Recent Stories: Outdoors

Larry Penny
July 20, 2017
Summer presses on, hot and humid with an occasional bout of rain. The beaches fill up on the weekend, the traffic is crazy mad on the South Fork’s main thoroughfares, County Road 39, Montauk Highway, Noyac Road, the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Route 114, and the Scuttlehole-Head of Ponds-7 Ponds-Mecox Roads, which wind through the fields of Bridgehampton and Water Mill and meet North Sea Road north of Southampton Village.

Summer presses on, hot and humid with an occasional bout of rain. The beaches fill up on the weekend, the traffic is crazy mad on the South Fork’s main thoroughfares, County Road 39, Montauk Highway, Noyac Road, the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Route 114, and the Scuttlehole-Head of Ponds-7 Ponds-Mecox Roads, which wind through the fields of Bridgehampton and Water Mill and meet North Sea Road north of Southampton Village.

Jon M. Diat
July 13, 2017
The afternoon of July 3 was a perfect time to take a leisurely kayak cruise in Sag Harbor Cove. Due to other commitments this season,

The afternoon of July 3 was a perfect time to take a leisurely kayak cruise in Sag Harbor Cove. Due to other commitments this season, I had not had a chance to dunk my dinky little blue kayak into the water. Being nearly 6-foot-6 and one who labors with a ridiculously large size-16 foot, my kayak makes me feel as if I am snugly entombed in an odd-colored banana in a wobbly, old shopping cart. Comfortable? No. Practical and easy to store? Most certainly.

Larry Penny
July 13, 2017
Of all of the many thousands of vertebrate species, fish being the most numerous, which one is the most famous for preying on its own?

Of all of the many thousands of vertebrate species, fish being the most numerous, which one is the most famous for preying on its own? 

Why, Homo sapiens, of course. We kill one another with abandon and en masse as in the widely used term “genocide.” We very, very rarely engage in genocide for food, which is the main reason other vertebrates kill their own. While it has become extremely rare, cannibalism in humans still occurs here and there.

Taylor K. Vecsey
July 10, 2017

Paddling is one of the most popular ways to get out on the water these days. The East End Marine Task Force unit, along with the Coast Guard, has launched an educational and enforcement initiative this summer to keep kayakers, canoers, and paddleboarders safer. 

According to the Coast Guard, 143 paddle sport enthusiasts died in 2015 throughout the country. In 2016, 28 paddlers died in the Northeast alone. 

Jon M. Diat
July 6, 2017
There was a lot of noise going on. While there were plenty of boisterous and colorful fireworks blasting off into the night sky during the extended July 4 holiday weekend, the local fishing scene also witnessed its own cacophony of activity on several fronts, as angler participation leaped into full summer mode. Some much-appreciated warm and toasty weather did not dissuade many from either jumping in the bay or even the still-chilly ocean waters for a nice, refreshing dip, or from baiting up a fluke or porgy hook for a chance at a nice holiday dinner.

There was a lot of noise going on. While there were plenty of boisterous and colorful fireworks blasting off into the night sky during the extended July 4 holiday weekend, the local fishing scene also witnessed its own cacophony of activity on several fronts, as angler participation leaped into full summer mode. Some much-appreciated warm and toasty weather did not dissuade many from either jumping in the bay or even the still-chilly ocean waters for a nice, refreshing dip, or from baiting up a fluke or porgy hook for a chance at a nice holiday dinner. 

Larry Penny
July 6, 2017
Try to look beyond the madding crowd. There’s a lot going on in the world of nature, all of it free of charge. North America’s tiniest hummingbird, the calliope from the Pacific Northwest, has come to nectar alongside a ruby-throated male at Joanne Dittmar’s house in Springs on the bay just west of Hog Creek. Sibley defines it as an “accidental.” The ruby-throat is our tiniest bird species; just imagine how hard it would be to see a bird two-thirds its size with the naked eye as it whizzed by.

Try to look beyond the madding crowd. There’s a lot going on in the world of nature, all of it free of charge. North America’s tiniest hummingbird, the calliope from the Pacific Northwest, has come to nectar alongside a ruby-throated male at Joanne Dittmar’s house in Springs on the bay just west of Hog Creek. Sibley defines it as an “accidental.” The ruby-throat is our tiniest bird species; just imagine how hard it would be to see a bird two-thirds its size with the naked eye as it whizzed by. 

Larry Penny
June 29, 2017
There’s an old saw that says “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” It doesn’t actually have to do with removing the pelts from cats, thank God, but more with alternative ways of getting something done that needs to be done. In humankind as in nature, just about every method to get a given thing done has been tried. Some methods fail outright, some work for a while, then others that are more durable and efficient replace them; a few work forever with little change over countless eons, thus the horseshoe crab.

There’s an old saw that says “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” It doesn’t actually have to do with removing the pelts from cats, thank God, but more with alternative ways of getting something done that needs to be done. In humankind as in nature, just about every method to get a given thing done has been tried. Some methods fail outright, some work for a while, then others that are more durable and efficient replace them; a few work forever with little change over countless eons, thus the horseshoe crab.

