American oystercatchers — and many other birds — will do anything to protect their young. (Photo/Tina Green)
He unearthed some fascinating facts. For example, The Spruce says:
When drones are flown too close to rookeries or bird nests, the noise and unfamiliar presence of a drone could drive adult birds away. This can lead to neglect or abandonment of vulnerable eggs and chicks, reducing the breeding success of sensitive bird populations.
Some birds, particularly raptors, are very territorial about their nesting areas, and if drones are perceived to be a threat, the birds may attack the remote vehicles. This diverts the parent birds from caring for their hatchlings, foraging or otherwise tending to their own survival needs. Birds that attack drones could also be injured by moving blades or other parts of the equipment.
Birds that congregate on leks for courtship displays can be particularly sensitive to disturbances, and if a drone appears to be a flying predator, the birds may scatter prematurely. This can drastically impact their ability to find suitable mates, and if the lek is not revisited, it may take generations for birds to find and begin using another suitable site with the same success.
If a drone disturbs a foraging bird, the bird may abandon a good food source and be forced to seek less abundant or nutritious resources. This type of disruption can have a catastrophic impact on overall bird populations, as malnourished birds do not breed as successfully or raise as many healthy chicks.
Hold that drone!
Drones are banned from Connecticut Audubon Society sanctuaries. Click here for details.
Meanwhile, longtime Westporter Elaine Marino worries about the Saugatuck River “sludge” she sees lapping at the corner of Parker Harding Plaza, near the pedestrian bridge and “Starfish” sculpture behind Rye Ridge Deli.
Elaine says: “It appears to be composed of plant material (algae, grasses, reeds), oils of some type and some trash. I am concerned because I saw ducks swimming near the sludge.”
Parker Harding “sludge” (Photo/Elaine Marino)
“I would be happy to use a pool leaf skimmer net and try to remove as much as I can, if that is advisable. Do ‘06880’ readers have any thoughts? I want to make sure I do the right thing.”
If you’ve got ideas for Elaine, click “Comments” below. If the answer is “go for it,” she will!
If you have not finished watching “Mare of Easttown” — or if you intend to do so later — do not read on.
But if you saw the finale Sunday night on HBO Max, you know that the surprise killer was …
… young Ryan Ross.
The surprise, out-of-the-blue-but-now-it-seems-logical murderer in the wildly popular whodunit was played by Cameron Mann. When he’s not acting on the national stage, he’s a freshman (and basketball player) at Staples High.
Cameron’s role in the series starring Kate Winslet started slowly. But if local fans thought they hadn’t seen enough of him — well, hopefully, they watched to the end.
Stanford University had a great weekend at the NCAA Division I rowing championships in Sarasota, Florida — thanks in part to some local oarswomen.
Grace McGinley — a Staples High School 2017 grad and Stanford senior, received the NCAA Elite 90 award. It goes to one athlete in each NCAA sport with the highest cumulative grade point average competing in the championships. She is the first female rower in Stanford history to win the award.
Grace recently was honored with the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award too.
At the championships, Grace was joined by her sister Kelsey (Staples ’18, Stanford junior), in the Cardinal’s first varsity 8+ boat. They placed second, helping lead the team’s 3 boats to a 2nd-place finish overall. It was the highest team finish for Stanford women since 2011.
Kelsey McGinley recently received All Pac-12 Conference First Team honors. She has been called up to the U-23 national team selection camp, which begins today.
Noelle Amlicke (Staples ’19) is also a member of the Stanford women’s crew team (though she was not in Florida). Isabelle Grosgogeat (Staples ’18), was a coxswain for Princeton University women’s crew at the championships.
All 4 are Saugatuck Rowing Club alumnae. Two other SRC junior girls alums (non-Westport residents) coxed for the University of Michigan; 2 others rowed for Navy and the University of California.
And finally … today is the 74th birthday of Ronnie Wood. The former Faces and Jeff Beck Group member joined the Rolling Stones in 1975. But he was not an “official” Stone until Bill Wyman left in 1993.
