Recent Stories: Outdoors

Jon M. Diat
April 19, 2018
After living in my house on North Haven since I was born — nearly 54 years — we decided it was time to knock it down and build a new one that would provide many of the modern comforts and amenities that a new residence brings. After over three years of dealing with various surveys, permits, design changes, and building the house itself (and going over budget), we finally moved into the new digs in November. The house has been everything we ever wanted and expected.

After living in my house on North Haven since I was born — nearly 54 years — we decided it was time to knock it down and build a new one that would provide many of the modern comforts and amenities that a new residence brings. After over three years of dealing with various surveys, permits, design changes, and building the house itself (and going over budget), we finally moved into the new digs in November. The house has been everything we ever wanted and expected. 

Larry Penny
April 11, 2018
As our planet continues to heat up and sea level rises commensurately due to melting glacial water, we think about ways to survive, comfortably if possible, and one of these ways is to switch from gasoline and coal to forms of energy production that don’t require the burning of carbon-derived materials. We are making progress, but we have a long, long way to go.

As our planet continues to heat up and sea level rises commensurately due to melting glacial water, we think about ways to survive, comfortably if possible, and one of these ways is to switch from gasoline and coal to forms of energy production that don’t require the burning of carbon-derived materials. We are making progress, but we have a long, long way to go.

Jon M. Diat
April 10, 2018
No doubt about it, various governmental marine fishery departments and scientists have had a challenging time collecting accurate data on the status of various stocks of fish that reside along the East Coast of the United States. For sure, it will likely never be an exact science.

No doubt about it, various governmental marine fishery departments and scientists have had a challenging time collecting accurate data on the status of various stocks of fish that reside along the East Coast of the United States. For sure, it will likely never be an exact science. Fish swim and their patterns are not always predictable. 

Larry Penny
April 4, 2018
It’s that time of year when all of the birds start arriving and setting up homesteads here on eastern Long Island. More and more southern birds have been overwintering so it has become hard to say which ones are year-round residents and which ones are part-timers.

It’s that time of year when all of the birds start arriving and setting up homesteads here on eastern Long Island. More and more southern birds have been overwintering so it has become hard to say which ones are year-round residents and which ones are part-timers.

The most common early spring arrivals — the grackles, the redwings, and the robins — have been back for almost a month. In all three the males arrive three or four weeks before the females. The sexes are segregated until it is time to breed.

Jon M. Diat
April 3, 2018
The email I received last Monday was ominous: “Jon, are you around? There are some things on the boat I would like to discuss.” Discuss? It sounded more like a doctor preparing you for a negative medical report.

The calendar says it’s April, but on many days in the past few weeks, it still feels like midwinter. 

The Easter Bunny has moved on, yet we witnessed more snow on Monday morning to cover up a few premature daffodils poking up from the ground in my neighborhood. I’m beginning to wonder when I will actually cut my still-brown lawn for the first time. It’s been pretty darn depressing to say the least. Alas, the weeks continue to move forward and certain things need to be done, including preparing my boat for the season, despite the lousy weather. 

Larry Penny
March 28, 2018
Just about everyone has a rough idea of what “food chains” and “food pyramids” are. The ones at the very bottom are the microbes, single-celled diatoms and the like; the ones at the top are the “top” carnivores. In one respect, the human is a top carnivore. In another, a top herbivore. In all respects — strict vegetarians omitted — an omnivore.

Just about everyone has a rough idea of what “food chains” and “food pyramids” are. The ones at the very bottom are the microbes, single-celled diatoms and the like; the ones at the top are the “top” carnivores. In one respect, the human is a top carnivore. In another, a top herbivore. In all respects — strict vegetarians omitted — an omnivore.

We are the topmost carnivores when we eat, say, the flesh of a mako shark, another top carnivore. Occasionally, a top carnivore, say a tiger, lion, or grizzly bear, will eat one of us, making that beast a topmost carnivore, and so on.

