Nature Center’s May 21 “Figure 8 the Lake” Has Some Openings

Figure 8 the Lake 2015

A couple seats remain for the Audubon Nature Center’s “Figure 8 the Lake” excursion to be led by Tom Erlandson and Linda Swanson on Saturday, May 21. Pictured are last year’s “Figure 8 the Lake” participants on their stop at Lakewood Beach.

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center is presenting a personalized tour to learn about the social and scientific history of Chautauqua Lake.

A couple seats remain for the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. excursion on Saturday, May 21. Tom Erlandson and Linda Swanson will be on board the Nature Center van for a fabulous road trip tracing the path of their book, Figure 8 the Lake: A Driving Tour of Chautauqua Lake, and highlighting recent changes.

Since retiring from Jamestown Community College’s biology faculty, Dr. Erlandson has been an environmental consultant and was administrator for the Ohio River Consortium for Research and Education. He has written articles on various natural history and ecology topics.

Prior to her current position as executive director of the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, Swanson taught geology at Jamestown Community College.

Departure is from Jamestown’s McCrea Point Park, the old “boatlanding,” on Jones & Gifford Avenue. Participants are encouraged to dress for the weather and for comfort for a van ride that includes a several stops along the way.

The $75 cost includes transportation in the Nature Center van, a delicious box lunch, and an autographed copy of Figure 8 the Lake.

Paid reservations are required by Monday, May 16. To register, call (716) 569-2345 during business hours or click on “Figure 8 the Lake” at

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All Things Photographic (at the Nature Center!)


I typed this question into an Internet search engine: “How many photos are uploaded to the Internet every day?” The top answer was from a November 2015 article published in The Atlantic:

“In 2014, according to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day. That’s 657 billion photos per year. Another way to think about it: Every two minutes, humans take more photos than ever existed in total 150 years ago.”

There was no solid answer to my follow-up question: How many GOOD photos are uploaded to the Internet every day?” And I mean GOOD in the objective way – in focus, good composition, and so on. Truly good photos are ones that you look at and think “my photo is crap compared to that.” So let’s get critical: how many of your photos are really, really GOOD? Because at least half of the internet photos I see are definitely NOT good.

The Nature Center is offering classes this spring and summer to help you improve your own photo skills – and we have something for everybody. Sign up for one or more and be happier about the quality of your photographs!

Getting the Most from Your Point and Shoot Camera will be taught by retired educator Terry Radecki on Sunday, May 22, 2016 from 1:30pm – 4:30pm through a combination of presentation, practice, and discussion. Reservations with payment are due by May 17th. Regular price is $36. Friends of the Nature Center members pay $27.

Mark Kirsch, photography instructor at Southwestern High School and Jamestown Community College, brings back his popular DSLR Boot Camp on Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm. If you are ready to move away from the Automatic setting and learn about aperture and shutter speed, this is the class for you. Reservations with payment are due June 1. Regular price is $48. Friends of the Nature Center members pay $36.


Another popular class, iPhoneography, is returning on Saturday, August 20, 2016 from 10:00am – 12:00pm with reservations due on August 15. Photographer/artist Cathy Panebianco will show you how to make artistic photos using your iPhone 4 or higher. Cathy advises students to make sure you have an Apple iTunes account so that you can purchase a couple of inexpensive apps. While not required, students may want to download Camera Plus, Snapseed, and Hipstamatic before class. Regular price is $36. Friends of the Nature Center members pay $27.


The three classes listed above will all take place at the Nature Center at 1600 Riverside Road in Jamestown, New York. You can register in person, by phone at (716) 569-2345, or online at

In addition, the Nature Center is collaborating with the Center for Continuing Education at Jamestown Community College to offer what I like to call “a book report in the form of a workshop.” The contemplative approach encourages an almost Zen-like meditative mindset as you attempt capture your perceptual experience. The book upon which the workshop is based is by Michael Wood and Andy Karr and is titled The Practice of Contemplative Photography. Any camera will do. The workshop will be offered twice on the Jamestown Campus. Reservations are due by May 23 for the Wednesday, May 25 offering. Register for Contemplative Photography, course number 7146, by calling the Jamestown office at (716) 338-1005.

