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Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:00

Strange Winter Visitor

This strange winter got a bit stranger at Seatuck last night. Just as we were closing up for the night, a bat (little brown, I think) came swooping into our main office, did a few laps around the large room and landed on the wall. We opened the door to the office balcony (if that sounds strange, you'll have to come for a visit!), but it didn't seem interested in going outside. Instead, it fell off the wall into another series of gentle circles around the room. When it finally took a break, I managed to coax it into a large butterfly net. Then I stood on the balcony and held the net upright into the darkness. The bat climbed up the netting to the rim, perched for a moment (as if to say "do I really have to") and then leaped into the night. It did a few large swooping circles over our terrace before flying up over the building and disappearing.

It was a bittersweet moment. I'm always relieved to catch and release an animal without injury, but the prospects for a bat flying off into a winter night are not particularly good, even in this winter. The warm weather may give it a chance to find new place to settle into a proper hibernation, but there's no flying insects to be found, so it won't be able to restore lost energy. Given the devastation that the still mysterious "white nose syndrome" has caused eastern bat populations, every healthy bat is precious. I didn't see any white fungus growing on this bat, but it's unusual to see them active this time of year. Maybe our little visitor was just confused by the warm weather. Here's to hoping it's healthy and that it finds a good place to await the return of the real spring.

- Enrico

Here's a short clip of the bat in the butterfly net:

Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:00

Flying Finish

What a night.  It started with Seatuck's annual Holiday Potluck at the nature center.  An amazing collection of food and desserts, great people and fantastic music from Bob Pinnola and Mike Immerman (the "acoustic" Suburban Brothers!).  During the party, I also had the great pleasure of giving our annual volunteer award (the Good Tern Award) to two of my favorite people: Peter and Noreen DiMento.  It was certainly a well-deserved honor, as they are simply two of the most important parts of the Seatuck family.

Then, to top off the night ... after getting home and heading out to walk my dog, Jackson, I had - for the first time in my life - the incredible experience of seeing a flying squirrel in flight ... twice!  

I was standing under the glow of a streetlight in the middle of an intersection waiting for Jackson to finish sniffing around a tree when some motion right in front of me caught my eye.  I looked up to see something drift across the dim light and disappear around the side of a large oak.  My first thought was woodpecker because it flew horizontally at first, then slowed down and straightened up to near vertical as it got close to the tree. Everything about the motion said woodpecker, but it was the middle of the night - it couldn't be.  And sure enough, when I moved around the tree for a better view there was a flying squirrel climbing up the trunk!  It was unmistakeable: big black eyes, crisp white under its chin and body, and that cute tail.  And just in case there was any doubt, it climbed a bit more and then launched off again, effortlessly gliding across a front yard to the trunk of another large oak.  It was such a beautifully unexpected thing to see that it literally gave me the chills.  There, in the middle of my densely developed Long Island neighborhood, was a wild flying squirrel going about its nightly rounds. You just never know when Mother Nature is going to treat you, do ya?  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful night.

- Enrico

Thursday, 09 May 2013 00:00

First Fox Kits


Out of the den and onto ... the road? I was surprised to find a mother fox with two kits on South Bay Avenue this morning. It was a unexpected treat. At this age (probably 4 or 5 weeks), they're usually more reclusive and keep close to their den. After capturing some video I did my best to scare them away - I hate the thought of them getting comfortable near the road. Also, listen carefully to the video for the unmistakable call of the Eastern Towhee - it's commonly identified as "drink-your-tea!"

Thursday, 16 December 2010 00:00

Fox Visit

December 16, 2010
Fox Visit [also in Wildlife]

Turns out our newest staff member, Jessie Comba, is not only a fantastic educator and all-round great person, but she's pretty adept with a camera, too.  Today she captured some beautiful images of a pair of neighborhood fox that stop by the Environmental Center to romp around for a while.  One of them dug up a cached carcass and ran off with it.  Beautiful animals, aren't they?  Enjoy.  Thanks, Jessie!