The year before, he absolutely shredded “Seven Days,” at the 30th anniversary Bob Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden.
The state Department of Transportation plans work on 2.5 miles of I-95, from the Yankee Doodle Bridge in Norwalk to the Saugatuck River bridge. It includes reconstruction of the center median and right shoulders, and resurfacing the ramps at Exits 16 and 17.
The bridge over Saugatuck Avenue will be totally replaced. The new superstructure will be constructed adjacent to the existing bridge, and slid into place.
The bridges over Franklin Street and the Saugatuck River will undergo concrete deck repairs, and replacement of expansion joints.
A virtual public information session is set for Thursday, June 3 (7 p.m.). To access the meeting, and for information about commenting or asking questions, click here.
The estimated cost is $90 million. Construction is planned to begin this fall. DOT did not provide an anticipated end date.
This work is substantially more complex than the Kings Highway replacement project currently underway near Canal Street. Fingers crossed …
Traffic will flow less smoothly on the I-95 bridge over Saugatuck Avenue when construction begins this fall. (Photo/Mark Mathias)
Brette Warshaw’s love of food, food culture and food writing began in Westport.
In 3rd grade, she was reviewing local restaurants for the Long Lots Elementary School paper. (Angelina’s got a rave.)
At Staples High School, the 2009 graduate loved Alison Milwe Grace’s culinary classes. Brette wrote her college essay about working at the Weston Field Club snack shop.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked at the Food52 website, moving up to managing editor. Brette the became CFO of Lucky Peach, David Chang’s quarterly food journal.
She works at Apple News now (no food jokes, please!). She writes the daily Newsletter. She also wrote “What’s the Difference” — answering questions we’ve all wondered about. (What’s the difference, for example, between a balcony and terrace? Latino and Hispanic? A dash and a hyphen?)
In Brette’s special area of expertise, what’s the difference between broth and stock? Jam and jelly (and preserves)? Barbecuing and grilling? Chef and cook? Sweet potato and yam? Maître d’ and host?
She’s turned those important questions (spoiler alert: I have no idea about any of the answers) into a new book. What’s the Difference? Recreational Culinary Reference for the Curious and Confused will be published June 8. (Click here for more information, and to order.)
It’s irreverent, informative — and when I get a copy, I’ll let you know the answers.
Longtime Westporter George Manchester turns 90 in June.
His son Jeff — now raising his own family, in his home town — has planned a special gift. He hopes at least 90 “06880” readers will send his father “Happy Birthday” cards.
George spends summers in Maine. This year, he’ll arrive June 5. Going to the post office is an important part of his day. Let’s inundate him (and the PO) with cards!
Send to: George Manchester, PO Box 202, South Bristol, ME 04568. And feel free to pass this on to others!
George Manchester in 2017, just before the old Saugatuck Island bridge was torn down after damage from Superstorm Sandy. Decades earlier he was involved in the construction of that bridge, as president of what was then called the Saugatuck Shores Island Association (now the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District).
For today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, Tina Green writes:
“Some time in the last several days, the American oystercatcher eggs hatched at Compo Beach. This year there are 2 very healthy chicks. The adult female is limping, but will hopefully recover soon.
“The federally protected piping plovers are nesting on the most northern edge of the roped off area. I had the good fortune to witness the first egg being laid while observing the female early yesterday morning.
“Westporters are lucky to have a variety of bird species nest within our borders. About 88 species breed in the wide variety of habitats around town, including back yards, town parks, beaches and open spaces like Cockenoe Island and Aspetuck Land Trust properties.
“If the pandemic got you into birdwatching while at home, this is one of the best towns in the state to see and observe our feathered friends.”
American oystercatcher at Compo Beach (Photo/Tina Green)
Longtime Westporter Ronald Joseph Melino died on May 22. He was 91.
