Spring couldn’t have come soon enough for many of us this year, particularly given the winter storms that came our way. The winter of 2013 seemed endless at times, and the island saw its share of snow for more days than usual for our coastal climate. Spring at Fishers arrived on schedule with its anticipated occurrences: the migration of spotted salamanders into vernal pools, the singing of peepers, the arrival of our island ospreys, the blooming of spring ephemerals, and the migration of spring warblers. It has been a cool and lovely spring with seemingly endless days of sunshine. However, the gardeners among us are hoping for some rainy days, as it has been a very dry spring. As I write this letter, the shad trees are in full bloom, giving the island woodlands a special beauty. We are fortunate that Fishers remains a largely unspoiled environment with a generous share of protected open space.
Since our last newsletter, the Museum has enjoyed an eventful year and continues to be an important cultural asset to the community. Pierce Rafferty, Museum Director, has spent countless hours preparing and arranging our new exhibits and programs. A wide range of children’s programs is scheduled, including “Life Underground,” an introduction to the lives of subterranean creatures, and “Meet the Animals,” a program featuring live animals and their habitats. Our Smith Vaughan lecturer this summer is Chris Elphick, an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UConn. His talk will describe the biology of coastal marsh birds, how their lives are influenced by the ebb and flow of the tides, and how sea-level rise is expected to affect them. Other lectures include a “History of Plum Island, NY,” given by author Ruth Ann Bramson, and “The Eelgrass of Fishers Island,” given by Chris Pickerell, Marine Program Director at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program on Long Island. Chris’s talk will reveal the ongoing eelgrass research that has been taking place around Fishers Island and highlight its importance to restoration efforts in other parts of New York and Connecticut. Pierce Rafferty will give a timely “Population Talk” that will chronicle the rise and fall of Fishers Island’s population from first settlement in the 1640s to date.
Our Annual Exhibit for 2013 celebrates neighboring Race Rock Lighthouse. The exhibit was produced in collaboration with the New London Maritime Society and its associated Custom House Maritime Museum and promises to be most interesting. “Illustrated Ospreys,” our Special Exhibit for 2013, showcases how one raptor has been portrayed by bird artists over the centuries.
The Museum would not be what it is today without the support of many Fishers Islanders and I extend my thanks to all who have contributed to our endeavors. I also wish to thank all of the Museum Board members for their time and efforts on behalf of the Museum. Board members have given many hours of volunteer time ranging from event planning, publicity, programming, trail maintenance, assistance with the collections and the Museum Store, and financial advice.
I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the Museum this summer!
—Penni Sharp, President