Featured Story

Richard’s Almanac: Nature up close

I seem to be becoming more aware of the activities and habits of the Island’s fauna around my home during this current isolation.

Just last week my son-in-law told me about the beautiful fluffy red fox he saw walking across the field adjacent to his house.

While he was admiring the fox he noticed that there was something in its mouth — one of my granddaughter’s chickens. She’s been letting them free-range during the day and lost one last year to a hawk.

However, she didn’t seem worried about foxes. The coop was too close to other structures.

But the chicken went a bit too far afield and made a very nice dinner for the fox. The chickens that are left now spend their lives in the coop and continue to produce eggs. I’m O.K. with that because now I can plant grass seed and not have it eaten up before it gets a chance to root.

Although I do feel bad about Scruffy’s demise (my granddaughter has names for all her chickens).

Another day I was watching the activities of some crows high in the trees around the house. I saw two and they were making a racket. I watched them and another four crows flew to join them. It seemed as though they were being summoned. Then I watched them dive down to the lawn.

They were going after pieces of stale bread that I had scattered about for the birds. I know that crows are birds but they seem too aggressive to me. I would rather that the family of cardinals living in the bushes eat the bread.

I learned to dislike the crows when a small flock denuded my pear tree of small fruits. I was going to pick them in a few days but my crow friends beat me to it. I guess you have to wrap the tree in a form of netting to prevent these occurrences.

When we had some windy weather last week, I saw some branches in the road and went to pick them up. One thing that did not make sense was that they were not branches that were part of the tree above. I attributed it to some aberration of nature and the vagaries of wind. Then I saw some more sticks on the front lawn. We didn’t have much wind and there were no trees above.

What’s causing this? Not a great problem, but enough of a mystery to cause curiosity when you have nothing else to do — like when you’re in quarantine.

I figured out the cause of the branches one day when I saw one fall from the sky being accidentally dropped by an osprey adding to his nest high up in a tall tree across the road. I’ve heard that these birds, once rare, are now a common sight here, and can be quite messy when making their nests.

I always notice debris on the ground underneath a nest on a pole on the first Ram Island Causeway. It’s right near where I have a boat mooring. The osprey used to love sitting atop the mast of my sailboat and also splatter the deck with his droppings. He also spent some time pulling on one of the attachment points of one of the mast stays. It became detached.

I remember some 40 years ago during my first tour at this newspaper, you could hear the osprey chicks chirping in this nest. How great would it be to get a picture of them, I thought. You’d need a bucket to safely get up that high.

Well, I asked my neighbor, Tom Young, the Island’s LILCO man, if we could up and get a picture. He said “Sure,” and we met at the nest. I have a great fear of heights and was unable to get into the bucket. So Tom took my camera and piloted himself up and snapped a photo that ran in the paper. A great shot.

It’s also pretty cool to see the activities of the much-maligned deer. I know that they are carrier of ticks, but they look great and we’re fortunate to be able to see them up close.

So stay healthy, keep your distance and enjoy all that this great island has to offer.