- Enrico The cache is found Digging The second fox kept an eye on the progress. The inevitable tussle ensued. One last look around.  Then ... she grabs it ... and is off ... with her prize.

Monday, 25 October 2010 00:00

KIC It! (Take Two)

KIC 1010 -2  
KIC - always there when we need them!

This past Saturday over twenty student volunteers from Islip High School's Keep Islip Clean Club arrived to help us get ready for the big Spooktacular weekend and our inaugural Owl Prowl 5K run.  They worked on assembling boardwalks and clearing trails for the upcoming events.  Their work, which continued a project they started in April when they helped us get ready for our Earth Day grand opening, has focused on our "North Woods Trail." Thanks to KIC's help, the new trail is nearly complete and will be officially opened to the public during the Halloween weekend.  KIC's partnership with Seatuck is an important part of a community leadership program that Islip's students have cultivated. KIC Junior Commissioners will share their experiences with students from other high school across Islip Township during their monthly meetings to encourage others to make a positive change in their community. Thanks to all the KIC team - we're thrilled to have you guys involved!

    - Enrico

Monday, 31 October 2011 00:00

Owl Prowl! [also in Owl Prowl 5K]

The 2nd Annual Seatuck Owl Prowl is in the books.  Despite the weekend’s weather, we had an amazing turnout (433 finishers!) and a great morning.  If you haven’t seen them, the full results can be found at Island Timing’s website (  

Also, photographer (and Seatuck volunteer!) Craig Low took a ton of amazing photos of the event, including all finishers, costumed participants and many of the Monster-Mashers.  You’d can see (6and purchase) his photos at this site (;jsessionid=24303c27ad2521d76233?&categoryId=0&eventInstanceId=23230&pageSize=200&curPage=1)

With the race fresh in my memory, here’s a few other random thoughts on the day:

• My first impression in the morning, like most everyone else’s, was that it didn’t feel much like Halloween.  With temps in the low-30s and the wind whistling, it felt like we should have been getting ready for a Turkey Trot or New Year’s Day run!  But –and this is somewhat hard to believe – after Saturday’s mess, I was very much pleased with the wake-up weather.  It certainly could have been much worse!

• I shared the start of my day (in the dark, really) with a small cadre of warriors – Mark Boyd (our story returns to him later), Peter Walsh, John Thomas and Tom Moldovan – that fearlessly went into battle against the mess left to us by Saturday’s weather.  There was standing water everywhere.  But these guys shoveled gravel, raked mud, moved platforms and did every cold, messy and back-breaking thing they could to ensure the course was ready for our runners and the property was safe and passable for our guests.  In the end, there may have been a few muddy shoes, but there were no major problems or complaints.  It was a (difficult) job well done.

• I was very impressed by our parking team, which included Frank Giaquinto, Glen Klimpel, Justine Walsh and “Team Velapoldi” (Mark, Sandy, Zack and Sydney).  These guys also did an amazing job with a difficult task: finding parking for 800+ people and getting them safely down to the property – all while keeping the race course clear.  I didn’t hear a single complaint from the participants this year.  Again, our volunteers made a difficult task look easy.

• It was great fun to be at the front of the race for the start – there’s nothing like the pre-race buzz that builds in anticipation of the starter’s horn.  It was heightened by a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem by Elizabeth Edwards and Rebecca Goess, by Terry Bisogno’s stirring sentiments about our troops serving overseas, and by The Selects horns piercing the crisp morning air.  And it was electrifying to watch over 500 runners surge forward at the sound of the starter’s horn.  Our fastest runners took off with such a burst that they briefly overtook our lead car!  The whole thing gave me chills.

• It was an honor to see Bea Huste Peterson at our race today.  Bea is the force behind the awesome EJ Autism Foundation and their annual East Islip race (which attracted 1200 runners this year!).  She has also been a valuable mentor and coach – giving generously of her experience and expertise in helping to get our race off the ground.  And she’s not just a run organizer, but a runner, too.  She was the 3rd female finisher in the Owl Prowl.  She seemed pleased; she told me she had been running, but not really training.  The difference is somewhat lost on a plodder like me, but I translated it to mean one thing: she can go faster.  I don’t doubt it.  Maybe for next year’s Owl Prowl!

