Fall beachcombing tips for your next North Fork stroll

The Shipwrecks in Riverhead. (Credit: Rod Richardson)

If crowds and the blazing sun isn’t your bag, you might find the fall the best time for a beach stroll. An early autumn breeze and Indian summer make this time of year the best for searching for seashells, beach glass and other gifts from the sea. You’ll also find that parking is easier as some town beaches don’t require a permit after Labor Day. If you go, here are some pointers. 

The Shipwrecks

It’s a bit of a hike, but if you walk a half-mile west from the end of Park Road in Riverhead you will see something remarkable — Riverhead’s very own shipwreck.

Believed to be World War I freighters, the five boats were put there in the 1930s to form a jetty to protect boats transporting sand and gravel.

Be sure to visit at low tide for the best views.

Make Art

If you stroll the shore, you might want to take a trash bag with you. We can almost guarantee that you’ll fill it with garbage every time.

Make something useful out of discarded waste, inspired by Greenport artist Cindy Pease Roe. “The most important thing you can do is get the plastic off the beach,” she said. “Once it goes into the ocean its nearly impossible to get out.”

Or, purchase a DIY kit from Roe to make your own recycled whale sculpture (upsculpt.com). The package contains directions, a whale rod, a frame and a repurposed wooden base.

Natural treasures

If you look below the wrack line, where debris has been deposited after the last high tide, you can find some interesting offerings from the Sound or Peconic Bay.

There you might spot something that looks like the twisted spine of an animal. But if you pick it up, you’ll find the texture is closer to seaweed than bone. What you’ve found is the remnant of a whelk egg case.

Another interesting find may be a skate egg case, also known as a mermaid’s purse. Hold one up to the light and you might see a developing skate still inside the egg case.

Snap a selfie

This one is selfie-explainable. Overcast fall days provide the best light for a photo along the rocky shores. May we suggest Youngs Road in Orient or Rocky Point Road in East Marion?

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