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…)

04/08/17 6:00am
A screech owl in the author's backyard. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

A screech owl in the author’s backyard. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

Of all the birds that inhabit the North Fork, none draw more excitement than owls.

During winter months, birders flock to open grasslands such as those found at the EPCAL facility in Calverton. They hope to catch a glimpse of a short-eared owl as it swiftly soars above the fields looking for mice, voles and other “tasty” rodents. Area beaches are another popular owl haunt. Here, birders hope to spot a snowy owl, like Hedwig that was made famous by the Harry Potter books and movies.

Unfortunately, by April both species have left our area to return to their nesting sites in Canada and the Arctic tundra. There they will stay until cold winter temperatures once again drive them south to our open grasslands and beaches.

Even though these awe-inspiring owls have left the North Fork, there are still many opportunities for an owl lover to view these majestic birds. In fact, two species are true Northforkers, as they reside here year-round and often go completely unnoticed. (more…)

03/30/17 6:00am
Mashomack Preserve on a spring day. (Credit: James Colligan, courtesy)

Mashomack Preserve on a spring day. (Credit: James Colligan, courtesy)

There was a time when the phrase “get lost” was an insult. These days, it’s therapy.

When the world becomes too much for you, Shelter Island — the pearl in the prongs of the North and South forks — has thousands of acres of wooded trails, quiet country roads, and deserted beaches where you can treat your short fuse with a long walk. (more…)

03/08/17 2:05pm

Waking prior to sunrise on a cold winter’s day, I go outside to Emmy’s mew (enclosure) where she has spent the night dreaming about today’s squirrel hunt. Lifting her from her perch, I place her in a large plastic transport box, known as a giant hood, and load her into the back seat of my truck. I then toss my hawking satchel and walking stick into the truck and we drive off to one of our hunting locations. (more…)

02/06/17 6:01am
Chris Paparo with Emmy. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

Chris Paparo with Emmy. (Credit: Chris Paparo)

For those of you that follow my various social media accounts (@fishguyphotos), you will notice that during the winter months I frequently post pictures of a red-tailed hawk.

Typically, the hawk in the picture is located on the ground and holding a freshly caught squirrel or rabbit in her sharp talons. At first glance, it appears that I always seem to be at the right place at the right time, capturing a moment in nature that so few of us get to see in person. That feeling of awe quickly turns to disbelief when the next post is a “hawk selfie” or a video of a hawk landing on my hand. Why would such a majestic bird allow me into its world time and time again?

In addition to being the “Fish Guy,” I am a general class falconer and the hawk featured in those posts is my red-tailed hawk Emmy.   (more…)