• It was fun to watch our great friend Kay Erwood (one of Seatuck’s longest standing members) hand out the costume awards after the race.  Her full enthusiasm, charm and grace was on display as she presided over the ceremony – it’s no wonder she’s one of Islip’s most beloved residents!  And I have to say that she and her co-judge Martha Pinnola did a fine job whittling down an impressive field of contestants.  It was no easy task!  Thanks to everyone who came out in costume and congratulations to our winners.

 â€¢ I mentioned Mark Boyd earlier (he was one of those guys out in the cold, wet and muddy pre-dawn darkness helping to ready the property for the race).  Later in the morning – at about 16 minutes after the race start, in fact – I watched him out in front of our gate as his son, Michael (a sophomore at Islip High School), lead all runners down South Bay Avenue towards the finish line.  Mark’s usually pretty reserved, but he couldn’t help but beam as it became clear that Michael was in the lead.  But he quickly shifted gears from proud parent to coach, urging Micheal to stay ahead of Chris Richards, who was right on his heals in second place.  Michael didn’t disappoint - he held on to win in 17:59.  Chris, from Connetquot High School, finished just a few seconds behind in 18:03.  Third place went to John Theissen, who finished in 18:39.

• A couple of other impressive finishes I noticed:

-  Islip Councilman John Edwards – sporting his favorite Giants jersey – won his division (again!) in 21:17.

-  Carlie Leogrande, another Islip student, won her age group in the 16-19 division.

-  Kate Hanley – one of Seatuck’s star volunteers – not only worked the registration table all morning, but rushed off to join the race and WON HER DIVISION!

-  Our race results show Cole Cantin of Oak Beach, who finished 12th overall in 20:08 at being 10 YEARS OLD!  Is that right?  If so,

-   Did everyone see that Forrest Gump was in attendance?  He took 3rd place in his division in an impressive 21:44!

-  Congratulations to John, Carlie, Kate, Cole, Forrest and everyone who completed the race!

• The Monster Mash Dash was totally cute, wasn’t it?  It may have been a bit chaotic, but you just can’t beat the sight of dozens of costumed kids running theiIMG_5220r hearts out!  I was especially proud of my daughter, Jasmine, who was the first finisher in the 6-8 year old division – if you ask me, I thought she looked awesome motoring towards the finish in her pirate costume!  Thanks is owed to Regina Jacoby for not only organizing the (not so) mini-event … but also adding to the fun by dressing up like an owl!!

• Terry Bisogno was fantastic as always.  What can I even say about this guy?  He does so much to elevate the quality of our race.  We're lucky to have him.  Perhaps my mom summed up his impact best: she said it "was so cute" the way he said something about every runner;  he got her "interested in just about every finisher."  That's Terry!

• How cool was it to have live music at the finish?  I thought it was a nice touch - I hope people liked it.  Thanks to The Selects for coming out on a cold morning to play!

• For any of you who may not know, it takes a HUGE effort to pull off a race like the Owl.  I can’t begin to name and thank everyone who was involved.  Suffice it to say that we at Seatuck are deeply grateful and indebted to everyone who pitched in to make it possible (you know who you are!).  It may sound cliché, but we simply could not manage an event of this size without our incredible team of talented and dedicated volunteers.  Thank you to everyone!  And just one special note of thanks to Stephanie DerGarabedian and Andrea Wexler – as everyone involved with the race already knows, they did an amazing job!

 - Enrico

Monday, 30 January 2012 00:00

New Sign and (Hopefully) a Safer Crossing

January 30, 2012

I was pleasantly surprised to see this new sign on the road to the Environmental Center today ...