To take the same workshop at the North County Center in Dunkirk, New York, call (716) 363-6500 and register for course number 4827.


Photo by Terry Radecki, instructor of Getting the Most from your Point and Shoot Camera.

When I was a young girl, Lady Byrd Johnson encouraged us all to make America beautiful by planting flowers, shrubs, and trees. Now I encourage you to make the Internet more beautiful by signing up for a photography class to improve your photos.

If you already have some fine nature photographs, you can support the Nature Center by entering the 2016 Nature Photo Contest. Entries cost just $10 each and you have the chance to win one of eight $100 prizes. Awards will be given to the top youth and adult entry in each of four categories – Landscapes, Wildlife, Plants (includes trees, moss, fungus, etc), and Nature Center. Photos for the first three categories can be taken in natural settings anywhere in the world. The fourth category is for photos taken at the Audubon Nature Center in Jamestown, New York that best exemplify the Nature Center experience. Find all the details at

Photographer Jennifer Schlick is also program director and grant writer at the Audubon Nature Center located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit

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May 7 is Nature Center Birdathon for Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship

Birdathon 2010

Saturday, May 7, is the date of the annual Fledgling Birdathon fundraiser sponsored by the Education Staff of the Audubon Nature Center and their friends. The event raises money for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship. These birders are watching a Brown-headed Cowbird laying eggs in some other bird’s nest!

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center’s education staff and their friends and fans invite you to join them to see as many birds as possible on a one-day-only birdathon.

Since 2003 this group that calls themselves “The Fledglings” has been holding a birdathon to raise scholarship funds. Participants try to find as many species of birds as possible. Generous supporters pledge an amount – either per species or in total – and the end result is a $500 scholarship.

On Saturday, May 7, The Fledglings will raise money for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship, awarded each year to a local student heading off to college with an interest in pursuing the natural sciences. The scholarship is named in memory of one of its very first recipients, a volunteer, intern, and nature-lover who donated countless hours of time and expertise to the Audubon Nature Center.

This year’s scholarship recipient is Taylor West of Lakewood, New York. Taylor attended Audubon Day Camps for many years as a camper and as a counselor. He is pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management at Paul Smiths College. An avid fisherman, he hopes to use his degree to return to Chautauqua County and work on lake restoration.

Any birder is invited, but children should understand that birding requires patience and quietness. You can join staff/leaders for any part of the day and are asked to pledge to the Birdathon for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship, either per species or a flat amount. Reservations are needed by Thursday, May 5: Call (716) 569-2345 during business hours or email

There will be two groups: the Hard-Core Birders (HCs) and the Leisurely & Learning Birders (L&Ls). The HCs know their birds and are going to find them and list them for hours and hours. The L&Ls know some birds, want to learn more about birds, and take their time to help others learn too; their schedule is a bit more leisurely. Both groups begin at 6 a.m. at the Nature Center; you can join with a group then and even switch groups later on.

Audubon Nature Center staff and volunteers Ruth Lundin, Jeff Tome, Sarah Hatfield, Katie Finch, and Don Watts will lead the walks, finding hot birding spots and having a good time while racking up some species.

Participants should come prepared to spend all day outside. If you join the group at the Nature Center at 6 a.m., you are asked to bring a breakfast item to share. Also bring binoculars, a bird book (if you have one), water, and snacks for the trail. Depending on the weather, you might also want sunscreen, a hat, or insect repellent.

