Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Closest I've gotten yet! I surprised two, possibly a mated pair, when I walked behind the substation on Water Street across from McWane International.

Naturally, they left in a huff, but not before I snapped the larger one.

Sigh. I will probably never get a really good, identifiable shot.

This will do.

Little Pond

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Freezing already?

Went to the access on Southside to photograph the River. Surprise! The river is already beginning to freeze over.The closer we get to the bridges the more the ice dissipates, until we finally arrive at the spillover dam.An awfully cold perch for a Franklin gull. It's actually fishing, dipping and occasionally dunking for a meal.

Made me cold just watching. Winter is here.

Little Pond

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saw my first osprey!

Did my usual number with Ellie. This time we went to the southside levee to walk along the concrete river wall. It had been cleared of absolutely all brush, a few weeks ago.

The north side was not cleared, but--very unfortunately!--many of my favorite trees are now gone. The NYDEA has been forced to remove any trees within 15 feet of the levees. I took a few pictures that I will post later this week.

I finally saw and identified an osprey. It was huge and we saw it long before we were close enough to shoot a picture. I got a couple of shots, but it was so far away.

It started circling the area just below the spillway, wheeled upwards, hovered a split second, then plummeted straight down into the river. It did not skim the water; it dropped underwater and out of sight. It came right back up. I didn't see a fish, but it must have had one, because it then followed upstream along the bank and out towards West Hill.

The bird was very large with dark feathers on top and whitish on the belly. Wide enough wingspan that I was sure it was an eagle until I saw the coloration.

Just like the eagles, though, it wasn't interested in sitting for a portrait.

Little Pond

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Touch of Fall

Ellie's gone back to her MammaDog this week, so I can clean my house and prepare for the cold months. We had a lovely week visiting the River in it's last glory of summer.Now we are looking for signs of Fall. The Autumnal Equinox occurs Monday, the 22nd.
Bittersweet is a very early color-changer this year. It's really trying to take over this tree. At my parent's home in Massachusetts, we used to go into the woods and rip it out, before it could harm our favorite trees.
There are a lot of flowers that come out just in time for the Equinox.
But these little woods are already stripped of much of their foliage. I think they say that early leaf dropping is a sign of severe stress. Wonder what it is?
On the city side of the levee, it is still mostly summer. The lovely blue water isn't that at all; it's an incredible algae bloom. This is a buggy swamp.
Just below the Sewer District, the flood plain is given over to goldenrod.
Staghorn sumac, pushing the envelope of early autumn.
Here is a picture you can trust. When the hillsides just begin to change, Fall is not far off.

Little Pond

Monday, September 8, 2008

I went alone to visit Newtown Creek on Labor Day and had such a good time, that I invited the HuggaMutt the very next day.
Everything is misty and gray at first, but it all burns off by about 10 o'clock. We still aren't able to cross the darned trestle on our own. Can't stand the gaps in the beams.
The creeks never stops looking gorgeous. Unfortunately, we met a lone person who was wandering through the woods.

We did not follow suit. I don't carry a weapon, and I am not able to defend myself. Ellie might, but then, she would probably attack anyone that scared me.

That wouldn't be fair. The bugginess of our whole adventure lingered for days afterwards, and that made me glad we didn't venture far into the vegetation.

I now have gnat and mosquito bites all over my face and neck and even behind my ears. Naturally they are on my legs and arms too, but that is the cost of doing business at the end of the summer.

Little Pond

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Repeat post from RiverDogging

We recently got word that the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) will soon be removing trees within 15 feet of the levees. While this may not sound like much, it will be a huge undertaking. It has already begun, unofficially.

The reason I dread it it is that I count on the trees to protect me from the summer sun. On very hot days, I usually take the HuggaMutt through the woodsy areas. They will diminish.

But! We have to do whatever is necessary to protect the city from floods like in 1972. Elmira never really recovered from that one.

You can check out what it all means here. See why I dread it.

Little Pond

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Fishers

Looking for Dobsons and other bait.

Notice the diving ducks in the background.

