Articles by this author:
- It’s turtle time. Female diamondback terrapins are coming ashore to lay eggs and female box turtles are walking into people’s yards to dig out a nest and lay their own. June is their month of choice; May is a close runner-up. If not disturbed or discovered by a raccoon, the eggs hatch at the end of August.
Eastern Long Island owes much of its natural history to the eastern deciduous forest, an ecological life zone that stretches from the grasslands of the Midwest to the Atlantic Coast, from northern Florida into southeastern Canada. Of course, there are huge differences from one part of this forest zone to the next, and from the southern part to the most northern part.
There are two Stony Hill Roads on the South Fork, one in Amagansett in East Hampton Town, the other in Noyac, in Southampton Town. How did they get their names? By chance? No! They got their names because of the presence of boulders left by the receding glacier more than 15,000 years ago.
In only 20 days, the daily photoperiod will start to wane. Perhaps that’s why almost all of nature is focused on reproducing. Osprey eggs are hatching. Crows are roaming the treetops looking for unguarded nestlings. On Saturday shortly after noon a screech owl up the block started singing his wavering whistle in full daylight. The first tropical storm hit the Florida panhandle on Memorial Day. Observers were quick to blame “global warming.” Hmmm. I wonder.
Last Thursday afternoon I had the good (bad?) fortune of being in Montauk. I had heard the talk about moving the downtown (to where, I wonder), putting in a sewage treatment plant (where would the outfall go, I wonder), ospreys coming back to nest, and the like.
Nature itself, left alone without human interference, is what you might call wondrously beautiful in all respects. Even natural death has its positive side. Nothing goes to waste; everything is recycled. Then, humans came along and began to spoil it. Try as we may to recycle, not everything — many plastics, for example — is recyclable. Let’s face it, we’ve made one humongous mess of things and we have very little time before the lights go out to make it right again.
All of a sudden, the trees along our back roads have burst into bloom. The black and scarlet oaks were in full flower by Friday evening. As of Sunday dogwoods were just beginning to leaf out, the lowbush blueberries and huckleberries that make up the bulk of the shrub layer are leafing out and blooming simultaneously.
Driving along a wood-edge road recently, you may have noticed a small tree, almost leafless but with many white quarter-size flowers. The smooth shad is in bloom. It's not as common as its sibling species, Canada shad or shadblow, which blooms a week or so later and is common in sandy habitats such as those along the Napeague stretch. As with most of our deciduous trees, the flowers precede the leaves.