The road, as anyone who lives in the area knows, is like a race track ... literally.  As I learned during the years I lived at the nature center, it's not uncommon to hear engines screaming under the cover of darkness or to find tire marks littering the road in the morning - evidence of a night of speeding and drag-racing.  And even the general pace of traffic down the mile long stretch to the Islip Town Beach is far too fast.  Wildlife, of course, are too often the victims as they try to cross between the 70-acre Environmental Center and the 200-acre Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge.  We see dozens of animials - deer, racoon, fox, birds - killed on the road each year.

Hopefully the new sign will help.  Credit is owed to Islip's Bouler Family who pushed Seatuck and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (managers of the wildlife refuge) to write a letter to the Town about the problem.  And thanks is due to the Town of Islip for responding.  We hope the sign slows down the cars ... and helps more of our local wildlife move safely between our property and the wildlife refuge.

- Enrico

Friday, 21 October 2011 00:00

Autumn Decor

The crisp autumn air hasn't been the only refreshing shift Seatuck has received the past two weeks.  The building has received its annual fall makeover which wouldn't be complete without diligent volunteers, flying bats, a staircase spider, and mice climbing the light fixtures.  There's more to the decorating than just atmosphere however.   All of Seatuck's Halloween displays are designed to mimic the natural world by including only native animals you would find locally this time of year.

Everyone joined the creative process.  The Great South Bay Garden Club devoted hours to beautifying the Scully Mansion entrance and walkways.  Seatuck friend, volunteer, and decorator extraordinaire, Lisa Smith, took to the ladders to make sure the moss was perfected and the overhanging, lighted trees had plenty of spooky crows to keep the Halloween aura.  Enrico hand painted a fall moon for a shadowy owl display.  Families spun beautiful spider webs in the bird room.  We couldn't have done it without our numerous volunteers.  It's truly a work of art.

Friday, 18 April 2014 13:31

Front Page Alewife Press!

alewife adult hand square

More great press about our alewife work with the Village of Babylon! The Babylon Beacon ran the following piece on the Carlls River Fishway project on the front page of their April 18 issue ...

Apr2014 Beacon Article-1Apr2014 Beacon Article-2

The Carman's River, of course, is in Brookhaven, not Massapequa Creek. I think the author meant "and Massapequa Creek, where the project was started five years ago." And one other correction: we helped get some expert advice on the design of the fishway, but didn't supervise the structure's construction and installation. Anyone who knows anything about the Village of Babylon's fantastic DPW team knows that they certainly don't need any supervision from Seatuck when it comes to construction and installation! But I'm not complaining - it's a great article and we appreciate the Beacon's interest in the project! Thanks, Beacon!

- Enrico

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 21:23

First Fish!

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 4.07.15 PM

After several years of working with the Village of Babylon to restore alewife habitat in the Carlls River, we were thrilled this week to document the first fish using the new fishway at Argyle Lake. The fish is arguably the first fish to make it past the Argyle Lake dam since it was constructed in the 1880s! Learn more about the story and see footage of the pioneering alewife below ...



There are a lot of people who deserve credit and thanks for this small conservation victory. I have to start with Brian Kelder who, back in 2009 when he was Seatuck's Fisheries Scientist, commenced the conversation with the Village of Babylon about the idea of fish passage and helped them get funding for the project at Argyle Lake. Brian has long since moved on to Massachusetts (where he continues to work on migratory fish restoration for the Ipswich River Waterhshed Association), but his mark on Long Island is still being felt.

A great deal of credit is also due to Mayor Ralph Scordino and his team at the Village of Babylon. They (Skip, Scott, Junior and others) not only built and installed the fishway in-house (impressive, right?), but have also been a tremendous help in constructing the housing for the underwater camera and readying the site for the monitoring project. Thanks is owed to Carl Alderson and his colleague at NOAA's Restoration Center for supporting and helping to fund the project and to Alex Haro at the USGS Conte Lab for his technical advice in getting the camera to work. Finally, Seatuck has been fortunate to have the good help of Chris Scott (who will soon be returning to his work with DEC) - his skill, patience and persistence throughout this project was key in capturing the image of this pioneering alewife ... and all those that will follow! Thanks, everyone!

- Enrico

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