Subject to change due to weather and people, the 2016 Fledgling Birdathon schedule is:

  • 5:30-6 a.m. – Meet & eat at the Nature Center, 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, NY 14701
  • 6-6:30 a.m. – Bird from windows while eating breakfast. Gather at the back windows, watch birds, meet each other, eat breakfast, drink coffee, assign list takers.
  • 6:30 a.m. – Head out to do a loop around the paved trail, maybe out Bunny, depending on interest and weather.
  • 8 a.m.-12 p.m. – At the Nature Center, eat more, drink more coffee. Divide into “leisurely and learning” and “hard-core” birding groups. The L&L’s head out Maple West to bird banding, the HC’s head out Maple East and around Big Pond (Yellow) Trail.
  • 10 a.m. – NORTHERN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY: Ruth will host a group in the northern part of Chautauqua County to go waterfowling.
  • 12 p.m. – Meet at Nature Center for lunch; L&L’s are done, or those that feel up to it can join the HC’s.
  • 1-2:30 p.m. – HC’s head to Akeley Swamp in Pennsylvania
  • 4:30 p.m. – WARREN COUNTY: A deep woodland somewhere to get thrushes, wood warblers, and other woodsy things. Most likely in Pennsylvania, but could also be in New York somewhere.
  • 6 p.m. – Meet at a restaurant (group will decide where) to eat dinner and compare lists. Past locations have included Southern Tier Brewery and Miller’s Coconut Grove (Shorty’s).
  • 8 p.m. – Owling with Katie at Audubon Nature Center. We will use recordings to call in owls and may be out until 9:30 or 10 p.m. Bring a headlamp or flashlight.

To learn more, including how you can support this event without actually participating, call (716) 569-2345 or pull down to “Participate in a Birdathon” under “Get Involved” at

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quart mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Center hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily, Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. The trails, gardens, and Bald Eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk daily.


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Bentley Sanctuary Wildflower Walk on Mother’s Day

Solomon’s Seal - Jen

For decades the Audubon Nature Center has been offering a special treat on Mother’s Day: a guided tour of beautiful spring wildflowers at the Bentley Sanctuary. This Solomon’s Seal photographed by Nature Center program director Jennifer Schlick is one of the spring wildflowers that reward the observant trail walker.

Jamestown, NY – Continuing a decades-long tradition, on Sunday afternoon, May 8, naturalist Jack Gulvin will lead the Audubon Nature Center’s annual Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk at the Bentley Sanctuary.

The walk starts at the entrance to the sanctuary and meanders through the woods in search of spring wildflowers. The hike features all the spring flowers, from Spring Beauties to False Mermaid.

The 2-4 p.m. Mother’s Day event is an opportunity to take a couple hours to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of even the smallest and the most common wildflowers.  You can learn which are native and which were brought here by Europeans eager to see a familiar sight from the home country. You will also learn about some that tagged along uninvited.

Jack Gulvin is a naturalist at Chautauqua Institution, where he leads nature walks Friday mornings at 9 a.m. during the Chautauqua season. He also oversees the Purple Martin colonies, leading walks the first four Fridays of the season at 4:15 p.m.

Anyone interested in the Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk is invited to meet at 2 p.m. at the entrance to the Bentley Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is located at the end of Bentley Road, off Fluvanna Road (State Route 430) to the right (if heading north), near the Fluvanna Community Church in Greenhurst.

Bring sturdy, mud-proof footwear and dress for the weather. With the wonderful background information Gulvin provides, a pencil and paper are often welcome accessories. Since it is also a great time for birds, consider bringing binoculars.

The fee is $8 or $6 for Friends of the Nature Center and children ages 9-15. Reservations are not required.

If you can’t make it on May 8, you can visit the Bentley Sanctuary on your own any time between dawn and dusk.

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


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Prize-Winning Journalist and Photographer at JCC Friday, May 6

Derrick Jackson & baby puffin

columnist Derrick Z. Jackson, pictured here with a baby puffin, will share his experiences as co-author of Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock at Jamestown Community College at noon on Friday, May 6.

Jamestown, NY – The public is invited to hear a presentation by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson at noon on Friday, May 6.

The prize-winning journalist and photographer will speak in Jamestown Community College’s Carnahan Theatre on the Jamestown Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Jackson is the co-author and photographer of Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock, the inspiring story of how puffins were restored to long-abandoned nesting colonies off the Maine coast.

Project Puffin has restored more than 1,000 puffin pairs to three Maine islands. Techniques developed during the project have helped to bring back rare and endangered seabirds worldwide. Reestablished puffins now serve as a window into the effects of global warming. The success of Project Puffin offers hope that people can restore lost wildlife populations and the habitats that support them.

