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  •    In less than two months it will be winter. Fall is the season for harvest and storage, in preparation for the cold months ahead. Very few of us maintain root cellars these days; we depend upon supermarkets and mom-and-pops to “store” our vittles. But in nature, October is a busy time. Those creatures that stay on to brave the sleet and snow are in full preparation.

  •    The scientists tell us that sea level is rising. The tide is coming in. In point of fact, sea level has been rising since about 12,000 years ago when the last ice age came to end. In some coastal areas it has risen a couple hundred feet, so sea-level rise is nothing new in the same way that volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and tidal waves are nothing new. It is only that those others were fast-acting, while sea-level rise is a creeper.

  •    As fall rapidly comes upon us and the evening songs of the tree crickets get slower in tempo and lower in pitch, everything else in nature is in motion, motion in all directions, sideways and up and down.
        Monarch butterflies fresh out of their pupae are flying south crossing roads and fields, looking for the ocean beach roadway as they begin their journey west, then south. Many of them will make it all the way to their winter retreat in the mountains of central Mexico.

  •    In 1999, an area two times the size of a football field was dug out of Sammy’s Beach in East Hampton to accommodate dredge spoil from the Three Mile Harbor inlet and channel. The hole was big enough to accommodate nearly 100,000 cubic yards, but the dredge job produced less than a fifth of that.

  •    Norman Taylor was a well-traveled botanist and the curator of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In 1923 he published a monograph on the flora of Montauk, subtitled “A Study of Grassland and Forest.” He probably picked Montauk because it was largely undeveloped and had the second largest prairie on Long Island, and it was topographically varied and bathed with seawater on three sides. Montauk had just about every kind of habitat found elsewhere on Long Island with the exception of pine barrens.

  •    Summer is winding down, but not with a whimper. It’s been a hot one, yes, but also one free of gypsy moths and cankerworms, and the woodlands as of this date are fully foliaged and resplendent in spots. We are blessed on Long Island with almost one of every kind of habitat in America’s lower 48, with the exception of deserts and alpine forests, and the East End has most of them, so it is an ecologist’s dream, at least this ecologist’s dream.

  •    People have been asking, “Where have the birds gone?” There are very few birds in my own backyard here in Noyac, An occasional blue jay, robin, Carolina wren, but no steady comers with the exception of crows, which visit regularly beginning at dawn.
        On the other hand, Terry Sullivan, who lives near the water’s edge in Sag Harbor, has no shortage of feathered friends. More often than not his birdbath is filled to capacity.

  •    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.