Just when you thought you had nature by the handle, here comes one of the most bizarre creatures yet, one you had no idea of and one that is found in less than a third of the field guides and other books dealing with insects and lepidopterans, in particular, moths.
It was two weeks ago when I was walking along the Long Beach parking lot road in Noyac when Vicki Bustamante pointed to something in the dune area between Long Beach Road and the parking lot. Not good, she said.
On Monday evening after a record high temperature for March 12 I went out at night to listen for spring peepers. Between 8:30 and 10, I visited 11 known peeper breeding sites and heard not a single peep. The sites were watery, but apparently not watery enough. Peepers and other frogs and toads that breed in water, as do all of ours on Long Island and all but one of our salamander species, generally don’t move from the ground until there’s a rain, and it hasn’t rained sufficiently for at least two weeks now.
On Friday, for the second time in two weeks, I visited the largest of the three Atlantic white cedar swamps in the hamlet of North Sea with a fellow naturalist. Prior to those two visits, I hadn’t seen it since around 1983 when I visited with Rameshwar Das, who was a photographer for The East Hampton Star at the time.
“The View From
The first column I wrote for The East Hampton Star was in March of 1981. It was about Alosa pseudogarengus, the alewife, of the now-threatened river herrings. As far as Long Island post-Columbian history is concerned, the alewife ranks right up there with the quahog, steamer clam, bay scallop, oyster, and right whale.
The weather was springlike on Friday and I had the good fortune of accompanying Howard Reisman and Vicki Bustamante to a Southampton Town preserve that I hadn’t visited since the spring of 1979. At that time the 50 acres or so of wooded bottomland on each side of a meandering stream was in private hands. It was up before the Southampton Town Planning Board as a proposed subdivision with umpteen parcels.
With the exception of a few below-freezing days and a dash of snow now and then, it’s been an especially mild winter and, if things don’t change, one that will surely go into the record books. Blame fossil fuel and wood burning, wild animals, livestock, pets and humans flatulating, volcanoes spewing, natural gas fracking, and the further decomposition of organic deposits such as peat.
An authority on rope suggested to me that vines that climb up trees go up clockwise just as the first course of rope is laid in its manufacture. Do all vines go “right-handed,” like rope? Of course, a right-handed vine is only right-handed when looking up from the ground. Looking down from its top it is left-handed or counterclockwise.
As the Northern Hemisphere continues to warm up, natural selection will reverse a long-term trend in warm-blooded animal evolution known as Allen’s Rule. Mammals that stay active in the winter tend to have thicker fur than those that hibernate, just as the plumage of seabirds is thicker than that of land birds in general.