Jackson is a Union of Concerned Scientists Fellow in climate and energy and the Center for Science and Democracy. He was a 2001 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary, a nine-time winner of awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, a two-time commentary winner from the Education Writers Association, a commentary winner from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and co-winner of the Columbia University Meyer Berger Award. He was a winner and/or finalist for national and regional journalism awards 29 of his 37 years at the Boston Globe and Newsday for a wide body of work on local, national, and international politics, sports, public health, civil rights, and the environment.

An accomplished photographer whose his images of President Obama have been featured in museum and library exhibits, Jackson’s wildlife images have been reprinted by the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Journal of Wildlife Management.

Jackson is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University and holds honorary degrees from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Salem State University, and the Episcopal Divinity School.

To see a brief video of Jackson outlining why he wanted to be a columnist,

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, Jackson will make a presentation at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History at 311 Curtis Street in Jamestown. The event is  free and open to the public. A 6 p.m. meet and greet will precede his talk which will be aimed at birders – beginners through advanced. Prints of his photographs and signed copies of his book will be available for sale afterward.

Jackson’s JCC presentation will serve as the Audubon Nature Center’s First Friday Lunch Bunch, normally held at the Nature Center at 11 a.m. on the first Friday of the month.

Jackson will also visit JCC’s Planet Earth class taught by retired professors Deb Lanni and Becky Nystrom. Lanni is the prime mover for Jackson’s Jamestown visit.

Jackson’s visit is made possible through the collaboration of the Audubon Nature Center, Jamestown Community College’s Hultquist Library, Earth Awareness Club, and college program committee, the Katharine Jackson Carnahan Endowment for the Humanities, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute Ornithological Club.


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By Sarah Hatfield

Water falls toward soil. And in the act of kissing of the earth there is an exhalation. Geosmin is released as the water droplet breaks the earth’s surface, and into the air is released a scent. Petrichor. This is the smell of rain.

In one of my favorite magazines I discovered that word, petrichor. The smell of rain. All people know that smell. Perhaps it arrives before the rain, but always just after and stronger with light rains rather than storms. It is that musty, but not quite, smell. It is dampness and dirt and water and cloudiness. I was curious so I looked it up.

It turns out that this smell is so distinct that in 1964 two researchers gave it a name. In a short version, plants release a substance in dry weather that sticks to soil and stone. When raindrops hit the soil and stone after this dry period, the force actually causes the particles to aerosolize and then we smell them. Petra comes from the Greek word for stone. Ichor comes from the Greek word that means “from the blood of the gods.” A smell born of the earth and released by the heavens.

I have walked outside tilted my head to the sky and inhaled. “Smells like rain.” From miles away, riding breezes and dancing through fields, forests, and city streets, petrichor wafts toward me. In some areas, at some times, the smell is intoxicating, causing cattle to walk in circles of anticipation of the coming rain. I have stood out on the sidewalk, arms wide, waiting for the raindrops to follow the scent. Maybe it is the aroma of relief – drought stricken areas and those waiting for seasonal rains crave it.

But why does it smell? What is the purpose of the scent? Probably nothing, although I suppose that it could be meaningful in a way that we humans have yet to understand. A secret conversation that we cannot translate.

Other scents do have a purpose. Some aromas beckon, beg, and bribe. Flowers release scents as signals. They let any pollinator in the area know that there is a sweet and delicious reward for the first to arrive and get the job done. Rose, lavender, jasmine – they are heady smells. Interesting, perhaps ironic, that some people also use them, perhaps trying to attract their own audience?

Other scents that constantly barrage our nasal passages are pheromones. These scents are used to communicate within species. One species pheromone is just an odor outside that species. They are subtle. So much so that we can’t even consciously detect our own human pheromones! Yet within a species the messages can be potent, and unconsciously the message gets through.

