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Contact: Paula Valentine, 631-687-4759
Fire Island National Seashore's special programs for May 2012 reflect the progression of spring along the South Shore of Long Island. This month, most of the guided walks and activities focus on the observation of migratory bird life or horseshoe crabs, and the elements of the night sky that affect their orientation and navigation during migration.
The 20th anniversary of International Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, May 12, 2012, and this year's theme is "Connecting People to Bird Conservation." To celebrate this occasion, and in recognition of the annual return of many species of migratory birds to the South Shore of Long Island, several appropriate programs are offered on Fire Island and at the William Floyd Estate this month.
- A naturalist-guided Old Mastic International Migratory Bird Day Walk will be held at the William Floyd Estate on Saturday, May 12, and Sunday, May 20,from 9:00 - 11:30 a.m. (Free parking at 245 Park Drive, Mastic Beach; call 631-399-2030.)
- An International Migratory Bird Day at the Sunken Forest program will be offered at Sailors Haven on Saturday, May 19, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. (Take the 9:30 a.m. ferry from Sayville to Sailors Haven; fee for ferry and for parking; call 631-589-8980 for ferry information, or 631-687-4780 for program information.)
- International Shorebirds East Coast and West, a presentation by Rafael Cruz, a National Park Service Park Flight Migratory Bird Program intern and international volunteer from Baja, Mexico, will be held at the Patchogue-Watch Hill Ferry Terminal on Sunday, May 20, from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. (Free parking at 150 West Avenue, Patchogue; call 631-687-4780.)
During these programs, participants will get some tips on responsible bird watching practices, while also learning how to identify birds by sight and sound. More than 330 species of migratory, resident or overwintering birds have been recorded on Fire Island and at the William Floyd Estate, which are a part of the Atlantic Flyway. More than 60 species of birds are known to nest within the boundaries of the park. Fire Island National Seashore's wooded and ocean and coastal habitats play a vital role for wintering, migrating and breeding birds. International Migratory Bird Day spring bird counts provide valuable citizen science input, similar to that from the Annual Backyard Bird Count in February.
Another annual migration on Fire Island's shoreline is the return of the horseshoe crab. Programs at the Fire Island Lighthouse and at the Wilderness Visitor Center during May (and into June) feature the intriguing, prehistoric-looking horseshoe crab, as it commences its annual mating ritual on the beach. Participants will also learn about Fire Island National Seashore's fascinating horseshoe crab tagging and monitoring program, which started last year, and is now being conducted at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and Gateway National Recreation Area, too.
- A multifaceted family festival, Horseshoe Crabs: Living Fossils, will be held at the Fire Island Lighthouse on Saturday, May 5, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Storytelling, arts and crafts for kids, updates by scientists, demonstrations, and videos. (Parking at Robert Moses State Park, Field #5; $4 fee for program; for reservations/information call 631-661-4876.)
- Part of a monthly series for children, Seaside Stories and Crafts: Horseshoe Crabs will be held at the Wilderness Visitor Center on Saturday, May 12, from noon to 1:00 p.m.(Parking at Smith Point County Park; free program; for information call 631-281-3010.)
- An evening program geared for all ages, the Night of the Horseshoe Crab observation program will be held at the Fire Island Lighthouse on Friday, May 18, from 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. (Parking at Robert Moses State Park, Field #5; free program; for information call 631-687-4780.)
- An additional horseshoe crab program specifically geared for children ages 8 - 12, Junior Ranger Workshop: Horseshoe Crab Defenders, is offered at the Wilderness Visitor Center on Saturday, May 26 from noon to 1:00 p.m. (Parking at Smith Point County Park; free program; for information call 631-281-3010.)
Other May 2012 programs include a Cultural Landscape Walking Tour at the William Floyd Estate on Sunday, May 6, at 10:00 a.m., which also includes an opportunity to watch for birds and other spring wildlife. Grounds are currently open Friday - Sunday (10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.). Old Mastic House Tours, offered on the half-hour from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Friday - Sunday and holidays, begin this season on May 25.
Programs at the Wilderness Visitor Center include Sea Shanties on Friday, May 4, at 7:00 p.m., the Flower Moon Sunset Walk on Sunday, May 6 from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., and Star Watch: A Night of Astronomy on Friday, May 11 from 7:30 - 10:00 p.m. Each of these programs is free. Parking is available at Smith Point County Park.
At the Fire Island Lighthouse, additional special programs this month include a Lighthouse Keepers Behind the Scenes Tour, on Saturday, May 12, at 9:00 a.m. (A fee is charged for this tour and reservations are required; call 631-661-4876) and the monthly lecture in the Fresnel Lens Building, "Fire Island: Beach Resort and National Seashore," on Sunday, May 20 at 2:00 p.m. with author Shoshanna McCollum.
For a complete list of programs and more information: