Mighty Acorns

QuercusRemarkable things, acorns. They’re packed with proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as vital minerals: this is why they make such great animal food. There are not many mast-eaters in Brooklyn Bridge Park, though, where I found these red-to-mahagony colored nuts breaking through the shells recently. QuercusAfter wintering under the big freeze — hibernating, basically — spring finds them cracking their outer shells and sprouting a probing, earth-anchoring root. These will pull the seed down into the soft duff and into the soil. These are Chestnut Oaks (Quercus prinus) and they really were these lovely colors. I don’t recall seeing this intense color before? The Horticulturist thinks this is a safety feature, like those red leaves that emerge first from tree budss, to protect against the sun’s harsh rays.QuercusHere’s another, from Black Rock Forest. This one has sprouted, but hadn’t managed to anchor in the ground yet, probably because it was on the hard-packed trail.

Snails on Saturday

Cepaea nemoralisThe rain in the middle of the week bought the snails out in the Back 40. Half a dozen were visible from the door for the rest of the week. All are the big ones, Cepaea nemoralis, an introduced species. I’m sure there are others. These two were getting frisky.

More snails: the surprising abundance of snail species in my concrete backyard was one of the inspirations for this blog five years ago. I will be moving in May, to a deluxe apartment in the sky… well, the 4th floor, anyway, of a walk-up, in Sunset Park, and not deluxe by the plutocratic democracy-squelching standards of our second Gilded Age, but… Cepaea nemoralis…home is where the shell is.

Some Brooklyn Mammals

Sciurus carolinensisSquirrel sunning. Procyon lotorRaccoon snoozing.
Tamias striatusChipmunk being very still.Marmota monaxWoodchuck being elusive. Check out the ground-hogging here on this slope: a duplex! The animal was peeking out of the nearer, top, hole, but vanished into the burrow before I could turn on my cameraSciurus carolinensisSquirrel eating a… wait a minute, that’s a green-dyed Easter egg, more than a week after Easter!

Spiders

IMG_1315Outside.spiderInside.

Springing

Anemone americanaWhen last we saw some blooming Round-lobed Hepatica, it was the white variety in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Over the weekend, we found a little cluster of the pink variation further north in Black Rock Forest.Veratrum virideWe initially took this pleated beauty for Skunk Cabbage, but further research by the Horticulturalist tells us this is actually False Hellebore (Veratrum viride). Like Skunk Cabbage, it’s a big leafy green that sprouts early, so the two are often confused. This would be a mistake should you be a forager: False Hellebore is quite toxic. Wikipedia gives a host of alternate names: American White Hellebore, Bear Corn, Big Hellebore, Corn Lily, Devils Bite, Duck Retten, Indian Hellebore, Itch-weed, Itchweed, Poor Annie, Blue Hellebore, and Tickleweed. Unlike Skunk Cabbage, the flowers come after the leaves.

Earth Day

In reality, of course, everyday is Earth Day.Asarum canadenseFrom the Black Rock Forest, here’s an emerging Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) flower. Sialia sialisAn Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis).Rana clamitans melanotaAnd some Green Frogs (Rana clamitans), before or after amplexus?

Raptor Wednesday

The triumvirate:Buteo jamaicensisRed-tailed Hawk in Green-Wood.Accipiter cooperiiCooper’s at Floyd Bennett Field. Falco sparveriusAmerican Kestrel atop the Green-Wood gate. That’s a lightning rod next to this lightning bolt of a bird.


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