12/15/17 6:04am

Jingle shells discovered by northforker nature columnist Chris Paparo. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

We have been fortunate this autumn with above-average temperatures and exceptional weather that has allowed us to continue visiting the shore long after Labor Day has passed. As I sit here writing this article, however, we are in the midst of our first snow storm and an extended weather forecast that looks like “Old Man Winter” will finally be waking up and making his presence known. For many, this will put an end to visiting the beach. For those who are brave enough to endure the cold, the beach is full of treasures just waiting to be found.  (more…)

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…)