Little Pond

Monday, July 28, 2008

Never Saw One of These Before

Not an egret, although I've heard tell they are in the area. This is a white Great Blue Heron. All the markings are there, but it is white where the others are blue-gray. When it flew away, the wings were all white nearer the body, and still had the black banding near the wing tips.

And very, very shy. We were on the other bank, and it still flew off.

Little Pond

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Secret Male Bonding Ritual

Three specimens of Pescator chemungis, in their native habitat.

I was walking on the trails leading to the area behind Pirrozolo Park, when I could just barely hear people talking. Men, chatting and laughing.

Now, I am mostly deaf in one ear, so it is a chore to locate any sound I can't see. And this was very difficult. I walk past twice before I nailed it.

Three fishermen, quietly enjoying an early morning on the Chemung River.

Little Pond

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What's RiverHag doing up in Tanglewood?

Looking for the Chemung River, of course! I knew it would be a long hike, so I chose a cool, cloudy morning.That turned into a bright sunny scorcher. No matter, since I would mostly be in the shade. Not so, however. There are plenty of sun-drenched paths. Fortunately they usually run back into the woods.
And then it is a pretty, shady hike. But the trail I needed to walk was very, very long. To visit the River, even from above, would take me about 45 minutes. Not to mention 45 minutes back.
When I finally saw the Chemung, I had to fight the vertigo. The drop is breathtaking. I was already tired, and it was a struggle to continue walking. Good thing I had my fortified camera pod, because I really needed to lean on something.
No kidding. Looking out over the river, I could see that where the rocks began, the trees stopped.
Finally. Fitch's Bridge.

When I reached the overlook, there was no place to rest. The park bench was in pieces, held up with a teetering tower of rocks. I took a quick picture and began to look for landmarks. Ten years ago my sister and I hiked to the very same spot. The view is quite different, because trees now block much of it.Still, it was worth the trip. Looking north, one can follow the river all the way out through big Flats. I took one last shot that focused on the opposite bank, zooming in a bit:Looking straight across, there are pretty farms and some fairly impressive homesteads. Wonder if some of them are new since my last visit?

Tanglewood has changed in ten years. The trails are better marked, and there are more facilities.

I've changed too. Multiple Sclerosis may be a nervous system disorder, but it has really messed with my muscles and sapped me of stamina. What used to be a pleasant walk of about and hour or so now becomes two full hours that slowly turn into torture, with me dragging my bad leg and shuffling my feet. Thank heavens I wore hikers.

There were deer, butterflies, some of the biggest squirrels I have ever seen, bullfrogs and some very large birds that I was too tired to try to identify. An earlier morning, or later afternoon, would no doubt produce different wildlife.

It was worth the trip. I saw the Chemung River from the hilltop.

Little Pond

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Practically in the heart of Elmira, NY

To the visitors from the blog, welcome to RiverHag's main site. You may recognize the name of the owner of these fields, the Janowski family. Their farm goes way, way back in time, at least to the beginning of the last century.
Nearly all the land that is now the Gateway area of the Chemung River used to be part of their farmland. Of course the various floods changed the topography again and again, but it was still the Janowski's until the Army Corps of Engineers turned it into a protected area.
I don't know if they also owned Jones Island, pictured here. Lately, we can cross the river onto the island, if we don't mind getting our feet wet.

These sights are all accessible from the levee on the south side of the Chemung River. I park in a shady spot along Brand Park, or sometimes at the Fishing and Boating Access near Dunn Field. The levee goes way, way south, where the RiverDog and I have not even begun to explore.

Little Pond

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend 2008

A very beautiful Saturday morning beckoned, so I drove over the Walnut Street bridge down to Hudson Street. I actually wanted to check out Rorick's Glen and see how the river looked from there.

Unfortunately, Rorick's Glen is now unavailable to the average mortal. The bridge is gone, stolen by Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, and the southside access is blocked with caution horses that announce it is private property.

I returned to Hudson Street and simply parked in my usual spot. This time, dogless and a little tired from a crazy workweek, I walked west along the bank, as far as I could.

