Recent Stories: Outdoors

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

Star Staff
January 11, 2018

The East Hampton Trails Preservation Society will lead a five-mile lighthouse loop hike on Saturday at 10 a.m. Hikers will pass through Camp Hero, continue on the Paumanok Path to the bluffs and along trails to Turtle Cove and the Montauk Lighthouse, returning past the seal haulout site. There will be a 10-minute break at the lighthouse refreshment area. Snacks and water were suggested, and everyone has been encouraged to wear windproof clothing.

The meeting spot is at Camp Hero Road, off Route 27, about a mile east of Deep Hollow Ranch. Carol Andrews will lead the hike and can be reached at 631-725-3367 for more information.

Larry Penny
January 10, 2018
Now comes a new threat to our Atlantic coastal fishery in the form of huge steel monuments reaching up 600 feet and moored in the seabed. They are oil rigs and wind turbines.

According to the Holy Bible, fishermen have been using weighted nets to catch fish since Christ’s time 2,000 years ago. My Bible is from my grandfather’s brother, Laurence Penny, who died while fighting in Europe’s Great War in 1918. In the New Testament’s John 21, there is a passage about fishermen, Simon, Peter, Thomas, and others trying to catch fish after a night of catching none. Jesus called to them from the shore and asked them how many fish they had caught. When they answered none, Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. When they did and tried to pull it up, there were so many fish in it that they couldn’t. They enlisted help to haul the net and its contents to shore.

Larry Penny
January 2, 2018
Feeders and birdbaths took on a special significance in the last few days of 2017 when the temperature outside plummeted and never rose above the freezing mark — and there is little sign of its letting up as we look into the first few weeks of January.

Having mentioned a paucity of winter birds in last week’s “Nature Notes,” I then received some confirmations and negations. Karen Rubinstein, who coordinates the annual Montauk Christmas bird count held on Dec. 16, said the preliminary total came to 122 species, a bit low as Montauk counts go. Joan Laufer of Northwest Woods sent me pictures of a red-breasted woodpecker and a chickadee, two of the many birds visiting her feeder. A Ms. Hamilton, a lover of all things wild, on Shore Road in Lazy Point called to tell me she had several species, a probable pine warbler among them. They like her two heated birdbaths, which she picked up at Wildbird Crossing in the Bridgehampton Commons.

Larry Penny
December 27, 2017
Was it a poor breeding year in the north, or did many not migrate south to our latitude? Or did some migrate farther south than usual?

The yellow forsythia is still blooming here and there, but all but the lowest leaves are off the oaks and other hardwoods. We don’t know what the southern pine-boring beetles are doing, how many larvae survived to become adults, or what’s in store for next year’s native pines.

The winter birds are scarce this December. Was it a poor breeding year in the north, or did many not migrate south to our latitude? Or did some migrate farther south than usual? If it weren’t for the gulls, common crows, and turkeys, this winter might go down as a birdless one.

Jon M. Diat
December 26, 2017
Last Wednesday afternoon was a clammer’s dream. Coming off a new moon and enforced by a cold, strong northwesterly wind, the tide that day would be extremely low. It was a classic “blowout tide” as old-timers around here would say.

Last Wednesday afternoon was a clammer’s dream. Coming off a new moon and enforced by a cold, strong northwesterly wind, the tide that day would be extremely low. It was a classic “blowout tide” as old-timers around here would say. 

Since I was a little kid, I was always fascinated by such extreme low tides. To me, it offered a unique window to explore a new part of the beach that was rarely, if ever, seen. Even today, I still get anxious and will even alter my plans to take advantage of such an event. And on this particular day, it was no different. It was time to get the hip boots and clam rake out of the garage.

Larry Penny
December 20, 2017
Christmas comes but once a year. It’s the only day of the year when politicians take a back seat to everyday living and friends and families can rejoice in their absence.

Christmas comes but once a year. It’s the only day of the year when politicians take a back seat to everyday living and friends and families can rejoice in their absence. On all other days we are bombarded with them and their attitudes and orientations. They show up on all of the other national holidays. They march with the marchers, engage in public oratory, imbue the ceremonies with words and gestures, make sure that one way or another they are noticed. 

