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…)
An osprey preys on alewife. (Credit: Chris Paparo/Fish Guy Photos)
It seems as if Old Man Winter cannot make up his mind this year. He started off strong, with several weeks of snow, temperatures well below freezing and wind chills for days in the single to negative digits. (more…)
As the snow and ice begin to melt, our local waters will awaken from their long winter sleep. An increase in the amount of daylight and an influx of nutrients from winter upwelling and snow/ice melt runoff are catalysts for phytoplankton blooms. (more…)
A juvenile bald eagle. (Credit: Chris Paparo/fishguyphotos)
One of the most recognizable and majestic birds of the North Fork is the bald eagle. This symbol of our great nation is a year-round resident, but its population soars during the winter months, especially after the deep freeze we have been experiencing lately. (more…)
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…)
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…)
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.