T.E. McMorrow
March 22, 2018
A 50-pound gray seal that had become entangled in a piece of gill netting was rescued on Saturday, a little after noon, on the shore between Georgica and Main Beaches.

A 50-pound gray seal that had become entangled in a piece of gill netting was rescued on Saturday, a little after noon, on the shore between Georgica and Main Beaches.

East Hampton Village police responded after receiving a call from a Lily Pond Lane resident who had been walking along the beach and noticed the seal in distress. The officer dispatched to investigate found the seal above the tide line, near the dune. The officer, Christopher Hansen, contacted the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, sending them images of the seal from his cellphone. The netting the seal was trapped in appeared to have broken off from a larger net, or perhaps from a fishing line, East Hampton Village Police Sgt. Matthew Morgan said Monday. 

Larry Penny
March 21, 2018
I just read in today’s New York Times that Nashville has a case of the demolition blues. I may have the same sickness. I also read a reminiscence by Beth Howard, a writer who rented the little farmhouse in Eldon, Iowa, made famous by Grant Wood’s 1930 painting “American Gothic.” Two American themes going in the opposite direction.

I just read in today’s New York Times that Nashville has a case of the demolition blues. I may have the same sickness. I also read a reminiscence by Beth Howard, a writer who rented the little farmhouse in Eldon, Iowa, made famous by Grant Wood’s 1930 painting “American Gothic.” Two American themes going in the opposite direction.

Jon M. Diat
March 15, 2018
An entrepreneur plans to grow local, wild species of finfish, kelp, and sea scallops in the Atlatic, about eight miles from shore.

Twenty percent of the protein consumed in the United States is from seafood, “and according to the United Nations, the U.S. will need to double its aquaculture production just to maintain its current level of consumption by 2030,” said Donna Lanzetta of Manna Fish Farms in East Quogue, whose company aims to become the first on the East Coast to farm fish in offshore federal waters.

“The U.S. has to do more in this area and I’m hoping our efforts with Manna will take a firm hold,” Ms. Lanzetta said. 

Larry Penny
March 13, 2018
In last week’s column, I wrote about the beginning of the local eastern bluebird season. Then I received Joe Giunta’s annual recap of the East Hampton Town area’s bluebird box yield for 2017. Joe and his volunteers have been checking out and maintaining the boxes at nine different East Hampton Town sites and two boxes on North Haven in Southampton Town for nearly 20 years.

In last week’s column, I wrote about the beginning of the local eastern bluebird season. Then I received Joe Giunta’s annual recap of the East Hampton Town area’s bluebird box yield for 2017. Joe and his volunteers have been checking out and maintaining the boxes at nine different East Hampton Town sites and two boxes on North Haven in Southampton Town for nearly 20 years. 

Larry Penny
March 7, 2018
March came in like a lion and a lioness. Now it’s time to get on with spring. Notwithstanding two major coastal storms, signs of spring have been filtering through the stormy air.

March came in like a lion and a lioness. Now it’s time to get on with spring. Notwithstanding two major coastal storms, signs of spring have been filtering through the stormy air. On Monday, Victoria Bustamante of Montauk spotted an osprey perched on a cellphone tower on the south side of the Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays. My wife, Julie, checked the five osprey nests along Long Beach and Sag Harbor Cove the same afternoon, but there were no ospreys to be seen.

Larry Penny
February 27, 2018
Yes, we are on the verge of yet another spring, another new year, another chance to set things right.

February is over and March is coming in like a lion, or so it’s said. In less than a week, ospreys will have returned, the first peeps of the spring peepers, just up from the soggy ground, will be heard, robins will be filching worms from the grass roadsides, and hundreds of grackles and redwing blackbirds will utter their metallic calls almost nonstop. Yes, we are on the verge of yet another spring, another new year, another chance to set things right.

But will we? That is always the question.

By last account we are still killing each other across the face of the globe. If not with guns, bombs, poison gas, then with opioids and other addictive drugs, or on the highways and in the streets. Will it ever stop? Maybe this is the year that it will.