Larry Penny
December 13, 2017
’Twas the night before Christmas, quiet and calm, the creatures that live here were cozy and warm,

’Twas the night before Christmas, quiet and calm, 
the creatures that live here were cozy and warm,
The fall had been freakish, the leaves didn’t fall,
until after Thanksgiving, when they dropped one and all.
By mid-December some shrubs had turned yellow, 
forsythia was blooming, what, global warming?
The traffic of summer had slowed to a crawl,
The Bonackers were happy, one and all,
They had their land back, all to their liking.
They were out gathering firewood, a few even hiking!
The clams in the mud and the oysters above.
The waters were calming, full of God’s love
The gulls, gliding and circling, brushed off the cold.

Jon M. Diat
December 13, 2017
While the calendar may not officially state it, winter is here. By any measure, Saturday’s slushy snowfall, our first of the season, was a rather benign event. Yet, the wet, heavy snow, which was enforced by a rather strong northeast wind, made it feel much colder than the 33-degree temperature. It was a raw, nasty, bone-chilling day. For most, it was a day better spent indoors.

While the calendar may not officially state it, winter is here. By any measure, Saturday’s slushy snowfall, our first of the season, was a rather benign event. Yet, the wet, heavy snow, which was enforced by a rather strong northeast wind, made it feel much colder than the 33-degree temperature. It was a raw, nasty, bone-chilling day. For most, it was a day better spent indoors.

Jon M. Diat
December 7, 2017
With my boat now firmly planted on terra firma for the winter, it’s time to turn the page. The number of recreational boaters and those in the pursuit of finfish have now dwindled to the true hard-core types.

With my boat now firmly planted on terra firma for the winter, it’s time to turn the page. The number of recreational boaters and those in the pursuit of finfish have now dwindled to the true hard-core types. While I plan to take a few voyages for codfish this winter out of Montauk on one of the few party or charter boats that will remain in the water, and get my clam rake out to dig up some hard and soft-shells on a good low tide, it’s generally a time for me to take a break and regroup before my boat re-enters the salt in April.

Larry Penny
December 5, 2017
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's recent veto of a bill that would have given official status to the Montaukett Indian Nation is the latest in four centuries of affronts to the region's native peoples.

On Nov. 29, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made history for the second time when he vetoed a bill coauthored by our two local state representatives, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, that would have given official status to the Montaukett Indians. I write “the second time” because of the governor’s previous veto of similar legislation authored by Thiele and LaValle and passed by the Legislature four years ago.

Governor Cuomo’s veto is not so different from President Trump’s use of the word “Pocahontas” in reference to the female senator from Massachusetts.

Jon M. Diat
November 28, 2017
With each day that passes, I try to extract every moment I can with my boat before it gets hauled out for the winter. Only half a dozen boats remain in the water at my local marina; about 150 of them now reside onshore, snuggly wrapped tight in white, sturdy plastic.

With each day that passes, I try to extract every moment I can with my boat before it gets hauled out for the winter. Only half a dozen boats remain in the water at my local marina; about 150 of them now reside onshore, snuggly wrapped tight in white, sturdy plastic. Each of them is aligned gunwale to gunwale, row by row. The memories of the season gone are now solidly encased within their cold, fiberglass hulls. They are now in sleep mode.

Larry Penny
November 28, 2017
Land and water. The two most important things on the South Fork. In one sense, the water is on top, the land below.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to. . . .

Land and water. The two most important things on the South Fork. In one sense, the water is on top, the land below. In another, the land is on top, the water below. Or it could be that both are on top or both below. It all depends upon your orientation. Without the benefit of X-ray vision we can see the land and the water. What we can’t see is the subsurface soil and the groundwater situated between the soil grains, extending hundreds of feet below the surface. For most of us living here, it is the most life-sustaining water of all.

Jon M. Diat
November 22, 2017
Wicked winds meant little fishing activity as of late.

While Bob Dylan famously sang “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,” I’m pretty certain the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature had not visualized the wicked winds we have recently witnessed in the past week or so when he penned those famous lyrics 50 years ago. And if there is an answer in the gusty winds around these parts, it is that there has been very little fishing activity, with wind putting a significant crimp in the plans of many looking to get in some late season action on the water.