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  • The current building boom has laid down a lot of big trees before they had a chance to leaf out, but it apparently hasn’t deterred the birds from returning from the south.
  • Environmental awareness is big here, as big as it is on eastern Long Island. Water, or the lack of it, is the major topic of the moment.
  • We finally broke through to placid spring, but it was a rough one on us and a rough one on nature. Waterfowl and water birds took it on the nose and so did several fish. Greg Boeklin, the bald eagle watcher in Sagaponack, saw several dead fish at the top of Sagg Pond. He couldn’t tell the species; they were decomposing. They may have been alewives. In some years when the water from Jeremy’s Hole comes down in a gush by way of Solomon’s Creek, the alewives make it up to the little water body to reproduce.

  • When the peepers start singing two things come to mind. There’s water in the vernal ponds and it’s warming up.

    As of Monday the alewives are slow in coming but, nonetheless, many of the ospreys are back and ready to catch them as soon as they appear. On Sunday afternoon the spring peepers were peeping away in Big Reed Pond in Montauk. Evidently, they had just come up from hiding after a very long, cold, and snow-covered winter. Once they are up, they don’t retreat. They are mandated to sing and reproduce.

  • After two major retreats spring marches on. There is no turning back, or is there? In this millennium there have been several spring northeasters, and in March 2010 the East End got more than seven inches of rain in two close-together storms.

  • The snow is melting away quickly, and the ice in the bays is disappearing almost as fast. Spring is three days away. Things are heating up. The black widow spider that lives between the panes of my south-facing window has made her end-of-winter debut. I’m sure she hasn’t eaten a thing since the end of summer, as she is the same size as when she retreated in the fall.

  • You might have seen Senator Charles Schumer on the news on Monday taking PSEG and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to task for allowing 95,000 or so penta-treated utility poles to be installed on Long Island. Penta, or pentachlorophenol, is not only very toxic if inhaled, touched, or ingested, it is also classified as a probable carcinogen. That is why it has already been banned for use by more than 26 countries and counting.

  • My ichthyologist buddy, Howard Reisman, who lives in North Sea, says that, notwithstanding the monthlong occupation of North Sea Harbor and other inlets and coves of the Peconics, the alewives are out there and ready to move in to Big Fresh Pond as soon as their passageway thaws. They have been arriving annually at this time every year like clockwork for at least a half-century and most likely for several centuries. The streamway connecting the harbor to the pond can be high or low, depending upon the standing level of the water in Big Fresh.

  • The great American winter pastime for those of us who live not too far from the Arctic Circle: feeding and watching birds. Each bird species has its own unique way of staying active when the windchills are in the single digits and the sun is covered up by a pale gray sky for most of the day.

  • As I write this on Presidents Day in the afternoon while looking out my window across the snow-covered yard to see which bird will show up next, the temperature hovers at 21 degrees. That’s the highest it’s been all day and it’s starting to sink lower. Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology’s annual birdfeeder count took place over the three-day weekend.