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  •    On April 22, I drove down to Arlington, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., with my daughter, Angela, who was visiting me from California. It was a bright sunny day with nary a cloud and not much of a wind. From New Jersey through Delaware through Maryland to Virginia, the sky over the highways 60 to 100 feet above the pavement was filled with sailing turkey vultures. We must have seen more than 25, mostly singles, sometimes in pairs.

  •    It was a bright, sunshine-filled Sunday afternoon when I pulled into the parking lot of Morton Wildlife Refuge in Noyac with my daughter, Angela, from San Francisco. The parking lot was jammed packed with vehicles. I found the only open spot — half in the woods, half out. With my camera and bag of black sunflower seeds at the ready, Angela and I proceeded into the reserve and followed the east trail, the one that takes you to the pond, the large tulip trees, and the state-endangered swamp cottonwoods.

  •    As of Monday, the red flowers of the swamp maples and yellow flowers of the spice bush are out, the wood anemones are about to bloom, and the smooth shads will follow shortly. It was a record cold March and April hasn’t been all that warm, but the native plants are beginning to show their colors.

  •    People have been asking me about the completely browned-off white pines that resulted from the passing of superstorm Sandy at the end of last October.

  •    Well, we finally had a spate of spring-like weather. On Saturday, a phoebe was calling around my house, joining the two-week siege of grackle, redwing blackbird, cardinal, Carolina wren, and tufted titmouse calling and singing. Phoebes show up when the insects begin popping out, and they started popping out over the weekend like mad.

  • <P>If only Robert Moses, New York’s supreme 20th-century planner and doer, could revisit one of his first parkland acquisitions, Hither Hills State Park, and take a look as the gem of that park system, the Walking Dunes, he would feel very confident that his decision was well made.
  •    Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, is a plant of the Northern Hemisphere and a species that occurs throughout most of North America except for in the South and West. A flowering plant in the Jack-in-the-pulpit family, it is one of the first plants to flower each year and thus is a true harbinger of spring. The second half of its scientific name refers to its fetid smell, not unlike the effluvia emitted by a defensive skunk or the scent a red fox uses to mark its territory.

  •    Who was it that said you can make naturalist into a scientist, but it’s almost impossible to teach a scientist to become a naturalist?

  •    One more storm and then spring’s a-poppin’. In Noyac on Friday daffodils and daylilies began to sprout. Two weeks ago skunk cabbages were in bloom in Morton Wildlife Refuge in Noyac and at Big Reed Pond in Montauk. As of last Friday, deer ticks, both the blackish males and reddish-backed females, were crawling onto shoes, socks, and trousers in the shrub lands in Montauk east of the lake.

  •    Last Thursday, Karen Blumer, Vicki Bustamante, and I went north to Albany. After leaving Long Island it was bedrock all the way north along the Hudson River. The advance of the last ice sheet of the Wisconsin glaciation purportedly carved out the river basin that is over a mile wide in some places and stretches a good 200 miles. It is oriented north to south, so it makes sense that a quarter-mile-high glacier coming from Canada would be capable of making such a deep gouge and simultaneously creating the Palisades along the west side.