It’s the story of evolution.

Jon M. Diat
June 29, 2017
As the season changes from spring to summer, it’s always been a bit hard for me to fathom that our exposure to natural daylight is already on the downhill. A sunrise of 5:15 a.m. on June 21 in Montauk is 5:18 a.m. a week later. It’s only a three-minute difference, but the daylight does begin to erode rather quickly.

Yep. It’s official. The days are getting shorter. 

As the season changes from spring to summer, it’s always been a bit hard for me to fathom that our exposure to natural daylight is already on the downhill. A sunrise of 5:15 a.m. on June 21 in Montauk is 5:18 a.m. a week later. It’s only a three-minute difference, but the daylight does begin to erode rather quickly.

Larry Penny
June 22, 2017
The blue-green organisms that cause the slicks on the local coastal ponds like Lake Agawam, Mill Pond, and Georgica Pond, to name a few of the worst blighted, are among the oldest organisms known to man.

The blue-green organisms that cause the slicks on the local coastal ponds like Lake Agawam, Mill Pond, and Georgica Pond, to name a few of the worst blighted, are among the oldest organisms known to man. They arose more than three billion years ago, and if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here, as they produced the first oxygen. They did it by photosynthesizing carbon dioxide and water. They were after making sugar, then starch; oxygen was a mere byproduct, but they used it to metabolize the sugar for energy and for building protoplasm.

Jon M. Diat
June 22, 2017
More time on the water does not necessarily equate to more fish caught. And that’s just fine. Whether or not I bring home a fish for dinner is not the point. Just being on the water is what truly matters.

It hasn’t been good. 

For the record, I have not had a successful fishing season so far. I’m still looking for my first keeper striped bass, and while I have caught a fair number of fluke that were 18 inches, none have reached the 19-inch minimum. However, I have had no issue hauling in one sea robin after another. Those ever-present, orange and brown-colored winged wonders have been drawn like a magnet to just about anything I put on my hook. But, as the saying goes, it’s better than nothing.

Jon M. Diat
June 15, 2017
My memory of watching the movie “Jaws” for the first time shortly after its release in June of 1975 still stands clear in my mind. Its effect on me, and others at the time, was profound. Since that day, I’ve lost count of how many dozens of times I have seen it on TV, and yet I still get the chills watching several of its scenes.

My memory of watching the movie “Jaws” for the first time shortly after its release in June of 1975 still stands clear in my mind. Its effect on me, and others at the time, was profound. Since that day, I’ve lost count of how many dozens of times I have seen it on TV, and yet I still get the chills watching several of its scenes.

Up to that point, sharks as a predator were never portrayed to any extent by Hollywood. Probably the closest marine villain that the silver screen produced prior to “Jaws” came in the form of “Moby Dick,” a 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel starring Gregory Peck. The movie was a whale of a dud and certainly did not keep patrons on the edge of their seats in fear.

Larry Penny
June 15, 2017
The South Fork of Long Island has hundreds of beaches, woodland trails, sidewalks, and other stretches for walking and communing with nature.

The South Fork of Long Island has hundreds of beaches, woodland trails, sidewalks, and other stretches for walking and communing with nature. 

On Friday, I accompanied Jean Held, a Sag Harbor naturalist and historian, and Victoria Bustamante, a Montauk botanist and naturalist, on one of the most interesting walks I have taken in my 81 years. No, it wasn’t through Montauk’s Hither Woods or Shadmoor Park. It wasn’t across Barcelona and East Hampton’s Northwest or along the Long Pond Greenbelt south of Sag Harbor or in North Sea’s Scallop Pond-Sebonac Creek Wilderness. It was in an area not noted for nature walks and rural scenery at all: the Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor. 

Larry Penny
June 8, 2017
On the South Fork it would seem that the stars get dimmer and dimmer with each passing year.

My power was out in Noyac for four hours on Monday, and it got me to thinking about how much electricity we use these days. When I was growing up on the North Fork in the middle of the last century you could still see the stars bright and shining in all their glory, no matter that most were thousands, if not millions, of light-years away. 

On the South Fork it would seem that the stars get dimmer and dimmer with each passing year. Of course we know that the light emitted from each star is the same each night; it’s just that ambient light interferes with the dark adaptation ability of our eyes. And the surroundings are more lit up than ever. Such near-field interference, especially great in the summer months, causes us to perceive the stars and planets as dimmer.

Jon M. Diat
June 8, 2017
Scallops that were too small for harvesting last season are getting ready to spawn in our local waters.

It’s bit premature to start talking about bay scallops. After all, the season doesn’t get underway until Nov. 6 in state waters. But at about this time of the year, last season’s scallops that were too small for harvesting — scallops must be at least two and a quarter inches in length from midhinge to midbill and have an annual growth ring — are getting ready to have some fun in the bays and will begin to spawn (they will do the dirty deed again in September). And those offspring, more commonly known as “bugs,” that survive and grow to maturity will be the ones that can be harvested in November of 2018, as a scallop has a very short lifespan of just 18 months. 

