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  •    Something is happening. Our most common creepy-crawling amphibian, the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus, is beginning to go missing.

  •    A month ago on a record hot Thursday, I attended a “poisonous plants” course conducted by Susan K. Pell, Ph.D., at the New York Botanical Garden. It was my first visit to that institution and one that turned out to be directly related to the vegetation in my Noyac yard.
        I had wondered for more than 20 years why many of the plant species have been consistently untouched by the deer that routinely visit the yards of my neighbors.

  •    As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “What’s all this fuss about chickens?” 
       Having been born and raised next to my grandfather’s chicken farm in Mattituck, where he tended a flock of up to 5,000 chickens, I am quite partial to them. You might say the first bird species I learned was the once-wild fowl, Gallus gallus, or in this case, white leghorn, and the first bird I ever heard sing was the rooster.

  •    Native plants not only produce stuff that you can eat, but also attract insects, so if you convert a lawn into a natural habitat and include different native plant communities — we’ll call them micro communities — you will increase diversity of the resident fauna to the max.
        More and more local people are doing this.

  •    There are a lot of things I would like to see for the first time before I give up the ghost. I have a list of them — five pages long — that I keep adding to. On occasion Saint Serendipity takes me to one not on my list.

  •    Monday night was a little cooler than the weekend evenings but apparently it was warm enough to get one group of night singers going, the snowy tree crickets. Shortly before dusk those around my house in Noyac burst into song. As is typical, their opening chorus was short lived but louder than usual, drowning out for a second the noise of the very busy traffic along Noyac Road.

  •    I’ve never heard anyone utter anything nasty about butterflies. About moths, yes, but not butterflies. In just about every other animal group, particularly within the many insect families, there are hordes of species — bedbugs, mosquitoes, yellow jackets, termites, carpenter ants, deer flies, weevils, locusts, what have you — that have been called every curse word in the book. But butterflies have been spared. Why?

  •    The e-news just reported that sea level is rising on America’s East Coast faster than on the West Coast. What this translates into is the retreat of beaches and bluffs, the flooding of tidal wetlands, and the salting of drinking water wells situated close to the sea. On the other hand, while there will be losses and changes, there will also be more of the same.

  •    I went out on Saturday evening to listen for whippoorwills. It was a quiet night and near 60 degrees. The conditions should have been ideal for calling wills, but between dusk and 10:15 I covered 23 miles of back roads in Noyac, Watermill, and Bridgehampton, stopping at least 20 times with lights and motor off and did not record a single whippoorwill.

  •    On Monday I found the first adult chigger, a k a harvest mite, climbing up the driver’s side door of my pickup truck. It was about the size of an adult deer tick and orangey. [Please see editor's note below.] Adult chiggers, themselves, are no cause for alarm, as they feed on plant material. It’s the thought of their babies that will emerge in August that distressed me, bringing to mind 26 years of annual chigger bite attacks here on the South Fork beginning in September of 1986.