Larry Penny
February 20, 2018
The leaves, except the very lowest, are off the local hardwood trees, most of which are oaks, with fewer hickories, beech, sassafras, and maples. As one drives along the back roads and looks up to either side, the globular bundles of dried leaves and twigs stand out. They’re mostly the size of soccer balls — we would have a hard time trying to fit inside — but they are the perfect size for gray squirrels, our most common mammal larger than a rat.

The leaves, except the very lowest, are off the local hardwood trees, most of which are oaks, with fewer hickories, beech, sassafras, and maples. As one drives along the back roads and looks up to either side, the globular bundles of dried leaves and twigs stand out. They’re mostly the size of soccer balls — we would have a hard time trying to fit inside — but they are the perfect size for gray squirrels, our most common mammal larger than a rat.

Jamie Bufalino
February 15, 2018

The South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton is heading out into the wild to do some species spotting. Tomorrow night at 7, Joe Giunta, a birding instructor for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, will lead participants on an owl prowl. The evening starts off indoors with a slide show and an audio presentation of various owl calls and then ventures into the woods as Mr. Giunta attempts to call the nocturnal birds into viewing range. The museum says odds are good for spotting an eastern screech owl and possibly a great horned owl. Binoculars have been recommended.

Star Staff
February 14, 2018
A man-made swale behind the East Hampton Methodist Church had elevated bacteria levels in water tests by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk.

Concerned Citizens of Montauk has released results of ground and surface-water tests for illness-causing pathogens from samples taken in January.

Four of the 13 sites in East Hampton scored high for the presence of enterococcus bacteria. One site had a medium score; the remainder were low.

The highest counts recorded in East Hampton were taken from a man-made swale behind the Methodist Church, across Montauk Highway from the East Hampton Post Office, which registered 1,010 colony-forming units, and at the Village Green bioswale, opposite the East Hampton Library, where 710 units were detected.

By comparison, medium levels were found at the Georgica Pond kayak launch off Montauk Highway and low levels were detected at Pussy's Pond in Springs.

Star Staff
February 9, 2018
Activities in the great outdoors in the coming days.

SoFo Events
The South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton will hold monthly astronomy nights in collaboration with the Montauk Observatory starting Friday at 6.

Larry Penny
February 6, 2018
Last year there were reports of both ospreys and bald eagles flying or roosting in the vicinity of Kellis Pond, fishing but not reproducing. Greg Boeklen’s photo was the icing on the cake.

It all started on Jan. 16 when I received an email from Debbie Kuntz of Montauk. Debbie had been driving on Montauk Highway in Water Mill when she looked up and saw a mature bald eagle flying south. Seeing an eagle was a thrill in itself, but she noticed that it was carrying a stick in its beak as it headed toward the area that was once occupied by the Mecox duck farm but is now condominiums. She wondered if eagles could be nesting so early in the year. Debbie’s report was soon followed by other reports, including one by Vicki Bustamante several days later, of a bald eagle flying around in the same area.

David E. Rattray
January 31, 2018
The Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt will take to the open fields of Bridgehampton this evening at 6:30 for a leisurely hike under the full moon, the second of the month, known as a blue moon.

The Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt will take to the open fields of Bridgehampton this evening at 6:30 for a leisurely hike under the full moon, the second of the month, known as a blue moon.

Rarely does a full moon appear twice in a single month; there will be two this year, with another occurring on March 31. Oddly enough, February will have no full moon at all.

Skywatchers on the East End this morning were treated to a lunar eclipse, with significant darkening of the upper left quadrant of the moon as it neared the horizon just before dawn.

Larry Penny
January 31, 2018
By the turn of the last century, we knew very little about the Arctic and an awful lot about the Antarctic. The Antarctic was sexy, the Arctic dull.

By the turn of the last century, we knew very little about the Arctic and an awful lot about the Antarctic. The Antarctic was sexy, the Arctic dull. 

