Surrounded by Amazing Places to Visit

Surrounded by Amazing Places to Visit
by Jeff Tome

2015 Natural History Calendar

The Audubon Nature Center’s 2015 Amazing Places calendar features a new place to visit each month, from the Chautauqua Gorge to the Waterfall of the Eternal Flame, all within 100 miles of the nature center.

The Tundra Swans do not know that it is mid-November, but that does not stop them from migrating through our area in Mid-November every year.  If you asked them, they would not even know what November is.  They would only reply with their trademark soft coos or, more likely, fly away long before you got close enough to ask them a question.  Tundra Swans are not used to people.

Animals and plants have an innate sense of what time of year it is.  They respond easily and naturally to the changing length of the days.  When the days get shorter, they prepare for winter.  When the days get longer, summer is ahead.  They do not have to be on time for that 10:00am meeting on Wednesday, though they may have an early December destination in mind.

Chautauqua Gorge

Chautauqua Gorge is filled with waterfalls to explore, swimming holes and beautiful scenery. It is arguably one of the most beautiful and least used spots in the county. It is featured in the Amazing Places calendar.

The world runs on calendars.  My dining room wall still has a calendar on it that my wife and I mark up for who is going where.  It shows when and where she is teaching yoga, doing a Norwex party or has an appointment.  The dates that I work on weekends and evenings are on there too, as well as days when Audubon is sending me far away and I won’t be there in the morning.  The kids field trips, programs and play dates get tossed on there too.   By the end of the year, the calendar reads like a diary of the year that has passed.

Do you know where you were last August 1?  I was leading a bunch of teenagers on a hike down a waterfall into Chautauqua Gorge.  It was one of the most dramatic walks in the county that I have done in recent times.  The slate-bottomed creek went down like steps, flowing over waterfalls and pools of water as we hiked down it.  Chautauqua Gorge is one of the most beautiful and least known spots in the region to go for a hike.

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans reliably pass through the area in mid-November each year. Learn more about when to find them and other interesting natural phenomena in the Amazing Places calendar.

We took teens to some other amazing places, too.  We explored the rocks and caves at Rimrock overlook in Pennsylvania.  There, they got to bounce on the balancing rock that weighs tons, but moves under your weight.  Caves that are ice cold in the middle of summer lead into the depths of the rock formation and rock hopping opportunities abound.

It was on one of these hikes that the idea for the 2015 Audubon Nature Center’s Calendar was born.  This year’s calendar’s theme is amazing places that you can visit.  Have you been to Chautauqua Gorge or Rimrock?  How about the waterfall with the eternal flame behind it or the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk?

There are so many amazing places to visit within an hours drive of the Audubon Nature Center that it boggles the mind.  There are gorgeous waterfalls, deep gorges, scenic views, and rocks that are larger than houses.

Rimrock Overlook with Maia and Rachel

Rimrock Overlook in the Allegheny National Forest is one of the most entertaining ways to spend an afternoon in the area. It is filled with scenic views, hiking trails, caves, and rocks to climb.

Each month of the Amazing Places calendar has photos of a different amazing place to visit.  It also includes the natural calendar.  While Tundra Swans don’t use our calendar, they reliably show up at about the same time each year.  The same is true of other birds and other animals.  Even plants are fairly predictable for when they are going to bloom.

Every month features full color photos of animals, plants and other natural phenomena that you will see during the month.  There are also other natural history tidbits scattered throughout the calendar.

The Audubon Nature Center’s “Amazing Places 2015” calendar costs $20, or $18 for Friends of the Nature Center.  It can be ordered online at  You can have it shipped to you or pick it up at the nature center.  All profits from the calendar directly benefit the operations of the nature center.

Photographers in the calendar include Jennifer Schlick, Bonnie Bowen, Dave Cooney, Jody Eaton, Katie Finch, Jeff Tome, Shannon Murphy, and Brenna Reed, all of whom are generously sharing their photography with the Audubon Nature Center.

Jeff Tome is a naturalist at the Audubon Nature Center at 1600 Riverside Road off of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren.  More information on the calendar and other programs being offered at Audubon is available by calling (716)569-2345 or going to

Posted in Article, Fundraiser, Jeff Tome

We’ll be Open on Black Friday!

Visit the Audubon Nature Center on Black Friday

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center is expanding their winter hours by being open on Black Friday, November 28, the day after Thanksgiving.

The Nature Center offers many opportunities to choose from, both indoors and out.


You are invited to spend Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Audubon Nature Center. You can choose from many opportunities, both indoors and out, including shopping at the Blue Heron Gift Shop, like this happy customer who is purchasing a Bald Eagle hand puppet.

