As an example let’s take the blue jay, a bird just about everybody knows since it’s a common species in suburbia, often frequenting backyard feeders and making jay! jay! sounds as pairs and packs fly about the neighborhood. Blue jays are wonderful examples in better understanding bird coloration…
If you visit just about any salt marsh fringing Long Island’s interdigitated coastline, you’ll experience the fiddlers – they simply can’t be avoided. And while you won’t hear fiddle music, despite the fact there are many hundreds if not thousands of fiddler’s ceaselessly “rosining up their bows”…
You are a Monarch Butterfly. Autumn has arrived and you are crouched on a branch on Long island at the starting block of a marathon flight. Your number is on a round plastic tag attached to your wing. While your attention is to the prevailing winds and the passing cirrus clouds, you are aware of the wing that is wearing the identity tag, much like a marathon runner wears a number on his shirt. But with a few differences.
Picture a beautiful beach day at Fire Island National Seashore. The sun is shining, the waves rolling, and beachgoers rest upon the sand. Now imagine that you are working, not vacationing, at the beach. Every August, while everyone else is jumping into the ocean, National Park Service (NPS) staff spend hours walking in hot, soft sand, in search of a very special plant: seabeach amaranth.
As they continue their journey from that Sargasso Sea and move more fully into freshwater, juvenile American eels start to gain pigmentation and turn from translucent “glass eels” into “elvers.” Dams remain a significantly obstacle, greatly reducing their ability to reach freshwater habitat.
Imagine spending the winter months stark naked in a damp, frozen woodland environment. It’s a chilling prospect, is it not? One that dwarfs any self-described Polar Bear Club’s seconds-long winter swim. But there is a creature, native to Long Island, which does just that. This species is no 100+ pound, hairy mass of endothermic (warm-blooded) protoplasm dressed in a Speedo, but rather, an ectothermic (cold-blooded) critter weighing in at less than a quarter ounce, that endures this wintry imprisonment unclad and unconscious. It spends the winter barely protected, perhaps under a log or burrowed beneath the leaf litter.
Diadromous fish (Greek for “running through”) are those unique species that migrate between fresh and salt water. There are two general types: anadromous fish (“running up”) and catadromous fish (“running down”). The former spend most of their lives in saltwater, but migrate into freshwater to spawn; the later do the opposite.
At the landscaping company where I spent my summer breaks from college, you knew it was going to be a good day if at the 7 a.m. job allocations you were assigned to work with Kenny. Of the half dozen or so foremen, he was the most coveted by the summer laborers. He was a reluctant taskmaster and was usually sent to the most out-of-the-way jobs (more time in the truck meant shorter work days). He was even known to stop for ice cream on the way back to the yard on occasion.
Fall foliage is different.
In late August, photographer Tommy Hakiel anchored his boat in Champlin Creek in Islip, just off the eastern shore of the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge. He was on the lookout for birds to photograph, but suddenly found himself in the midst of a battle for fishing rights. The fracas was between two female Belted Kingfishers. The collection below is his photo essay from the nearly 45-minute encounter …