Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day Volunteers

 Great weather for our volunteers to help clean up the Sunrise Terrace Area.  
 Of course, we always have time for a little nature study.
 We found a "little" stag beetle larvae in the wood chips.
Thanks to all who came out and helped. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

End of Summer Camp Fun

A great group participated in Westmoreland's End of Summer Camp last week.  Activities included; making garden stepping stones, hiking, catching frogs and fish, a visit to the ChestnutRidgeHawkwatch and campfire building and cooking.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shakespeare Success!

With a fabulous cast and crew drawing a sell-out crowd of over 400 we can safely declare our first production of Shakespeare in the Sanctuary a success!
Everyone is eagerly awaiting the next production.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dragonfly and Butterfly Survey

Silver-Spotted Skipper

Halloween Pennant
Eastern Amberwing
Eastern Pondhawk
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Hummingbird Moth


Widow Skimmer

Praying Mantis

Swamp Darner

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Conservation Mornings

Helping hands make for light work, so we encourage our friends and neighbors to come and help out on Conservation Mornings. This is also a good way to learn how to make your own property attract and encourage wildlife, as well as identify problems in their early stage. Remember to bring gloves, a hat, and water. We will meet at the nature center and carpool to the Wildlife Management Area. We will leave the nature center promptly at 7 am, so please arrive early.

Conservation Mornings 7-10 am
July 1, 15, 29 and August 5, 12

We will be working on projects such as fencing rare plants, identifying and mapping invasive species, turtle monitoring, and field clearing. If you are interested in being a regular volunteer for any of these conservation projects on other days during the summer and fall, I will hold conservation training sessions on June 25th and 27th from 8 am to 11 am for volunteers. Please email our Director Of Conservation and Wildlife Management at for inquiries.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wild Suburbia Project

Bobcat captured on remote camera at Westmoreland Sanctuary
Over the past few decades, our suburbia has been getting wilder. Bobcats, coyotes, fishers, foxes, and black bears all call Westchester and Fairfield home.

However, not much is known about exactly where they live (e.g. Are there bobcats in Rye? Coyotes in Yonkers?) or when they first appeared. The Westmoreland Sanctuary, Teatown Lake Reservation and the Mianus River Gorge have joined forces in the Wild Suburbia Project to address these two questions. And they are turning to local residents to find some answers. Project coordinators are enlisting citizen scientists to provide information about where and when these animals have been seen.

“We’re eager to get a better picture of where these species are being observed in Westchester and Fairfield,” said Project co-coordinator and Westmoreland Sanctuary naturalist Adam Zorn. “After collecting bobcat sightings from around Westchester County for the last 8 years, we’re looking forward to developing a more thorough understanding of where they are carving out a living in this suburban landscape. And except for the coyote, these species were found historically in our area. They were originally driven out by human activities. The ones coming back have learned to live with us. That is fascinating.”

Zorn, along with Chris Nagy and Mark Weckel of the Mianus River Gorge will be hosting a series of workshops to launch the Wild Suburbia Project ( 7pm on April 4 at Teatown Lake Reservation, April 18 at Westmoreland Sanctuary, April 25 at Greenburgh Nature Center, and May 2 at Rye Nature Center). “We are inviting the public to attend these events, learn about these new critters, ask us questions, and find how to participate in our project. We need as many people as possible to get involved and tell us about their wildlife sightings for this study to work.”

Joining the project is very easy. Participants can easily register for the project by filling out an initial survey regarding the presence or absence of each of the species at their place of residence at (or in paper if they attend the workshop). Upon completion of the initial survey detailing any past sightings, participants will be able to report any new sightings of the five target species from any location in the NYC metropolitan area. “The Mianus River Gorge has used similar methods to map coyote and owl habitat, but never five species at once,” said Dr. Chris Nagy of the Mianus River Gorge. “We are very excited to be teaming up with Westmoreland on this project.”

Once residents begin to submit their residence surveys, sightings maps for each of the five target species will be displayed on the Project website. The website is also a wealth of information regarding proper identification of each species and natural history notes. More information on the Wild Suburbia Project and the animals being studied can be found at

The Mianus River Gorge, located in Bedford, NY works to protect and promote appreciation of the natural heritage of the Mianus River watershed through land acquisition, conservation science, research, and education throughout the region.