Outdoors you can burn off some Thanksgiving dinner calories by walking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing the more than five miles of beautifully maintained trails. You can also visit Liberty, Audubon’s resident bald eagle.

Audubon’s three-story building houses a collection of live animals including fish, reptiles, and amphibians. You and your friends and family can enjoy and learn from these as well as the many interactive displays that inform and engage visitors of all ages.

And you won’t want to miss the Blue Heron Gift Shop with its collection of fascinating items. There you will find many holiday gift possibilities, including great books for children and adults, puzzles, shirts, jewelry, toys, and stocking stuffers, as well as Conewango Blend birdseed, specially formulated for our local feathered friends.

Hours for the Nature Center are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Nature Center admission is $6 or free for children and Friends of the Nature Center.

There is no charge for outdoor activities, and admission is always free to Audubon’s Blue Heron Gift Shop.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Usual winter hours for the Nature Center building are 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday and Saturday, and 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday. From dawn to dusk daily there is no charge to enjoy the trails or visit Liberty.

For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit


Posted in Nature Center, News Release

Annual Thanksgiving With the Birds Dinner – Nov 22, 2014

Bird Photography to be Featured at Audubon’s Thanksgiving with the Birds

Jamestown, NY – You are invited to a dinner tradition at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary that dates back to 1965 and features great food, great company, and an absorbing talk.


Hydrogologist and photographer Kim Sherwood will share his fascination with birds at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary’s Thanksgiving with the Birds on Saturday, November 22. He is calling his presentation “From Analysis Paralysis to Creative License: How I Wandered into Bird Photography.” This is his photograph of a Great Blue Heron.

On Saturday, November 22, Thanksgiving with the Birds will begin with a community soup pot, followed by a scrumptious turkey dinner and an enlightening program.

After dinner, Kim Sherwood will share some of his favorite photographs in “From Analysis Paralysis to Creative License: How I Wandered into Bird Photography.”

At 11:30 a.m., folks will gather around the outdoor soup kettle for which you can bring a small container of your favorite broth-based soup to add to the mystery brew.

Audubon provides the roasted turkeys and beverages for the indoor buffet dinner that begins at 12:30. Participants are asked to bring a side dish (dressing, vegetables, potatoes, salad or dessert) and their own table service, including a mug for soup.

During his 1:30 presentation, Kim Sherwood will share his captivation with birds: their beauty, their behavior and their habitat. Much of his professional work has involved helping landowners and municipalities understand natural resource concerns and trying to balance them with economic considerations. He has “taken refuge” from some of these challenges in-part by spending time with the birds. He says, “I savor each glimpse into their world and come away enriched every time, picture or not. I look forward to sharing some of my images and related musings.”

Kim Sherwood grew up in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Fascinated with photography from a young age, he majored in it after high school, then worked in darkrooms between Rochester, New York, and Denver, Colorado. Years later, he returned to college, earning a BS in Forest Resource Management and a MS in Forest Hydrology. He worked for different natural resource management agencies and organizations before moving back to New York in 2003, where he has worked as a consulting hydrologist. In 2012, he returned to photography and has been pleasantly surprised at his new fascination with birds and their habitat, finding some creative refuge from the challenges of his normal work environment.

Dress for the weather if you would like to enjoy the sanctuary before and/or after dinner.

Audubon’s Blue Heron Gift Shop will be open for holiday shopping.

Cost is $6/person. Because this is such a popular event and seating is limited, reservations are required by Monday, November 17, 2014: call (716) 569-2345, email, or use the on-line form by clicking on “Thanksgiving with the Birds” at

The Jamestown Audubon Center & Sanctuary is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Winter hours for the Nature Center and Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays, Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. Bald Eagle viewing and trails are open dawn to dusk daily.

To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit


Posted in Event, News Release

Jamestown Hosted Audubon New York Council Meeting in October 2014

Jamestown Audubon Hosts Audubon New York State Chapters

Jamestown, NY – Jamestown Audubon recently hosted the Audubon Council of New York State’s Fall Meeting.

Representatives from 16 chapters participated in the event that was held at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel and Expo Center in Mayville, New York. Following roundtable discussions on invasive species, innovative birding events, climate change, and more, they returned to their local chapters with ideas to enhance and further their conservation impact and educational programs.

Jamestown Audubon recently hosted the Audubon Council of New York State’s Fall Meeting at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel and Expo Center in Mayville, New York. Participants are shown here at the Audubon Nature Center.

Jamestown Audubon recently hosted the Audubon Council of New York State’s Fall Meeting at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel and Expo Center in Mayville, New York. Participants are shown here at the Audubon Nature Center.

