11/09/17 6:01am

A tom with a long snood. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

In just a couple of weeks, many of us will be gathering with family and friends around the dining room table to indulge in the feast that is Thanksgiving. For many, the centerpiece of the celebration is a large, plump, juicy turkey. Unfortunately, other than a good recipe, few people know many details about the majestic bird that Benjamin Franklin had praised as being a more respectable bird than a bald eagle.

There are two species of turkey that can be found throughout the United States, Mexico and southern Canada. The first, simply named the wild turkey, is divided into five subspecies (Eastern, Merriam’s, Rio Grande, Osceola, and Gould’s), each varying slightly by plumage and separated by region. The second species, the Ocellated turkey, is found to live in a small range of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. (more…)

10/10/17 6:02am

A juvenile red-tailed hawk. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

As if someone turned off a switch, October brings an end to the summer ambiance we have enjoyed for the last several months. Days become shorter, nights become cooler, the leaves begin to fall, and many local species begin a long journey south in search of a warmer climate to spend the winter months.

As I wrote about in last month’s column, monarch butterflies are currently making an extraordinary migration to Mexico. Each night, they will stop to roost, with some roosts numbering in the tens of thousands of butterflies. Seeing one of these roosts can be a magical experience. (more…)

09/06/17 6:01am

A monarch butterfly. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

With the passing of Labor Day, it is as if Mother Nature flips a switch and shuts down summer. The days are noticeably shorter. Winds begin to blow from the north, pushing in cooler temperatures and forcing local beach bums to vacate their favorite haunts. Not only do the beachgoers hightail it out of here at the onset of autumn, but so does much of our local wildlife.

Seasonal migrations are very common in the animal kingdom. The most noted of the local journeys is the one taken by the osprey. Osprey of the North Fork head to Central and South America every fall, returning the following spring. Although this is an extremely far distance, it is not hard to fathom how such a powerful bird can make such a flight. (more…)

08/02/17 6:01am

A female blue crab tagged with a DEC tag. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

As we enter August, the summertime blues will slowly creep-up as the realization that we are halfway through our summer vacations begins to sink in. I however, welcome a different type of summertime blues. They have created many fond memories over the years and are the foundation of many of my summer cookouts.

My favorite is the blue crab. Another is the bluefish

This former can be found throughout the small back bays, creeks, and harbors of the Peconics and the Sound. Their olive-colored carapace (topside) allows them to go unnoticed while they lurk along the seafloor searching for their next meal. Although they are scavengers, their sharp, powerful claws can crush through the shells of armored prey such as clams, mussels, oysters, snails and even other blue crabs. Additionally, their paddle-like rear legs enable them to chase down fast moving prey, such as fish, with ease. (more…)

07/08/17 6:05am

A blowfish. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

Nestled between the north and south forks with an eastern boundary of Shelter Island are the Great and Little Peconic Bays. These large, relatively deep bodies of water are popular places for rafting up for a barbecue, cruising from port to port, water skiing, tubing and many other summertime boating activities.

But what about fishing? Are there any fish worth pursuing in the Peconics this time of year? (more…)

06/07/17 6:01am

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds from Fish Guy Photos on Vimeo.

The sound of a buzzing, winged creature will send most people running for the sanctuary of the indoors. After being bit or stung from critters such as mosquitos, yellow jackets, and hornets, this reaction can be justified. However, this rushed decision to retreat inside might cause you to miss one of the North Fork’s speediest little birds — the hummingbird. (more…)

05/09/17 6:00am
Chris Paparo gives a juvenile snapping turtle a hand in crossing the road. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

Chris Paparo gives a juvenile snapping turtle a hand in crossing the road. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

Just as our favorite North Fork past times change with the seasons, so do the activities of its local wildlife.

March marks the homecoming of osprey from their wintering areas in South America. Our freshwater rivers and streams come alive in April with the schools of alewife that have returned from a treacherous journey from the sea to spawn. As we enter May, another group of animals becomes active and often needs a little helping hand from us from time to time.

Emerging from their underground burrows, our local turtles are waking from their long winter hibernation and will quickly seek out the warmth of the sun for a “recharge.” (more…)