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  •     The only butterfly I’ve seen to date is the cabbage white, the one long from Eurasia that lays its eggs on members of the cabbage family, to wit, garlic mustard, wild radish, and the like, also from Eurasia.

        Butterflies and moths are part of the second trophic food level; they feed on the first level, the “producers.” In fact most insects — grasshoppers, various ant species, bees and other nectiferous species, almost all beetles and almost all bugs — feed on plants.

  •     A very active week in birdland, indeed! Topping the list of May returnees were ruby-throated hummingbirds. The first to return to the South Fork, perhaps, were the four that showed up at the house of my Noyac neighbor Ellen Stahl on May 6. She called to tell me that they were back, she had her hummingbird feeders up, and they were flying in my direction every once in a while. She thought they might nest in my backyard.

  •     On Monday I took a drive through the hills of Noyac, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, and North Sea that make up the bulk of the so-called terminal moraine left by the glacier that retreated 15,000 or so years ago. When I moved back to Long Island from Oregon and California in 1974, those hills were only sparsely covered with houses. The pitch pine and oaks carpeted the ups and downs of the knob-and-kettle topography, and to the south, the farm fields spread from west to east as far as the eye could see. How things have changed.

  •     By the time this publishes, we should have blossoms on the shads, sweet cherries, and beach plums, the bird’s-foot violets will turn certain road shoulders purple and the dogwoods in Northwest will be trying to expand their snow-white bracts (they don’t have petals).

  •     The Cretaceous period began during the decline of the dinosaurs, 160 million years ago. It was the time when flowering plants and insects, their chief pollinators, evolved and radiated. Those two groups have been together ever since. When the flowers first appear each spring, so do the nectaring insects, among them the butterflies.

  •     I don’t go anywhere without my white tick towel; I even have it at hand in the winter. You never know what will happen on a very warm January day. I went out for a walk around Trout Pond in Noyac last Thursday followed by a longer walk Saturday afternoon around Big Reed Pond in Montauk. You may remember that Thursday was very cold with a brisk wind. Saturday was nice and warm and quieter.

  •     Alewives have entered Big Fresh Pond in North Sea in waves beginning two Mondays ago. Most of the ospreys are back, their returns scheduled, it would seem, to coincide with the movement of river herrings — alewives, shads, blueback herrings — from marine waters into fresh to spawn. The double-crested cormorants’ return seems to be tied to the same rhythmic phenomenon.

  •     Reading last week’s East Hampton Star about the proposed 200 megawatt wind farm in the ocean 30 miles off Montauk I envision either a free energy Shangri-la or a 256-square-mile death trap for migratory seabirds, which have been plying the same sea lanes back and forth up and down for the last 20,000 years or more.

  •     We had six inches of rain Saturday and Sunday in Sag Harbor, a downer for the weekend crowd, a blessing for the alewives, frogs, and salamanders. Ligonee Brook is a longstanding stream that runs intermittently down through the last century and more. Its course has changed more than once and it only runs from Long Pond to Ligonee Cove to Sag Harbor Cove once every five years. Nonetheless, it is an important conduit for alewives and eels.

  •     It’s been three quarters of a century since bald eagles — our national bird — nested on Long Island. Gardiner’s Island was the last to host a breeding pair in 1936. It wasn’t DDT that made the bald eagle give up the ghost on Long Island; there never were many nests here, after all, and hawks, eagles, and owls were commonly shot during colonial and post-colonial times.