Tamed Woods – An Urban Boy Scout Tames the East Hampton Wild
By David Mazujian
Ahhh, summer in The Hamptons. The summer brings fabulous weather (except for hurricanes and lightning storms), BBQ’s, family gatherings, as well as traffic and an influx of people from foreign lands (i.e., those not from the East End). During these summer months, we also witness the appearance of all forms of wildlife. Many of us spend so much time hosting house guests, going to town or the beach, getting ready for parties and dinners, that we forget we are amidst an abundance of wildlife.
Today, when pulling out of the driveway, I came upon a large turtle making a slow, determined beeline for my property – wow! We have turtles out here! I sat in my car, amazed, and stayed to watch the performance and see the green crawler make it off the road onto the grass. It took a few minutes, but he (or she) made it! I’ve never seen a turtle on my property, much less a large green shell of a turtle! How exciting. I couldn’t wait to tell all my friends and thought this would trump anyone’s wildlife adventure of late. That is until my friend shared his discovery of a bullfrog in his living room the very same weekend! It remains a mystery how it actually got there. After a valiant attempt to remove the frog with his pool net, my friend’s handyman was fetched to return the wayward frog back to his natural habitat. But I digress.
I was a Boy Scout MANY years ago. I have fond memories of summer camp, finding rattlesnakes and brown recluse spiders under my tent platform and waking up in my lean-to only to find a furry creature slumbering on my slumbering bunk mate! So you’d think in my adult years, I would have been primed to be more at ease with nature literally in my backyard (sometimes in my home). Since I became an East Hampton resident in 2004, I have been on a continual wildlife journey and these are just some of my stories.
During my pre-closing inspection, the engineer found recent evidence of rodents in the cellar. Are you kidding? I’m from NYC – there are rodents in the Subway. I came out to the East End to escape from these creatures. Fast forward to my first post-closing BBQ. As if to mock me, I ran down the cellar to retrieve another bottle of Rose, only to find a rather large, smelly dead rodent at the foot of the stairs. Holy crap! In my home – how will I sleep? I successfully convinced one of my guests to remove the creature since I was, after all, doing the cooking and providing drink. Did I have to remove dead animals from my cellar too? I have since sealed up any cellar gaps and have a great relationship with my pest control company!
But what about moles and voles? Aren’t they rodents as well? And what exactly is the difference between moles and voles? Over dinner recently, the chatter was voles (or moles). Well, one species likes to take a moonlit dive into my pool and perish in the pool filter. Another species prefers to bore under my lawn, especially during the winter months. At first thaw, several trails appear and make an interesting garden design.
Then there are rodents of the First Airborne. I couldn’t wait to get my outdoor furniture. At last, I could bask in the East Hampton sun and enjoy dining al fresco. So one morning, I cranked open my new umbrella, only to find this rather large, mass of living fuzz inside. What is that? I mean seriously, what is it?? I wasn’t actually too startled, and casually went inside to get an umbrella to remove what resembled a hairy spider from my outdoor umbrella. With a gentle probe of the umbrella tip, it became immediately clear that this spider had wings and small ears and wasn’t at all happy about being disturbed. Ok, I’ll admit I ran inside like a frightened schoolgirl and called the pest control company – STAT. I pleaded for them to come and remove the bat from my brand spanking new outdoor umbrella. How can I dine al fresco now? Despite my desperate pleas for complete bat eradication (at least on my property), I learned that the pest control company would not come. Bats are good for the environment, especially since they devour insects. I’m happy to say my property is not “buggy” even at dusk. Now I know why and embrace the thought of these creatures (from a distance of course) flying with their mouths open, feeding to keep my yard less than “buggy.”