Lavett Smith’s Inland Fishes of New York (1985).

The story of our buffalo hybrid, assumed to have been a canal introduction, began on June 22, 2007. Kris McShane of the NYSDEC Region 3 Hudson River Fisheries Unit caught what was tentatively identified as a bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus) in their haul seine during the adult striped bass and American shad spawning stock survey on Esopus Flats (river mile 85). The fish was 26″ long and was mixed in with common carp of similar size. The buffalo was sent to the New York State Museum where New York State Ichthyologist Bob Daniels identified it as a hybrid smallmouth buffalo x black buffalo based on communications with colleagues who worked in the Great Lakes region. – Tom Lake

Looking forward to a green, kind and peaceful week,


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