Larry Penny
June 1, 2017
I went out looking for signs of gypsy moth infestations on Sunday, exploring the oak-hickory and oak-pine forests along the major Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Wainscott, and Northwest Woods roads.

I went out looking for signs of gypsy moth infestations on Sunday, exploring the oak-hickory and oak-pine forests along the major Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Wainscott, and Northwest Woods roads. 

Their favorite species, the white oaks, were well represented — still in flower and expanding their fresh, still-drooping pale green or reddish leaves. The good news is that I did not find any sign of gypsy moth caterpillars along the way, not even at a small spot on Route 114 between East Hampton and Sag Harbor where they were rampant by this time of year in 2015. 

It’s still a bit early, so I’ll make the rounds again in another week or so.

Jon M. Diat
June 1, 2017
Despite a mixed bag of weather, the Memorial Day weekend saw a much greater influx of angler participation.

Despite a mixed bag of weather, the Memorial Day weekend saw a much greater influx of angler participation. Whether it was more boats on the drift for fluke or anchored up on hard bottom for porgies, or, for those who preferred to stay on terra firma, casting a variety of lures into the surf, it truly felt like the fishing season officially got underway for 2017. The ribbon has been cut.

Larry Penny
May 25, 2017
Sunday night was cloudy and cool with a slight breeze. I set out for a second night on the trail of the once common but now rare whippoorwill. Last Thursday the Noyac and Bridgehampton hills were under my microscope. Sunday night it would be Northwest Woods in East Hampton and Napeague. I didn’t hear a single whippoorwill the first night. I was hoping that it would be a different story the second time out.

Sunday night was cloudy and cool with a slight breeze. I set out for a second night on the trail of the once common but now rare whippoorwill. Last Thursday the Noyac and Bridgehampton hills were under my microscope. Sunday night it would be Northwest Woods in East Hampton and Napeague. I didn’t hear a single whippoorwill the first night.

Jon M. Diat
May 25, 2017
Despite launching my boat for the season back on March 13, an overly aggressive early date, this spring’s copiously rainy and windy weather left very few opportunities to wet a line and finally put some fresh fish on the table.

Despite launching my boat for the season back on March 13, an overly aggressive early date, this spring’s copiously rainy and windy weather left very few opportunities to wet a line and finally put some fresh fish on the table. 

Larry Penny
May 18, 2017
The summer birds are back in full force. Most are day birds, but some are nocturnal — the owls and the nightjars such as the nighthawk and whippoorwill.

The summer birds are back in full force. Most are day birds, but some are nocturnal — the owls and the nightjars such as the nighthawk and whippoorwill. 

Jack Graves
May 18, 2017
Ramit Tandon, a Columbia University graduate who left Wall Street for the pro tour recently, swept through the S.Y.S. Open squash tournament this past week, defeating a fellow Indian, Kush Kumar, a member of Trinity College’s national-championship team, 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 in Sunday’s final.

Ramit Tandon, a Columbia University graduate who left Wall Street for the pro tour recently, swept through the S.Y.S. Open squash tournament this past week, defeating a fellow Indian, Kush Kumar, a member of Trinity College’s national-championship team, 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 in Sunday’s final.

David E. Rattray
May 18, 2017
Recreational anglers will have a daily limit of three fish, with a minimum length of 19 inches, when the fluke season opens in New York waters on May 17. The changes are a dramatic reduction from 2016’s five-fish, 18-inch minimum. The recreational fluke season will close on Sept. 21.

Recreational anglers will have a daily limit of three fish, with a minimum length of 19 inches, when the fluke season opens in New York waters on May 17. The changes are a dramatic reduction from 2016’s five-fish, 18-inch minimum. The recreational fluke season will close on Sept. 21. 

David E. Rattray
May 11, 2017
The shadbush are blooming, and the dogwoods and lilacs are, too, which means that there should be fish around. And so there are.

The shadbush are blooming, and the dogwoods and lilacs are, too, which means that there should be fish around. And so there are. 

Larry Penny
May 11, 2017
When I was a boy growing up in Mattituck I poked around everywhere and at everything, collecting many of the things I found, be they animate or inanimate, or, as they say in Twenty Questions, “animal, vegetable, or mineral.”

When I was a boy growing up in Mattituck I poked around everywhere and at everything, collecting many of the things I found, be they animate or inanimate, or, as they say in Twenty Questions, “animal, vegetable, or mineral.” 

T.E. McMorrow
May 4, 2017

Paddle Diva, which has been under fire from the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals for giving paddleboard lessons in Three Mile Harbor, can continue to operate this season, according to an agreement announced Tuesday between the town and the company, whose owner, Gina Bradley, had sued to stay in business.