The South Bronx native transplanted himself and his family from the city he loved to Westport in 1967.
Melino studied biology at City College, and was a proud employee of American Airlines. He worked his way up from the La Guardia Airport terminal to the company’s executive offices at the Chrysler Building.
Original to his core, naturally charismatic and never shy, he lived life on his own terms. He loved beach walks, tennis with pals at the Westport Tennis Club and Longshore, workouts and saunas at the Westport YMCA, reading, train travel to San Francisco, and above all else his grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Maureen. He is survived by his children Stephen Melino (Margie), Frances Zahler (Gary), Barbara Deecken (George), and James Melino (Ilana); grandchildren Alexsis Adams, Christina Deecken, Cody Zahler, Christian Zahler, Avery Chung-Melino, Rachel Melino, Emily Zahler, and Katey Melino, great grandson Isaiah, beloved nieces and nephews and their families, and his brother Eugene.
A private Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Assumption Cemetery, at a time to be determined.
Westport’s newest police officer is Stephen Silva has joined its ranks. He was sworn in yesterday at a small ceremony, in front of his family and friends. Two brothers serve with the Trumbull Police Department.
Silva started his career in law enforcement in 2016 with the Bridgeport Police Department. He worked in the patrol division, served as an acting detective, and was a member of the department’s honor guard.
In addition to working full time as a police officer, Silva is pursuing a degree in emergency management at Post University.
Officer Stephen Silva (right) is congratulated by Police Chief Foti Koskinas.
While Charles MacCormack traveled the world as CEO of Westport-based Save the Children, his wife Susan Ross devoted her life to public service of a more local scope. For 40 years she worked with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; for 12 years, she was its CEO.
Susan died 4 years ago this month, after a 7-year battle with breast and pancreatic cancer. In her memory, her husband of 45 years has helped established the Susan M. Ross Fund for Great Leadership at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. It targets the organization’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which provides leadership develop opportunities.
And finally … happy 76th birthday to John Fogerty. I’ve played tribute to his band — Creedence Clearwater Revival — and I will again. So today I’ll honor his solo work. (PS: Thanks again for that great Levitt Pavilion concert in 2017. I’m still smiling.)
I’ll admit I got a little breathless when I received a Sundance email headlined, “Visit Our New Store in Westport.”
Westport?! This catalog has served as my retail therapy vision board for years; the source of countless subtle, dog-eared “tips” I’ve left for my spouse re birthday and holiday gifts.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Robert Redford-stamped brand, think Millie Rae’s meets Anthropologie — high-end, carefully curated, bohemian-Southwest-y silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothes, shoes and housewares.
I can’t wait to see how they deck out their brick-and-mortar store on Main Street (the former Ann Taylor — it’s only their 18th retail location). Am I excited enough about it to get the free gift for booking an “early access appointment”?
Why yes, actually, I might be. If they do this right, I think it’s about as perfect a fit for Westport as any catalogue-come-to-life could be.
Tracy Rosen offers a shout-out for a local business.
The other afternoon, she and a friend went to Shearwater for coffee. But they close at 4 p.m.
They decided instead to have a glass of wine next door, at Ignazio’s Pizza.
“They couldn’t have been nicer!” Tracy says.
“They set up a table for us outside, and lit a wood-burning fire pit. They were so hospitable, just letting us sit there with our wine, never pushing us to order anything else. But their pizza smells amazing!”
An opening reception this Friday (May 14, 4 to 7 p.m.) showcases “A Glimpse Ahead.” The figurative exhibit focuses on summer, with artwork that includes swimmers, surfers, pool scenes and waterscapes. The aim is to create a sense of peace, relaxation and joy.
Among the artists: Westporter Dale Najarian. She contributes abstracted waterscapes on canvas and wood panel.
Single tickets for Westport Country Playhouse’s all-virtual 2021 season go on sale Tuesday (May 4, noon).
