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  • While out scanning the frozen waters of Noyac Bay and Upper Sag Harbor Cove on Monday, I noticed that one of my favorite trees and the largest tree alongside Long Beach Road, a willow, was already yellowing up, anticipating spring and flowering time, which comes early for the willow clan.

  • All of a sudden after a worldwide record warm year in 2014, the winter turns frigid. Noyac Bay is half frozen, all of the freshwaters are iced up, the ground is still covered with a couple of feet of snow, and the land and water birds are having a hard time of it. These are the times when nature hangs in the balance and familiar themes drop out and alien ones take over.

  • The biggest Long Island snowstorm that I can remember was the one that occurred in 1947, two days after Christmas. My family was visiting my Aunt Esther and Uncle Jake’s family in West Hills for the holidays.
  • Only 37 days till March and the return of the ospreys and piping plovers. So far, it hasn’t been much of a winter as far as brutal weather events are concerned. The local freshwater bodies froze over, as they almost always do, while some of the salt creeks and lagoons, to wit, Upper Sag Harbor Cove and Otter Pond, were glazed over with the usual coating of thin New Year ice. The edges of the bays in the Peconics system have been white on and off with a pudding of concentrated seawater ice crystals.

  • A cruise around the South Fork last Thursday revealed that about 99 percent of the deciduous tree leaves had fallen. The ground beneath the oaks, hickories, and other trees on either side of the roads in Northwest and Middle Line Highway and Old Sag Harbor Road in Bridgehampton were completely covered with brownish leaves from this year’s crop. The woods, per se, were as they should be, bare trees, underbrush, and a thick leaf groundcover.

  • Long Island’s annual holiday-season breeding bird counts have come and gone, the last, the Orient Count, finishing up the lot on Saturday. The two closest to home were the Orient count, which includes part of Noyac, Sag Harbor, North Haven, and East Hampton’s Northwest Woods, and the Montauk count, which includes Amagansett, Springs, Montauk, and Gardiner’s Island.

  • It’s the new year and the East End is looking good. The days get longer by a minute or two every 24 hours. As Shelley wrote, when winter comes, spring can’t be far behind.
  • The winter birds are here and hungry. The Pennys haven’t had a winter feeding station out for more than five years running — no more rats, but very few birds. Having been recently stimulated by watching visitors feed the birds at the Morton Wildlife Refuge a few blocks down the road in Noyac, I decided it was time for me to return to the practice. My understanding of avian ways had become blurred because I had stopped observing them at close range.

  • Pines and oaks are the most common native trees on Long Island. There are two species of pines, pitch and white, and at least seven species of oaks. Oak trees are long-lived — white oaks such as those on Gardiner’s Island can live to 400 or 500 years, equaling the longevity of white pines, while pitch pines, which George Washington called “ill thriven” on his one trip here, are lucky if they make it to the century mark.

  • Trees figure prominently in Long Island street and road names, much more so than animals. Why? Perhaps it’s because trees are large in stature and immobile, while animals are smaller and liable to be in one place one day and another the next.