The Arctic Ocean was covered with ice 12 months of the year and thus difficult to visit, let alone study. The Antarctic Ocean, a jigsaw puzzle made up of the southern extremities of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, surrounded a large landmass, Antarctica, mountainous and covered with glacial ice for the most part. As far as continents go, it is the fifth largest, about two times the size of Australia. Through the ages, exploration of land always preceded the exploration of the seas, and after World War II, the Antarctic became an object of international study.

Larry Penny
January 23, 2018
There are many ways of pairing up and raising young, among humans and in the natural world. Monogamy is found in all other vertebrates, but mostly in birds. We defend the foreigner mute swan from exile in part because it is monogamous, at least seasonally. The bald eagle, osprey, and a host of other avian species are also monogamous.

There are many ways of pairing up and raising young, among humans and in the natural world. Monogamy is found in all other vertebrates, but mostly in birds. We defend the foreigner mute swan from exile in part because it is monogamous, at least seasonally. The bald eagle, osprey, and a host of other avian species are also monogamous.

T.E. McMorrow
January 20, 2018
The gray seal pup found wandering on Bendigo Road in Amagansett late Tuesday afternoon was released back into the wild on Friday.

The gray seal pup found wandering on Bendigo Road in Amagansett late Tuesday afternoon was released back into the wild on Friday.

According to a press release from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, the pup, who was only a little over a month old, "is completely weaned from its mother." That is normal for the species, Halichoerus grypus, meaning hooked-nosed sea pig in Latin, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's web site. The animals live up to 35 years in the wild.

Rescuers at the foundation named the pup Fudge Brownie. They released him into Shinnecock Bay around noon on Friday.

Larry Penny
January 17, 2018
It’s Martin Luther King Day, Noyac Bay is refrozen, and it’s 29 degrees out, mostly gray. I’m inside, warm and cozy. Our individual histories are marked in different ways, storms, wars, frigid winters, hot summers, presidential elections and a variety of local events, births, graduations, weddings, promotions, firings, divorces, and deaths. Our most calamitous times on Long Island are the result of hurricanes and northeasters.

It’s Martin Luther King Day, Noyac Bay is refrozen, and it’s 29 degrees out, mostly gray. I’m inside, warm and cozy. Our individual histories are marked in different ways, storms, wars, frigid winters, hot summers, presidential elections and a variety of local events, births, graduations, weddings, promotions, firings, divorces, and deaths. Our most calamitous times on Long Island are the result of hurricanes and northeasters. Growing up on the North Fork I remember most of the hurricanes of 1938, 1944, 1954, and 1956. I missed the storms thereafter, until I returned in 1974, the year before Belle.

T.E. McMorrow
January 17, 2018
A seal pup discovered far from the water on an Amagansett roadside on Tuesday afternoon is in good health, its rescuers said.

A seal pup that was rescued after it was discovered on an Amagansett roadside on Tuesday afternoon is in good health.

The seal almost surely came from Gardiner’s Bay, some 150 yards distant. How it got to the middle of Bendigo Road is not known, though it appeared to have waddled up a long driveway from a waterfront house. Bud Pitts of Amagansett was driving west on Bendigo Road, saw it in the middle of the road, and thought someone had hit a dog. Another vehicle had stopped, as well.

David E. Rattray
January 16, 2018
A marine rescue team was en route to Amagansett Tuesday afternoon to pick up a young seal that was discovered on a roadside a considerable distance from Gardiner's Bay.

A marine mammal rescue team was en route to Amagansett Tuesday afternoon to pick up a young seal that was discovered on a roadside a considerable distance from Gardiner's Bay.

Police were called after a passer-by noticed the seal pup on the side of Bendigo Road on Tuesday afternoon. The spot where it was found is near the Devon Yacht Club but not directly on the water. A small frozen stream that leads to the yacht club boat basin is nearby.


Video by T.E. McMorrow