I always say we are lucky that the Chemung River is accessible to us mere humans, but on the south side, that isn't necessarily so. The Department of Environmental Conservation does seem to control most of the shoreline, but doesn't make it available to us as well as is the north shore. Here and there, however, one can find a lovely little spot for some shady summer fishing.

Among the trees, and right along the roadside, there are beautiful views and some possibility for solitude. Don't count on cleanliness, though. The fishermen and late-night revelers have left a bit of a mess in their wakes.

All in all, though, the views are still breath-taking. Stalwarts who stayed the course after the flooding have a day to day reward of lovely Chemung River sights and ready access to pretty fair trout fishing.

Little Pond

Saturday, May 17, 2008


How could the grass have gotten so tall so soon? Can't even see Ellie in the picture! This is the way to the wooded part of the strand on the north side of the Chemung, still in Elmira, west side.

Little Pond

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Look at this little fellow!

Don't forget, you can click on the photos for closeups with lots of details!
Isn't he cute? He sat there and watched the river, ignoring me. I finally made kissing noises at him to cause him to look. All chubby and scruffy, he was too pudgy to be the lovely, sleek adult hawk we will find in a few weeks.
Strange bedfellows? I hope not. At first I thought I was seeing a common merganser and her mate. Just as soon as the drake turned into the sunlight, it was clear he was a mallard. No other ducks anywhere close. Just buddies, I guess.And finally, a green heron. Yeah, despite the reddish brown breast and neck, this is the common green heron. He refused to turn around for a shot of his back. He never took his eyes off me.

All in all, a very satisfying bird-watching week.

Little Pond

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Just a little spot that would be perfect for fishing. There are tracks all over this place that look at first glance like a cat's. But the nails are sticking out like a dog's. What would that be?
This tangle will completely hide the shore the next time I return to the Gateway area. I love the tangles, because they shelter the banks from the hot summer sun that intensifies as it comes off the water.
In this photo we can barely see the city of Elmira and its bridges. Behind me is the strand of woodland, and behind that is a power substation, Route 352, and The Kennedy Valve plant.
Same spot, looking southwest with Dunne field in distance, upper right.
This is Newtown Creek, looking west to the Chemung River. Because I am acrophobic, I cannot cross the former railroad trestle to get to the water in the top center. Maybe someday, if I can con someone into visiting the creek with me.
Right now I am delightfully alone, and able to catch a picture of a lone duck, who also thinks he is delightfully alone. He is already quacking in photo, just noticing me as I snap the shot. He then moves on, complaining loudly.
I had hoped that by now (April 15th) there would be lots of greenery, and a chance to plow my way to the River. In fact, I do follow some of the already trodden paths. Unfortunately, there is so much dry knotweed reeds, it is difficult to find my way. And all the feeder creeks are still swollen, making some areas impassable.

Maybe later.

Little Pond

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Early April at Newtown Creek

One more try to get a photo from the railroad trestle. Without the dog, I can light trip across the beams and take some pictures from the other side of the creek.No such luck. I am terrified of the height, at least as afraid as Ellie was. I stop, frozen on the spot, and will have to take pictures from here. I can see the path that everyone, especially fishermen, must take at the other end, but...
I am way too afraid of the height. This is not a photo of the sky. What you see is the reflectionof the sun and clouds through the trees above the water of the creek. I can barely move enough to get off the darned bridge.
Underneath is another story. I absolutely love the grafitti here, but it is too offensive to photograph. Suffice to say that it is a bunch of racial and misogynistic and anti-law enforcement crap that is so badly misspelled that it points up the low-class ignorance of the authors.
Well, for heaven's sake, it's almost pretty. Not quite, though.
A pair of wood ducks in a small swampy inlet next to the Chemung itself.
And finally, a caution to anyone interested in walking down by the creek itself. It is very swampy. Wear waterproof hiking boots. Someday I'm bringing a brave soul with me to take my hand and walk me across the trestle to the other path...blindfolded, of course.

Little Pond