In addition to securing presenters, Jamestown Audubon President Ruth Lundin organized a visit to the Audubon Nature Center and a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown.

David Gordon of Buffalo Audubon coordinated a birding pre-trip in the Buffalo area.

Jamestown Audubon worked with the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau to encourage participants to extend their stay to include tours before and after the meetings.

The spring meeting of the Audubon New York State Council will be held in Saratoga Springs.

Jamestown Audubon’s Nature Center is at located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Hours for the building and Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday, and 1-4:30 Sundays. Visitors can enjoy Liberty, Audubon’s non-releasable bald eagle, in her outdoor habitat or walk the more than five miles of beautifully maintained trails from dawn until dusk daily.

For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit


Posted in Event, News Release

Make Your Own Holiday Wreath – Dec 6, 2014

Audubon Presenting Wreath-Making Workshop

Jamestown, NY – Making an evergreen wreath is a skill you can put to use at holiday time every year.

Finished Wreaths 2011 Homemade Holidays

Like these previous participants, you can learn to make a beautiful evergreen wreath at the Audubon Nature Center’s Wreath-Making Workshop on Saturday morning, December 6, 2014.

You can learn this skill at the Audubon Nature Center’s Wreath-Making Workshop on Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Participants will craft a homemade wreath using materials from the Audubon Nature Center and other local property. You will learn how to identify greens, harvest materials, prepare them for the wreaths, assemble your wreath, and decorate it. You should be able to finish your wreath during the workshop.

All materials are provided, but you may want to bring your own hand pruners and gloves.

The cost for this ever-popular event is $33 or $25 for Friends of the Nature Center.

Reservations with payment are required by Wednesday, December 3. Call (716) 569-2345 or use the on-line form by clicking through “Wreath-Making Workshop” at

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Winter hours for the Center are 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday and Saturday, and 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday. From dawn to dusk daily there is no charge to visit Liberty, Audubon’s resident bald eagle, or walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski the more than five miles of beautifully maintained trails.

To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit


Posted in News Release, workshop

On Rain

On Rain
by Sarah Hatfield

It sings to me in the fragile time between sleep and consciousness. Steady, soothing, and oddly musical, the raindrops hit the tin roof and capture me. It is time to rise, to greet the day, but the lullaby of the rain tucks me back into comfort. Rain.

Rain – by Jennifer Schlick

It trickles through the gutters, gurgling under and over the maple leaves that I haven’t yet cleaned out. It cascades through the downspout, humming and babbling incoherently, yet its music still finds a familiar place to land in my memory. As the rain consistently changes its tempo, the sounds alter, adagio here, allegro there, creating a masterpiece that will never be heard again. Forte! Pianissimo! Hold…

At times the rain is accompanied and complemented by light and echo. The lightning adds some sparkle to the composition, the thunder accentuates it. Gusts of wind whistle and howl as the branches and leaves become their instruments of choice. Spectacular performance! Yet nothing equals the continual undertone of the raindrops on tin.


Rain drops on a leaf. by Jennifer Schlick

Why is it so comforting? I didn’t grow up in a house with a tin roof. It is not a sound that is a memory belonging to this lifetime. It is older, it comes from a place beyond me. It fits, though, in my heart, and I can’t imagine there was ever a time when I didn’t know that sound.

With the twilight of morning, the remains of the symphony rest on the window glass. Like lost dewdrops or rogue frost escaping its season, it paints the windowpanes glittery. As the sun rises, they glow and shine like wishes cast into a fountain. Looking through this screen of dreams to the outside world, one can’t help but be an optimist.

The fog rises from the forest, filling the valleys and blocking the dawn. This rain, banished to the earth, still finds a way to enchant, to contain the mystery of its skyfall in a haze of moisture that lets imagination run wild. Silhouettes of the forest shadow through and hint at a world beyond, and anything can wait at the end of the drive.


After the rain. – by Jennifer Schlick

The rain swells the creek and it starts to rumble. Its roar seems to travel through the ground, down to the bedrock, and enters through the soles of my feet. I can feel it more than I see it, just out of view over the creek bank. The sound is deep and dangerous, a hint that the rain can take back everything it has given to the land. The murky brown water will fade to a rich stormy blue, a hesitant relinquishment and reminder to all that the rain controls the creeks, nothing else.

And the rain on the tin ticks away…

This time, the rain brings a sigh of relief. The grass seed, patiently waiting for weeks, inhales and seems to turn green before my eyes. The fall spinach and the chard drink in this shower as encouragement that they can indeed get through the winter sheltered by their cold frames. The apple trees soak it in as it drizzles through soil passageways, storing it for next spring. If you listen carefully you can hear the earth exhale.