Pheromones can protect an animal, and bring an army to its defense. They can also shout “this is mine!” Those message scents allow baby animals find their mothers in herds, identify friend from foe, and lead families to food sources. Perhaps the most basic purpose of pheromones is to attract a mate. The female moths that emerge from cocoons at Audubon Nature Center are placed in a cage. When the females release their mating pheromones, males come from miles away and flutter around the cage, mating through the screen. As a side note, we do let many go, but keep some in the cage to raise the caterpillars to ensure their survival.

Whether signals, pheromones, or simple odors, the world is full of fragrances. In reading about petrichor, I thought about the other scent that is distinct and exceptional that I only find in nature. It is the smell of clothes hung on a line to dry in the sunshine. The same smell lingers on my skin after I’ve worked out in the sun, especially in the crook of my elbow or the back of my hands. I have looked and there doesn’t seem to be a word for that smell. It is the scent of work and fresh air and open spaces. It sticks to the sheets and the towels and at the end of the day there is nothing like crawling under sunshine sheets.

Scent evokes stronger and more memories than sight or sound. Occasionally I smell something and I connect with the scent. Did I smell that as a child? Did it connect with a memory, a lesson, and experience that I have long since forgotten, but the synapses in my brain can still recall? Is it woven into my genetic makeup from long ago? Perhaps this is why people have favorite scents – their great-great-great-great-great grandmother was an herbalist and found the herbs she needed by scent and so that somehow was passed through the years. That sounds mostly foolish and yet…

Whatever the reason – for message or just because – scents enhance our experiences, especially when outdoors. It allows us to connect with the world in another way, one that seems to imprint itself on our brains. The smell of sunshine doesn’t have a name, but maybe someday it will. In the meantime, head outside during a light rain after a few dry days and breathe in the petrichor. Find more beauty in the moment knowing that there is a conversation happening between air and earth and water that we will never truly understand.

Sarah Hatfield is senior naturalist at Audubon Nature Center. The Nature Center is a good place to walk in the rain. Not only scents, but sounds and sightings will envelop you. The trails are always open dawn to dusk. The Nature Center building is open from 10:00am until 4:30pm daily, except Sundays when we open at 1:00pm. We are located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. Call (716) 569-2345 for more information or visit our website

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Audubon Nature Center Offering “Wildflower Wander”

White Trillium2 - Jeff

If you go to the right place at the right time, the spring wildflower show can be amazing. Sign up for the Audubon Nature Center’s Wildflower Wander to enjoy this seasonal phenomenon. The White Trillium here was photographed by senior naturalist and wildflower expert Jeff Tome, who will lead the Wander.

Jamestown, NY – Stunning blankets of wildflowers coating the forest floor are one of the surest signs of spring, but wildflower season is a moving target that changes with the weather.

This year, the Audubon Nature Center is offering a wildflower walk with a date to be determined. The Wildflower Wander will be 1-3 p.m. on a Saturday in May, depending on the when the flowers peak.

You can join this adventure for a beautiful look at the wide array of spring flowers in the region.  Participants will also look at how to identify them, some of their unusual stories and more. Bring a wildflower book, camera, or notebook if you want to extend your knowledge.

There are a host of possibilities for the location. Wander leader Jeff Tome will scout out several to find one that showcases the best flowers in the region. It may be muddy and sloppy, but those are some of the best flower locations in the county.

After you put your name on the call list, when conditions are right, you will be called about a week in advance with the date, location, and trail conditions.

Jeff Tome is a senior naturalist at the Audubon Nature Center who has been actively searching for wildflowers for years.

The fee is $16; $12 for Friends of the Nature Center. Call (716) 569-2345 during business hours or email to be placed on a call list.Payment is required when you confirm.

Nature Center education programs are funded with support from the Carnahan Jackson Foundation, Jessie Smith Darrah Fund, Holmberg Foundation, Hultquist Foundation, Johnson Foundation, and Lenna Foundation.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. The building, with its collection of live animals, interactive exhibits and the Blue Heron Gift Shop, is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays.  The grounds, including trails, gardens, picnic tables, arboretum, and Liberty, the Bald Eagle, can be visited from dawn until dusk daily.

To learn more about the Nature Center and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit


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