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…)
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…)
A juvenile great black-backed gull. (Credit: Chris Paparo)
With temperatures dipping into the teens, it seems as if Old Man Winter has finally arrived on the North Fork.
For the “fair-weather” birder, these bitter cold temperatures can hamper their favorite activity. Hopefully these same birders read my article from September, when I described how to create an oasis in your backyard for our feathered friends. With any luck, their backyards are currently bustling with wildlife that they are enjoying from the comfort and warmth of their home.
For those that did not prepare ahead of time, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy birding on the North Fork. You will just need to bundle up. (more…)
The author holds up a black sea bass. (Credit: Chris Paparo)
It is time to celebrate the fall harvest on the North Fork. Trekking from great distances, people flood onto the North Fork in search of the freshest vegetables, the juiciest apples, the savoriest of wines, and of course, the “Great Pumpkin.” Although the fall harvest typically focuses on agricultural products, there is another North Fork commodity that is just as equally sought after; seafood. Fishing has been and continues to play an important role in the heritage of the North Fork.
And as temperatures begin to drop, the fishing really heats up. (more…)
A ruby-throated hummingbird. (Credit: Chris Paparo)
With an estimate of over 47 million people observing feathered wildlife, birding is quickly becoming one of the most popular hobbies in the country. Whether you are young or old, live an active lifestyle or one of a couch potato, you can be a birder.
For most people it is hard to see the appeal in bird watching. To the non-birder, there are only a couple different “types” of birds (sparrows, pigeons, sea gulls, storks, and hawks/eagles) and with the exception of hawks/eagles, those creatures are commonplace and not worth a second look. Surprisingly though, there are actually 914 different species of birds naturally occurring in North America, each with a unique set of characteristics. (more…)
A female blue crab and her ‘painted nails.’ (Credit: Fish Guy Photos, Chris Paparo)
With bright blue claws, sweet white meat, and powerful swimming legs, the blue crab is completely deserving of its scientific name Callinectes sapidus, which translates to “beautiful savory swimmer.” Enthusiastically pursued by both young and old anglers alike, the blue crab is a favorite dish at the local summertime clambake.
Having an extensive range, the blue crab can be found living in shallow coastal bays of the Western Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod to Uruguay. Here on the North Fork, they are common in many of the small back bays, creeks, and harbors throughout the Peconic. In recent years, I have even been finding them in greater numbers in the harbors along the Sound as well. (more…)
For Canada geese molting keeps them flightless and close to water to avoid preadtors in June and July. (Credit: Fish Guy Photos)
Last summer, I was given the opportunity to volunteer with wildlife biologists from New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation on one of their Canada goose banding excursions along the North Fork. It was an extremely rewarding experience that I will not soon forget. (more…)