Tags: birding, birds, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Nice contrast between the altricial young of the American Robin, with their eyes closed, featherless, and quite helpless, and the precocial Mallard ducklings, who are ready to rock (and swim, forage) almost instantly. Note how much bigger-looking the background bird is in the Robin nest: could this be a Cowbird or just an earlier hatch?
I have amped up the technology. These are from a PowerShot SX50 HS, which has a MUCH better lens than my workhorse PowerShot G9. I’ve been testing on these easy birds. The rather more difficult Marsh Wren of earlier this week was a capture with this new rig.
Tags: birding, birds, insects, Prospect Park
At first they rise like little puffs of smoke from their ground nest. Then more and more of them emerge, small and unwieldy fliers, swarming into the humid air. They are termite reproductives, and a swarm of them brings birds to gobble them from the air. Stand there and watch as barn and tree swallows and chimney swifts zoom in on them, at eye level, acrobatic fliers whose wings you can hear they are so close. Maneuvering easily around you, they will rise as the mass of termites rise until they are much higher up. On or near the ground, meanwhile, are hopping, darting, “flycatching,” birds — warblers, thrushes, catbirds, tanagers — the bonanza seems to bring everybody out for a feast, regardless of their usual foraging habits.Although caste-structured social insects like ants, termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches. They were formerly classified as order Isoptera, but based on morphological and DNA evidence are now Blattodea.
For many are called, and most of them are eaten.
A early evening walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park interrupted by a small, incessantly burbling bird at the northernmost of the Freshwater Garden ponds on Pier One. I spent quite a while listening and trying to get a picture of this elusive Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris), a bird fairly common in marshy areas, but not so much on the East River (any more). Generally elusive to the eye, the birds are easier to hear. They may sing all night.This was the second best shot — actually the only other shot — the helpful eyebrow is at least visible. But, all told, this was largely an aural discovery.
Is this the first sighting of this species here in BBP? See comments for the answer.
Making up the team “More is More,” my friend Sarah and I won second place in the Open House NY Modern Architecture and Design Scavenger Hunt earlier this spring. We claimed our prize last weekend: a guided tour of Manitoga, the Russell Wright Design Center, near Garrison, NY. I have to admit I’d never heard of Wright (1904-1976), who was all over home design in the middle of the last century, with his dinnerwear in particular, and was one of the first industrial designers of note. After visiting Manitoga, I want to live there. Purchasing land that had been virtually clear cut and gouged by a granite quarry operation — some of the rock went into the NYPL’s flagship on 5th and 42nd — Wright spent decades rehabilitating the 75-acre parcel. With his theatrical experience and love of the woods, he, and his workers, essentially sculpted a woodlands garden around his low-slung, rock-hugging house and studio in the uplands above the Hudson. Four miles of trails on the property, connected to the Osborne Loop off the Appalachian Trail, are open to the public now (tours of the house are ticketed: I highly recommend a visit).It’s hard enough to maintain an old house as museum and research center. Adding the care of the grounds to the mix makes things complicated indeed. Any designed space that is also natural (natural artificial nature) means things are always in flux: trees and bushes grow, obliterating the viewsheds Wright planned, and, of course, trees die. Wright was particularly fond of Eastern Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis), with their dramatic dark green needles. This native species normally thrives on shady rocky ridges and ravine slopes, perfect for the Hudson Highlands; but, the Hudson Valley has been the epicenter of the invasive Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae), an aphid-like insect that kills the trees after several years of infestation. Thus a major component of Wright’s woodlands’ design is disappearing.Wright mixed found objects, recycled objects, and the most modern (for mid-century) materials in his home and studio, which were green roofed avant la lettre. There are strange plastics you never heard of, and sliding doors with butterflies in them. It looks live every single door handle is different. This is the view from the studio’s tub:The granite dipping into the pool on the far right was thought by Wright’s daughter Ann to look like a dragon, so the house and studio were named Dragon Rock. Still in charge of Russell Wright Studios, Ann Wright has donated some of her father’s library to the Center:
The tadpoles of a toad, I assume American Toad (Bufo americanus) rather than Fowler’s (Bufo fowleri), about a centimeter long. In the shallows of Doodletown’s Reservoir. The adult toads live inland but come to fresh water to reproduce.There were innumerable numbers of them. They follow the human sperm plan; produce a lot, a few will probably survive.On the surface of the same water, a number of swimming bugs.A Green Frog (Rana clamitans), somewhat outnumbered.