Readers’ wildlife photos

December 10, 2022 • 8:15 am

Today’s batch comes from reader Bruce Cohrane, whose photos and captions are indented. Click on them to enlarge them. I’ve added a map of Seneca Lake below, one of New York’s glacial “finger lakes”:

I am fortunate enough to have inherited (along with my late sister) a cottage on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region, built by my grandfather in 1939.  I first went there when I was less than one year old, and I’ve been returning yearly since then (and I’m well into my Medicare years).

First, the setting:

We are on the east side of the lake, so sunsets are often spectacular.

In addition to scenic beauty, the area is increasingly recognized as one of the outstanding wine-producing regions in America. These vines are across the road from our place:

A bit of background on the next two photos. The Seneca Army Depot was built during World War Two, and remained in operation until 2000.  It was a storage and disposal site for explosives  (including nuclear material) and thus was secured tightly.  Contained within its 10,000 acres is a deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population that contains a high frequency of leucistic (white) deer, most likely due to a combination of founder effect and subsequent genetic drift.  Note that these animals are not albinos and actually have brown eyes.

White and brown deer:

Young white deer:

The Erie Canal runs north of the lakes and, while no longer used much for commerce, is a great recreational resource.  In 2010, we rented a house boat and spent three days on the canal, including a swing through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, situated in the wetlands north of Cayuga Lake.  The Canal and Refuge are great places for birding.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias):

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus):

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus):

On our cruise, we had to pass through multiple locks, some of which were home to invasive zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), a scourge of the Great Lakes area:

Returning to our cottage, we often have visitors.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus):

Common Watersnake (Nerodia sipodon) off our dock:

Finally, when traveling between my Ohio and New York homes, I often drive through the Alleghenies in Western Pennsylvania.  The town of Benezette, in Elk County, is at the heart of the range of a herd of 1400 elk (Cervus canadensis).  While eastern elk were driven to extinction in the 1800’s, they were reintroduced to Pennsylvania (from Yellowstone) in 1912, and despite poaching and farmers’ wrath, have persisted until the present.  Viewing is best in the breeding season (September and October).



13 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Thank you, lovely photos and narration and what a wonderful property (and even drive there) for nature lovers. Interesting about the white deer.

  2. I love the Finger Lakes. I grew up in Binghamton and it was a special treat to go to Ithaca, Watkins Glen, and Skaneateles. Neighbors took me waterskiing on Cayuga Lake, and I bicycled to Ithaca and beyond up the east side of Cayuga Lake as a high-school adventure with friends. It’s about a 50-mile bike ride from Binghamton to Ithaca.

    The white deer are majestic!

    Thank you for your post.

    1. No it’s not. That’s true of most of the vineyards in the area. They do have air cannons going off to scare away birds in the fall.

  3. I don’t think we’ve ever had a submission from the finger lakes region. What a beautiful area. Thanks for the photos and interesting commentary.

  4. The waterfalls and gorges near Ithaca and Watkins Glen are spectacular. Perhaps they don’t get the attention they deserve because they’re overshadowed by Niagara, but they are well worth a visit.

    1. Absolutely. Taughannock, Hector, Watkins – the list goes on. Maybe on my next trip (probably in June) I’ll concentrate on them and post photos here.

Leave a Reply