The Playhouse’s 2021 season — from June 15 through December 19 — has been reconceived as diverse entertainment, tailored for digital enjoyment. All content will be available on the Playhouse website, on-demand for patrons’ convenience. Single tickets, starting at $25 for staged productions and $20 for Script in Hand play readings, may be purchased by phone (203-227-4177) or online.
The first of 3 new virtual productions is “Tiny House,” a comedy (June 29- July 18). The second virtual production, “Doubt: A Parable” — a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama runs November 2-21.
Two HD video productions from Playhouse archives will stream on-demand: “Man of La Mancha” (August 23-September 5), and another (to be announced, September 13-26).
Three Script in Hand play readings include “The Savannah Disputation” (June 15-20). The others are October 19 – 24, and December 14 – 19.
Special pre- and post-show events are planned, including virtual LGBT Night Out cocktail parties, and interactive talkbacks.
For the 2nd year in a row, there will be no audiences in the Westport Country Playhouse. But the show(s) will go on.(Photo/Robert Benson)
If you missed it — no problem. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee has created 2 displays of lawn signs, featuring inspiring art and words from elementary and high school artists. They’re outside Town Hall and on Jesup Green, through May 5.
Student artwork on Jesup Green (Photo/Amy Schneider)
People often talk about a moment in time that marks their life… the before and after.
We have 3 children, all adopted from China. We have lived in this area all of their lives, and have experienced nothing but total acceptance. On Sunday I took 2 of my children to Sherwood Island. We love it there.
It was not very crowded. We sat down a bit more than 6 feet away from a woman with her husband and daughter. As we put the blanket down she started screaming that we needed to be 15 feet from her. Not wanting to deal with her, we moved farther away.
Once we sat down, I Googled. She was correct: That is the current rule for shoreline state parks.
An hour later a couple sat down near her, 6 feet away. She said nothing.
As we were leaving she turned to my children and yelled, “Why don’t you go back to China?” The hatred in her words was palpable. My heart stopped.
Like many around the world I am horrified by the treatment of minorities in this country. The events of the past few weeks are beyond comprehension. I am enraged and heartbroken at what our country has become.
For just a brief moment yesterday at Sherwood Island I was witness to pure, raw, hatred for another because they are not white. As a white woman, I know I am very privileged. This was the first time seeing this up close and personal. I see it on TV, read it in the paper, watch the stories on my various news feeds, but to be in the presence of this evil was something entirely different.
Yesterday, was my before and after.
A good day, spoiled. (Photo/Amy Schneider)
Staples graduate/Grammy, Tony and Oscar-winning songwriter Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, The Greatest Showmani) joins his musical partner Benj Pasek — and Tina Fey, Dolly Parton and more –at the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival
Set for June 22-26, the online event — originally scheduled to be performed in person — features college and scholarship auditions, the International Thespian Excellence Awards Showcase (“the Thespys”), performances, workshops and master classes.
Pasek and Paul will be interviewed by moderated by their James and the Giant Peach book writer Timothy Allen McDonald. There’s also a keynote address from The Lion King’s Alton Fitzgerald White, and a performance fromRuPaul’s Drag Race star Peppermint.
To register for the festival, click here. (Hat tip: David Meth)
Justin Paul (Photo/Dan Woog)
Yesterday, “06880” reported on the hatching of an oystercatcher chick at Compo Beach.
Now there are 2.
Tina Green notes: “Westporters should still give the oystercatchers a wide berth while in the area. The adults and chicks will remain in the area until the young birds are old enough to fly.
“Piping plovers, a federally protected species, are also on their nest. They too should not be disturbed, to insure a positive outcome.”
The pandemic has not been easy for many independent contractors — including photographers.
Yet David Dellinger — a longtime contributor to “06880” — is thinking of others. During this tough time, in an effort to support Black Lives Matter — and encouraging others to contribute too — he’s donating 50% of proceeds from all June photos sessions to the @mnfreedomfund.
