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  • The nation is shut down. It’s not for me to open it up. What’s worse to my locally oriented mind, however, is the stuff against nature that has been going down right under our noses here on the South Fork for the past several years.
  • One of the big birds counted in the Dec. 29 Orient Christmas Bird Count, which includes North Haven, was the female Barrrow’s goldeneye, seen by Terry Sullivan, who has been covering that territory during annual count for 26 years running.
  • Here we are starting a new year and who knows where it will take us? I’ve been an optimist all of my life and I don’t know why. Was it because I was born at home and attended to by Dr. Luce of Riverhead who made more house calls than he had office visits?
  • On Dec. 15 one of the oldest Christmas Bird Counts took place in East Hampton, the Montauk Count.
  • A feather is a heck of a thing. Yankee Doodle stuck one in his cap and called it “macaroni” almost three centuries ago. Native Americans used feathers at the end of the arrows to make them go straighter when launched from the bow. Feathers are used far and wide and during the kill-for-plumes era here in America, several plume bearers such as the egrets almost became extinct, which led to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 in the United States, which banned almost all forms of plume hunting.
  • Get out of the woods — or get out your shotguns and muzzleloaders, the Long Island hunting season for deer begins on Jan. 6. Hunting deer legally in Suffolk County in January is a special exception to the rule.
  • In biology there is something known as sexual dimorphism; the two sexes are different in one or more ways. It even applies to some insects such as the swallowtail butterflies. Almost all vertebrates exhibit some form of sexual dimorphism.
  • Water and air. Two of the basic elements of our planet, and when the water occupies the surface they are intimately related. These two forms of matter exchange gases both during the day and the night.
  • It is the time of the year when migration at sea is almost over for the bluefish, striped bass, and marine turtles. The marine turtles — green, leatherback, loggerheads, and Kemp’s ridleys — are sluggardly in their movement south and don’t swim faster than most people walk.
  • Monday was the first really cold day of fall. Frost had formed overnight on lawns, but it was sunny. Victoria Bustamante picked me up and we were off to Caumsett State Park at the very northwest end of Suffolk County and the Long Island Sound. Once the estate of Marshall Field, complete with a dairy farm, it is now a beautiful 1,500-acre preserve with a local Matinecock Indian name meaning “place by a sharp rock.” The sharp rock was one of several glacial erratics left when the last advance of the Wisconsin glaciation swept down across the whole of northern America more than 10,000 years ago, creating the North Fork and the morainal line of Harbor Hills that runs along the Sound from Southold on the east to beyond Great Neck at the edge of New York City on the west.