04/23/18 4:52am

Lady crab larvae. (Credit: Fish Guy Photos)

Although it might not feel like it, winter is finally over. The days are getting longer and as I mentioned in last month’s column, our local waterways are coming alive. Phytoplankton populations have now reached densities that will support the next level of the food web, the zooplankton.

The word zooplankton is derived from Greek words zoon meaning animal and planktos meaning wanderer. As “wandering animals,” zooplankton are similar to phytoplankton as they are not capable of swimming great distances, rather they drift where the currents take them. But unlike phytoplankton, zooplankton cannot produce their own food and must receive nourishment by feeding on other organisms.  (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…)