In addition, he’s giving 100% from all print sales to other verified organizations that support #blacklivesmatter. Contact email@example.com.
In 2018, David Dellinger photographed this Cockenoe Island wedding proposal.
And finally … in 1968, Phil Ochs was in the middle of a concert at Coleytown Junior High School. It was a fundraiser for the school’s Peace Corps project.
Someone handed him a note. He told the crowd that Lyndon Johnson just the nation he would not run for another term as president.
As 2020 looks increasingly like 1968, the underappreciated folksinger’s words are more meaningful than ever.
The latest Westport tradition to fall victim to COVID-19: the Westport Library’s summer book sale.
In its place: a “virtual” fund-raiser.
Auction item previews begin June 10. Online silent bidding takes place from June 17 through June 19. To receive a link to the auction website when it is activated, click here.
Donations are being sought for the auction. “No item is too big or too small,” they say: experiences (concert, theater or other event tickets, backstage passes, tickets for TV shows tapings, private chef services, private wine tastings, spa days, cooking lessons, art classes); travel (use of vacation homes, tours, boat trips); food and wine packages; picnics; restaurant gift certificates; unique jewelry; works of art; children’s birthday parties — you get the idea.
For more information or to donate items, call 203-952-0070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Westport Rotary Club always books interesting guest speakers. This Tuesday (June 2) at 12:30 p.m., they host a particularly timely one.
Anne Diamond — president of Bridgeport Hospital, and executive vice president at Yale New Haven Health System — will talk about how her organizations responded to and allocated critical resources during COVID-19. She’ll also discuss a unique collaboration among hospitals in Fairfield County.
Because it’s a Zoom meeting, everyone is invited. Click here for the link. The meeting ID is 859 6608 8043; the password is 624628.
In the midst of so much sad, bad news, there is also this:
Tina Green reports that yesterday morning, the Compo Beach American oystercatchers successfully hatched one chick. Another egg has yet to hatch.
A pair of piping plovers also has a nest in the same roped-off area of South Beach. Stay away — and rejoice!
American oystercatcher and chick. (Photo/Tina Green)
Parks & Recreation director Jennifer Fava follows up on Governor Lamont’s announcement raising the limit of people in outdoor recreational gatherings from 5 to 25:
No contact sports or sports that include shared handling of objects such as balls or Frisbees are allowed.
Attendees shall remain 6 feet apart, excluding immediate family members, caretakers and household members, and except when dining, masks shall be worn when within 6 feet of those not in the same household.
If the event is an organized gathering, the organizer shall demarcate 6 feet of spacing.
This increase applies to outdoor recreational gatherings including the opening of the Wakeman, Staples (including the track), and Kings Highway fields for individual use and exercise.
Moving trucks came today for Restoration Hardware.
However, the closing of the home furnishings store –they did not sell hammers or weed killer — is not COVID-related.
The company says the 11,000-square foot spot opposite Anthropologie, a few yards from Main Street, is not in keeping with the current large-format stores (“galleries,” in Restoration-speak) they’ve opened the last few years.
No word yet on what will replace it. Although for nearly the entire 20th century, it sure worked well as a movie theater.
The Westport Police Department, TEAM Westport, and the NAACP are partnering on a food drive this Saturday (June 6, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at Stop & Shop in Westport.
The event was organized in the wake of last week’s death of George Floyd, at the hands of members of the Minneapolis Police Department.
And finally … one of the most powerful anthems ever written, from one of the greatest singers of all time.
A large, boldly patterned bird, the American Oystercatcher is conspicuous along ocean shores and salt marshes. True to its name, it is specialized in feeding on bivalves (oysters, clams, and mussels) and uses its brightly colored bill to get at them.
The woman who spotted it adds: “It’s really beautiful, with an unusual high- pitched loud tweet.”
Here’s a better photo (from Wikipedia, not Compo!):
If you see one, tell us.
Better yet, tell Jeff Northrop, over at Hummock Island Oysters on the Mill Pond.
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