Westmoreland Sanctuary is a non-profit nature center and 640-acre wildlife preserve located in the Towns of Bedford and North Castle, NY. Established in 1957, the Sanctuary works to promote nature appreciation, preservation, and conservation for the present and future benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Further information regarding this project can be found by contacting Adam Zorn, Naturalist - Westmoreland Sanctuary at (914)666-8448 or Chris Nagy, Staff Biologist - Mianus River Gorge at (914)234-3455. To reach the project authors for questions and general inquiries related to the Wild Suburbia Project, please send an email to

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Bit 'O the Green

 Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Here is a nice sign of spring approaching even though we had a dusting of snow yesterday.  The moss is brightening along the woodland pools, swamps, and ponds in the Sanctuary.  It is very pronounced amongst the background of the still dank and dark leaves of winter.
Fortunately (in my opinion) St. Patrick did not live here, so we have a variety of snake species on the Sanctuary.  All of them are beneficial, including this beauty.  Garter snakes have always lived in the gardens here and we welcome them.  They help control damaging insects and rodents.  We do sometimes scare each other as I am walking by and they slither away in the dry leaf mulch.   I jump, startled at the sound and movement in the corner of my eye.

You may have guessed that St. Patrick did not really charm all those snakes into the ocean.  Does anyone know the real reason snakes disappeared from Ireland long before St. Patrick arrived?
-Steve Ricker, Resident Director

Friday, March 15, 2013

Time for Change

Spring is the time for change.  Every day we see a new sign--dripping sap, rushing streams, a brighter shade of moss, and the extraterrestrial-like flower of the skunk cabbage.

There are other changes at Westmoreland as well.  A new Executive Director (ok, that's me!)  New programs (see our website for our Nature Classes!)  New animal enclosures and Discovery Lab.  And lot's more.  So if you are in the area, come check out our Nature Center and enjoy spring in the preserve.

-Michele A. Miller, Executive Director

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Remember when it felt like March instead of February?  When the sun was shining warm and the wind was calm?  It was only a couple days ago!

Check out the maple tree's reaction to early spring sunshine.  We're hoping to see these conditions return for this weekend.

SugarFest is taking place at Westmoreland Sanctuary on March 9 and 10.  Reservations for breakfast on both days are full, but there's plenty of room to join one of our maple sugaring demonstrations at 10am and 12pm on Saturday and Sunday!

And there's plenty of room to stretch your legs on our trail system too!  Explore the early spring forest, search for signs of spring like emerging skunk cabbage, listen to birds like the Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadees practicing their territorial spring songs.  Grab a trail map at the kiosk near the parking lot or download and print one from here.

We hope to see you this weekend!

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ice feathers

Moisture and cold overnight temperatures combined to create a beautiful glaze of ice all over my car this morning. The photo doesn't do the intricate feather-like pattern full justice, but I hope it will suffice.

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

Monday, February 25, 2013

Garter snake makes early appearance

A Garter snake was observed basking in the sun in front of the Naturalist's cottage this afternoon. Notice the snow in the background. 
The stones on the shoveled walkway absorb the sun's rays and radiate heat that the snake is attracted to.  The south-facing orientation of the cottage also absorbs and radiates heat from the sun and further enhances the warmth of this location.
It's not uncommon to see snakes here each spring, but this is certainly the earliest date these cold-blooded critters have appeared.  It's the first time I've seen them basking next to the snow in the eight years I've lived in the cottage. 
I hope he/she retreats back under the porch before temps drop again tonight.  Cold-blooded critters like these rely on warm air temperatures to facilitate body functions such as muscle movement and digestion.  Without ample warmth, cold-blooded creatures will freeze and die. 
It would be a shame to lose a garter snake to the perils of cold weather. They are an important part of the natural balance of the lawn and garden in front of the cottage.  Let's hope this snake finds its way back into the insulated protection of the porch foundation!
-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sap is rising

The sugar maple taps are running well today. Clear skies, calm wind, and temps in the 40's are ideal for sap collection at this time of year. We have 45 gallons of sap and counting so far.
-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winter wonderland morning

Last night's snowfall has created a beautifully picturesque snow scene across the Sanctuary. Hope you have a chance to enjoy winter's beauty where ever you are headed this morning across Westchester!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Beehive Arrives

Our observation beehive has arrived from Draper's Super Bee Apiaries today!  This beautiful observation hive will allow visitors to observe a live honeybee colony behind glass.

The hive will allow bees to travel in and out of the nature center. Observers can look forward to watching bees place pollen and nectar in the hive, see nurse bees care for young larvae, watch the queen laying eggs, and so much more.  The entire unit rotates a full 360 degrees on its pedestal, so nothing will go unseen!

Full installation of the hive and its resident bees is slated for early April.  I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into one of our newest exhibits.  A grand opening celebration is scheduled for April 20, so mark your calendars!

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hurricane Nemo 2013

Nemo has come and gone and everyone here is doing well after the storm.  The critters are snuggled up in their enclosures and thankful the storm has not knocked out the power.  Here are some photos from around the property.

The parking lot is plowed and the trails are open today.  Take caution and remember to grab a trail map from the kiosk before heading out.  Let us know if you see any downed trees or other debris on the trail.

Enjoy the snow and hope to see you on the trails soon.

- Lisa Ricker / Naturalist
A scene from the Wildlife Management Area

A scene from the Wildlife Management Area

The perfect way to get around the trails this weekend!