May Newsletter

May 29, 2024 | The Sandpiper

Hello, my little birding friends! Hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the birds. The winter birds and ducks have left, and the spring and summer ones are arriving. Some are just passing by, and some will stay.

We’ve been having our bird walks and Ken puts out a little blurb about them a few days later. On one of them we saw a Great Horned Owl fly overhead after the crows kept crowing and chased him away. On one walk, at Hempstead State Park, we heard a lot of birds chirping and Ken and Jack knew who they were!! Jack said some were Bay-breasted and blackpoll warblers. I had never even heard of them. We also saw a Baltimore Oriole. Sadly, some walks were cancelled due to rain. Check your emails for upcoming walks.

We have amazing bird walks coming up and the leaders are great, so knowledgeable! We honored them at our recent annual dinner at Captain Bills, which was also amazing and so well-attended.

Thanks to Annette for doing such a great job getting it all together and thanks to all who donated prizes, came to the dinner and also to the board for helping out. It was nice to see faces I haven’t seen in a while! Mike and I won a few nice prizes too!

Our speaker, John Turner, gave a great presentation on the Pine Barrens and conservation. A lot of good important information that most of us did not know about. It’s important to save these places, such as Fire Island, for future generations and preserve our island home. I can’t even imagine what it would be like without it.

I grew up going to Fire Island when Davis Park was called LEGA Beach. The initials were the first or last names of the men who discovered it. They later changed it to Davis Park. My father built an 18 ft. outboard boat, and we would go crabbing before we went to the beach. I was about 7 years old and would stand on the bow of the boat and call out where they were. He almost couldn’t keep up! The bay was so clean I could see the crabs in the grass. When we got a bushel of crabs, we would go to the beach.

Back then, the entrance to LEGA beach had sand spits and we would beach the boat. Now there are none, due to erosion. So that’s why conservation is so important. It’s also important for the birds. They need places to live and eat. We don’t have to build on every spot on the island and we have to preserve what we have for future generations.

​I also want to thank Deputy Supervisor Neil Foley for preserving over 100 acres of open space properties on Long Island. And don’t forget to bring your coffee cups and any other garbage home with you and not throw it out of your car window!!! Enjoy the summer and the birds!

The Shape of Things to Come

by Annette Brownell

I love nature. I love natural beauty and shape.

I grew up in the era where people who thought they may never be able to afford a home, were able to buy one. People took a lot of pride in their homes and yards. My parents where those people. My father grew up in Brooklyn, terribly poor. When his family moved out here to Selden, his father, like the rest of the neighborhood, built his own house out of cinderblock.

These city folks planted and pruned and manicured their properties. The time came when my mom and dad were able to buy a piece of property from her parents’ farm and build their own home. My father landscaped and manicured and pruned. We had Azaleas that were shaped like little round balls and hedges that were square and straight.

One day my aunt took me to Westbury Gardens. There were huge Azalea bushes there in all sorts of irregular shapes. Beautiful! I started noticing plants all around, with wonderful free-spirited shapes! Forsythia was not designed to be a square bush! Crazy.

I tried to encourage my father to leave his bushes alone – let them become who they were meant to be. I was fairly unsuccessful. But my yard is another story. I clip and prune too, but it’s for maintenance sake. I regularly prune my trees, taking out the unnecessary, removing big wood from bushes and clipping out dead. Maintenance is important for health trees and shrubs.

As of late, however, I have seen the most horrible thing happen. People aren’t pruning their azaleas into balls. They are pruning their oaks and maples into balls! At first it was in these townhouse complexes – trees hideously chopped and maimed. Now it’s everywhere. PSEG is a major culprit.

But so are my neighbors – and your neighbors. Drive down the road and you will see – it’s like an epidemic. Horrifying! Beautiful health trees with their wonderful huge branches reaching toward the heavens, housing and protecting all sorts of God’s creatures – with their arms cut off. When did we get so stupid?

Nature is beautiful. Natural shape is beautiful. We all have one. Take care of the shape that was given to you and take care of the nature that has been entrusted to you.




A  Walk In Brookside Park
by Elaine Kiesling Whitehouse

Elaine Kiesling Whitehouse

I enjoy walking in Brookside Park in West Sayville, which is across Brook Street from Sayville High School. One day I walked to my favorite spot beside the pond and noticed a large black backpack near the edge of the pond. I assumed it belonged to one of the students who had forgotten it. Iwalked over to it to see if there was a nametag, but I soon realized it was not a backpack at all. It was a big snapping turtle! It was close to a yard long and had visible claws about four inches long. I did not get close enough to get an accurate measurement, needless to say.

I sat on the park bench for a while and took a few pictures. It must have seen me there because in a few minutes is stuck its head out all the way and lumbered to the edge of the pond and slithered in. I could see a trail of bubbles following its path as it swam away underwater.

Ugly as it was, I was glad to see it because it indicated species diversity and good health of the pond. I wondered how old it was.

According to Internet sources like, a snapping turtle weighs about 23 pounds and has an average bite force of 209 Newtons of force. They can bite off a finger. They are not usually aggressive in the water, but they may lunge and snap while on land.

A snapping turtle can live to be about 45 years in the wild. The oldest documented snapping turtle was named Thunder. He died in 2016 at the age of 150 at the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati.

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