Finally I rouse myself enough to wake, the droplets inconsistent now that the clouds are empty. Cup of coffee in hand, I step into the cool, damp morning and breathe deeply. The steam from my mug mingles with the mist until they are one. The porch lets go of the last of the rain reluctantly, pats and splashes hitting the gravel below. And the tin roof above my head sings the song that starts my day.

Audubon Nature Center is a perfect spot to walk in the rain. The trails are open from dawn to dusk and the Nature Center is open Mondays and Saturdays from 10:00am-4:30pm and Sundays from 1:00pm-4:30pm. We are located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. Visit or call (716) 569-2345 for more information.

Sarah Hatfield is senior naturalist at the Audubon Nature Center.

Posted in Article, Sarah Hatfield

A Season to Remember

A Season to Remember
by Jeff Tome

No season is as full of traditions for me as fall.  It’s an odd, mixed up season where we transition from summer to winter.  The weather swings back and forth between the two like a pendulum, switching from pleasantly warm to snowy and back again.  It’s a season of harvests, hard work, food and gluttony.


This beautiful heron will be just one of the many amazing nature photos shown by Kim Sherwood at Thanksgiving with the Birds on November 22.

Fall leaves were always special growing up.  My dad planted Red Maples all around the yard when they were young enough that he could go out into the woods, dig them up and transplant them.  When the leaves fell, it was a big job to collect them all, though it never really felt like it.

We had HUGE leaf piles that we could jump in, sometimes in short sleeves, other times bundled up for winter-like cold.  The leaves were packed into a tiny trailer towed behind an ancient Farmall Cub Cadet tractor that still had a hand crank to start the engine when I was little.  We used to ride in the trailer all the way to the garden, where the leaves were dumped in piles to be plowed under later.

Cinnamon's Last Gasp

Fall is a time of transition, when the wild things go to sleep and the harvest rolls in.

As leaves were raked, huge hawk migrations flew high overhead.  Balls of hawks in huge swarms passed over.  Now I know that these are called kettles, back then it was just something we noticed while raking leaves.

Autumn is also apple time.  We had a number of apple trees growing up.  My uncle would bring out his beat up cider press and aunts, uncles and cousins would descend with bushel baskets of apples.  Everyone took turns turning the grinder to fill gallon after gallon of cider.

There was also an old chestnut tree orchard where we spent hours picking up chestnuts to sell in the city.  I developed an early love for raw chestnuts.  We also threw puffballs and pretended they were exploding like grenades as the mushrooms hit the ground with a puff of spores.  It was all a part of the way fall was in the year.

Fallen Oak

Fall is a season of traditions, from raking leaves to raking in the final harvests of the season.

Families are full of odd traditions like that, and Audubon is more like a giant family than a corporation.  There are long standing traditions, such as the informal Tuesday/Thursday 9:00am coffee meeting with volunteers and staff, bird seed sales in fall and late winter and bird banding in the spring.

One of the oldest traditions at Audubon is Thanksgiving with the Birds.  In the early days of Audubon, when people were tough, it was an outdoor potluck featuring a true pot luck soup.  Everyone brought a can or jar of soup and dumped it into a pot.  The pot simmered over a fire until all the various soups were hot and blended into one delicious megasoup, then served.  This tradition continues to this day, though the dinner itself has moved inside.

Thanksgiving with the Birds is a potluck lunch for 120 people, a feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, squash, apple pies and all the autumnal food that a person could want.  Everyone brings a dish to pass and a plate to eat on.  Audubon provides the turkeys and a nature-based program to digest.

Kim Sherwood will be this year’s guest speaker.  Kim is a hydrologist who has been delving deep into complicated environmental issues over the last ten years or so that he has lived here.  Nature and photography has been his refuge from the complicated paperwork and research that goes with an in depth understanding of an issue.

He started as a photographer as a teenager and has recently discovered the joys and trials of digital photography.  He is excited to share both his photos, which are stunning, and some of the musings inspired by his time outside.

Thanksgiving with the Birds takes place on Saturday, November 22 from 11:30am to 3:00pm.  It costs $6 and a dish to pass.  Attendees have to pre-register with what dish they are bringing so that we don’t end up with 100 pumpkin pies.  It’s a wonderful day populated by staff, volunteers, members and new friends that we are meeting for the first time.

Jeff Tome is a naturalist at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary at 1600 Riverside Road between Jamestown and Warren.  More information about Thanksgiving with the Birds is available online at or by calling 716-569-2345.

Posted in Article, Event, Jeff Tome